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The Jewish Claim to Jerusalem: The Case Under International Law

Sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem by Dr. Jacques Gauthier

Canadian lawyer Jacques Paul Gauthier completed in 2007 a twenty-year project in which he researched at the University of Geneva political science department and International Law School, the legal issues relating to the ownership of Israel and Jerusalem. Gauthier’s PhD thesis is entitled:
“Sovereignty Over The Old City of Jerusalem.”1 Dr. Gauthier has demonstrated in painstaking detail in his thesis of over 1,200 pages the following conclusion:
After our examination of the principles of international law pertaining to belligerent occupation, we have concluded that Israel has the right to occupy the territories under its control since 1967, including East Jerusalem and its Old City, until a peace treaty is concluded.2
Since Gauthier’s publication was a PhD thesis, he had to painstakingly document every opinion or conclusion with legal and historical facts. Had the readers of his thesis not agreed with the information in his work they would not have accepted Gauthier’s thesis. This means that Gauthier’s work is the most authoritative opinion covering the international status of the old city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

He has served as legal counsel to various governments including the governments of France, Spain, Mexico and Canada. In 2000 he was knighted by the government of France as Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite. Dr. Gauthier has been involved in the pursuit of human rights in China, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Canada. He has served as the Vice Chair, Acting Chair and President of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Canada).


Gauthier notes that the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 did not have the status of international law, at least not when issued. However, it did become the official policy of the British government that bound Great Britain to pursue the founding and reconstituting of the future state of Israel and granting them self-determination. The United Kingdom took the next step toward reestablishing and founding the Jewish state when General Allenby captured Jerusalem on December 11, 1917 and then the rest of Palestine (Israel).

On January 3, 1919 Chaim Weitzman, who was the leader and representative of the Zionist Organization on behalf of the Jewish people, met with Emir Feisal, who represented the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz. Included in an agreement that both parties agreed upon and executed, was that the Jewish people should get the land in Palestine east and west of the Jordan River and that the old city of Jerusalem would be under Jewish control.

The Paris Peace Conference began on January 18, 1919 and lasted about six months in which new borders were decided upon for parts of Europe and the Middle East and were given the force of international law. The conference was made up of the victorious Allied powers from World War I. The “Big Four” were made up of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. Lord Balfour represented Britain. It was during the summer of 1919 that Arab opposition began to be voiced against the Feisal-Weitzman agreement. As a result that aspect of the conference stalled but eventually was agreed upon.
The Paris Peace Conference ended without a final solution reached concerning the status of Palestine, even though there was much discussion about the matter. (It was continued in 1920 at San Remo).


A meeting to deal specifically with the unfinished business of Palestine, which was to be seen as an extension of the Paris Peace Conference was commenced on April 19, 1920 in San Remo, Italy. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the prime ministers of Britain (David Lloyd George), France (Alexandre Millerand) and Italy (Francesco Nitti) and by Japan’s Ambassador K. Matsui.
The San Remo Resolution adopted on April 25, 1920 incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917 issued by the British government. (Which Stated that a Jewish National Home will be established in Palestine. There was no mention of establishment of any other people or nation in Palestine). The San Remo resolution which was incorporated into the Mandate of Palestine and Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which was adopted at the Paris Peace Conference on April 28, 1919, were the basic documents upon which the British Mandate for the stewardship of Palestine was constructed. It was at San Remo that the Balfour Declaration went from being just a statement of British foreign policy to international law.
The British Mandate was fully implemented upon adoption and approval by the Council of the League of Nations on September 22, 1922. However, when the parties left San Remo in April 1919 the future state of Israel was to be made up of what now constitutes the Kingdom of Jordan, as well as all the land West of the Jordan River, in short all of Palestine. After September 22, 1922 what is now the Kingdom of Jordan was taken away illegally from Palestine and became another new Arab nation. This was the beginning of the trend still operative today that Israel needs to give up more land in order to be promised peace. The reality is that every time Israel gives up land, she experiences even less peace.


