Balfour 2017: Abbas and the Andromeda Strain

Everything in this short piece is the curated intellectual property of Eugene Kontorovich, Howard Grief, Eli Hertz, Julius Stone, Elihu Lauterpacht, website of First One Through, David Collier @Beyond the Great Divide and a position paper from Europeans for Israel.
I also owe Wikipedia a nod for my inspiration for the first four paragraphs of this piece


Back in 1917, a political satellite landed in the Middle East. Politicians believed that the political satellite was designed to capture and soothe earth-level atmospheric hatreds in a discrete area of the Middle East after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

However, what actually landed was a political microbe with a deadly micro-organism that killed by periodic blood-letting or extravascular dissolution. Further investigation revealed that the microbe, code-named the Andromeda Mandate for Palestine, mutated with each growth cycle changing its political properties.

Jews living in the area discovered that the strain grew only within a narrow political pH range: in a too truthful or too factual growth medium common to the rest of the western world, it would not multiply. Andromeda’s typical pH range was Muslim Arab supremacism, intolerance of other and historical revisionism, properties found in abundance in an Islamicised Middle East which had invaded and ethnically cleansed indigenous Jews of the region.

By the time the world’s politicians realized this, the Andromeda Mandate for Palestine had mutated into a form that degraded western democracy’s social and ethical shields in its own heartland as it escaped its containment.

If we fast forward to 2017, we find that in 2017, current curator and defender of the Andromeda Strain, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, intends to sue makers of the original satellite 100 years ago when he announced his intention to sue the British Government over a 1917 declaration that paved the way for the creation of Israel.

Mr Abbas accused Britain of supporting “Israeli crimes” since the end of the Mandate for Palestine and claimed the country was among the parties responsible for the exodus of Palestinian refugees: “Nearly a century has passed since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,” his statement said. “And based on this ill-omened promise, hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.”

Mr Abbas thus characterised the Balfour Declaration as a “fateful promise from those who do not own to those who do not deserve”.

In addition, he demanded that Britain apologize for its 1917 declaration endorsing the founding of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, that it should recognize Palestine as a state and that it should help put an end to illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, the Muslim heartland of Palestine popularly known as the West Bank.

Abbas raised the 1917 declaration – named for Arthur Balfour, then the British foreign secretary – in the context of other milestones, including the 1948 U.N. General Assembly resolution partitioning Palestine into two states and the 1967 war when Israel allegedly occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

And, framed within a context of Islamic antisemitism, it is these two facets, the claimed illegally of the founding of the State of Israel and the claimed illegality of Israeli occupation and settlement of the “West Bank” that I would like to briefly touch on here in preparation for a promising 2017.

There is no shortage of antisemitism in the world. And Islamic countries are by far the most anti-Semitic. Consider the following table (h/t First One Through{FOT}):

  • West Bank & Gaza: 93% of the areas are anti-Semites
  • Iraq: 92%
  • Yemen: 88%
  • Libya: 87%
  • Algeria: 87%
  • Tunisia: 86%
  • Kuwait: 82%
  • Bahrain 81%
  • Jordan: 81%
  • Qatar: 80%
  • Morocco: 80%
  • UAE: 80%

To paraphrase FOT here: “There are fewer Jews in Iraq, Yemen and Libya COMBINED than there are in two Melbourne tram cars…..”

In this, they are supported by various agencies such as the UN and the EU which frame and nurture the arguably racist terminology used to castigate Israel through the use of the term Anti-Zionism instead of antisemitism.

However, as Michael Gove pointed out, “Antisemitism has moved from hatred of Jews on religious or racial grounds to hostility towards the proudest expression of Jewish identity we now have — the Jewish state.”

Following this paradigm, Gove goes on to say that “Antizionism is not a brave anti-colonial and anti-racist stance, it is simply antisemitism minding its manners so it can sit in a seminar room.”

Cycling the sentiments of Abbas, Gove finishes with a call for the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration — in which Britain announced its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” — by moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and have the Queen open the new premises in a show of solidarity with the Jewish state. In this he echoes the sentiments of the President Elect of America, Donald Trump.

But I digress. What of Abbas’ first claim that Balfour was a promise from those who did not own to those who did not deserve? As is the case with all of the “Palestinian” claim to a state, there are a multitude of arguments which give the lie to the sentiment.

Julius Stone states unequivocally that the basic precept of international law concerning the rights of a state victim of aggression, which has lawfully occupied the attacking state’s territory in the course of self-defence is that a lawful occupant such as Israel is entitled to remain in control of the territory involved pending negotiation of a treaty of peace.

As far as Israel is concerned and in accordance with international law, nothing has changed in 68 years. Moreover, it remains international law after the Charter,
which gave to the UN General Assembly no power to amend this law. Both UNSC (binding) Resolution 242 (1967) and Resolution 338 (1973), adopted by the Security Council after respective wars of those years, expressed this requirement for settlement by negotiations between the parties. For its part, the non-binding UNGA Resolution 181 (1947) known also as the 1947 Partition Plan, hinged on acceptance by both parties – Arabs and Jews to accede to the terms of the resolution.

