Making the case

Howard Grief proves Israel is legally a Jewish state with the San Remo resolution of 1920.

San Remo Conference 521 (photo credit:
San Remo Conference 521
(photo credit:
After three decades of extensive research, no one makes a stronger legal case for Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria than Howard Grief. Born in Montreal and educated in the law at McGill University, Grief began delving into Israel’s legal chain of title to the land in 1982. His in-depth research and analysis were eventually compiled in the treatise The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, published in 2008.
Recently, Grief laid out his findings and they are quite fascinating.
Grief maintains that Israeli politicians, diplomats and jurists have always set out a claim of sovereignty to the Land of Israel which is missing several key elements – and the recent Levy Report would be no exception. The main flaw, he contends, is that they have failed to grasp the full import of the San Remo resolution of April 1920.
Insisting he was the first to draw attention to the wider scope of the San Remo decision, Grief described its historical context.
The Allied powers who won the First World War negotiated a treaty with Germany at the Paris conference in 1919 and then met with the Turks the following spring at the Italian resort of San Remo to divvy up the lands the Ottoman Empire had just lost in the Middle East.
“The Principal Allied Powers – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – did an unusual thing at San Remo,” Grief recounted. “Most victors annex territory conquered in war. But they decided to ‘subjugate’ the Ottoman lands and hold the sovereign title in trust for the benefit of the local inhabitants until they were ready to govern themselves. This is the origins of the mandate system.”
“In Palestine, the national beneficiaries were deemed to be the entire Jewish people worldwide,” he continued. “Palestine was a case of sui generis – one of a kind. This did not exist for all the other mandates. Few people remember that today,” insisted Grief.
“The San Remo resolution specifically references the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the British commitment to establish a ‘national home’ for the Jews in Palestine,” added Grief.
“That’s the reason why I submit that sovereignty was vested in the Jewish people at San Remo, and not in the League of Nations mandate two years later. The League’s mandate just obligated Britain to serve as a trustee until the Jews were ready to govern themselves.”
This all occurred when colonialism was dying and the Wilsonian concept of national self-determination was being birthed. Grief credits the San Remo decision to Jan Christiaan Smuts, a British statesman and field marshal who later served as prime minister in South Africa. The year before, Smuts had drafted a memorandum setting out the mandate concept which later became Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Grief says the Smuts document specifically mentions Palestine as a mandated territory to be developed into a Jewish state in accordance with the Balfour Declaration.
Grief uncovered other unique aspects of the Palestine mandate which have been largely lost to history. First, the mandate entrusted to Britain in 1922 specifically states in Article 5 that the land cannot be divided.
“That means the UN Partition Plan of 1947 was an illegal act,” declared Grief. “Even the government of Israel cannot divide the land, so the Oslo process was also unlawful.”
“This is something that is really unbelievable! The State of Israel doesn’t assert its rights and doesn’t even know their rights,” Grief added. “I don’t want to be too pompous to say that before my book was published, government leaders were not aware as to how strong the legal case of the Jewish people was to all of Palestine.”
In addition, Grief found that the United States, both in a joint act of Congress in 1922 and in a treaty with Great Britain two years later, endorsed the Mandate in Palestine and pledged to be a guarantor of its provisions, which included the obligation to encourage “close settlement of Jews on the land.”
“This means the US is breaching its duty by opposing the settlements. By the doctrine of estoppel, the US is estopped [legally barred] from denying Jewish legal rights to the Land of Israel, in particular to Judea and Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem.”