Does Israel Have The Right To Exist In Its Current Form?
By Remi Kanazi
Journal Contributing Writer
May 19, 2006
May 15 marked the 58th anniversary of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe). Every year, Palestinians recount the tragedy of 1948.
I recall my grandmother’s anguish: she was seven months pregnant with my mother when she was forced to flee to Lebanon
by boat. She waited in Lebanon. The weeks turned into months. The months turned into years . . . Fifty-eight years later,
my grandmother has yet to return to her house in Jaffa.
When the Zionists forces (the Haganagh, Irgun, and Stern Gang) tore Palestine limb from limb, depopulating villages, uprooting
cemeteries, and pillaging arable fields, Israel had not even been created. Today we see a fight for Israel’s "right
to exist." But what right does Israel have to exist in its current form?
United Nations (UN) Resolution 194 states,
"The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the
earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return."
Israel’s admittance into the UN was conditional: it must recognize UN Resolution 194. Nevertheless, since
the passing of UN Resolution 273 -- which admitted Israel into the UN on May 11, 1949 -- Israel has openly rejected this requirement.
Commenting on Israel’s dismissal of the resolution, Professor of Law Francis A. Boyle wrote in his book Palestine,
Palestinians and International Law, "Insofar as Israel has violated its conditions for admission to UN membership,
it must accordingly be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout the entire United Nations system."
Yet, the world hasn’t seen one UN resolution concerning Israel enforced by the UN or the international community.
America specifically refers to "countless" UN resolutions Iraq refused to comply with as a major reason to invade in 2003.
If America were to invade Iraq on this reasoning, one would think they would at least attempt to enforce the UN resolutions
pertaining to Israel.
The implementing of UN Resolution 194 was the condition for Israel’s "right to exist." Today we see many more factors
that should make one contemplate this right. Israel illegally occupies East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Post-disengagement,
Israel continues to occupy Gaza through control of borders, air, water, and resources. According to the Israeli newspaper
Haaretz, since March 31 of this year, Israel has fired more than 5,100 artillery shells at Gaza.
The occupation is illegal under international law and UN resolution 242 (reaffirmed by resolution 338). UN resolution 242
explicitly states that Israel must "withdraw from territories occupied." On this basis, before going into the brutality of
the occupation, one cannot expect the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel’s "right to exist."
Furthermore, Israel exists today as a Jewish state and not coincidentally a racist state. The Palestinians living inside
Israel are second-class citizens. Discriminatory laws are in place regarding religion, marriage, and land ownership. Access
to education, jobs and economic stability has been hindered due to successive Israeli administrations' prejudiced policies.
One cannot expect those in the Occupied Territories to recognize Israel, if Israel as a Jewish state does not recognize the
rights of one in five of its citizens.
Just this week the Israeli High Court voted down a law that would instate "family reunification," the unifying of Palestinians
living outside of Israel with their spouse living inside Israel. This is one more policy that tries to force those living
inside Israel to emigrate to the Occupied Territories or elsewhere. One father who has been trying to get Israeli citizenship
since 2004 to reunite with his wife and two daughters, asked the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, "How do you explain to a five-year-old
girl that daddy won't be home because of a law?"
The discriminatory policy of the government is emblematic of the feeling in Israeli society. A recent poll conducted by
the Israel Democracy Institute found that 62 percent of Israelis prefer that their government promote the emigration of the
Palestinian population living inside Israel. Electronic Intifada, a website that covers the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from
the Palestinian perspective, published a piece by I’lam, "the only media centre for the Arab minority in Israel," which
stated, "Recent polls have shown that, while on average 40 per cent of Israelis want Arab citizens forced to leave the country,
that figure rises close to 60 percent when respondents are asked, more ambiguously, if they want the Arab population 'encouraged’
to emigrate." Israel’s systemic desire for the separation and future dispossession of its Palestinian citizens is yet
another reason to question its "right to exist" in its current form.
It is particularly absurd for Israel and the West to call upon the Palestinian government to recognize Israel when Israel
refuses to recognize the Palestinian people. Take for example the policy implemented during the Oslo years, a policy that
continues today. During the Oslo years settlements expanded at an inordinate rate with a clear mission to expand the borders
of Israel, jeopardizing the possibility of a future Palestinian state on 22 percent of historic Palestine -- the internationally
recognized 1967 borders.
