It is abundantly clear that news organizations such as the BBC have sided with the Palestinians in their assertions regarding international law. References to the West Bank and Gaza as "illegally occupied Palestinian lands" and to Israeli settlements outside of the armistice demarcation lines as "illegal Israeli settlements" within Most media reports belies the fact that the mainstream media has internalized Palestinian pronouncements about the legality of various actions.
From what I have seen, these media organizations have not based these assertions on any actual legal analyses, rather they seem to merely have adopted terminology they feel is correct. They are wrong, and it is really no surprise that the Arabsand Plaestinians have provided falsehoods and manipulations of fact rather than legitimate arguments. Tis is, of course, entirely consistent with past practices.
What follows is an analysis of International law as it applies to the TERRITORIAL issues surrounding the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is not meant to address the humanitarian aspects of international law which have similarly been manipulated by the Palestinians and their supporters (like invoking the Geneva conventions and all the rest). If I get a chance, this issue belongs in a separate thread.
Now, when speaking of international law and legitimacy, it is important to pick an appropriate starting point for analysis. While I do not assert that i know this proper starting point, Ifigure that if we start at the earliest relevant date, while there may be irrelevancies, we will not cut out any necessary information.
So I will start with the conquest of the land by the Ottomans in 1517. Before this, the land had been occupied by a succession of empires stretching back to the Roman empire and its dislocation of ancient Jewish sovereignty over the land.
The League of Nations, The Palestine Mandate and British â€œTrusteeshipâ€
In 1917, Great Britain captured the province of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. In 1920, a conference of nations was held at San Reno, Italy, to implement the terms of the treaty of Versailles, which formally terminated WWI. The Treaty ( http://history.acusd.edu/gen/text/ve...ty/ver001.html ) included provisions creating the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) and establishing a system of international mandates for the temporary governance of the world's remaining non-sovereign territories. The non-sovereign territory of Palestine was assigned to Great Britain, as Mandatory TRUSTEE, pursuant to Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations (the covenant being the first 26 Articles of the Treaty of Versailles).
From Webster's 1913 Dictionary
( http://www.hyperdictionary.com/dictionary/trustee )
Trustee n. (Law)
A person to whom property is legally committed in trust, to be applied either for the benefit of specified individuals, or for public uses; one who is intrusted with property for the benefit of another; also, a person in whose hands the effects of another are attached in a trustee process.
So as per the legal grant of a TRUSTEESHIP in the Mandate of Palestine, Great Britain was given sovereign control over the territory. However, as a matter of law, a trustee is not permitted to do anything that would be either expressly against the mandate that the trustee was mandated to protect, or do to anything which is inimical to the interests of the person or people for whom the trust was created. There is a special fiduciary relationship between the trustee and the object of the trust.
( http://www.lectlaw.com/def/f026.htm )
FIDUCIARY DUTY - An obligation to act in the best interest of another party. For instance, a corporation's board member has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, a trustee has a fiduciary duty to the trust's beneficiaries, and an attorney has a fiduciary duty to a client.
So for what purpose was this trusteeship created, and what powers were vested in the mandatory trustee in order to further this purpose.
The relevant parts of the League of Nations enabling legislation for the Palestine Mandate are replicated below:
( http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/palmanda.htm )
The Council of the League of Nations:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people , it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and
Whereas 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; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and
Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and
confirming the said Mandate, defines its terms as follows:
The Mandatory shall have full powers of legislation and of administration, save as they may be limited by the terms of this mandate.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.
The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power .
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes .
The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.
The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief .
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine (i.e. what is now Jordan) as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, [B] provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, [B] 16 and 18
The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate.
The Land governed by this mandate consisted of approximately 120,450 km2. Of the total lands, approximately 22,990 km2, or 22% of the total, lay to the west of the Jordan river, while the remaining 78% consisted of what is today Jordan and the Golan Heights.