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POST WWI DIVISION OF THE TERRITORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Reader comment on item: Middle East Provocations and Predictions

Submitted by YJ Draiman (United States), Oct 19, 2015 at 16:34

POST WWI DIVISION OF THE TERRITORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Every time the government of Israel authorizes the establishment of a new town in Judea and Samaria, aka West Bank, the Arabs and their blind supporters claim Israel is infringing upon Arab territory. However, an examination of the facts, especially the post WWI division of the Ottoman Empire, proves such Arab claims are false and without merit.

Prior to WWI the Ottoman Empire owned about 92% of the land in Palestine. It is a known historical fact that the Nomadic Arabs in Palestine owned no Land in Palestine. Approximately 8% of the land in Palestine was owned by wealthy Arabs, most living outside of Israel. Approximately 2% of the land was owned by some local Arab leaders including the Mufti of Jerusalem.

Starting in the early 1800's the Ottoman Empire, in need of revenues, sold land to Jews. Furthermore, most of the land acquired by Jews after WWI, was purchased at premium prices from wealthy Arab absentee owners, as well as some from local Arab leaders. In fact, the Mufti of Jerusalem testified in front of the British Peel commission in 1937, stating that the Jews had purchased their properties and no properties were taken by force from the Arabs.

The recent furor surrounding Israel's government's decision to declare nearly 1,000 acres at Gvaot in Gush Etzion as "State Land", is a classic example of the ignorance of history and law that governs most discussions of Israeli actions beyond the internationally hallowed "Green Line." It is a known fact that after WWI the Ottoman Empire territory was divided by the Supreme Allied Powers in the Middle East. The Allied Powers set up 21 Arab states with over 5 million square miles, and one Jewish state in Palestine. Thus, under international law and treaties, Palestine was allocated to the Jewish people. Said allocation was 75,000 square miles and included what is known today as Jordan.

However, Jordan with the help of the British (again in violation of the mandate and international law) enacted a law that prohibited Jews from purchasing land and residing in the new State of Jordan. Jordan later expelled Jews, and illegally confiscated about 80% of the Jewish allocated land, including all properties, homes, businesses, and other assets.

Even though Arabs received over 5 million square miles of territory, they weren't satisfied. As such, other Arab states followed Jordan and expelled over a million Jewish families, most of who resettled in Israel. The Arab states also illegally confiscated all Jewish assets including over 70,000 square miles of real property which is valued today in the trillions of dollars.

Media headlines around the world screamed about "annexation" and "land grab" by Israel. However, Israel or any Nation cannot be "occupiers" in their own land. Thus, Israel does not need to annex its own territory.

Of course, the Arab-Palestinian Authority deceptively declared the "State Land" designation by Israel as a "crime". Moreover, foreign diplomats around the world demanded the reversal of the decision without examining any facts. World diplomats ignored legal precedent making it a violation of international law and treaties to declare Israel as "occupier" of its own historical ancestral land. Yet, few articles, press releases or communiqués mention the crux of the matter; the legal and historical status of the land in question.

OTTOMAN LAND OWNERSHIP LAW

It is time to examine the facts about Judea and Samaria, and other parts of the legal boundary of Israel, as delineated under international law and treaties of post WWI. The post WWI treaties allocated over 5 million square miles to the Arabs, and Palestine's 75,000 square miles to the Jewish people as their National Homeland in 1920. Yet, over 78% of said Jewish territory was then illegally allocated to the Arabs as the State of Jordan including all the area east of the Jordan River. Not only were Jews prohibited from purchasing property or residing in the new Arab State of Jordan, Jews were expelled from their own land with all of their assets illegally confiscated. It cannot be ignored not one foreign diplomat protested such wanton unlawful acts by Jordan.

For many, if not most, around the world, every inch of land beyond the 1949 armistice lines is incorrectly thought to be automatically Arab-Palestinian. Such misconception is a display of intentional ignorance of facts and unfamiliarity with history, international law and executed international treaties of post WWI. The 1919 Faisal Weizmann Agreement states in no uncertain terms the Arab acknowledgement that all of Palestine is Jewish territory. Yet, said proof is ignored.

To truly understand the status of this territory in Greater Israel we have to first differentiate between the personal and the national as the law of the land in the 1800's and up to WWI.

There is very limited land privately owned by Arab-Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, what many call the "West Bank" in seeming deference to the Jordanian occupation, which invented the term as juxtaposition to its eastern bank. These areas, like privately owned territory anywhere in the world, cannot be touched unless there is very pressing reason for a government or sovereign power to do so under the tern known as "eminent domain". These areas, according to Ottoman and British records, constitute no more than a small percent of the total area of Palestine, meaning the vast majority of land in Palestine is not privately owned.