The resolution recognized the need for immediate Jewish statehood [and a parallel Arab state], but the blueprint for peace became a moot issue when the Arabs refused to accept it.

Aware of the Arabs’ past aggressions, Resolution 181, in paragraph C, called on the Security Council to: “Determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.” [emphasis added]

The [British] Government of Palestine feared that strife in Palestine would be greatly intensified when the Mandate was terminated, and that the international status of the United Nations Commission would mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcended all other considerations.

Sixty years later, that analysis has remained as accurate and relevant today as it was when first made in 1947. Only, of course, in the interim, after three failed military attempts to wipe out Israel through force as promised, in the late 1990s, more than 50 years after Resolution 181 was rejected by the Arab world, Arab leaders suddenly recommended to the General Assembly that UN Resolution 181 be resurrected as the basis for a peace agreement.

In doing this, the Arab world espoused again the Doctrine of Limited Liability. In this Doctrine, an aggressor may reject a compromise settlement and gamble on war to win everything in the comfortable knowledge that, even if he fails, he may insist on reinstating the status quo ante.

For Israel’s part, a return to Resolution 181 was never on the cards for a number of reasons. Firstly, Arabs not only rejected the terms of the resolution and took action to prevent establishment of a Jewish state, but also blocked establishment of an Arab state under the partition plan not just before the Israel War of Independence, but also after the war when they themselves controlled the “West Bank” (1948-1967).

Secondly, the UN itself recognized that Resolution 181 was a dead issue with the UN Palestine Commission’s February 16, 1948 report noting that Arab-led hostilities were an effort “To prevent the implementation of the [General] Assembly plan of partition, and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian [Jewish designated!!] territory.”

When Israel emerged victorious after the War of Independence, Resolution 181 had become a moot issue as realities on the ground made the establishment of an armistice-line [the “Green Line”] – a temporary ceasefire line expected to be followed by peace treaties – the most constructive path to solving the conflict.

In practical terms this meant that by the time armistice agreements were reached in 1949 between Israel and its immediate Arab neighbors (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan) Resolution 181 had become irrelevant, and the armistice agreements addressed new realities created by the war [Eli Hertz].

Both Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice, a renowned expert on international law and Professor Stone lacerated the 1981 Arab suggestion for a return to 181 as if nothing had happened. Lauterpacht added that, with particular regard to the status of Jerusalem as an internationally administered city, any binding force the Partition Plan would have had to arise from the principle pacta sunt servanda, [treaties must be honored – the first principle of international law] that is, from agreement of the parties at variance to the proposed plan. As mentioned above the Arabs actively refused the plan and so had no say in anything that resulted on that score post the 1949 armistice lines…

Professor Stone added that Israel’s “legitimacy” or the “legal foundation” for its birth did not reside with the United Nations’ Partition Plan, which as a consequence of Arab actions became a dead issue. He therefore concluded: “The State of Israel is thus not legally derived from the partition plan, but rests (as do most other states in the world) on assertion of independence by its people and government, on the vindication of that independence by arms against assault by other states, and on the establishment of orderly government within territory under its stable control.”

Mahmoud Abbas’ “Palestine” does not fulfil those criteria even today.

Additionally, Abbas’ “Palestine” does not fulfil the spirit and intent of the San Remo Conference of 1920 which recognized, under modern international law, the legal title of the Jewish People to the mandated territory of Palestine.

The territory known as “Palestine” was still part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, with which Britain and her allies were at war. Although the British forces entered Jerusalem in December 1917, the war with Turkey in Palestine continued into 1918. Once Britain liberated Palestine from Turkish rule in 1918, it was in a position to implement its policy.

For his part, on Jan 8, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson stated that the “Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development” [European Council for Israel]

This informed certain principles embodied in the Covenant of the League of Nations making it effectively a direct result of the First World War, and where its Covenant or Articles of Organization were incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles, which entered into effect in January 1920.

The San Remo Conference was convened for the purpose of dealing with, amongst other things, claims that the Zionist Organization had submitted in February 1919 at the Peace Conference in Paris, while also taking into consideration the submissions of the Arab delegation. (The Arab and Zionist delegations had pledged to support each other’s claims.)

The Zionist Organization had requested the appointment of Great Britain as Mandatory (or Trustee) of the League in respect of the Mandate over Palestine. with the clear understanding “that nothing must be done that might prejudice the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities at present established in Palestine, nor the rights and political status enjoyed by the Jews in all other countries”.

The claims of the Zionist Organization included a demand for the recognition of “the historic title of the Jewish people to Palestine and the rights of the Jews to reconstitute their National Home in Palestine” on territories west and east of the Jordan River.

San Remo thus legally created 3 mandates: Syria/Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. In Palestine, a Jewish agency would liaise with the British Administration thus legally vesting the political authority explicitly in the Jewish people, with the ultimate objective of the establishment of the Jewish national home.