Today we see Kadima’s plan for the recognition of the Palestinian people: Judaize Jerusalem (while permanently dispossessing
as many Palestinians as possible though extensions and encirclements of the Apartheid Wall), expand and connect desirable
and densely populated settlements, and extend the policy of unilateralism, thereby hindering any opportunity for cohesion,
reconciliation or negotiations. The border policy of Israel is compounded with a 38-year occupation, which includes land confiscation,
home demolitions, permanent checkpoints, flying checkpoints, curfews, expropriation of vital resources such as water, strip
searches and various acts of humiliation and collective punishment.
On the physical front, Israel has illegally detained thousands of Palestinians (in most cases torturing them), extrajudically
assassinated hundreds of Palestinians, killed hundreds of women and children, and has fired thousands of artillery shells
into the Occupied Territories. This course of action continues unabated, while the world sits idly by. Furthermore, the illegal
settlers in the Occupied Territories abuse the Palestinian population with virtual impunity. Thousands of cases have surfaced
where settlers have beaten Palestinians, thrown rocks at their children on their way to school, killed family livestock, and
burnt down or uprooted their olive trees. The Israeli government has done nothing to stop these actions.
On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority has complied with the Sharm al-Sheikh cease-fire and has maintained the agreement
well past its expiration only to be met with an economic and political boycott by Israel and the international community.
Israel and the West’s policy of not recognizing the Palestinian people have driven up the figures of unemployment, poverty,
The most significant point of hypocrisy is Israel and the West’s double standard regarding the governments in the
conflict. If the world is to believe that Israel does not have to recognize Yasser Arafat or a Hamas-led PA because they are
terrorist entities, would Israel not be held to the same standard? Their policies and tactics are in direct violation of international
law and the Geneva Conventions, while their practices have been criticized by every major human rights organization in the
world, not to mention the Hague’s critical ruling on the Apartheid Wall. Israel does not recognize the Palestinian Authority,
not based on their refusal to recognize Israel, but on Israel’s summation of what the PA represents. Should the PA not
be able to make the same assessment?
No people, surely no occupied people, should be expected to recognize Israel under these conditions. The international
community should not demand the Palestinians recognize Israel, but ask themselves an important question: given the circumstances
does Israel have a right to exist?Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian-American, lives in New York City. He is a freelance writer,
and the founder and primary writer for the political website, Poetic Injustice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
There is yet another issue that needs closer attention:
Is the state of Israel still in accordance with her own Declaration given in 1948?
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
May 14, 1948
Land of Israel) was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped.
Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world
the eternal Book of Books.
After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased
to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves
in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they returned in their masses. Pioneers, ma'pilim (immigrants coming to Eretz-Israel
in defiance of restrictive legislation) and defenders, they made deserts bloom, revived the Hebrew language, built villages
and towns, and created a thriving community controlling its own economy and culture, loving peace but knowing how to defend
itself, bringing the blessings of progress to all the country's inhabitants, and aspiring towards independent nationhood.
In the year 5657 (1897), at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist
Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country.
This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of the 2nd November, 1917, and re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League
of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel
and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.
The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people - the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe - was another clear
demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State,
which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully-privileged
member of the community of nations.
Survivors of the Nazi holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel,
undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom
and honest toil in their national homeland.
In the Second World War, the Jewish community of this country contributed its full share to the struggle of the freedom-
and peace-loving nations against the forces of Nazi wickedness and, by the blood of its soldiers and its war effort, gained
the right to be reckoned among the peoples who founded the United Nations.
On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a
Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary
on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish
people to establish their State is irrevocable.
This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their
own sovereign State.
ACCORDINGLY WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE'S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND
OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY
VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY
DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.
WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the
6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with
the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People's
Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall be the Provisional
Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel".
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development
of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the
prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of
religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard
the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing
the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of
the whole of Eretz-Israel.
WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of
Israel into the comity of nations.
WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State
of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and
due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal
to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State
of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration
and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE ALMIGHTY,WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL
COUNCIL OF STATE, ON THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE 5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH
Daniel Auster Rachel Cohen David Zvi Pinkas Mordekhai Bentov Rabbi Kalman Kahana Aharon Zisling Yitzchak Ben Zvi Saadia
Kobashi Moshe Kolodny Eliyahu Berligne Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Eliezer Kaplan Fritz Bernstein Levin Abraham Katznelson Rabbi Wolf
Gold Meir David Felix Rosenblueth Meir Grabovsky Loewenstein David Remez Yitzchak Gruenbaum Zvi Luria Berl Repetur Dr. Abraham
Golda Myerson Mordekhai Shattner Granovsky Nachum Nir Ben Zion Sternberg Eliyahu Dobkin Zvi Segal Bekhor Shitreet Meir Wilner-Kovner
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Moshe Shapira Zerach Wahrhaftig Hacohen Fishman Moshe Shertok Herzl Vardi
Israel does not have a written constitution, even though according to the Proclamation of Independence
a constituent assembly should have prepared a constitution by October 1, 1948. The delay in the preparation of a constitution
resulted primarily from problems that emerged against the background of the alleged clash between a secular constitution and
the Halacha (the Jewish religious law).
