The announcement by Sweden’s new prime minister that his government plans to extend recognition to a “Palestinian” state raises major questions in both international and United Nations law.
Israelis are frequently asked: “Why is Israel opposed to recognizing a Palestinian state? Detach yourselves from the Palestinians like the French detached themselves from Algeria and the two states will live in peace with each other as was originally envisaged under the 1947 Partition Resolution.”
In response, the Israelis ask two questions, one of which answers the other: 1. Why have the Palestinians waited for 65 years to seek the establishment of an independent state? 2. In the Algerian struggle for independence, were the Algerians proclaiming that they were bent on occupying and destroying France? For over sixty years the leaders of the Arab population of Mandatory Palestine rejected every suggestion that they proclaim an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel as envisaged under the 1947 General Assembly Partition Resolution. Instead, the Palestinian Arab leaders committed themselves to destroying the Jewish state and invited neighboring Arab states to join them in the act of annihilation.
Years before Israel came into control of the remaining territory of the Mandate, the PLO, a terrorist organization, was created in 1964 with the goal of wiping Israel off the map. Hamas, of course, still proclaims this aim openly. What, then, has prompted Abu Mazen (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas), to undertake what the Palestinians have adamantly spurned for over six decades? Clearly, Abu Mazen has simply shifted gears and has adopted a different strategy to achieve the goal that he shares with Hamas. His diplomatic route represents war by other means. It is a two-step strategy, modeled after the UN two-step approach to South West Africa/South Africa, by which the initial assault on South Africa’s colonial rule in South West Africa (Namibia) was followed by a delegitimation of the apartheid regime within South Africa itself.
Analogously, and even after the formal repeal of the obscene “Zionism is racism” General Assembly resolution, the campaign within the UN to delegitimate Israel’s existence persisted, with an emphasis first on Israel’s “colonial” rule in the areas outside the pre-1967 armistice lines, followed by attempts to deny Israel’s right to exist at all.
By stamping Israel as an apartheid state akin to South Africa, Israel could be prevented from successfully defending itself. Its responses to repeated armed attacks against its civilian populations could then more readily be deemed “aggression” rather than self-defense; all its use of force would be automatically labeled “war crimes;” and it could be boycotted, denied the right to obtain arms, or even to export the goods wherewith to pay for its existence.
All international institutions would be enlisted to stamp Israel as an illegal entity.
Operating in this context, the Palestinian Authority succeeded in getting the General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the defensive wall that Israel was constructing. The Court was requested to add its seal of approval to the Assembly’s preset conclusions, and the Court willingly obliged.
In its opinion, the Court asserted, inter alia, that Israel could not invoke the right of self-defense, as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter, against Palestinian suicide bombings, since the provision only applies to defense against attacks from another state and not from a non-state entity. Unsurprisingly, the permanent members of the Security Council never endorsed such a proposition.
To confirm that Abu Mazen has no intention of erecting a Palestinian state committed to living in peace with Israel, the following facts ought to be taken into account: 1. Abu Mazen refuses to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, since that would be to recognize Israel’s rights in the Land of Israel. He is prepared to recognize the presence of two states in Mandatory Palestine, both labeled Palestinian, but not a Jewish and Palestinian state. So long as he refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, his intentions are blatantly directed to replacing that state with some other entity.
2. He continues to deny that Israel has any historical attachment to Jerusalem. The Western Wall of Solomon’s temple, he asserts, is a figment of imagination.
3. He published an Op-Ed article in The New York Times stating candidly that his purpose in proclaiming a Palestinian state is “lawfare.” He said: “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.”
4. He continues to insist that all “seven million Palestinian refugees” will enjoy the right of “return.”
This is a euphemism for a program to annihilate the Jewish state with one fell swoop.
5. He continues to complain that the Palestinians have suffered “under occupation for 63 years” – something that confirms that he is not content with a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but that the very existence of Israel represents “occupation” of Palestinian land. It lies at the root of Abu Mazen’s strategy.
6. Abu Mazen’s lack of integrity is reflected in his failure to retract the Holocaust-denying thesis he presented in the doctoral dissertation that he completed at Moscow University. He has never apologized to the Jewish people for such a gross distortion of the historical record.
7. Abu Mazen has concluded an agreement with Hamas for the establishment of a “united” Palestinian entity. Hamas openly espouses the destruction of Israel in its Charter, and Abu Mazen has not repudiated their right to adhere to it.
8. If any further evidence was required, it was dramatically revealed when Abu Mazen, in his recent address to the General Assembly, charged Israel with aggression against Hamas, even though it was clear to him and the entire world that Israel had only acted in self-defense after its citizens had been targeted by hundreds of rockets. If his aim was peace, he should have been addressing aggression by Hamas and not addressing the United Nations.
In sum, the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state is part of a process of bringing about the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state extending from the coast to the Jordan River. This scheme manifestly violates United Nations law and international law. The United Nations, as its Charter proclaims in Article 2 (1), “is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” Under Article 2(4) all its members are pledged to refrain from the threat of force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
A scheme to replace Israel with a Palestinian state from the coast to the Jordan is a clear violation of the Charter. It may even smack of genocide. Any country extending recognition to a Palestinian state before a peace settlement has been attained between the parties clearly acknowledging the right of Israel to continue to exist as a sovereign independent state, violates the principles of the UN Charter and supports a genocidal scheme for the destruction of a member state. It acts as an accomplice to international aggression.The writer is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author of
South West Africa and the United Nations.