Episode 4 - The Paris Peace Conference and the League of Nations
The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 dealt with not only the European theatre, but also with the territories that had been ruled by the former Ottoman Empire. The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers invited both Arab and Jewish representatives to present their territorial claims.
The opening sessions of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 took place in Le Salon de L’Horloge, at the French Foreign Ministry in Quai d’Orsay. Later sessions took place at the Palace of Versailles, which later resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. That settlement, or treaty, became legally binding for the nations in Europe who had taken part in the First World War.
Paris Peace Conference at Le Salon de L’Horloge
Lloyd George"On February 6, 1919 the Arab delegation presented its claim to the Principal Allied Powers in Paris. Interestingly the British delegation was represented by Prime Minister Lloyd George and Lord Balfour who was the Foreign Secretary." Dr Jaques Gauthier
Emir Faisal and Ibn Saud"The Arab representative, the Emir Faisal, specified where the Arabs wanted to establish independent Arab states. What is very important is to note that in describing the territory where the Arabs would have their autonomy and their independence – he left Palestine out. So in February 1919 he is complying with the commitments that he made in the agreement signed with Chaim Weizmann in early January 1919. He said: “Palestine for its universal character, he wants to leave to one side for the mutual consideration of all parties interested.” So he acknowledges that Palestine is not to be part of the new independent Arab states. " Dr Jacques Gauthier.
Zionist Organisation proposal for the Jewish National Home"Three weeks later, on 27th February 1919, Chaim Weizmann and the Zionist Organisation presented their claim. "When the Zionist Organisation presented its claim, it also specified the scope of the territory that they were asking for. They presented a map of Palestine showing that all of the areas located west of the Jordan River should be part of the new Jewish National Home. And the part that was on the east side of the Jordan River they were asking for areas all full of historical connections and biblical significance. Everything allotted to thes Twelve tribes of Israel was covered by these maps. But the area they asked for stopped before the Hejaz railway, which went from north to south, all the way to the boundaries of Arabia, because that was an important strategic railway for those who attended pilgrimages." Dr Jacques Gauthier, International Lawyer.
Woodrow Wilson, US President 1913-21The Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers adjourned the matter of considering future dispositions in the former Ottoman Empire until after the League of Nations had been constituted, which also happened at the Paris Peace conference. At the end of the war American President, Woodrow Wilson, had strongly opposed the idea of imperial and colonial expansionism resulting from victory.
Dr Gerald Adler"Previously if a state in a legitimate war conquered another state, it had the right of annexation – and generally did exercise that right of annexation or set up some sort of colonial government but retained sovereignty to itself. Because of the pressure from President Wilson , Britain and France could no longer claim to annex it. " Dr Gerald Adler, Former Associate Professor of Law at Western Ontario University, Canada.
Statue of Jan Christian Smuts opposite the Houses of Parliament in LondonSmuts was a member of the War Cabinet that decided on the final wording of the Balfour Declaration on 31st October 1917. He was also one of the founding fathers of the League of Nations and a co-author of the Covenant of the League. The Mandate system originated from Article 22 of the Covenant, which gave Mandatory powers ‘a sacred trust of civilisation’ to administer a people or a nation to a situation where they would be capable of both self-determination and self government.
Dr Cynthia Day Wallace"A ‘Sacred Trust of Civilisation’ means in this case one country being entrusted with the administration of a nation that is not yet ready for self-government. It is ‘a sacred trust’, not just for that one nation, but a sacred trust of all civilisation – meaning entrusted on behalf of the League of Nations, and all of humanity." Dr Cynthia Day Wallace, International Lawyer
Allenby outside Jaffa Gate 1917In 1917 Lord Allenby conquered the Holy Land and the Jews were promised a National Home in Palestine by the Earl of Balfour – a policy endorsed by Woodrow Wilson and by the League of Nations, which made Palestine a British Mandate.