Today marks the 90th anniversary of the “Mandate for Palestine” – A legally binding document published by League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations.
Until the United Nations remembers and accepts its obligation under the Mandate for Palestine, a genuine peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is likely to remain elusive.
Israelis and friends of the Jewish State alike are accustomed to the never-ending scorn the United Nations heaps on the Middle East’s only free democracy, never mind its desire for peace with all of its Arab neighbors. It may seem unfathomable that the very same institution was ultimately responsible for the creation of Israel nearly 65 years ago.
Today marks the 90th anniversary that the League of Nations, the forerunner of the UN, published the legally binding document “Mandate for Palestine.” The Mandate’s roots can be traced to the founding of modern Zionism in August 1897 and the Balfour Declaration of November 1917.
After witnessing the spread of anti-Semitism around the world, Theodor Herzl felt compelled to create a political movement with the goal of establishing a Jewish National Home in historic Palestine, and he assembled the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. During World War I, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour simply expressed Great Britain’s view with favor for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
In contrast, the Mandate is the multilateral binding agreement which laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in the geographical area called Palestine, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.
The Mandate was not a naive vision briefly embraced by the international community. The entire League of Nations – 51 countries – unanimously declared on that July 24th, 1922: “Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
Washington went a step further: in September of that year, President Warren Harding signed the Lodge-Fish Joint Resolution, which had passed both Houses of Congress without dissent, which read, “Favors the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people.”
The Mandate clearly differentiates between political rights referring to Jewish self-determination as an emerging polity—and civil and religious rights, referring to guarantees of equal personal freedoms to non-Jewish residents as individuals and within select communities. Not once are Arabs as a people mentioned in the Mandate for Palestine. Nowhere in the document is there any granting of political rights to Arabs.