The two-state solution conversation, concerning a division of Israel’s land to allot for a state within the Holy Land for Palestinians, is never far from the media and political discussions. Many people typically discuss the issue with great spite for the Jewish state. Israel’s critics constantly accuse the nation of occupying the land and oppressing the Arab Palestinians that live within its borders. These accusations, which often turn to calls for Israel’s destruction, blatantly ignore history.
The 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine typically arise as the primary international factors that brought about Israel’s rebirth in 1948. The Balfour Declaration pledged a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Palestine—biblical Israel. And the Partition Plan proposed a division of the land into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and Jerusalem, which resulted in one of at least five Arab rejections of a two-state solution.
But the 1920 San Remo Conference, despite infrequently receiving credit, is a major event that anyone who wants to know the truth about Israel, Arabs, and the Holy Land should understand. It leaves little room to deny that modern Israel has as much right to exist as its myriad hostile neighbors.
Arabs Supported Israel’s Right to the Land
During this seven-day conference, representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan (with the United States observing) gathered to determine what to do with the land the Allies captured during World War I. They decided to place the land known as Palestine under British rule. They also reaffirmed the Balfour Declaration’s priority of instituting a Jewish national home in this land.
The Arabs did not oppose the existence of one small Jewish state, as they believed it would help lead to the formation of many Arab states.
While supporters of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, king of the short-lived Arab Kingdom of Hejaz, worked toward the creation of an Arab state, they showed no opposition to the creation of a Jewish state. Emir Faisal, Sharif Hussein’s son and the Arabs’ only representative at that time, formally supported the Jewish people’s right to their historical homeland. His attention was turned toward establishing Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt as independent nation-states. The Arabs did not oppose the existence of one small Jewish state, as they believed it would help lead to the formation of many Arab states.
The 1919 Faisal–Weizmann Agreement, made between Emir Faisal and Chaim Weizmann, president of the Zionist organization, testified to this fact and advanced the creation of both the State of Israel and 22 Arab states. The agreement declares in part:
All necessary measures will be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasants and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.
Faisal made his approval contingent upon Great Britain fulfilling its wartime promises to the Arabs. Then, after signing the agreement, he wrote,
We Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper…. We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home…. [We] look forward… to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilized peoples of the world.
We Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.
Though the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement was overruled by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, and though Faisal may have been feigning approval for Jewish sovereignty to support his own dream of establishing Arab dominance in the region, the agreement demonstrated that, at the time of the San Remo Conference, the Arabs agreed to the Jewish people’s right to their historical homeland.
Arab States’ Existence Is Tied to Israel’s Existence
Ultimately, the San Remo conference resolutions were signed by all 51 countries of the League of Nations. These resolutions led to the Mandate for Palestine, which secured the land of Israel for the Jewish people.
The Mandate also contributed to the establishment of all 22 states that currently comprise the Arab League: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria (participation currently suspended), Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Because the conference catalyzed the establishment of these states as well as Israel, denying Israel’s right to exist implies that the 22 Arab League states are illegitimate too.
Denying Israel’s right to exist implies that the 22 Arab League states are illegitimate too.
Anyone who wants to discuss Israel’s legitimacy should understand the significance of the San Remo Conference. It proves that in 1920, decades before the State of Israel’s establishment, international powers legally recognized Israel as the Jewish national home, equal to the validity of the Arab League states. Thus, the calls for Israel’s destruction that we hear today cannot be justified on any level and are better classified as genocidal chants.
The Lord “who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4), and He will preserve them forever, according to His faithful promises. But those who refuse Israel’s divine mandate to the land must accept that its historical, legal license still belongs to Israel.