Monday, February 23, 2009


This section of DiscoverTheNetworks examines how Israel came into existence, and explains why it is (contrary to the claims of much of the Arab world and the Arab lobby) a nation every bit as legitimate as any other in the world. In his November 30, 2007 article titled "Israel’s Right to the Land" (published by, Sean Gannon provides the following analysis of this topic:

The view that the Middle East peace process ... is essentially a mechanism for the vindication of Palestinian rights over the West Bank and Gaza is widely held ... in Western Europe, where an awareness of Israel’s legitimate claims and entitlements has been a casualty of the predominantly left-wing media’s embrace of the Palestinian cause. Whereas Arab prerogatives are exhaustively documented, the Jewish right to this land is almost entirely ignored. The anniversaries this month of three of the founding documents of the modern Middle East present an opportunity to redress the balance and reassert the Israeli case.November 2 marked the ninetieth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the letter in which the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, promised Lord Rothschild (and, through him, the Zionist movement) that his government would “use their best endeavours” to establish a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. Approved by the Cabinet two days earlier -- according to Prime Minister Lloyd George it “represented the convinced policy of all parties in our country” -- it made the creation of this “home” an objective of British foreign policy. The Balfour Declaration thus represented the first significant official endorsement of the Zionist project by a world power.

The Declaration was not, in itself, a legally binding document and it has often since been dismissed as nothing more than a statement of British aspirations and intent. However, this ignores the fact that its incorporation virtually unchanged into the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine in July 1922 gave its provisions the force of international law. The legal validity of the Mandate, which recognized both the “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and their right to the “reconstitute their national home in that country,” was upheld in various international forums and was safeguarded after the dissolution of the League by the United Nations through Article 80 of its Charter. The League of Nations Mandate therefore represents the last legal allocation of the territory that now constitutes Israel, the West Bank and Gaza; the rights it gave the Jewish people have never been abrogated and it remains the legal basis for the Jewish state today.

The right of the Jews to a state in their historic homeland was underscored by UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (UNGAR 181). Passed sixty years ago on November 29, it called for the partitioning of Mandatory Palestine into "Independent Arab and Jewish states." Described by the former Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, as “Israel’s birth certificate,” UNGAR 181 represented, for the majority in the Zionist camp, international recognition of an antecedent and inalienable Jewish right to self-determination. But as a non-binding recommendatory resolution, it actually constituted moral as opposed to a legal sanction of Jewish statehood. For the Arabs, it represented neither. It was comprehensively rejected at the time, condemned as “entirely illegal” in the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, and declared “absolutely null and void” by the Seminar of Arab Jurists on Palestine three years later.

In what amounts to an astonishing u-turn, however, UNGAR 181’s legal validity has since been strenuously asserted by the Palestinian side. For instance, the PLO’s 1988 Declaration of Independence stated that UNGAR 181 provided “those conditions of international legitimacy that ensure the right of the Palestinian Arab people to sovereignty.” This position was still being advanced ten years later as Yasir Arafat sought global support for another unilateral declaration of statehood in the spring of 1999. He then proclaimed that “the right for a Palestinian state to exist is based on UNGAR 181 and not on the Oslo Agreements” while his UN representative, Nasser al-Kidwa, argued for its continuing relevance at the United Nations.

But if, as the Arabs contend, UNGAR 181 serves as the legal basis of a Palestinian state, then it must, according to their logic, equally serve as the basis of a Jewish state too. Indeed, the text refers to a “Jewish state” on thirty occasions and demands that the British facilitate “substantial [Jewish] immigration” to effectively ensure that the future Jewish state be Jewish in nature. Therefore, the Palestinians’ present refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state flies in the face of their own legal reasoning. They implicitly accept what they explicitly abhor.

The third significant commemoration this month was the fortieth anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (UNSCR 242). Unanimously passed on November 22, 1967, five months after Israel’s stunning victory in the Six Day War, it has generally been interpreted as requiring a unilateral Israeli evacuation of the West Bank and Gaza, thus making illegal Israel's so-called "occupation" of the former. But UNSCR 242 in fact formalizes the status of these territories as “disputed” and therefore legitimizes the Jewish presence there. This status is rooted in the 1949 armistice agreements, which defined the new boundaries between Israel, Transjordan and Egypt as provisional, being “dictated exclusively” by military considerations.