Further, the language of the Mandate persistently referred specifically to the reconstituted “national home” for the Jewish people while safeguarding all civil and religious rights of Arab and other inhabitants [Grief 2008]

It should be noted that the Mandate did not distinguish these non-Jewish inhabitants similarly as “a people” or as lacking a “national home” in contrast to the other former Ottoman Asiatic territories which became Syria, Lebanon and Iraq [and Jordan].

Abbas does not appear to see fit to mention this in his intended submission as indeed he ignores Article 5 of the Mandate: [N]o Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign Power.

So, while content with the parties to the San Remo Conference producing, in conformity with the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, binding resolutions relating to the recognition of claims to the Ottoman territories presented in Paris with regards to the newly formed Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, his only beef with the accord is that a Jewish state will also be legally re-constituted.

How denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist is anything but an anti-Semitic expression of a supremacist ideology will be tested in the courts if Abbas goes through with the lawsuit.

And so we move on to Abbas’ second claim: “…hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.”

In this, Abbas indirectly invokes Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention,
which provides that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its
own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” This provision is a staple of
legal and diplomatic international discussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and
serves as the basis for criticism of Israeli settlement policy.

Despite its frequent invocation in the Israeli context, what Abbas either doesn’t know or care about is how the norm has been interpreted and applied in any other occupation context in the post-WWII era.

For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) influential Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law lists 107 instances of national practice and UN practice applying or interpreting the prohibition, and all but two relate to Israel. In other words there is a dissonance between what Article 49(6) would enforce on Israel as opposed to belligerent occupations where it doesn’t involve Israel. Thus, a different standard is applied to several ongoing occupations, from Western Sahara and Northern Cyprus, to the Russian occupations of Ukraine and Georgia, China/Tibet, Nagorno/Karabach (Armenia-Azerbaijan) Syria/Lebanon and Turkey/Kurdistan. Practise of principles of Article 49(6) was also lacking for decades in the case of East Timor and Vietnam/Cambodia [Eugene Kontorovich, Sept. 2016].

In all the cases outlined above, no occupying power has ever taken any steps to discourage or obstruct migration into occupied territory. In no occupation has any occupying power – even those generally concerned with adherence to international humanitarian law – taken any action that would suggest it understands the Geneva Convention as creating any obligation to obstruct, discourage or deny facilities to settlement efforts [Kontorovich]

Two issues arise immediately. The first is that the migration of people into occupied territories is overwhelmingly the rule rather than the exception where such territories are geographically adjacent. However, apart from identifying Israel, the ICRC, the Conventions’ watchdog, has never identified any problem with systematic worldwide disrespect for Article 49(6).

The second issue that arises is the silence of third countries in the instances above to describe the settlement activity as violations of Art. 49(6). Except in the case of Israel. While silence is not the same as a legal opinion condemning settlement, it implies acquiescence or the assumption that such behavior is accepted as legitimate
In the instances of the examples of belligerent occupation and settlement as tabulated above, the failure by international organizations and groups the U.N., UN Human Rights Commission, the ICRC, and humanitarian NGOs like HRW, to raise legal objections, stands in stark contrast to the alertness and alacrity of those same groups in the case of Israel and land captured in defensive actions.

It is not as if, in most of these contexts, the international community has not
condemned the underlying occupation or aggression, and in most if not all cases, it has not criticized the occupying power for violations of IHL and human rights norms. However, when the international community has asked the UN, the EU Parliament, PACE, and other bodies to denounce these activities as illegal and to take court action, they have refused.
Even where some of these settlement situations fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (Cyprus, Ukraine, and Georgia) the Prosecutor has not taken any steps to investigate the settlement activities in those contexts, where it has not dragged its feet in the hunt for Israel.

Such omission speaks loudly.

And it is omissions such as these that will yet again relegate Abbas’ antics to the level of time and money wasting farce.

Abbas’ invocation of Article 49(6) is pure “Palestinian” penchant for theatre and bombast.

This because no international actor or body has ever described any of
this activity in the situations included above as a violation of Article 49(6) and there has never been a suggestion that the occupying power in those instances has ever been obligated to remove such settlers {with the partial exception of Northern Cyprus [Kontorovich]}.

In the original story, the Andromeda strain was inoculated against and, after sucking almost the air out of the Wildfire complex (in the story), was believed to have migrated to the upper atmosphere, where the oxygen content was lower, better suiting its existence.

In 2017, with BDS on the ropes courtesy of pushback, increasing investment in Israel and mounting legal challenges to BDS across European and American states and jurisdictions, where a US government appears to rally to the cause of survival of the sole Jewish democracy in the world, where hitherto unheard of alliances have been forged between Israel and several powerful Muslim Arab states and many new African ones, where Palestinians have exported a viral model of car rammings, axe attacks and suicide bombings across a stunned and paralysed Europe and where international NGO funding to subversive, violent ME elements is increasingly cut back AND scrutinised,  the Andromeda Strain in Palestine may finally begin to feel the effects of that reduction in oxygen which will lead to its reduced ability to infect others and cannibalise decency.

Chag Hanukkah Sameach.


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