Israel's Right to Exist Conferred at San Remo

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SAN REMO, Italy -- Many times Palestinian supporters refer to the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and half of Jerusalem as "occupied territories." They say Israel doesn't have a right to the land.

But in the small Italian town of San Remo, history tells a different story.

"This picturesque town on the Mediterranean played a crucial role in Israel's modern history," former Israeli President Chaim Weitzman said.

Tomas Sandell, with the European Coalition for Israel, affirmed Weitzman's assertion.

"He [Weitzman] said it's not an exaggeration to say that the Jewish state was born in San Remo," Sandell told CBN News. "Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, leaders of the allied powers met in San Remo. Their goal: a new Middle East. While most of the land went to the Arab people, the Jewish people received the land called Palestine."

What happened in San Remo in 1920 transformed the Middle East. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the nations of the world recognized a Jewish homeland.

"What is very important to understand is that long before that -- long before the Holocaust -- there was already an agreement that the Jewish people had a right to statehood, had a right to self-determination, just like any other people group," Sandell explained.

This year, 2014, marks the 94th anniversary of the San Remo Resolution. Israel also recognizes San Remo as a present-day foundation in its battle for a place among the nations.

"Since there is an effort today to question our legitimacy, we have to go back to San Remo and say, 'Here is the international document agreed by all members of the League of Nations at the time that says yes, we have this right,'" Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told CBN News.

And that right provides historical ammunition to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which aims to persuade companies and countries to withdraw money and investments from Israel.

"It counters the argument of the BDS movement to say that Israel is a colonial power. It is the opposite," Kuperwasser continued. "Many historians will say the San Remo resolution was the beginning of the de-colonization process because here we have a people group that had been occupied for 1,800 years that are finally getting their recognition of statehood."

Sandell said anyone questioning the modern State of Israel can find the answer in this Italian connection.

"When we today have this small question -- Do the Jewish people really belong in Israel? Do they have a legitimate claim to the land? -- that question was decided once and for all in 1920 under international law here at this very place, San Remo," he said.

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