In effectively launching the 1967 war, the Arabs violated these boundaries, thereby invalidating them as de facto borders. The Israeli conquest, the result of a defensive war, constituted a legitimate redrawing of the armistice lines, pending a final settlement. UNSCR 242, drafted as the roadmap to this settlement, stipulates that Israel should withdraw from these new armistice lines “to secure and recognized boundaries” only as part of a negotiated peace, something which has yet to be achieved. And while the resolution does not define what these boundaries should be, its framers made it clear that they should not be the 1949 lines, (i.e. the Green Line), lines they dismissed as entirely unsuitable for a permanent international border. The deliberate omission of the definite article from UNSCR 242’s withdrawal clause was designed to facilitate the necessary revisions. So, until permanent territorial boundaries are demarcated in the context of a comprehensive peace, Israel has an equal right to be in these lands.

In his 2005 pamphlet titled "Big Lies: Demolishing the Myths of the Propaganda War against Israel," David Meir-Levi offers additional insight into Israel's creation and the legitimacy of its nationhood:

The State of Israel was created in a peaceful and legal process by the United Nations. It was not created out of Palestinian lands. It was created out of the Ottoman Empire, ruled for four hundred years by the Turks who lost it when they were defeated in World War I. There were no “Palestinian” lands at the time because there were no people claiming to be Palestinians. There were Arabs who lived in the region of Palestine who considered themselves Syrians. It was only after World War I that the present states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were also created – and also created artificially out of the Turkish Empire by the British and French victors. Jordan was created on about 80 percent of the Palestine Mandate, which was originally designated by the League of Nations as part of the Jewish homeland. Since then, Jews have been prohibited from owning property there. Two-thirds of [Jordan's] citizens are Palestinian Arabs, but it is ruled by a Hashemite monarchy.

In 1947, the UN partition plan mandated the creation of two states on the remaining 20 percent of the Palestine Mandate: the State of Israel for the Jews, and another state for the Arabs. The Arabs rejected their state, and launched a war against Israel. . . .

The Arab states -- dictatorships all -- did not want a non-Arab state in the Middle East. The rulers of eight Arab countries whose populations vastly outnumbered the Jewish settlers in the Turkish Empire, initiated the war with simultaneous invasions of the newly created state of Israel on three fronts. Nascent Israel begged for peace and offered friendship and cooperation to its neighbors. The Arab dictators rejected this offer and answered it with a war of annihilation against the Jews. The war failed. But the state of war has continued uninterruptedly because of the failure of the Arab states -- Saudi Arabia and Iraq in particular -- to sign a peace treaty with Israel. To this day, the Arab states and the Palestinians refer to the failure of their aggression and the survival of Israel as an-Nakba -- the catastrophe.

Had there been no Arab aggression, no war, and no invasion by Arab armies whose intent was overtly genocidal, not only would there have been no Arab refugees, but there would have been a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948.

In the war, Israel acquired additional land. In the absence of a peace treaty between belligerents, the law of nations allows the annexation of an aggressor’s land after a conflict -- although the land in question belonged to the Turks and then the World War I victors. Israel actually offered to return land it had acquired while defending itself against the Arab aggression in exchange for a formal peace. It made this offer during the Rhodes Armistice talks and Lausanne conference in 1949. The Arab rulers refused the land because they wanted to maintain a state of war in order to destroy the Jewish state. Had Israel’s offer been accepted, there could have been prompt and just resolution to all the problems that have afflicted the region since. The only problem that wouldn’t have been resolved to the satisfaction of the Arabs was their desire to obliterate the state of Israel.

After [its] victory, Israel passed a law that allowed Arab refugees to re-settle in Israel provided they would sign a form in which they renounced violence, swore allegiance to the state of Israel, and became peaceful, productive citizens. During the decades of this law’s tenure, more than 150,000 Arab refugees have taken advantage of it to resume productive lives in Israel. Jews do not have a similar option to become citizens of Arab states from which they are banned.

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