Israels Rights as a Nation State in International Diplomacy: Introduction

, September 18, 2011

Vol. 11, No. 16

  • A concerted campaign is being waged against Israel to question its very legitimacy in virtually every aspect of its historical, political, and cultural life, with the aim of undermining the very foundations of Israel’s existence.
  • In response, several world-renowned experts have joined to present an authoritative exposition of Israel’s Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy, published jointly by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the World Jewish Congress.
  • The volume includes: “The National Rights of Jews” by Prof. Ruth Gavison, “From the Balfour Declaration to the Palestine Mandate” by Sir Martin Gilbert, “Self-Determination and Israel’s Declaration of Independence” by Prof. Shlomo Avineri, “The United Nations and Middle East Refugees: The Differential Treatment of Arabs and Jews” by Dr. Stanley A. Urman.
  • “Israel’s Rights Regarding Territories and the Settlements in the Eyes of the International Community” by Amb. Alan Baker, “The Historical and Legal Contexts of Israel’s Borders” by Prof. Nicholas Rostow, “The Misleading Interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967)” by Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, “Defending Israel’s Legal Rights to Jerusalem” by Amb. Dore Gold.
  • “Palestinian Unilateralism and Israel’s Rights in Arab-Israeli Diplomacy” by Dan Diker, “Is the Gaza Strip Occupied by Israel?” by Col. (res.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, “The Violation of Israel’s Right to Sovereign Equality in the United Nations” by Amb. Alan Baker, and “Countering Challenges to Israel’s Legitimacy” by Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz.

 

As the United Nations is about to be manipulated by a Palestinian attempt to impose its statehood on the international community in a manner that undermines a vital negotiating process based on the UN’s own resolutions, a concerted campaign is being waged against Israel by Palestinian, Muslim, and other non-Arab elements in the international community to question the very legitimacy of Israel in virtually every aspect of its historical, political, and cultural life, with the aim of undermining the very foundations of Israel’s existence.

In response, several world-renowned experts have joined to present an authoritative exposition of Israel’s Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy, edited by Alan Baker, former legal counsel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and former ambassador to Canada, and published jointly by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the World Jewish Congress.

The National Rights of Jews

Prof. Ruth Gavison, Professor (emerita) of Human Rights at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and recipient of the Israel Prize in Law (2011), challenges the often- repeated denial by the Arabs of the rights of Jews to establish their own nation. The Jews have always had the characteristics of a nation, both ethnical and cultural, and not only religious. This was true before Israel was established and it is true today. It is justified for Jews to have sought revival of their political independence in their ancient homeland – Zion.

Zionism is not a colonial or an imperialist enterprise. The Arab population in pre-state Israel had never enjoyed or established political independence, and Jews were at liberty to seek political revival in the only place in the world that had been their homeland.

“An Overwhelmingly Jewish State” – From the Balfour Declaration to the Palestine Mandate

World-renowned British historian and author Sir Martin Gilbert, who is Winston Churchill’s official biographer, discusses how Great Britain viewed the right of the Jews to a national home in Palestine. The Times of London declared on September 19, 1919: “Our duty as the Mandatory power will be to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling State, but one that is capable of vigorous and independent national life.”

Winston Churchill announced publicly on March 28, 1921: “It is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national center and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in the land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?”

On June 3, 1922, the British Government issued a White Paper, known as the Churchill White Paper, which stated: “During the last two or three generations the Jews have recreated in Palestine a community, now numbering 80,000….It is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on the sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.”

Churchill told the 1937 Palestine Royal Commission: “We committed ourselves to the idea that someday, somehow, far off in the future, subject to justice and economic convenience, there might well be a great Jewish State there, numbered by millions, far exceeding the present inhabitants of the country and to cut them off from that would be a wrong.”

Self-Determination and Israel’s Declaration of Independence

Israel Prize recipient Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University and Director-General of the Israel Foreign Ministry in the first term of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, analyzes Israel’s right to self-determination in the context of its Declaration of Independence. He notes that the Arabs of Palestine and Arab states went to war not only against the emerging Jewish state, but also against a UN resolution in the only known case when member states of the UN not only did not abide by a UN resolution but went to war against it.

Had the Arab community gone through a profound internal debate and come out of it – as did the Jewish community – with an acceptance, however reluctant, of the compromise idea of partition, be it on moral or realistic grounds, or both – history would have been different: on May 15, 1948, two states – Israel and Palestine – would have been established. There would have been no 1948 war, no Palestinian refugees, no nakba, no further Arab-Israeli wars, no terrorism, and no Israeli reprisals. This could have happened – but it did not. The moral and political responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Arab side. Had the Palestinian Arabs and the countries of the Arab League chosen a different path, this would have made the Middle East a region of prosperity, mutual respect, progress and abundance for all its peoples.

Despite the difficult war situation, the practical steps taken by the newly established, independent State of Israel reflected the country’s willingness to abide by obligations inherent in the UN partition plan. Israel adopted a multicultural approach toward its Arab minority, maintaining th