Monday, October 28, 2013

An email correspondent sent me part of a discussion from Mondoweiss that claimed that the US recognized Palestine as a state in 1932.

The assertion:
FYI, the US government formally recognized the Mandated State of Palestine in 1932. For example, the case of “Kletter v. Dulles, Secretary of State”, the United States District Court District Of Columbia ruled in 1953 that Mr. Kletter had lost his US citizenship when he was naturalized in the Mandated State of Palestine:

The contention of the plaintiff that Palestine, while under the League of Nations mandate, was not a foreign state within the meaning of the statute is wholly without merit. . . . Furthermore, it is not for the judiciary, but for the political branches of the Government to determine that Palestine at that time was a foreign state. This the Executive branch of the Government did in 1932 with respect to the operation of the most favored nations provision in treaties of commerce.
So I looked up the case.

It does indeed state that. However, the writer ignores that the case quotes an earlier case that defines the terms a bit better:
When the Congress speaks of a "foreign State," it means a country which is not the United States, or its possession or colony — an alien country — other than our own, bearing in mind that the average American, when he speaks of a "foreigner," means an alien, non-American. Uyeno v. Acheson, D.C., 96 F.Supp. 510.
Looking at Uyeno vs. Acheson, we see:
It is obvious that the words "foreign state" are not words of art. In using them, the Congress did not have in mind the fine distinctions as to sovereignty of occupied and unoccupied countries which authorities on international law may have formulated. They used the word in the sense of "otherness". When the Congress speaks of "foreign state", it means a country which is not the United States or its possession or colony, — an alien country, — other than our own, bearing in mind that the average American, when he speaks of a "foreigner" means an alien, non-American.
So the full context shows without any room for doubt that the US did not recognize British Mandate Palestine as a state, rather it was recognized as a foreign entity. The phrase"foreign state" was used for convenience, not as a legal ruling.

This is the quality of arguments of the anti-Israel crowd. Scratch a little and you see that they don't bother to read the very text they are quoting.

There is actually an entire book by John Quigley that tries to pretend that Palestine was a real state before 1948. Part of his argument is that Great Britain in 1932 gave Palestine (at the behest of Jewish leaders) "most favoured nation" status for purposes of easing tariffs so Jews in Palestine could export wine and fruit to England easier. The argument is that if Palestine was a "most favoured nation" then it must have been legally considered a nation by Great Britain.

This is of course absurd. The UK was looking for a legal fiction to allow easier exports from Palestine, it was not making a legal decision that Palestine was a state!

 Yet  Quigley further argues, bizarrely, that this supposed recognition of Palestine as a state in the 1930s carries over to today, as if there is a legal relationship between what was called Palestine at the time and a Palestinian state today, purposefully ignoring that Israel and only Israel took over the political institutions of Palestine.

However, the "most favoured nation" argument that Palestine was considered a nation by Great Britain can be demolished in an even easier way. Because Great Britain said explicitly that Palestine was not a state in a memo to the UN in early 1948!

In that memo, the United Kingdom says: "Palestine is today a legal entity but it is not a sovereign state."

It doesn't get more explicit than that.

Quigley, not surprisingly, doesn't mention this quote.


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