02/26/2013 12:31 EST | Updated 04/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Who Owns Jerusalem According to International Law?

True to form of Israel's detractors, the Toronto Star published a commentary this month which engaged in historical revisionism and outright lies by claiming that Israel has no legal claim to Jerusalem and areas of the West Bank, called until a few decades ago "Judea and Samaria", and now referred to by writer Carol Trainor as "occupied territories".

No "legal claim"? Leaving aside the undisputed fact that Palestinians have never been sovereign rulers to this land, Israel's legitimacy was recognized by the United Nations and their predecessor, the League of Nations. The pre-existing right and historic 3,000 year connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel was recognized in a legal document titled the Mandate for Palestine, which was approved by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24th, 1922. The legally binding League of Nations mandate was approved by their 51 member countries and called for the recognition and reconstitution of the Jewish National home in Palestine -- an area that included Judea and Samaria as well as the Gaza Strip.

The Arab people's sovereignty rights were granted by other League of Nations Mandates for Syria (which included Lebanon), Iraq and later Jordan--areas which total 3/4 of a million square kilometers. The mandate system and how it applied to the Middle East was first decided at the San Remo Conference on April 24 and 25, 1920. It was there that the Mandates for Palestine (Israel), Syria and Mesopotamia (Iraq) first became law. All these mandates, one for the Jewish state (28,000 sq/km) and four Arab states (750,000+ sq/km) happened at the same time in history.

The United Nations is obligated under article 80 of their own Charter, to uphold the Mandate system of the League of Nations. It therefore violates its own Charter and international law whenever it tries to change decisions which are already binding.

Since time immemorial, the root cause of the conflict has been the fundamental rejection of the Jewish State's right to exist and to exercise self-determination. Had Palestinian Arabs agreed to the 1947 Partition Plan, dividing the land into two states, a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international supervision, (a plan which was a violation of the decisions already set in international law), the conflict wouldn't exist today. But instead, Israel had to repulse the combined attacks of five Arab armies in 1948 and subsequent attacks by surrounding Arab states in 1956, 1967 and 1973 which resulted in Israel taking over areas of east Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Subsequently, Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) signed an agreement for limited Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza, the latter which Israel withdrew from in 2005 disengaging over 8,500 settlers, its combined armed forces, and 21 settlements. This unilateral Israeli effort for peace saw reciprocity only in the form of Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli cities.

Sadly, Palestinians have continued their previous rejectionist dictum adopted in the notorious Khartoum Resolution of 1967: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel and no recognition of Israel. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' recent statehood gambit at the UN personified this approach of protracting, not resolving the conflict.

In reality, the Jewish people have had a continuous and unbroken physical presence in the land of Israel for over 3 millennia. A land first promised to the patriarch of the Jewish people, the biblical Abraham, by God. A Jewish presence in the land of Israel has existed during three separate historical periods and despite periods of forced expulsion and exile, Jews have always yearned to come back. Not only are there spiritual ties that connected Jews in exile all over the world to their historic homeland, but Jews were actually living there the whole time settling and developing the land.

Abetted by the Toronto Star's online platform, Ms. Trainor willfully discarded history, binding legal documents, the UN Charter and the provisions of the international laws of war when she erased the Hebrew, religious and historical connection of Jews to the land of Israel. It is the Jewish people that have a greater claim and connection to the Land of Israel as their national homeland than any other nation or people. Let us not be obtuse to this historic reality.

  • This commentary was co-written with Richard Bass, the author of Israel in World Relations, a new book that emphasizes critical thinking to explore Israel in 4,000 years of world history, ideology, religion and politics.