In an unusual speech, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon defended the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, including the West Bank settlements when he addressed the United Nations Security Council on Monday afternoon.
Those rights rest on four pillars, Danon said, citing the bible, history, legality and the pursuit of international peace and security.
God gave the land to the people of Israel in Genesis, when he made a covenant with Abraham, said Danon.
He held up a copy of the Bible for all the ambassadors present to see and said, “This is our deed to our land.”
Danon set out his arguments at a time when the international community is bracing itself for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make good on his preelection promise to annex the settlements. The international community holds that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is illegal.
Danon argued that Israel has historical and biblical rights to the Holy Land, including Judea and Samaria.
”From the book of Genesis; to the Jewish exodus from Egypt; to receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai; to the gates of Canaan; and to the realization of God’s covenant in the Holy Land of Israel; the Bible paints a consistent picture. The entire history of our people, and our connection to Eretz Yisrael, begins right here,” Danon said.
The Bible is accepted by all three monotheistic religious, Danon said, adding that “The Quran itself accepts the divine deed of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”
Historically there was a Jewish kingdom on the land during Biblical times with Jerusalem as the capital with its Jewish Temple, that was built twice and destroyed twice – first by the Babylonians and second by the Romans, Danon explained.
“Even the Romans themselves admitted the land was ours. Those of you who have visited Rome may have seen that Emperor Titus famously commemorated his victory and the Jewish expulsion by building an enormous arch on the Via Sacra in Rome. If you look at the Arch, it includes an illustration of his men carrying away the menorah from the Jewish Temple,” Danon said.
The Romans attempted to destroy that link by renaming the land Palestina, Danon said. After the Romans, the land was conquered by the Crusaders and then the Ottoman Empire. A Jewish community remained in the land over the next 2,000 years, but the bulk of the Jewish people were in exile, he explained.
“For two millennia, Jews across the world continued to pray three times every day for our long awaited return home to Zion and Jerusalem. As we just said on Passover last week, as we do every year, ‘Next year in Jerusalem!’” Danon said.
He then turned to the issue of international law, starting with the 1917 British Balfour declaration that set out “a national home for the Jewish people” in the land of Israel after Great Britain had taken over that territory from the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I.
Danon explained that in presenting the document, British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour wrote that the “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.”
“In 1922, the mandate of the League of Nations not only stated its support for the establishment of a Jewish national home, it encouraged and facilitated the return of Jews in the diaspora to our homeland. It confirms, and I quote, ‘the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country,’” Danon said.
He added that these documents were Zionist documents and showed that Zionism appeared in international law.
Danon also pointed to the 1945 UN charter which speaks of the right of peoples to self-determination and to the rights of member states to defend themselves from armed attacks.
In 1947, the UN partitioned the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state, the Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it and then attacked the nascent Jewish state, Danon said.
The 1948 armistice lines that marked the end of the Independence War, “were never considered international borders. They were simply lines designating the end of the first battle in the Arab war against Israel,” Danon said.
“It was the Arabs who insisted that the armistice lines would not be permanent borders,” he added.
“Because these lines are not borders, the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, to this day, do not cross any international borders. They are built on strategic land for Israel’s security and, as agreed by the parties in the Oslo Accords, would be classified as final status issues,” he concluded.
On the issue of security, he noted that Arab leaders had chosen violence long before settlements were built. The PLO was established in 1964, three years prior to the Six Day War in 1967.
“What did they need to liberate before 1967? And in 1964, not a single settlement existed in Judea and Samaria, and our right to exist was still rejected,” he said.
“To blame the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria for the lack of peace between Israelis and Palestinians would be a deliberate oversight of history at best,” he said.
Danon listed the plans the Arabs had rejected starting with the 1937 Peel Commission Report, the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the 1948 Israeli truce offer, the 2000 Camp David Summit, the 2001 Taba Summit, and the 2007 Annapolis Conference.
Israel, he said, is still waiting for a response to 2008 offer of by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. With regard to the US 2014 peace process, Danon blamed the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he chose Hamas.
The Palestinians, Danon said, have already rejected the anticipated peace plan by US President Donald Trump.
He charged that the UN’s continued support for Palestinians that rejects peace proposals and its attacks against the party offering solutions, weakens the international body.
“It is dangerous to praise the side that encourages hatred and bankrolls terrorism,” Danon said.
“There should be no reward for rejectionism. There should be no prize for aggression,” he added.
Danon then put forward four pillars on which peace would be based in the future. This includes: Palestinians recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; an end to Palestinians incitement; regional cooperation and acceptance of Israel’s security needs.
“We are ready to work together. We are ready to talk. And we are ready to create a better future for our children. It is only when the four pillars of the past and the four pillars of the future are accepted that peace will come,” Danon said.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansor who spoke before Danon said that it was the Palestinians who had a historic and legal right to the land, but that it had given up some of that right when it had accepted a state on the pre-1967 line.
That state, Mansour said, must provide the Palestinians with full sovereignty.
Any action by Israel to hold onto territory over the pre-1967 line and to build there, is illegal and a form of occupation and colonization, Mansour said.
Mansour warned Israel against taking any steps to annex the settlements in the West Bank, which he said.
“The international community must stop normalizing this occupation,” Mansour said.
“Occupation, annexation and human rights violations can never be accepted as just and normal and can never be accepted as the new normal, no matter the spin or the pretext,” he said.
Israel a “racist apartheid state under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” and warned that the US has emboldened Israel’s flouting of the law, further fueling its .
“Israel’s expansionist appetite is growing. Just listen to their recent cyclical statements on their intent to annex the illegal settlements” and their “blatant dismissal of Palestinian rights,” Mansour said.