Which Israel should be recognised?


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We often hear that the barrier to peace in Palestine is the refusal of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to recognise Israel as a “Jewish state”.

For a long time the Palestinians were lambasted because they allegedly refused to recognise the state of Israel. However, after they did this in 1993 the Zionist leaders of Israel simply moved the goal posts.

What most people don’t know is that Israel and the United States have never recognised the existence of a Palestinian state or even the Palestinians’ right to a state. This has been true even though a Palestinian state entity has been a reality since 1994 as part of the so-called Oslo Peace Accords.

What even fewer people may realise is that the political leadership of Israel refuses to recognise their own state either.

There is no official map of the State of Israel that has delimited borders. This is true for the state as recognised by the UN in 1947, or the state as it has existed since the war of 1948, or as it has existed since the war of 1967.

The governing Likud Party of Israel’s 1999 Platform affirms:

a. “The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”

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b. “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem”

c. “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”

d. “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realisation of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defence of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

Just over a month ago Likud leader and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

The territory west of the river Jordan is all of what is known as the West Bank and is always referred to by the biblical names Judea and Samaria by the Israeli establishment.

It is this deep belief that all of the West Bank belongs to Israel that drives the Israeli state to continue to build settlements there. That is why Israel has colonised these territories with half a million settlers since conquering them in 1967. That is also why Israel formally annexed all of Jerusalem and formally incorporated those parts it did not already control as part of Israel. The annexation was declared illegal by the UN Security Council but Israel has never been sanctioned for ignoring international law because it has the protection of the US veto.

The settlement building process has never stopped despite being a clear violation of all international laws relating to conquered territory. Today Israel continues to build a so-called “Security Wall” that further chops up the territory. Palestinians are left in only titular control of a minority of West Bank land. Isarel cannot annex all of the territory of the West Bank and Gaza because that would create a situation where the Jewish and Palestinian populations under Israeli state control would be roughly similar at around 6.1m each. The total Palestinian Arab population comprises 1, 688,600 living inside the 1948-67 borders, 2,719,000 in the West Bank and ,701,437 in Gaza. That is why Israel must construct an apartheid state system if it insists on maintaining an exclusive “Jewish state” in all of the territory it controls with the Jordan river as “the permanent eastern border.”

The Palestinian leadership prior to 1993 had rejected the demand to “recognise” Israel because that is not a thing that exists in international law. States recognise each other by having diplomatic relations with each other. For decades after the 1949 Chinese revolution many Western countries (including New Zealand) refused to “recognise” the People’s Republic of China and instead “recognised” the regime in Taiwan as representing all of China. South Africa was derecognised by the UN General Assembly in 1974. It couldn’t be formally expelled as the United States, the UK and France vetoed that proposal in the Security Council. It is even more absurd to demand a political party like Hamas “recognise” a state like Israel with no defined borders.

For Palestinians to “recognise” the post 1948 State of Israel also carried risks associated with their own legal status as refugees arising from the 1947-48 war and their legal claim to sharing Jerusalem with Israel as the capital of Palestine. The United Nations had made recognising the right of the refugees to return home a condition of the recognition of the expanded Israeli state in 1948. Israel is the only country on earth where its “recognition” had a condition attached to it by the UN. After 1948 however, Israel adopted a law allowing any person of Jewish heritage and their immediate family to have citizenship rights, but refused that for any Palestinian refugee – even one who married an Israeli citizen. Prior to 1993 the Palestinians proposed a unified, secular, democratic state where Jews and Palestinians would live together. This was rejected by Israel.

Following the 1967 war when Israel conquered the West Bank and occupied Gaza it was not clear what state one was being asked to recognise. As I explained Israeli leaders always referred to the West Bank territory as an integral part of greater Israel. They have built settlements and expelled thousands of Palestinians from their homes and farms. The leaders of Israel publicly declare they will never relinquish control of Judea and Samaria. They have ignored again and again UN resolutions declaring the occupation unlawful and demanding the Israeli troops withdraw from all territories occupied in 1967.

In desperation, the Palestinians leadership declared they would recognise Israel in its 1948-1967 borders even though that meant forgoing 78% of historic Palestine. But the Palestinian leadership continued to insist that UN resolution 194 which demanded that the refugees had a right of return could not be simply ignored. Acceptance of this resolution was the legal basis for the establishment of the Israeli state. No Palestinian leader had a right to renounce this UN declaration.

The current demand to recognise the “Jewish character” of the Israeli state is another attempt to wipe out the historical reality of the Palestinian people and their right of return under international law. It is no different from declaring NZ a “White state” when the indigenous minority comprises 15% of the population. In Israel Jews are 75% of Israel’s 8.1 million population while the Palestinians are 21%. How can a “Jewish state” give full rights to its existing Christian, Muslim and or Arab minority? Already the Palestinians of Israel are subject to dozens of laws that discriminate against them in practise. This discrimination has been escalating as the racist hysteria has been escalated in the context of a constant war hysteria.

The refusal of Israel to leave the West Bank or give up control over Gaza means that in effect Israel has subjected the 4.4 million Palestinians there to a form of colonial settler rule. The Palestinian Authority currently administers some 39% of the West Bank. 61% of the West bank remains under direct Israeli military and civilian control.

The Palestinian Authority has no real authority outside what is allowed by the Israeli state. Israeli military personnel move freely through the West Bank territories. Settlements, farms, factories, roads and irrigation systems are established for Jewish settlers only. This reality has created the apartheid-like state. They have next to no rights under the military, police colonial system of rule. It is sometimes argued that the 1.7 million Palestinians living inside the borders of the 1948-67 borders of Israel have more rights than blacks did in South Africa. That may be true but this 1948-67 state has existed for less time than the post 1967 State of Israel. This “Greater Israel” includes the 4.4 million Palestinians in the territories Israel controls who have effectively no rights at all. There is no question that “Greater Israel” which is the only Israel that Israel itself recognises is an apartheid state and needs to be treated as such.