European Union Foreign Ministers say they are ready to recognize a Palestinian State "when appropriate"

European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers issued a statement on Monday, at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting held in Brussels on Monday, repeating the conclusions they reached a year ago: “We reiterate those Conclusions. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. This could include agreed territorial swaps. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU calls for an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee question. A negotiated settlement must allow the two States to live side by side in peace and security”.

The EU council of Foreign Ministers also “reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state. We welcome the World Bank’s assessment that ‘if the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution building and delivery of public services, it is well positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future’.”

When appropriate…

Actually, something not too different was mentioned at the end of the first World War, just before the League of Nations authorized Britain to manage the Palestine Mandate … which was categorized as a Class A Mandate, over a people who were almost ready for independence…

Israel was a full UN member state within a year of independence (but Jordan was made to wait)

Israel was admitted to the UN in May 1949, one year and a couple of days after its declaration of independence as the last British troops pulled out of what had been, for over 25 years, the Palestine Mandate.

Jordan was not admitted to the UN until late in 1955. The Soviet Union opposed its admission because the Western Powers refused to admit each of the Soviet republics separately (which would have given the Soviet Union a big bloc of votes in the UN).
The U.S.S.R. also said that it did not regard the Hashemite Kingdom as being sufficiently independent from Britain.

However, Israeli and Jordanian troops were nose-to-nose all along the UN-brokered armistices lines.

Imagine how it did not improve communications to have Israel a full UN member state, and Jordan refused membership…

It was not until 1955 that a deal was made, whereby just two Soviet Republics (in addition to the USSR) would get a seat and full membership in the world body, the major international organization — and in exchange a group of other states (including Jordan…and Ireland) were also given full membership at the same time.

Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reported today that “The [Israeli] Foreign Ministry has asked senior European Union officials to renew the process of upgrading Israel’s relations with the organization, in view of the renewal earlier this month of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority”. This is posted here.

The British Mandate – currency

Here is a Palestinian Pound bank note, printed under the British Mandate:

Palestine Pound note - image from Wikipedia

The image on the note is the Dome of the Rock — a Muslim place of worship on the Haram as-Sharif esplanade (known to Israelis as the Temple Mount) in the Old City of East Jerusalem.

Some of the Hebrew writing, I am informed, says Eretz Israel.

Since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Israelis have made their own currency — now called the New Israeli Shekel (NIS).

The Palestinians do not — yet — have their own currency … Most of the incoming funds for the present Palestinian Authority (PA) are in dollars, or Euros. Their expenses are in New Israeli Shekels (and sometimes the fluctuation of the exchange rate is punishing…)

Danny Ayalon, again

January 13, 2010

H.E. The Ambassador of Turkey
Mr. Ahmet Oguz Celikkol

His Excellency,

I wish to express my personal respect for you and the Turkish people and assure you that although we have our differences of opinion on several issues, they should be discussed and solved only through open, reciprocal and respectful diplomatic channels between our two governments.

I had no intention to humiliate you personally and apologize for the way the demarche was handled and perceived. Please convey this to the Turkish people for whom we have great respect.

I hope that both Israel and Turkey will seek diplomatic and courteous channels to convey messages as two allies should.


Danny Ayalon
Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel

Fifth anniversary of the International Court of Justice opinion on The Wall – the first attempt at legal clarification, according to Egypt's Judge Al-Araby

