As part of the Palestinian Authority’s latest ploy to avoid direct negotiations with Israel, it is now absurdly claiming that United Nations Resolution 181, passed by the U.N. General Assembly in November 1947, gave Palestinian Arabs a “right” to a state and the “right” to U.N. membership.
In fact, U.N. Resolution 181 merely recommended partitioning the remaining 22 percent of the Palestine Mandate into Jewish and Arab states. (The British previously wrongfully carved off 78 percent of the mandate, which Britain held in trust for reestablishing the Jewish homeland, and gave it to Jordan.) A mere recommendation of partition, which the Arabs immediately rejected in favor of a war to annihilate Israel, is not a “right.”
The immediate rejection by the Arabs of the 1947 partition plan recommendation rendered the partition recommendation null and void. Instead of agreeing to partition, six Arab nations promptly launched a war to destroy the Jewish state, in which the Arabs murdered 6,000 Jews—1 percent of Israel’s Jewish population. In that war, Jordan seized, and illegally occupied for 19 years, Judea/Samaria and the eastern portion of Jerusalem, containing the Jewish people’s holiest sites. Interestingly, the Palestinian Arabs made no claim for a state when Jordan controlled those areas.
Further, the United Nations has no right to carve off and grant a Palestinian Arab state in any of Israel’s land. The 1922 Palestine Mandate was a “sacred trust” held by Britain, under international law, for the sole purpose of reconstituting the Jewish homeland. The Palestine Mandate gave no national rights to the Arabs. (“Palestinians” used to mean Jews at that time.) U.N. Charter Article 80 (adopted in 1945) preserved intact—even after expiration of the mandate—all rights granted to the Jewish people under the British Mandate for Palestine. The U.N. Charter thus made it unlawful for the U.N. to alter the Jewish people’s right to the mandatory area via any resolution. The only lawful method of altering any of Israel’s rights to the Mandatory area (which includes all of Israel and Judea/Samaria), is via agreement by Israel and the party seeking a portion of Israel’s land.
The P.A. is now also falsely and misleadingly claiming Israel is violating the 1993–1995 Oslo Accords, and that Jerusalem, refugees and settlements must be final-status issues whose status must not be changed pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations. First of all, in fact, the Oslo Accords (1995) only state the status of the West Bank and Gaza should not be changed pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations. This provision means that the Palestinian Arabs cannot declare a state in Gaza or the West Bank (Judea/Samaria) without negotiations. For years, the P.A. has refused to negotiate. Hence, the P.A.’s desire to unilaterally declare a Palestinian Arab state is unlawful under Oslo.
Second, at the time of the accords, Jerusalem was already a united city under Israeli sovereignty and had been so for decades (and was the Jewish capital for thousands of years before that). U.S. recognition of Israel’s longstanding sovereignty over Jerusalem doesn’t change Jerusalem’s status. Recognition of existing status is not a change of status. Moreover, even if U.S. recognition of Israel’s longstanding sovereignty over Jerusalem was somehow considered to be “a change in status,” the Oslo Accords do not prohibit changes in Jerusalem’s status.
Third, at the time of Oslo, the same “settlements” (Jewish communities) that are present in Judea/Samaria today had already existed for decades. The continuing presence and population growth of these Jewish communities is not a “change in status.” If population growth were considered to be a change of status, then the P.A.’s population growth and expansion in Judea/Samaria is likewise a “change in status.”
Moreover, Jews’ rights to live in communities in Judea/Samaria are underscored by the fact that the Oslo Accords call for Israeli jurisdiction over “Area C,” where Jewish communities are located in Judea/Samaria.
Fourth, as ZOA has repeatedly pointed out, the accords never called for the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state. Then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in his 1995 speech to the Knesset on ratification of the Oslo Accords, stated that the final resolution envisioned by Oslo was “an [Palestinian Arab] entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”
Rabin further explained that the final resolution envisioned by Oslo included, “First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev, as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty,” as well as the establishment and inclusion within Israel of the settlement blocs in Judea/Samaria.
Most importantly, it is absurd for the P.A. to try to invoke the Oslo Accords now—when, from the very first day of the accords, the P.A. violated their key requirements to end terrorism by murdering and maiming thousands of Jews in two separate intifadas. The P.A. also promptly violated Oslo’s requirement to cooperate economically with Israel, by launching the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
The P.A. also formally repudiated the Oslo Accords more than three years ago. P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, in his September 2015 speech to the United Nations, proclaimed regarding Oslo: “We declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements.”
The P.A. is promoting bald-faced lies and distortions about U.N. Resolution 181 and the Oslo Accords to avoid making peace with Israel and to try to unilaterally carve up the Jewish homeland and claim a state that the P.A. has no right to unilaterally claim.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth A. Berney is ZOA’s director of special projects.