Victor Kattan on Palestinian Statehood

by Kevin Jon Heller

I’m under the pump because of a deadline, but I wanted to call readers’ attention to a short editorial at written by Victor Kattan about the PLO/PA’s intention to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood in September.  Victor discusses a variety of interesting diplomatic and legal aspects of that intention, including the possibility that the PLO/PA will seek “observer state” status instead of full statehood.  Anyone interested in the topic should check the editorial out.

I also wanted to offer a (much belated) recommendation for Victor’s latest book, entitled “From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949.”  Here is the cover:

And here is the description:

From Coexistence to Conquest seeks to explain how the Arab-Israeli conflict developed by looking beyond strict legalism to the men behind the policies adopted by the Great Powers at the dawn of the twentieth century.  It controversially argues that Zionism was adopted by the British Government in its 1917 Balfour Declaration primarily as an immigration device and that it can be traced back to the 1903 Royal Commission on Alien Immigration and the Alien’s Act 1905.

The book contains the most detailed legal analysis of the 1915-6 Hussein-McMahon correspondence, as well as the Balfour Declaration, and takes a closer look at the travaux préparatoires that formed the British Mandate of Palestine.  It places the violent reaction of the Palestine Arabs to mass Jewish immigration in the context of Zionism, highlighting the findings of several British commissions of inquiry which recommended that Britain abandon its policy.  The book also revisits the controversies over the question of self-determination, and the partition of Palestine.

The Chapter on the 1948 conflict seeks to update international lawyers on the scholarship of Israel’s ‘new’ historians and reproduces some of the horrific accounts of the atrocities that took place from newspaper reports, UN documents, and personal accounts, which saw the expulsion and exodus of almost an entire people from their homeland. The penultimate chapter argues that Israel was created through an act of conquest or subjugation. The book concludes with a sobering analysis of the conflict arguing that neither Jews nor Arabs were to blame for starting it.

It’s a remarkable work, bound to stir strong reactions.  You can find reviews and additional information at Victor’s website here, and you can buy the book here.

2 Responses

  1. Of course, KJH asks us to take seriously a book with a foreword by Richard Falk, a man who is embroiled in an anti-Semitic controversy (which is not unfamiliar to him):

    Remember when you argued that the blockade of Gaza was illegal, KJH? Now, EVEN the UN has acknowledged its legality, which means you stand among a group of fools who insist on finding all of Israel’s actions criminal, despite the actual context. Bravo.

  2. So the UN has the final word on legality?  Cool.  That means you accept the Goldstone Report.

    As for your comment that I “stand among a group of fools who insist on finding all of Israel’s actions criminal” — anyone who could write such a stupid sentence deserves honorary membership in that group.  Your nickname is well chosen.

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