From the separate opinion of Justice Nabil el-Araby of Egypt, in the International Court of Justice’s opinion on The Legality of the Construction of A Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, on 9 July 2004, who argued that the UN has a special responsibility for Palestine:
“What I consider relevant to emphasize is that this special responsibility was discharged for five decades without proper regard for the rule of law. The question of Palestine has dominated the work of the United Nations since its inception, yet no organ has ever requested the International Court of Justice to clarify the complex legal aspects of the matters under its purview. Decisions with far-reaching consequences were taken on the basis of political expediency, without due regard for the legal requirements. Even when decisions were adopted, the will to follow through to implementation soon evaporated. Competent United Nations organs, including the General Assembly and the Security Council, have adopted streams of resolutions that remain wholly or partially unfulfilled. The United Nations special responsibility has its origin in General Assembly
resolution 118 (II) of 29 November 1947 (hereafter, the Partition Resolution). Proposals to seek advisory opinions prior to the adoption of the Partition Resolution were considered on many occasions in the competent subsidiary bodies but no request was ever adopted … The Sub-Committee in its report, some two weeks before the vote on the Partition Resolution, recognized that: ‘A refusal to submit this question for the opinion of the International Court of Justice would amount to a confession that the General Assembly is determined to make recommendations in a certain direction, not because those recommendations are in accord with the principles of international justice and fairness, but because the majority of the representatives desire to settle the problem in a certain manner, irrespective of what the merits of the question or the legal obligations of the parties might be. Such an attitude will not serve to enhance the prestige of the United Nations. . . .”  The clear and well-reasoned arguments calling for clarification and elucidation of the legal issues fell on deaf ears. The rush to vote proceeded without clarifying the legal aspects. In this context, it is relevant to recall that the Partition Resolution fully endorsed referral of “any dispute relating to the application or interpretation” ‘ of its provisions to the International Court of Justice. The referral “shall be . . . at the request of either party. Needless to say, this avenue was also never followed. Thus, the request by the General Assembly for an advisory opinion, as contained in resolution 10114, represents the first time ever that the International Court of Justice has been consulted by a United Nations organ with respect to any aspect regarding Palestine”.

Justice el-Araby’s opinion, part of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on The Wall,  can be read in full here.

Israeli Police and Special Forces Prevent Faisal Husseini Memorial Meeting in Jerusalem

Israeli police and special forces prevented the holding of a memorial meeting in honor of the memory of the late Jerusalem political figure, Faisal Husseini, who died in Kuwait on 31 May 2008. The memorial was scheduled to take place at 4: 00 pm Sunday afternoon in East Jerusalem’s Hakawati Theatre,

This would have been the seventh Feisal Husseini memorial meeting in Jerusalem. Last year’s event was held in the Dar al-Tifl school, originally established sixty years ago by Hind Husseini to house and educate 55 orphans who survived the 1948 massacre and expulsion of Palestinians from the village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem by the Jewish Irgun and Stern Gang militias, during the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel.

But, although all previous six annual Faisal Husseini memorial meetings went ahead without interference, this year’s event was not allowed to take place.

“The Israeli police brought with them ‘the brass’, and on the side they had special forces ready”, said Adnan Abdel-Razek, a former UN official and then an associate working with Faisal Husseini in the Orient House, who was there to attend Sunday’s memorial. “They did not even have a court order – which would have meant they would have had to go to the court and explain why they wanted to prevent the memorial, and we would have had the opportunity to explain why we wanted to hold it. No, in Jerusalem, in this supposedly ‘united Jerusalem’, the Israeli police relied on the British Military Regulations of 1947″.

Abdel Razek explained: “They told us to leave, and then they started chasing people. We decided to regroup in front of Orient House. They were brutal – and they were more than brutal, they were nasty. They hit some people. Then they detained Abdel-Qader Husseini, the son of Faisal, who was the sponsor of the memorial meeting. We have 40 witnesses who say that Abdel-Qader did not do anything to provoke this detention. He did not even open his mouth. But the officer in charge said ‘It’s my decision’. Fifteen minutes later Abdel-Qader was released. Then, the officer said that he would not allow even two people to gather together. We know the law and argued with him, saying that the exact stipulation in the military regulation prevents three people (not two) assembling. So, eventually, the officer said that three people could not gather together, then he changed it back to two”.

He continued: “The Israelis have zero tolerance for any Palestinian voice, and it’s getting worse and worse. We have no government, the PLO does not weigh in, and the Palestinian National Authority is not active in stopping the march of the occupation. The Israelis are building settlements, continuing construction of The Wall, confiscating land, and our people are busy discussing ‘important matters’ to advance the negotiations. But there is no way the Israelis can prevent people forever from exercising their basic human rights to political expression and free speech.”

Both Dar al-Tifl, which is located behind the American Colony Hotel, and the Hakawati Theatre, are in the same neighborhood and very close to Orient House, described on its own website as the “Palestinian national gathering place for Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem …which aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state”.

Orient House, a Husseini family property, was closed for a long period after the June 1967 war. It was renovated in the early 1980s to serve as Faisal Husseini’s office and headquarters, first for his Arab Studies Society, and later, when Husseini served as a member of the Palestinian team to the multilateral negotiations that emerged from the Madrid Peace Conference, Orient House became known as the unofficial Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Jerusalem,.

