I'd always assumed that the Balfour Declaration, the UN recognition of Israel in 1948, and Israel's multiple military victories against the Arab nations were the sole basis (and a pretty damn strong basis, too), for her right to exist as a nation among nations. Turns out I'm woefully ignorant.
Rachel Neuwirth, in an clearly written article on a murky subject, shines a light on the morass that the current state of Middle East "peace" negotiations. Aside from talking about conflicting goals (Israel wants peace, Arabs want to destroy Israel), she also talks about the fact that negotiators have buried the repeated pre-WWII references to Israel's right to exist as a home for Jews:
• The Balfour Declaration (1917): The British government favored the creation of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine.
• The Covenant of the League of Nations (1919, with later amendments), as part of the Treaty of Versailles following WWI and the dismemberment of the Ottoman and other empires: Article 22 of the Covenant recognized the existence of “peoples not yet able to stand by themselves”, and established “the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization.” It further states that “tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations … who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.”
• The San Remo Resolution (April 1920) included Palestine in the Mandatory system and incorporated the provisions of the Balfour Declaration, thus recognizing Palestine as a “Jewish national home” with the imprimatur of the international community. This was later spelled out in Article 95 of the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920). Even though Turkey did not ratify the Treaty of Sèvres, Article 95 maintains its specific validity in international law.
• The Franco-British Boundary Convention (December 1920) established the northern boundaries between Palestine and Syria-Lebanon, thus officially rectifying the previous Sykes-Picot secret agreement of 1916.
• The Mandate for Palestine (July 1922) was officially conferred to Britain as the Mandatory Power. The preamble of this document declares that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” This Mandate, approved by 52 states, unambiguously assigns Palestine to the Jews and “encourage[s] …close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes” (Article 6). In what could be seen as a violation of previous agreements, the British carved the exclusively Arab Emirate of Transjordan out of Palestine and inserted Article 25, thus “postpon[ing] or withhold[ing] application of such provisions of this mandate” as they applied to the Palestine portion located to the east of the Jordan River.
• The Anglo-American Convention (December 1924) further strengthened the international position with regard to Palestine, as established by the community of nations, and recognized Britain as the Mandatory Power. It can be argued that the American government later failed in its obligations to uphold the provisions of the Mandate by not opposing the several British White Papers issued in the 1930s which limited the immigration of Jews to Palestine, in violation of Britain’s Mandatory commitments.
• The United Nations Charter (1945): Article 80 is quite clear in maintaining the national rights acquired through a Mandate voted by the then defunct League of Nations. Thus, the national rights of the Jewish people to “Palestine” have not been abrogated to this day.
It's a wonderful article. Reading it both educated me and exposed much of the hypocrisy underlying the West's and the Arab's approaches to negotiations (as well as highlighting the fact that Israel, as a nation, was a fool to engage in such negotiations).
I should add that what I say above is not just me being cynical about the Arab's motives in negotiating throughout the 1990s. In Ocean Guy's post discussing Frontline's "Inside Hamas" episode (which my TiVo, strangely, did not record), the show got Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas guy, on tape talking candidly about how Palestinians negotiate:
"We practiced negotiation, and Mr. Saeb Erekat [chief negotiator for the PLO], to this moment, is still talking about how negotiation is our strategic goal. They’ve spent since 1991 negotiating to nothing. When we resorted to an armed struggled, we succeeded in pushing the Israelis at least from the Gaza area. If you have a solution to push the Israelis out of the rest of our occupied territory, then it’s the time for negotiation. But in the meantime, the Israelis use negotiation to waste our time."
In the legal world, we'd politely say to the judge that those Palestinians weren't negotiating in good faith. In the real world, we threw money at them. (By the way, Ocean Guy has one of the best looking blogs I've seen. Check it out.)