"Who ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Is a country born in one day? Is a nation brought forth all at once? For as soon as Zion went into labor, she brought forth her children." Isaiah 66:8

Israel Reborn

May 14th 1948 David Ben Gurion declares the state of Israel

How did it happen that Israel came back into existence - Eretz Israel , homeland of Am Israel?

This page largely parallels International Law and Land, but focusses on the events that led to the re-creation of Israel.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 is credited with starting the process, and will be celebrated in 2017. But Balfour is only one part of the story and can easily be misunderstood. Britain has been under pressure to apologise for the Balfour Declaration as it is said to be the means by which Britain, under its Mandate, gave Arab land for the creation of a Jewish State. The people pressing this argument maintain that this transaction was illegal and therefore Israel's enemies and detractors accuse Israel of violation of International law in "occupying " Arab land.

This is a gross distortion of the facts, and possibly an overstatement of the significance of the Balfour declaration. The Balfour Declaration needs to be set in its historical context, along with several other strands of history.

For full coverage of the Balfour Declaration, see Balfour100.com

But first - God's perspective

God gave the land to Abraham and the descendents he was promised in an everlasting, non conditional covenant. That covenant did not depend on Abraham keeping agreed conditions, since he was not involved in making the oath; only God.
However, God's permission for the Israelites to live there was conditional. When God cast the people of Israel out of the land, it was left desolate until they were allowed to return.
This was true of the exile initiated by the Romans and lasting until the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, as Mark Twain and other travellers noted in their accounts of the land.

Evangelical Christians believed God was going to return the Jews to their homeland.
It’s not Christian Zionism that is the modern aberation ! See videos by Hatikvah Trust
In 1917 the British Government had Bible believing men, including Foreign sec Arthur Balfour, who expressed Britain's gratitude to Chaim Weitzman by writing a Declaration of intent.
Jews start making their way home and Zionism starts - including JNF with blue boxes so Jews could buy land from Ottoman owners.

See also Israel regathered


The land (the Promised Land) was part of a neglected area that the Romans had named Palestine to spite the Jews when they expelled them. At the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the area was a backwater of the Turkish Ottoman Empire inhabited by poor Jewish (majority) and Arab people scratching out a meagre living, often on land rented from absentee landlords.
After the Turks joined the wrong side World War I and were defeated, the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, in the manner that was normal after the defeat of an empire, by the victors.
There was a series of conferences and agreements to hammer out international agreement on what should be done with Ottoman Empire territory.

The culmination of this process was the San Remo Conference of 1920. This conference, under the remit of the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations) divided up the area and mandates were given to Britain, France and Russia to govern them and assign the land to future states.
Eretz Israel was part of the British Mandate - a term that covered a geographical area, but also the period of time during which it functioned.
This agreement in 1920, being properly constituted by the League of Nations, set ownership (or at least custodianship) of areas under international law.

The Balfour Declaration had been made in 1917 and although it was nothing more than a declaration of (an honourable) intent, it was used as important part of the framework of San Remo, being accepted by the other parties.

Two things should be noted about the British Mandate at this stage.
1 The Mandated territory included land east and west of the Jordan River.
2 The declaration spoke of a homeland for the Jews within the mandated territory
Perhaps a third thing should be pondered
3 What territory did God have in mind for Eretz Israel?

The land mandated to Britain, France and Russia was divided up into nations where none had existed before. Basically the middle east was inhabited by nomadic people who were divided up in terms of tribes and not national boundaries. Therefore the nations were created wisely or unwisely; fairly or unfairly by allocating territory to influential tribes. (The Kurds were overlooked and ended up living in pockets within other people's states)
The process has been described as "thumbs on maps." See New Nations

During this slicing up of territory, a British White Paper divided Mandated Palestine down the Jordan River, giving 72% to the Hashemites family that formed the minority in the territory to the east. The remaining 28% west of the Jordan was allocated for the Jews.
However, unlike some partitions of nations, such as India and Pakistan, the populations ware not swapped to fit the territory, so Jews continued to live in Transjordan and other Arab nations, and Arabs continued to live in Israel (west of the Jordan)


1897 - The first Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl as a symbolic Parliament for those in sympathy with the implementation of Zionist goals. it took place in the concert hall of the Basel Municipal Casino on August 29, 1897.
In the version submitted to the Congress on the second day of its deliberations (August 30) by a committee under the chairmanship of Max Nordau, it was stated: "The aim of Zionism is to create for the Jewish people a home in Eretz­ Israel secured by law."

1916 - The Sykes–Picot Agreement, Defined proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement. This was a secret agreement between Great Britain and France, to which the Russian Empire assented. it was made public in 1917.

Sykes Picot Agreement Map.

The agreement allocated to Britain control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France got control of southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and Armenia.

The controlling powers were left free to determine state boundaries within their areas. Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers.

Given Ottoman defeat in 1918 and the subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, the agreement effectively divided the Ottoman Arab provinces outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of British and French control and influence.
The agreement negated the UK's promises to Arabs made through Colonel T. E. Lawrence for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for supporting the British against the Ottoman Empire.

None of the above suggests to the author that this agreement had any weight in International Law. That had to wait for San Remo in 1920

1917 Balfour Declaration – was the pledge of the war government of Lloyd George – It was binding on Britain but not on any other nations.

1919 the Paris Peace Conference at the Quai D’Orsay.
Parties claimed their territorial rights – Jews under Wiezman and Arabs under Faisal.
They were in agreement that the two movements complete one another – the Jewish movement is national; not imperialist. There is room for us both.
The Arabs want a large independent state; not a group of little ones. Realising they were asking so much they needed the support of the Zionists.
There was no Palestinian delegation – no Palestinian people at that time – only Arabs. (never united – warring tribes and clans)
The Allied Powers were meeting to decide the states that would exist after the war. Five men – Wilson -USA, Lloyd George - Britain, Orlando - Italy, Clemenceau - France, and ???? - Japan.