Husseini, a member of Fatah, was the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee Member in charge of Jerusalem.

Faisal Husseini’s offices in the Orient House were shut down by the Israeli authorities during the first Intifada from 1988 until 1992, and again on 10 August 2001, during the second Intifada. It has not since reopened. The only current occupant of the building, the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) non-government charity organization, works out of rented office space on the upper floors.

The Balfour Declaration – 90 years ago today

Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency, wrote on Friday, the 90th anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, that “Despite the condition that the creation of the Jewish homeland should not prejudice the rights of Palestinian communities, that ill-fated decision has led to a continuing state of conflict, the deaths of thousands of people and created a huge refugee problem, with many Palestinians exiled from their ancestral homeland”. The Ma’an article on the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is here.

On the same day, Kol Israel Radio reported “Minister Isaac Herzog [Minister of Welfare and Social Services, Minister of the Diaspora, Society, and Fight Against Antisemitism] will speak about the declaration at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. Herzog said the event is an important historical milestone towards the creation of the state of Israel. Herzog will also participate in an event in Tel Aviv on Monday, together with British Ambassador Tom Philps, marking the anniversary”. The Kol Israel report on the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is here.

Ma’an called the Balfour Declaration “117 words that changed the face of the Middle East”.

The Balfour Declaration is a typed letter, signed by then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, and addressed to a member of the British Parliament, Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the Jewish community in Britain, at the height of the First World War.

It is a “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations”, and was approved by the British cabinet.

The Balfour Declaration

The image above was found on the website of
the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

It says that “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may 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”.

Continue reading The Balfour Declaration – 90 years ago today

Here's where the Palestine Mandate really began – with the Charge of the Light Horse Brigade

General Allenby led a sweep of His British Majesty’s soldiers out of Egypt in 1917 and up to Jerusalem and beyond, claiming a swathe of territory that had belonged, until then, to the Ottoman Empire for some 500 years.

On his way to Jerusalem, General Allenby took Beersheba — in no small part thanks to an apparently magnificent charge by some 800 Australian cavalrymen – the “Light Horse” Brigade.

“On 31 October 1917 British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers captured Beersheva from the Ottomans. This was the first victory in the campaign to capture the Holy Land during World War I.”, says a press release from Shoresh Study Tours, sent around to announce a big 90th anniversary commemorative bash in Beersheva tomorrow.

The Jerusalem Post has a stirring article today, reconstructing and analyzing the event: “Victory by 800 mounted Australians over 4,000 well-trained Turks seems a bit far-fetched. But that’s exactly what happened on October 31, 1917, at the Battle of Beersheba, which 90 years ago arguably changed the direction of the Sinai and Palestine campaign during World War I. It was a day of surprises for the Turks, one that had been planned far in advance: Already in May 1917, General Philip Chetwode wrote his Notes on the Palestine Campaign, which outlined a suggested plan of attack. There he suggested that the approaching Third Battle of Gaza should move inland and center around a relatively loosely guarded east flank of Beersheba. The Turks, he suggested, would not anticipate the mounted attack due to the scarcity of water for horses and soldiers alike. Chetwode, however, claimed that it would be easier and more efficient to secretly engineer water access to the area than to break through the more heavily guarded Gaza area. At the same time, the Turks were led to believe through a series of British subterfuges that they would – for the third time – indeed choose a frontal attack on Gaza. General Sir Edmund Allenby, who assumed command in July, adopted Chetwode’s suggestions and by late October the British were ready for the Battle of Beersheba.

“The attack on the unsuspecting Turks took place at dawn. However, the Anzac Mounted Division was delayed at Tel el Saba, causing the British forces to fall behind in the master battle plan, which had charted the capture of Beersheba before nightfall.

“As a risky last-ditch effort, the commander of the Desert Mounted Corps, General Henry Chauvel, ordered the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade (made up of the 4th and 12th regiments), under Brigadier William Grant, to secure the capture of Beersheba just before sunset. Charging directly into the sun, the horsemen kicked up thunderous clouds of dust as they rode against the Turkish trenches. The frightened Turks, who assumed this was the beginning of a larger force, fled. The Australian soldiers secured the city and intact wells and reservoirs. (The story goes that a torrential downpour saved the remaining horses from dehydration.)

Continue reading Here's where the Palestine Mandate really began – with the Charge of the Light Horse Brigade