On July 1, 1920 the British military administration, which had controlled Palestine since December 1917, was replaced by a British civil administration covering all of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan River, with its headquarters in Jerusalem. The Mandate instructed Great Britain as trustee for the newly reconstituted National Home for The Jews in Palestine, and that Britain would oversee Palestine with the goal of increased Jewish immigration and the establishment of a sovereign national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. At the time of the issuance of the Mandate for Palestine, (Although under international law and treaties, Israel was reconstituted in 1920 and would get sovereign control when they achieved majority) it was believed that there were not enough Jews in the land to establish a sovereign nation. Thus, as trustee Great Britain was to oversee the immigration of Jews to the land and when there were enough then Palestine would become the sovereign national homeland for the Jewish people. However, normally, Britain again violated the treaties and obstructed the goal of developing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. (The British wanted to appease the Arabs in order to get control of the oil).
As the League of Nations was dissolved in 1946, the United Nations, which was founded in 1945, began to deal with the Palestine issue. The UN General Assembly passed a Partition Resolution (Resolution 181 which is only a recommendation) on November 29, 147. This UN resolution, which ascertained that the Jewish majority has been reached and therefore, adopted the necessary legal status from the League of Nations needed for Israel to declare her sovereignty and independence on May 14, 1948. Under resolution 181, the land of Palestine was partitioned again, violating international law and treaties and part of Palestine was given a second time to the Arabs and the rest was given to Israel, except Jerusalem was to become an international city, the UN did this without authority and in violation of international law and treaties of post WWI. Gauthier tells us, “The special international regime for the corpus separatum which was to be established on or prior to October 1, 1948; was to remain in force for a period of ten years. At the end of that ten year period, ‘the residents of the City of Jerusalem shall be . . . free to express by means of a referendum their wishes as to possible modifications of the regime of the city.’”4 The Arabs rejected resolution 181 and attacked the Jews, which annulled the UN resolution; resulting in a larger land area (but still short of what was allocated under international law and treaties, which included all of Palestine) for Israel when the fighting stopped in 1949. Israel’s defensive war for independence also prevented Jerusalem from becoming an international city. The promised election by October 1959, to determine to whom Jerusalem belonged never took place. There is no doubt that the city would have voted for Israel if an election had taken place. Thus, all of the legal rights to the Old City of Jerusalem belong to Israel and the Jews.


Gauthier’s work, which I have only provided a glimpse into, demonstrates that both the land of Israel and the Old City of Jerusalem belong to Israel and the Jews based upon the standards of international law. When commentators appear on the media today and start talking about how Israel is violating international law with their occupation, they are absolutely without any basis in the truth. These advocates for the Arab occupation of Jewish liberated land have no legal basis to stand. However, that does not seem to bother them since they are lawless and many hope through jihad to take over Israel and get rid of the Jews, like they did to the million Jews in the Arab lands. Most of these spokesmen really do not care about the law, international or otherwise; and the Media is biased against Israel.
The facts are that both the Bible and even international law5 says that all the land of ancestral Israel and Jerusalem belong to the Jewish people and has to be under Jewish sovereignty. The fact that many within the international community know this information and choose to ignore it, means nothing.



1 Jacques Paul Gauthier, “Sovereignty Over The Old City of Jerusalem: A Study of the Historical,
Religious, Political and Legal Aspects of the Question of the Old City,” PhD Thesis, University of Geneva International Law School, 2007).
2 Gauthier, “Sovereignty Over Jerusalem,” p. 848.
3 Cited by Gauthier, “Sovereignty Over Jerusalem,” p. 356 from Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-
1939, vol. IV, No. 242, p. 345.
4 Gauthier, “Sovereignty Over Jerusalem,” pp. 599-600. Citation by Gauthier is from Article D, Part III of the Partition Resolution.

5 Sovereignty over the old city of Jerusalem: a study of the historical, religious, political and legal aspects of the question of the old city
Gauthier, Jacques Paul

Genève: Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales, 2007. – 1142 p.

Directeur de thèse: Professeur Marcelo Kohen
Abstract: At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Zionist Organization presented its claim for recognition of the historical and national rights of the Jewish people to Palestine including Jerusalem and its Old City. In San Remo, in 1920, the Allied Powers, holding the power of disposition over Palestine, decided to recognize the Jewish historical claim converting it into a binding international law claim. It was incorporated into the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922. This “Sacred Trust of Civilization” provided for the reestablishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine based on historical connections and recognition of the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country, subject to safeguarding the civil and religious rights of its inhabitants. The thesis studies various aspects of the competing claims to sovereignty over the Old City in light of rights previously granted to the Jewish people under international law

The above summary appeared here:




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