London, 8th July, 2011 –
“The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British Government in 1917, in which the Jewish people were promised a national home did not qualify as international law. However, the San Remo Resolution of 1920, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration, made the pledge binding under International Law. The San Remo Declaration, together with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and Article 80 in the Charter of the United Nations, are still applicable today. Pressuring Israel to go back to 1967 lines and dividing Jerusalem would thus be a serious breach of International Law.”
These were the words of international human rights lawyer Jacques Gauthier who spoke at a consultation in the House of Commons in London last Thursday, little more than two months before a crucial vote in the UN General Assembly in New York. This is where Israel is being pressured to accept a new Palestinian state along 1967 lines and to give up the Old City of Jerusalem. In his presentation, Dr Gauthier explained how the Old City of Jerusalem was promised to the Jews and how the Jewish claim to its capital is valid under International Law.
The British and French Governments have said that ”they prefer a negotiated solution to the conflict between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, but have not ruled out accepting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State in September if no progress is made in the peace process in the next weeks.”
In his speech, Gauthier reminded the participants, among them members of both Houses of Parliament, of all the good that British Governments have done over the years to pave the way for a Jewish state, but also about their broken promises.
‘Just imagine how the world could have been a different place if the White Paper of 1938 which prevented Jews who tried to flee Germany from entering Palestine, had not been issued by the British government.’
ECI director Tomas Sandell noted that it is often easier to commemorate and regret events of the past rather than to make wise decisions in the here and now.
‘History is being written as we speak. Let us make sure we make decisions of which we can feel proud when the events of 2011 are added to the history books’ he said, appealing to the British Government not to pressure Israel into accepting1967 lines.
The London event concluded a speaking tour of Italy, France and Britain, where these former members of the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers of the First World War were reminded of the pledges made to the Jewish people under International Law. As most people appear to believe that it was the UN Partition Plan of 1947 which gave Israel legitimacy, the speaking tour has focused on Israel’s legal rights under International Law, dating back to 1920.
‘Rights were given, both to Arabs and to Jews. We need to honour all of our commitments, including those given to the Jews, as we seek a negotiated solution to the conflict in the Middle East,’ Dr Gauthier concluded.
The meeting was hosted by MP Jeffrey Donaldson who asked the British Government to carefully consider its decision.
‘Dividing up cities is not the formula for peace,’ he said, reminding the Government of their experience in dealing with his hometown of Belfast.
He personally thanked Dr Gauthier for his presentation which he considered the best overview of Israel’s legal rights he had ever heard.
The ECI information campaign will continue with more activities in the coming weeks leading up to the UN vote in mid-September.