However, to contend that these territories are "Arab-Palestinian" on a national level is more than problematic and seems intentionally deceptive. To claim an area belongs to a particular nation requires the territory to have belonged to that people, where they held some sort of sovereignty that was broadly recognized.

All of these criteria have been met historically by the Jewish people, and none by the Arab-Palestinians. In the January 1919 Faisal Weizmann Agreement it was stated that Palestine shall be the land for the Jewish people, while the Arab nations will own the rest of the land, and the Arabs did receive over 5 million square miles of territory.

In fact, the Jewish people were provided with national rights in these territories not just by dint of history and past sovereignty, but also by residual legal rights contained in the San Remo Treaty of 1920. This was confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne, and adopted by the League of Nations as the Mandate for Palestine. The terms of the Mandate for Palestine were never canceled and are preserved by the UN Charter, under Article 80 – the famous "Palestine Clause," that was drafted, in part, to guarantee continuity with respect to Jewish rights from the League of Nations.

It must be understood the League of Nations, the UN and the ICJ cannot over-ride international law and treaties. The UN can only recommend under its resolutions, and those recommendations must be accepted by all the parties or those recommendations are meaningless. The Arabs have continuously rejected all resolutions of apportionment of the land, and therefore all those UN resolutions which are recommendations only have no effect whatsoever.

For the past 2,400 plus years since the destruction of the Jewish temple and the expulsion of many of the indigenous people, Israel did not have Jewish sovereignty. Rather the land of Israel has been under foreign control and occupied as an outpost in the territory by many global and regional empires.

The Ottomans were the most recent to officially apportion the territory, referred to as Ottoman Syria, which incorporates modern-day Israel, Syria, Jordan and parts of Iraq. Before The Ottoman Land Code of 1858, land had largely been owned or passed on by word of mouth, custom or tradition.

Under the Ottomans of the 19th century, land was apportioned into three main categories: Mulk, Miri and Mawat.

Mulk was the only territory that was privately owned in the common sense of the term, and as stated before, was only a minimal part of the whole territory. It must be noted much of the privately owned land was owned by Jews, who were given the right to own land under Ottoman reforms.

Miri was land owned by the sovereign, and individuals could purchase a deed to cultivate this land and pay a tithe to the government, which is the same as sharecroppers. Ownership to cultivate could be transferred only with the approval of the State. Miri rights could be transferred to heirs, and the land could be sub-let to tenants. Thus, an arrangement could be executed so a tenant in an apartment or house would have rights in the property, but not the title to the property.

Finally, Mawat was State or unclaimed land, not owned by private individuals or largely cultivated. These areas made up almost two-thirds of all territory in Palestine.

The area recently declared "State Land" by the Israeli government, a process which has been under an intensive ongoing investigation for many years, is Mawat land. In other words, it has no private status and is not privately owned. Many claims to the territory suddenly arose during the course of the investigation, but all were proven to be unfounded on the basis of land laws.

Interestingly, it should be clearly understood by those who deem Judea and Samaria liberated "occupied territory", that according to international law the liberating occupying power must use the pre-existing land laws as a basis for claims. Moreover, it is exactly as Israel has done in this case, even though Israel's official position is it does not see itself de jure as an occupying power in the legal sense of the term. It is only a liberator of its own historical ancestral land.

None of these facts are even alluded to in the many reports surrounding the government's actions in settlement and housing. The omission of said facts is highly biased and unjustified. An examination of the relevant background, history and facts would provide the necessary context for what has been converted into an international incident where none should exist.

Many nations and people are questioning Israel's control of its own liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries terrorized, persecuted and ejected over a million Jewish families and their children (who lived there for over 2,400 years) from their countries. No one is mentioning that Arab countries also confiscated Jewish assets, businesses, homes and Real estate property. Most of the expelled Jewish families and their children were resettled in Greater Israel and now comprise over half the population. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people is over 120,000 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is over 6 times the size of Israel, and would have a value today in the trillions of dollars.

Reviewing Jewish title to the land of Palestine, aka Israel, has numerous support. Historical ancestral land, International law and treaties (post WWI), and the actual land that was purchased from the Ottoman empire prior to WWI and after WWI the purchase of land from rich absentee Arab land owners and local Arab leaders. Therefore, it is a forgone conclusion that Israel's rights to the land is supported by more than enough proof to assuage any arguments to the contrary.

YJ Draiman

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