Despite what the Proclamation of Independence of the State of Israel states regarding the preparation of a constitution by the Constituent Assembly, Israel has no written constitution in the formal sense, even though it has a constitution in the material sense - in other
words, laws and basic rules that lay down the foundations of the system of government and the rights of the individual. Some
of these are formulated in basic laws, some are scattered in other laws, and part - at least until the passing of basic laws dealing with human and civil rights
- were interpreted and formulated in a series of decision by the Supreme Court.
There were those who were inclined to view the Proclamation of Independence as a constitution, since it dealt with the
foundations of the establishment of the state, its nature, part of its institutions, the principles of its operation and the
rights of its citizens. However, in a series of decisions the Supreme Court ruled that the Proclamation of Independence does
not have the validity of a constitutional law, and that it is not a supreme law, in light of which laws and regulations that
contradict it are nullified. Nevertheless, article 1 of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and of the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation relates to the principles mentioned in the Proclamation of Independence as a normative source. According to this article
"the basic human rights in Israel are based on recognition of the value of man, the sanctity of his life and his being free,
and they will be respected in the spirit of the principles (mentioned) in the proclamation of the establishment of the State
The debate in the First Knesset on the issue of the constitution Even before the establishment of the state, the National Council Executive set up a committee,
headed by MK Zerah Warhaftig (Mizrahi), to deal with the issue of the constitution. However, already in this committee it
becameapparent that the work of preparing a constitution would not be easy. The first Knesset held several debates on the
The arguments in favor of a constitution
The main arguments in favor of a constitution were: the fact that the founders of the state favored the preparation of
a constitution and the explicit declaration to this effect in the Proclamation of Independence; the need for a document that
would bind all the state institutions, including the legislature, and would serve as the basis for the rules by which the
state functions; the need to respect resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly of November 29, 1947, which dealt with the plan for the partition of Palestine into
a Jewish and and Arab state. The resolution called for the preparation of a democratic constitution by a Constituent Assembly,
which was to include instructions relating to the preservation of the basic rights of the state's citizens; the fact that
most states have constitutions; the educational and cultural value that is embodied in a constitution, to the light of which
the younger generation can be educated and which serves as the state's visiting card; the value of a constitution in advancing
the "melting pot" process; and the value of a constitution as an expression of the revolution that took place in the life
of the Jewish people.
The arguments against a constitution
The main arguments put forward by those opposed to the constitution, headed by David Ben-Gurion and the religious parties, were: the idea of the constitution developed in previous centuries, against the background of
social and economic struggles that no longer exist; despite and perhaps even because of the absence of a written constitution
in Great Britain, the rule of law and democracy there are solid, and civil freedoms are upheld; the Proclamation of Independence includes within it the basic principles of any progressive constitution, and the Transition Law of 1949, which was passed
by the Constituent Assembly, constitutes a fulfillment of the state's obligations towards the The United Nations on this issue; only a minority of the Jewish people is in Israel, and the state does not have the right to adopt a constitution
that will bind the millions that have not yet arrived; because of the nature and special problems of the state, it is difficult
to reach a consensus regarding the spiritual principles which are to shape the image of the people and the essence of its
life, and the debate about the constitution could lead to a cultural war between the religious and secular communities; the
State of Israel is in the midst of a continuous process of change and crystallization, and this does not go together with
a rigid constitution.
The Harari Proposal
At the end of the debate, on June 13, 1950, the Knesset decided to adopt a resolution known as "the Harari proposal", named
after MK Yizhar Harari of the Progressive Party, who proposed it. According to this proposal "the First Knesset assigns to
the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee the preparation of a proposed constitution for the state. The constitution will
be made up of chapters, each of which will constitute a separate basic law. The chapters will be brought to the Knesset, as
the Committee completes its work, and all the chapters together will constitute the constitution of the state." Following
the passing of this resolution, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee set up a sub-committee on the Constitution.