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Downtown Ramallah
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Downtown Ramallah
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Photo in downtown Ramallah with Yassir Arafat and Saddam Hussein.
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editorial: The PA and Lawfare: Some Thoughts on Abbas's Intention to Sue the Brits for Issuing The Balfour Declaration

by Rhonda Spivak, July 29, 2016

Editorial: The PA and Lawfare: Some Thoughts on Abbas's Intention to  Sue the Brits for Issuing The Balfour Declaration  
I raised my eyebrow when I read recently The Palestinian Authority intends to  sue the British government over the issuance in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration, according to the Times of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration stated that the British government “views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and would use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”
The PA Foreign Minister  Riyad al-Malki  blamed Britain for the issuance of the Balflour declaration which  led to all  all “Israeli crimes” committed since 1948, (the end of the British Mandate). "The decision, al-Malki said, “gave people who don’t belong there something that wasn’t theirs.”
It is not clear where the PA intends to sue Britain, in Britain, the International Criminal Court or elsewhere.
But if they are going to sue Britain, why don't the Palestinians  sue the Turks for the fact that the Ottoman Empire lost the battle over Palestine to the British, which lead to the British Mandate of Palestine in the first place ? 
And why doesn't the PA sue the Allied Powers for Defeating Nazi Germany, as if they hadn't the Nazis could have overtaken Palestine and then would have exterminated all the Jews? In the alternative, the PA could sue   Germany for its failure to win World War II, which resulted in the Nazis not overtaking Palestine.
Additionally, why don' t the Palestinians sue the Arab States who failed to win the War against Israel in 1948 ? Had the Arab states been victorious the war would have resulted in the Jews being thrown into the sea?
And what about France. There must be some good reason to sue France.  Why don't the Palestinians sue France for the fact that it carved up the Middle East with the Sykes -Picot agreement in 1916, and allowed the British to get the mandate over Palestine ?
And shouldn't the Palestinians  sue all the member states of the UN who voted in favour of the 1947 partition plan ?  or maybe they should  blame the lack of  a Palestinian state on the surronding Arab states who rejected the UN partition plan that could have created one in 1947? 
Why doesnèt the not sue the former Soviet union for letting so many Jews out of Russia, which resulted in a mass Jewish aliya to Israel
And why doesn't the PA sue Jesus, for the fact that not all of the Jews followed him and became Christian, instead of remaining Jewish ? 
And why doesn't the PA sue Madagascar, since the Nazis had plans to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to  Madagascar, but this plan was  thwarted by the British naval blockade?
And then of course when they are done preparing all these lawsuits, the Palestinian Authority can sue itself, for being in a time warp and taking steps that are backward thinking, forward thinking- and for  failing to accept Israel's existence and being willing to make the required concessions that will be necessary to end one day end the conflict. 
Additionally, it's worth noting that since the Brits no doubt have been sending the PA aid money, in essence they are going to be paying for the privilege of being sued.
Zalman Shoval has pointed out in Yisrael Hayom that there is a reason why the Palestinians are going after the Balfour Declaration. As he wrote," The Balfour Declaration is dangerous for them, not just because it spoke of a national home, emphasis on "national", for the Jews of the land of Israel, but becasue it relates to the Arab population in the land of Israel in the context of its religous and civil rights, without any mention of national rights. It was clear to British statesman that Arabs in that part fo the Ottoman Empire called Palestine did not have the history of a nation, nor did they ever have one in the past...It [the Balfour declaration] corrected a historical debt toard the Jewish nation, as stated by Winston Churchill in 1949 when he said, "The coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is anevent in world hisotry to be viewed in the perspective not of  a generation or a century, but in the perspective of 1000,2000, or even 3000 years." 
Here is the response of the Israeli government to the PA's initiative to sue  Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration , in a statement made by
Director-General Dr. Dore Gold: 

Quite apart from the obvious lack of any legal basis for Abbas' claim, his initiative itself demonstrates yet again the continuing refusal of the Palestinian side to recognize the legitimate and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, alongside the recognition the Palestinians seek for their own rights. 

The legal significance of the Balfour Declaration emanated from the fact that it was incorporated by the League of Nations into the 1922 Mandate for Palestine. That mandate recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to that area and that it provided the grounds for them to reconstitute their national home there. 

This recognition came at a time when the Ottoman Empire, was crumbling and renouncing its sovereignty in the areas south of Modern Turkey. The League of Nations Mandate had the effect of transforming the policy position expressed in the Balfour Declaration into an internationally recognized international legal obligation to give effect to the inherent right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland. 

Rights that were recognized by the League of Nations in that period were preserved by its successor organization, the United Nations, through Article 80 of the UN Charter. 

Significantly, neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate created the historical rights of the Jewish people to their homeland. Rather, these documents together recognized pre-existing rights that the Jewish people never conceded. Indeed thousands of Jews poured back into their ancient homeland well before the Balfour Declaration was issued. 

Israel has insisted that at the end of any negotiation with the Palestinian leadership, it should recognize the rights of the Jewish people to a nation-state, just as many have been insisting that Israel recognize the rights of the Palestinians to a state of their own. 

The statement of Mahmoud Abbas that the Arab League should help sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration is yet another resounding "no" to Israel's fair request for reciprocity through mutual recognition and compromise. It is this stand by the Palestinian leadership that serves as a core obstacle to achieving genuine peace.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.