Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

David Singer: Palestine – Changed Narratives Needed To Nurture New Negotiations

Here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

France is not expected to present its anticipated draft proposal for the declaration of a Palestinian State to the U.N. Security Council in September – having reportedly been criticized both by Israel - which does not want any external solution imposed on it – and by the PLO – which fears the Security Council will not meet its demands.

The Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap are dead and buried – even if the headstone is yet to be ceremoniously unveiled marking the actual date when the collective records, transcripts and secret minutes detailing fruitless negotiations conducted during the last 20 years between Israel and the now-disbanded Palestinian Authority were finally consigned to the graveyard of history.

It is now also becoming increasingly apparent that creating a 22nd independent Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt can:

1. ever peacefully eventuate without Israel, Jordan and Egypt’s express consent

2. be unilaterally imposed on Israel as a result of any resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council contrary to the express terms of its own Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Filling this potentially explosive void will require the groundwork to first be meticulously prepared before any new negotiations can actually be undertaken to try and resolve competing Arab and Jewish claims to sovereignty in the remaining 6% of the territory of the former Mandate for Palestine – Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem and Gaza – where sovereignty still remains undetermined (”the disputed territories”).

Such groundwork will require the following factual narratives to have been commonly agreed on and adopted by the negotiating parties prior to commencing negotiations to resolve the conflict:

1. Two of Israel’s immediately adjoining neighbours – Jordan and Egypt – have recognised the existence of Israel as a sovereign State in peace treaties signed by them with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively. These peace treaties have been honoured and respected during difficult periods when they might have been abrogated. They stand as a tribute to the determination of all three sovereign States to maintain a state of peace and avoid a position of confrontation as differences were resolved. Jordan and Egypt are accordingly indispensable parties to any new negotiations with Israel – if Arab sovereignty is to be established in any parts of the disputed territories.

2. Two of Israel’s other immediately adjoining neighbours – the PLO and Hamas – have since 1964 and 1988 respectively maintained in their respective Charters that the Jews have no claims to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in any part of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine vested in the Jews by the unanimous vote of all 51 members of the League of Nations in 1922. Including either the PLO or Hamas in any new negotiations is pointless and meaningless whilst those Charters remain unrevoked.

3. The on-going conflict needs to be re-branded “the Jewish-Arab conflict” replacing “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. The current conflict had its origins in the events that took place during World War One – well before the State of Israel was declared in 1948. Marginalising the ongoing conflict by avoiding any consideration of the events that occurred between 1915 and 1948 has operated to paper over any proper discussion of the many opportunities presented to and rejected by the Arabs in relation to gaining territorial sovereignty in the disputed territories during that time - and indeed after 1948. This could impact on the current Arab claims to sovereignty over any of the disputed territories which may have been jeopardised or prejudiced as a result.

4. Recognition that the territory of the Mandate for Palestine is currently under Jewish sovereignty in 17% (Israel), Arab sovereignty in 78% (Jordan) with the remaining 6% comprising the disputed territories.

5. Claims that the building of Jewish settlements in the disputed territory are illegal in international law – based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention - need to be reconsidered having regard to the following prior territory-specific piece of legislation – Article 6 of the 1922 Mandate for Palestine – legalising such Jewish settlement: 
“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.”
Pursuant to this provision – preserved in 1945 by Article 80 of the UN Charter – Jews have legally settled in the disputed territories between 1922 and 1947 – and since 1967.

6. The continued use of language referring to the disputed territories as being “occupied territory” or “Occupied Palestinian Territories” and the need for Israel to “end the occupation” fails to recognise that it was the Jews whose occupation in the disputed territories was first abruptly ended in 1948 – after every single Jew then living there was forcibly driven out by six invading Arab armies and not allowed to return until after the Six Day War in 1967.

Unless these narratives are changed, nurtured and mutually accepted by the parties before formal negotiations actually begin - one can confidently predict that any fanfare trumpeting yet another round of negotiations will be destined to see those negotiations inevitably end up in their own designated graveyard plot alongside the tomb housing the Oslo-Roadmap failed negotiations.

Negotiations based on shaky foundations without real substance can only guarantee their eventual death throes.


  1. Great article. Thanks for clarifying the history. I think it's often forgotten that the British unilaterally carved out Trans[east of the River]Jordan from 78% of the Palestine Mandatory territory.

    It's not clear to me, as someone with no [international] legal training, whether ALL the remaining territory—essentially current-day Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza—was ever legally obligated to become the Jewish National Home. What IS clear to me, however, is that the West Bank, etc. are disputed, not occupied, territories, and that Israel not only has a 3,000+ year historical presence there, but also received from the international community a clearly worded, fully sanctioned, never annulled "deed" to these territories dating from 1922.

    Pragmatic resolution of the status of the disputed territories may dictate that Israel ultimately asserts sovereignty over only part of these territories. But, such a decision would be by choice, not because it has no right to these territories.

    1. Borhani

      The actual wording of the Mandate vested the right in the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home "in Palestine"

      Churchill in his 1922 White Paper said the words "in Palestine" did not mean "all of Palestine".

      Since however - as you correctly state- 78% of Palestine was denied to the Jewish people for their national home in 1923 - it would be open to argue that establishing that home in the remaining 22% does not depart from the meaning adopted by Churchill and would be in conformity with his interpretation of the Mandate.

      The PLO and Hamas want 100% of the Mandated territory vested under Arab sovereignty - and have never been really prepared to accept the 78% they got in 1923. Therein lies the roots of the conflict that still remains unresolved 92 years later in 2015.

    2. Thank you. RE "roots of the conflict": agreed, and rather incredible, especially given the context of the 21 Arab countries possessing ~550 times the territory.

  2. Very sorry that I have only now posted your comment, Borhani. Am not yet linked to the Internet at my new house. The Internet provider misled me as to the date ...