[166. Balfour Declaration questionable and illegal

In his letter of June 10, Bernard Sussman was right when he said that "In 1922, evidently unilaterally, Britain split off the portion of Palestine east of the Jordan river to make a new nation, then called Trans-Jordan." He made the point that by doing so, Britain denied the Zionists 78 percent of the whole Palestine Mandate.

By the same token, when he said "It was expected that Britain would adhere to its pledge to create a ‘Jewish National Home (in Palestine) as given in the Balfour Declaration," one might ask who, in the first place, authorized Britain to "unilaterally" give such a pledge. After all, Palestine was not part of Britain and Britain did not own Palestine. As Jules Basdevant, formerly President of the International Court of Justice, has observed: "International law does not recognize the British state as having competence other than over its own territories and over its own subjects and nationals." On the date the Declaration was made, November 2, 1917, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire and neither its territory nor its people were under the jurisdiction of the British government. In fact, the Balfour Declaration has been described as a document in which "one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third."

If Britain's unilateral action in 1922 was questionable, if not illegal, so was its action in 1917.

June 15, 1998]