In Article 22 of the League of Nations we see the principle of sacred trustee nations to take over for somebody else the territory left over from war. The "Sacred Trust of Civilisation" is still in effect and binding; it still calls on nations to look after the Jewish people.

1919 At Neuliiy-sur-Seinne, 27 November US, Britain, France, Italy, Japan were the powers. that drew up the arrangements for settling borders in Europe following the War. In this section they dealt with Bulgaria.

1920 The process reconvened on April 25, 1920,at VILLA DeVACHAN, San Remo where decisions were made. There followed the Treaty of Serves (10 August 1920) that was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I.

Arabs were given territory – Mesopotamia to become Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Four Mandates were established; British Mandate for Mesopotamia - creating Iraq, French Mandate for Lebanon, French Mandate for Syria and British Mandate for Palestine. The first three appear to have been forgotten!

Map showing the territory mandated by the League of Nations at San Remo. The map shows the British, French and Russian mandates from which several modern states were created, including Israel, from the old Ottoman Empire after WW1.

Jews were to be provided for by honouring the commitments of the Balfour Declaration. (it was not previously a document with legal status but this decision made it legal)

1921 Churchill agreed to partition Palestine and give 72% to Arab, Hashemites. (Transjordan) the leaders of Jordan agreed to the deal.
The Jews were promised the 28% west of the Jordan. The Arab side of the deal was to support the creation of the Jewish state in West Palestine. The Arabs did not sign up to this plan.

Neither this nor anything else since San Remo has taken away the rights and responsibilities decided there.

1924 - The dissolution of the League of Nations did not change anything since it was only there to supervise rights already given. When the United Nations was set up, its Charter (signed by all the nations), in Article 80, specified, “Nothing in any manner is to change the rights already given to any peoples.”

1939 - In Britain, "the White Paper " policy document was issued by the British government under Neville Chamberlain in response ( appeasement) to the 1936–39 Arab Revolt, and approved by the House of Commons on 23 May 1939.

wikipedia.org White_Paper_of_1939

Although never formally approved, the white paper acted as the governing policy for Mandatory Palestine between 1939 and 1945.
The paper called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the idea of the creation of a Jewish state and the idea of partitioning Palestine.
It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for 5 years, and ruled that further immigration was to be determined by the Arab majority.
Restrictions were put on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs.
Further, it promised that only with Palestinian support would Britain allow a Jewish state. This greatly upset Zionists because of the increasing persecution of Jews in Europe at the onset of World War II, particularly in Germany.
Although it acted as the de facto policy of the British government until 1945, its key provisions were never implemented.

1939 - 1945 World War II
Arab leader in British Mandate Palestine, Haj Amin Huseini, was very friendly with Hitler and hoped to carry out Hitler’s Final Solution in Mandated Palestine, once Hitler defeated the British.

1947 – the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution – the Partition Plan. this was effectively a suggestion that was neither binding nor affecting legal ownership rights. Had both sides accepted this partition plan and agreed to it in a legally made treaty, it would have become a legal declaration of who owned what territory. However, the partition plan was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs.

1948 - David Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel.
Five surrounding nations launched a war to destroy the new state of Israel, having told the Arabs in Israel to leave until Israel was destroyed, after which they could return and take over the property of the Jews.
The Arabs lost the war and the Arabs who had left for the duration became classified as refugees.
Palestinian Arabs commemorate this defeat as al Nakba, the catastrophe.

Jews in Arab nations were dispossessed and kicked out, becoming refugees. There were more Jewish refugees than Arab refugees, but the fledgling state of Israel absorbed them all, while the Arab nations refused to accept the Arab refugees.
When this war was ended, the Israeli and Arab armies faced each other along an armistice line that has become known as the green line - because somebody plotted this armistice line an a map with a green pencil. The green line was not a legal transaction - merely a report of where the fighting stopped.

1950, 1955 and 1966 decisions by the International Court of Justice made it clear that the dissolution of the League of Nations did not take away from rights given under these Mandates.

1967 - The "Six Day War" The surrounding Arab nations launched another war to destroy Israel, but were defeated in six days. During this war, Israel pressed the Jordanians back to the river and took control of the mountains of Judea and Samaria, Israel's ancient God given heartland. The Jordanian occupation of what they called the "West Bank" had only ever been recognised by two nations in the world.
Also, International Law does not recognise the acquisition of territory in an aggressive war, but territory gained in a defensive war is recognised as legitimate.

1994 the Treaty of Peace Between The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and The State of Israel. Israel’s eastern border, as given in this treaty is “the middle of the main course of the flow of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers.”

Land for Peace ?

Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert both offered the Palestinian leaders nearly all of Israel's legally owned territory that was what the Palestinians said they wanted, in exchange for peace. If either of these offers had been accepted and a legal agreement signed, the change of ownership would have been legal (under international law. But the Palestinians refused both offers and returned to violence. Land for peace was not what they wanted. They want Israel gone.

Gaza - the Disengagement

Gaza had been occupied by Egypt in 1948 but taken by Israel in 1967. (Israel had gained Sinai, but they gave it up for peace with Egypt, as Sinai had never been part of the promised land of Israel.)
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all Israelis from Gaza, to disengage from the friction involved in staying there. Peace did not come and the people of Gaza elected Hamas, the terrorist organisation, to be their government.
However, although no contract was signed, most people would probably say that Israel gave up their rights to Gaza by withdrawing - even unilaterally.

Posted 04/03/17

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