This year is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. This most significant statement of the British War cabinet set in motion a process that would culminate in the gathering of the Principal Allied Powers at a conference in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920.
At the conference, the victorious allies – including Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the United States – met to determine the allocation of lands gained in their victory over the Ottoman Empire. The decisions made in San Remo provided rights to the Jewish People in Palestine and also granted similar rights to the Arabs inhabiting Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
According to Jacques Gauthier, an expert in international law, “The San Remo resolutions adopted by the Principal Allied Powers on April 25, 1920, established the territorial rights of the Jewish People under international law in respect to Palestine. The sovereignty entitlements granted by the historic San Remo Conference of 1920 remain in force to support the legal claims to the lands for the State of Israel and the Jewish People. Regardless of what may be negotiated by the parties involved in the territorial Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the starting point must be what is historically true in international law.”
In 2007, Gauthier defended his doctoral thesis, entitled, Sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem. He was successful, despite the many hours of grilling he received over the content of his 1,289-page thesis. He was left with a choice over what to do with the knowledge he gained – knowledge that has largely been forgotten by the world, including, for some unknown reason, the Jewish People, both in the Diaspora and in Israel.
A practising lawyer, husband and a father of four beautiful daughters, Gauthier could easily have settled into the easy life of middle age, watched his daughters marry and have children, and enjoyed summers at the cottage. Instead, he has devoted a considerable amount of his time, and a good deal of his financial resources, to spreading the historical truth, and reminding the world of the rights granted to the Jewish People under international law to a piece of land that’s actually much larger than what the State of Israel is today.
The Arab state of Trans-Jordan was established by the British government in 1921, within the boundaries of the Palestine Mandate that was originally allotted for the Jewish National Home, and the Council of the League of Nations approved the partition of Palestine in 1922. Gauthier says that Israel arguably relinquished its claim over areas of Palestine east of the Jordan River, when it signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994. But he points out that the remaining lands west of the Jordan River remain the property of the Jewish People under international law.
Gauthier has given talks about this issue in numerous forums around the world (some of which are available on YouTube). He has spoken in front of the House of Commons in Ottawa, the House of Commons and the House of Lords in London, the Knesset in Jerusalem, the Senate in Rome, the European Parliament in Brussels, the Japanese Parliament in Tokyo, the Dutch Parliament in The Hague and the Légion d’Honneur Centre in Paris. He was knighted by the Republic of France as Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite in 2000 and was further knighted as Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’honneur in 2015.
Recently, he invited 60 people from Belgium, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom., Canada, the United States and Israel – including members of the House of Lords, a former Canadian MP, lawyers serving at the International Criminal Court and members of the European Coalition for Israel – to San Remo to attend a special gathering to commemorate the rights granted to the Jewish People at the 1920 San Remo conference.
‘The remaining lands west of the Jordan River remain the property of the Jewish People under international law.’
This visit to San Remo was a moving and highly educational experience for all involved, including my wife Janette and I, who attended along with a large complement of other people from Toronto. The participants gathered to learn more about what should be fundamental knowledge relating to the Israeli-Palestinian territorial dispute, particularly for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.
I asked Gauthier about his political views. Is he against the idea of a two state solution? Is he a proponent of the settler movement? He answered very directly and simply: “I am an expert in the rights of the Jewish People to what was then Palestine, including the city of Jerusalem. I am not an expert in Middle Eastern politics. I will leave it to those experts to pursue the right solution for peace. I will, however, encourage them to begin with the historical truth. We must first acknowledge legal rights before those entitled to those rights (or those who insist on speaking for them) choose to abandon or assign these rights to others.”
Gauthier’s mission is to remind the nations of the world that the allegation that Israelis are trespassers, outlaws or even thieves in any part of the biblical lands has no foundation in international law. We owe him a debt for reminding us of those rights.
Michael Diamond is a consultant, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He is involved extensively in Jewish and non-Jewish community life and sits on, or chairs, several boards and committees of a number of non-profit organizations.