Time to reaffirm our rights

We have a strong case for claiming that this country is ours, far stronger than the case the Palestinians try to make. However, until now no one has really been making this case.

Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Protesters call for boycott of Israel [file]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After months of silence, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is raising its head once again and threatening the State of Israel. If we want to win the fight against delegitimization, first of all we must stop being afraid to stand up for our rights.
A few weeks ago, I toured Judea and Samaria. As I moved from place to place, I saw strikingly clear evidence of the Jewish connection to this land. There are, for example, archeological findings bearing distinctly Jewish symbols.
Almost all the towns and villages of the region, including Arab ones, have names with biblical connections.
Anata, for example, is the biblical name for Anatot, the dwelling place of Jeremiah. Beitin refers to Beit El, a site of the Holy Ark and a location of the court of Samuel the Prophet. Bethlehem is mentioned 44 times in the Bible.
In Shilo, the place where the first Jewish Tabernacle rested, archeologists have bones of animals that are believed to be the remains of sacrifices eaten by the Israelites.
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 The conclusion to be drawn from this evidence is unmistakable: in moving into Judea and Samaria, Israel has not become an “occupier” of land belonging to others. Rather, the Jewish nation has liberated its own land. The real injustice was caused 2,000 years ago when Jews were violently expelled from their land.
They never lost hope of returning, and in 1967, the historical injustice was righted.
That being said, we do not have to look back some 3,000 years to establish our rights to the land of Israel.
For modern international law also supports this claim.
As part of my work as a member of Knesset, I have met with representatives of the Legal Grounds Campaign, a group of activists fighting for the recognition of the legal rights of Israel to all of the land of Israel. They are backed by leading legal scholars, experts in international law. Their agenda should be the official policy of the State of Israel.
The facts are simple: The British Mandate for Palestine, which was unanimously passed by the League of Nations in 1922, legally enshrined the historical rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria: “[R]ecognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
Since then, there has been no legal document drafted that changes the status of the land.
The UN General Assembly Partition Plan of 1947, which some people claim supersedes the Mandate, was without legal standing. The General Assembly can only make recommendations. What is more, this was a recommendation that the Arabs refused. The occupation of Judea and Samaria by Jordan from 1948 to 1967 was never recognized by the international community and was seen as illegal. Great Britain and Pakistan were the only countries that recognized Jordan’s annexation – all other nations, including the Arab states, rejected it.
The current situation cannot go on. On the one hand, the Palestinians are basing their demands on ethical and moral grounds, while Israel responds only with security concerns. Such a situation creates fertile ground for the BDS movement, since the general public will not accept a country doing immoral things for security reasons.
As my dear friend deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said: “If I wear your coat because I’m cold, and I can prove pragmatically and analytically that it really is cold for me, the world will ask a primitive and analytic question: who does the coat belong to? In this context, it is important to say that this coat is ours, this country is ours, all of it.”
We have a strong case for claiming that this country is ours, far stronger than the case the Palestinians try to make. However, until now no one has really been making this case. The new government gives me hope that Israel will finally move away from simple defense arguments and start making the moral, historical and legal case for Israel’s rights.
The author is a Likud MK.