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  • ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. | Photo credit: Shutterstock
San Remo Centenary

From San Remo to The Hague – How the Global Community is Breaching its ‘Sacred Trust’

Andrew Tucker - 18 February 2020

The international community is breaching the ‘sacred trust’ promised to the Jewish people 100 years ago.

In April 2020 it will be 100 years since the Allied Powers made one of the most important decisions in modern history. On 25 April 1920, in the city of San Remo on the Italian riviera, the leaders of Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the USA met to decide on what to do with the territories of the Ottoman/Turkish Empire that they had just defeated.

Under the influence of US President Woodrow Wilson, they decided to allow the peoples of the Middle East to govern themselves. This was to be the end of colonialism and the beginning of the principle of ‘the right of peoples to self-determination’, that since WWII has become an accepted principle of international law.

In order to assist the peoples of the Middle East to self- government, the Allied Powers created a system of ‘Mandates’. Three Mandates were decided at that meeting: Mesopotamia (later Iraq), Syria and Lebanon, and Palestine. The Mandates were subsequently adopted by the League of Nations – the international community at the time – which referred to Mandates as a ‘sacred trust of civilisation’.

Delegates to the San Remo conference in Italy, 25 April 1920. | Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


The Purpose of the Mandate for Palestine
The core purpose of the Mandate for Palestine was that Britain would help the Jewish people re-establish their homeland in ‘Palestine’ – which comprised the whole territory west of the Jordan River (i.e. all of current-day Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza), and also some territory east of the river (in current-day Jordan). To that end, Article 6 of the Mandate mandated Britain to allow Jews to ‘closely settle’ the land of Palestine.

It did not take long before Britain, and most other nations reneged on the promises made at San Remo. Proposal after proposal was made to divide Palestine, and force the Jews into small pockets of land. Against all odds, and only after the virtual destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust, and in the face of massive efforts of the Arab world to annihilate it, the Jews finally succeeded in establishing their own nation when the State of Israel was created in May 1948.

Ever since the Jewish people have been fighting both on the battlefield and in the UN institutions for the right to be recognised as a full member of the international community. To this day, the international community continues to treat Israel as a second-class citizen and believes it has the right to decide where Jews should live.

War Crimes
The latest development is the announcement in The Hague by the Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms Bensouda, on 20 December 2019 that she intends to open an investigation that will undoubtedly lead to prosecution of Israeli political and defence force leaders for alleged war crimes in the ‘State of Palestine’. In her view, Israel’s ‘settlements policies’, whereby Israel has enabled Israeli’s to live in so-called ‘East Jerusalem’ (i.e. the Old City and surrounds) and the ‘West Bank’ (i.e. Judea and Samaria) is a war crime, because it amounts to a forbidden ‘transfer’ of its own population into an ‘occupied territory’.

In other words, it has now apparently become a crime for Israel to allow Jews to settle in the very parts of the country that were in 1920 intended to become the Jewish homeland.

This case is just one of several being conducted in the international institutions concerning the status of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. All are the result of Resolution 67/19 of the UN General Assembly in 2012 to grant Palestine the status of ‘UN non-member Observer state status’. On the basis of that resolution ‘Palestine’ has acceded to dozens of international treaties, and magically become a ‘state’ with a President, a Foreign Minister, embassies around the world, et cetera.

Because Israel is not a party to the ICC’s Statute, the Prosecutor can only prosecute if the crimes have been committed on the territory of a state that is a party to the Statute. So she has asked the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to confirm her decision that the ‘State of Palestine’ is, in fact, a state and that she, therefore, has jurisdiction to proceed.

“It has now apparently become a crime for Israel to allow Jews to settle in the very parts of the country that were in 1920 intended to become the Jewish homeland.”

According to the ICC Prosecutor, the mere fact that ‘Palestine’ signed up to the ICC’s Statute is enough to make it a ‘state’, and thus enough to give the ICC jurisdiction to prosecute Israeli leaders for war crimes.

The matter is even more bizarre given Israel is not an ICC member. Israel supported the creation of the ICC in 2002 as an instrument to prevent impunity of war criminals for the most heinous war crimes. But it ended up not signing the Statute of Rome for the simple reason it believed the ICC would become politicised. The very thing Israel feared has now become a reality.

The fact is the Palestinian Authority (PA) simply does not satisfy the normal criteria of statehood (e.g. the requirement to have an ‘effective government’), and an ICC prosecution would undermine the Oslo Accords, a multilateral binding treaty system to which not only Israel and the PLO are signatories, but was also witnessed by Russia, the USA, the EU, Jordan and Egypt.

“Israel ended up not signing the Statute of Rome for the simple reason it believed the ICC would become politicised. The very thing Israel feared has now become a reality.”

A False Narrative
The ICC is just following the international community’s willing adoption of the narrative that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), with the backing of the Arab League members and many other States, has promoted since the late 1960s. This narrative regards the Palestinians as victims of Israeli aggression. It considers all Israeli civilian and military presence in the territories conquered by Israel in June 1967 as illegitimate, and an obstacle to the realisation of the right to self- determination of the truly indigenous people – the Palestinians. It essentially ignores the fact that the Mandate was intended to create a safe Jewish homeland in Palestine, and disregards the historical and legal significance of events prior to June 1967.

In other words, the international community is deliberately turning its back on what it decided in 1920.

In so doing, it is giving in to those Arabs (including the Palestinian Arab leadership) who want nothing less than 100% control of the Middle East (and beyond), and have consistently rejected the Mandate and launched numerous wars to eliminate the Jewish homeland.

In November 1947 they rejected the UN proposal for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, electing instead to try to eliminate the Jewish homeland. When the British Mandate came to an end, and the State of Israel was created on 14 May 1948, the Arabs again chose to try to destroy it by force.

In June 1967 Israel took control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Golan Heights only because it fought a successful defensive war against five Arab armies that were intent on (yet again) destroying the Jewish State. In October 1973 they tried again. After that, they abandoned warfare and adopted lawfare.

What Should We Do?
The clock cannot be turned back to prior to 1948 in accordance with the anti-Israel chant ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free’. The Palestinians’ claim to self-determination today must be seen in the context of the prior existence of the State of Israel that itself was the result of the granting of independence to non-self- governing territories following the collapse of the Ottoman/Turkish Empire in WWI.

It is time for the international community to realise that what is happening is nothing less than a fundamental breach of the ‘sacred trust’ promised to the Jewish people 100 years ago.

A promise, based on respect for historical truths, to create a safe haven for the Jewish people to ensure they will never be annihilated.

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