How the Balfour Declaration Became International Law Despite Attempts to Undermine It

A century ago, the victors of World War I met in the Italian city of San Remo to discuss how to divide up territories that had previously belonged to the Ottoman empire. It was here that Arthur Balfour’s famous promise effectively became international law. But things almost didn’t turn out that way. With support from British officers, Emir Faisal—son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, promoted by T.E. Lawrence—was attempting to make himself the ruler of a Syrian kingdom that included the Land of Israel. Meanwhile, the French were poised to back away from their previous assurances regarding the Jews. Faisal had signed an agreement with Chaim Weizmann, the chief Zionist diplomat, in January 1919 pledging his support to the creation of a Jewish state, but, as Efraim Karsh writes, he “was speaking from both sides of his mouth.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Balfour Declaration, Chaim Weizmann, History of Zionism, International Law, Mandate Palestine, Treaty of San Remo

Israeli Sovereignty Would Free Residents of the West Bank from Ottoman Law

To its opponents, the change in the legal status of certain areas of Judea and Samaria is “annexation;” to its proponents, it is the “extension of sovereignty” or the “application of Israeli law.” Naomi Khan argues that the last term best captures the practical implications of the measures in question. Since the Six-Day War, the Jewish state has continued to uphold the Ottoman legal system in areas of the West Bank under its jurisdiction—despite the fact that the Ottoman empire ceased to exist in 1922; “annexation” would end this situation. Setting aside the usual questions of foreign policy, security, and the possibility of Palestinian statehood, Khan argues that this change would be the one most felt by those who live there:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Annexation, Israeli law, Ottoman Empire, Palestinian Authority, West Bank