top of page

Israel's Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – World Jewish Congress

The importance of this book arose in light of a concerted campaign launched some years ago and presently being waged against Israel by Palestinian, Muslim, and other non-Arab elements in the international community.

This campaign seeks to question the very legitimacy of Israel in virtually every aspect of its historical, political, and cultural life, and even extends into international organizations, international media, and the web, with the aim of questioning and undermining the very foundations of Israel’s existence.

With a view to providing the international community in general, and readers, academics, parliamentarians, and others, with an authoritative exposition of Israel’s basic rights as a state in international diplomacy, several world-renowned experts have been asked to write a chapter on some of the most central aspects of Israel’s existence and rights.

In light of claims by Palestinian leaders questioning the very right to statehood of a Jewish state, we chose to open this book with a chapter on “The National Rights of Jews” by Prof. Ruth Gavison, recipient of the 2011 Israel Prize for Law and one of the world’s experts in the field of nationalism and public law.

Addressing the issue of the right to establish a national home in Palestine, renowned historian and author Sir Martin Gilbert, who among other things has written the official biography of Sir Winston Churchill, discusses in the second chapter entitled “An Overwhelmingly Jewish State” - From the Balfour Declaration to the Palestine Mandate,” issues regarding the League of Nations Mandate and the British government’s understanding of the Jewish right to a national home in Palestine.

Since Israel’s right to establish a Jewish state has been and still is constantly under discussion, Prof. Shlomo Avineri, one of Israel’s greatest experts in political science, has written the third chapter on “Self-Determination and Israel’s Declaration of Independence.”

The refugee issue has tenaciously been on the international agenda since 1948, and figures in all the major international documentation. But while this was originally an issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as well as of Palestinian refugees, the Jewish-refugee aspect appears to have been forgotten by the international community. Dr. Stanley A. Urman, an expert on the refugee issue who heads the international organization “Justice for Jews from Arab Countries,” has written the fourth chapter, “The United Nations and Middle East Refugees: The Differential Treatment of Arabs and Jews.”

Over the years, and despite developments within the peace process, the international community has formulated and insists on reiterating a sort of “accepted terminology” that defines Israel’s status as an “occupying power” and determines that “settlements are illegal,” without any serious attempt to review the accuracy or truth behind such terminology. In the fifth chapter, on “Israel’s Rights Regarding the Territories and the Settlements in the Eyes of the International Community,” I address this phenomenon and point to the inherent lack of accuracy and the way in which the international community has allowed itself to be misled by clichés.

Despite the fact that the issue of borders has been agreed between Israel and the PLO to be a subject for negotiation between them in the negotiations on the permanent status, the Palestinian leadership is persistently attempting to dictate the outcome of such negotiations through unilateral campaigning in the international community with a view to achieving recognition of the “1967 borders.” Prof. Nicholas Rostow, a prominent American international lawyer and former legal counsel to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, addresses this issue in the sixth chapter on “The Historical and Legal Contexts of Israel’s Borders.”

UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 serves as one of the foundations of all the peace treaties and other agreements within the Middle East peace process, as well as later UN resolutions on Middle East issues. However, considerable efforts are constantly being made to proffer interpretations of aspects of this resolution that are not compatible, neither with the text nor with the intentions of those who drafted Resolution 242. One of the key authorities on international law, and an expert on the legal documentation of the Arab-Israeli peace process, Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, who herself participated in many of the negotiations in the peace process, has written the seventh chapter and addresses the issue of “The Misleading Interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967).”

The issue of Jerusalem is perhaps one of the oldest issues on the agenda of the international community, and in one way or another has figured in historical and legal discussion for hundreds and possibly thousands of years. One of Israel’s experts on Jerusalem is Dr. Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and currently president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has written the eighth chapter on “Defending Israel’s Legal Rights to Jerusalem.”

While the principle behind the Middle East peace process, as set out both in the various UN resolutions and agreements, is premised on the assumption that all issues between the parties will be solved by negotiation, the Palestinian leadership have nevertheless developed a modus operandi of seeking unilateral determinations by the United Nations and other bodies for issues that are agreed to be settled by negotiation. Dan Diker, Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress and Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, addresses in the ninth chapter the issue of “Palestinian Unilateralism and Israel’s Rights in Arab-Israeli Diplomacy.”

Since the withdrawal of Israel’s forces and civilians, and dismantling of settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2006, much has been written and discussed as to whether Israel nevertheless continues to “occupy” the area. Indeed, UN resolutions and UN rapporteurs continue to refer to Israel as the “occupying power” in the Gaza Strip notwithstanding that Israel is no longer present there and in fact the Hamas terror organization has established its own administration there. Perhaps the most fitting expert to discuss Israel’s status vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip is Col. (res.) Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, lecturer in international law at Tel Aviv University and formerly head of the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces, who addresses in the tenth chapter the issue of “Is the Gaza Strip Occupied by Israel?”

While Israel, since the spring of 1949, has been a full-fledged member of the United Nations, to this day it is discriminated against and does not enjoy the full rights of sovereign equality guaranteed by the UN Charter in that it is not a member of the regional groups to which member states of the UN belong, and thus is unable to field its candidacy for such bodies as the Security Council and the International Court, as well as other major bodies. In the eleventh chapter, I analyze this situation under the title “The Violation of Israel’s Right to Sovereign Equality in the United Nations.”

Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz, the eminent U.S. jurist, addresses in the final, twelfth chapter, “Countering Challenges to Israel’s Legitimacy,” some of the claims persistently being made against Israel’s legitimacy, such as the claim that Israel is an illegitimate “colonial” state; that it secured its statehood unlawfully; that it is an apartheid state; and the claim for a “one-state solution.”

I am sure that this book will serve as a vital tool for all those who are genuinely interested in looking through the shallow and clichéd attempts by those in the international community who are determined, for whatever reason, to question Israel’s legitimacy and to deny its rights.

bottom of page