September 03, 2005

Bring Back the Mandate

Bring back the Mandate to Palestine? What an absurd suggestion, least of all coming from an ardent admirer of Menachem Begin who did more than most to remove the British from this country.

However, if there is to be a new state of Palestine to be established behind our newest border at Gaza, I say that it should be born out of the same mandatory conditions from which the State of Israel emerged. The parallels are interesting and ironic.

The carve-up of the Middle East into ‘Mandatories’ was initiated by the League of Nations at the end of the First World War, using Britain and France as ‘big brothers’ to normalise the territories formerly controlled by the disintegrated Ottoman Empire. Whilst the mandate for Palestine was supposed to be based on the principles of the Balfour Declaration, its British trustees made it their business to frustrate, undermine and ultimately endanger the builders of the Jewish National Home. The British saw their primary role as protecting the majority Arab population and ensuring that they would not be undermined by Jewish immigrants seeking to take over their land and resources. Whilst Jews struggled to procure essential supplies, fuel and, ultimately, arms and ammunition, these resources flowed freely to the Arabs unhindered at checkpoints and seaports.

Isn’t this exactly what is needed for the new state of Palestine? Its Arab population has been undermined for decades by outsiders like Iran’s mullahs, Saudi Arabia’s sheikhs, and Syria’s dictators not to mention the Egyptian born Yasser Arafat. The world now waits to see whether the Palestinian Authority will survive as a fledgling state or if it will be overrun by Hamas and turned into a terrorist kleptocracy. Currently all the bets are on Hamas.

So I say, let the mandate return to Palestine. Let it support Abbas and his people with the same resolve as the British supported the Mufti. Let it control the arms smuggling tunnels just as fiercely as the British operated their roadblocks against the Jews. And if Gaza is to have its own international seaport, let the new mandatory force turn back Iranian arms shipments with the same cold-blooded resolve as they turned back Jewish refugees to face certain death in Nazi-occupied Europe. And let them hang Hamas terrorists with the same convenient interpretation of the Geneva Convention as the British justified the hanging of seven heroes of the Irgun resistance in 1947.

The sad truth is that, for us, the mandate never really did come to an end. Look at us now. With all the world-beating progress we have made in 57 years, we have still been living under someone else’s mandate. Whether it’s the US, the EU, the Quartet or the UN. In all that time ‘the powers that be’ have presumed to re-draw the borders of our sovereign nation… all to keep their oil supplies flowing and, more recently, to keep terrorism off their own streets. Having travelled a treacherous route through Camp David, Madrid, Oslo, Wye, Taba and Sharm the State of Israel is now told it needs a Road Map.

How little has changed since the League of Nations’ mandate was created. It was on a sunny April day in 1920, in the small Italian town of San Remo that officials from Britain and France drew up a new map of the Middle East whilst the American ambassador read a newspaper in his garden. Has this process not continued, with the same indifference to our people, over the last 50 years?

The only way to purge this latent mandate is with the same tactics as we forced the end of the British mandate. We must stop looking and acting like a client state and be prepared to assert our rights to this land with active resistance to external control over our borders and security needs. However daunting it may seem to upset our strongest ally in the US or our largest trading partners in the EU, it would be a far lesser challenge than our fledgling nation stood up to in 1948, when the price of ending the British mandate was having to face invasion by five Arab armies.

This article first appeared in the Jewish Press

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