“Does Israel have a right to exist?”

What is the legal basis for the State of Israel?

Some ask the question, “Does Israel have a right to exist?” That is not a proper question since Israel does exist, is recognized by the United Nations and many other countries, and is no more subject to being so questioned than is the United States, Japan, or any other country.

Anyone who persists with the question of Israel’s right to exist is one whose agenda is to eliminate Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

But there is a legal background to the State of Israel. The Declaration of Israel’s Independence, issued at Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, recites the legal history that led to the founding of Israel as an internationally recognized sovereign state:

  • The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.
  • In the year 1897 the First Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl’s vision of the Jewish State, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own country.
  • This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and re-affirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home.
  • On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, and called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put the plan into effect. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State.
  • ACCORDINGLY, WE, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly today, the day of the termination of the British mandate for Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL.

At that point, the State of Israel came into existence. The United States recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state within minutes. The Soviet Union granted de jure recognition almost immediately in 1948 along with seven other states within the next five days (Guatemala, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia).

Since the League of Nations was formally terminated in April 1946, there was a specific UN resolution that preserved the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine (and in Jerusalem particularly). The United Nations, as the successor organization to the League of Nations, adopted Article 80 of the UN Charter, which negated efforts “to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples (emphasis added) or the terms of existing international instruments” at the time of the UN’s creation. This provision carried the British Mandate granted by the League of Nations, including all of its committments to a homeland for the Jewish people, into the framework of international law at the United Nations.

Israel’s success in defending its territory against the invading Arab armies in 1948 made the country an established reality. General elections were held on January 25, 1949: the provisional State Council was replaced by an elected Parliament (Knesset) and the Provisional Government by a regular parliamentary Government. De jure recognition by the United States was extended on January 31, 1949 after the permanent government was sworn in. On January 29, 1949, the former Mandatory Power, Britain, recognized the state of Israel, a step that also recognized the end of British efforts to affect the course of the region’s politics.

In the fall of 1948, Israel had applied for membership in the United Nations but failed to win the necessary majority in the Security Council. In February 1949, Israel renewed its application for membership in the United Nations. On March 4, 1949, the Security Council recommended to the General Assembly that it be admitted. On May 11, Israel was admitted, to become the 59th member. Between January 1, 1949 and May 11. 1949, Israel was recognised by 32 States, in addition to the 20 that had accorded it recognition prior to December 31, 1948. Today Israel has full diplomatic relations with most countries of the world, except portions of the Islamic/Arab block that continue to believe that Israel can somehow be eliminated.

Sources and additional reading on this topic:

Free Gilad Shalit!

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer– Sun Jun 27, 3:11 pm ET

JERUSALEM – The family of a captured Israeli soldier, flanked by hundreds of supporters, set out Sunday on a 12-day march to Jerusalem to press their government to make a deal with Hamas militants to win his freedom.

Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by militants from the Gaza Strip. His parents say they will camp outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence until the government wins the release of their 23-year-old son, who hasn’t been seen in person since he was seized.

“Today we say, ‘We won’t wait any longer, we won’t wait any longer in our home,'” Schalit’s father, Noam Schalit, said before the start of the march. Israel’s leaders, he added, “have to put an end to this sad saga.”

Thousands, including supermodel Bar Refaeli and dozens of local celebrities, are expected to join the march from the Schalits’ home in northern Israel to Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about 2,000 supporters accompanied the family as it left its home in the small community of Mitzpe Hila on the Israel-Lebanon border. Many wore yellow ribbons or T-shirts with the soldier’s photo.

Some carried signs reading, “Gilad Schalit, we’re waiting at home for you,” and “The government of Israel, Gilad Schalit is screaming, ‘Help!'”

Israel has agreed to release many of the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Hamas wants freed, but has balked at freeing some who were convicted in deadly attacks on Israelis. It also objects to releasing them to their homes in the neighboring West Bank for fear they would establish militant footholds there, and wants them deported.

Schalit’s ordeal has touched a nerve in Israel, where military service is compulsory for most Jews, and almost all Jewish families have relatives who serve. The march dominated Israeli newspapers Sunday, and one leading daily, Haaretz, implored the government to make the necessary concessions to bring Schalit home. A recent poll suggested that a large majority of Israelis would be willing to see convicted killers released so he could go free.

The Schalits launched the protest march after Israel eased its blockade of Gaza last week without assuring their son’s release.

Israel began restricting the movement of goods into and out of Gaza after Schalit was captured, hoping to pressure Hamas to release him, and later imposed an all-out blockade after Hamas overran the territory a year later.

That embargo was eased in recent weeks after a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting flotilla drew an international outcry over the plight of 1.5 million Gazans affected by the embargo.

Schalit’s parents now say the Israeli government has abandoned their son and lost important leverage over Hamas by easing the blockade.

Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that the government was working to free the serviceman and urged the international community “to stand by the state of Israel in its unequivocal and just demand that our captive soldier be returned immediately.”

Israel has been negotiating Schalit’s release through Egyptian and German mediators because it does not have direct talks with Hamas, which it considers a terror organization.

Little is known about Schalit’s condition. His captors have barred any access to him and released only a brief videotaped statement last year to prove he was still alive.

Israel has a long history of paying a disproportionate price for its captive soldiers. However, there has been no indication the government might yield to the public pressure generated by the march. Some officials have suggested the protests would be counterproductive and cause Hamas to dig in deeper.

Hamas had no comment on the march Sunday.

Also Sunday, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in east Jerusalem near an enclave of Israeli settlers in the neighborhood of Silwan. Police said around 150 protesters threw stones, slightly wounding six policemen. There were no immediate reports of injured protesters.

Israeli moves to settle Jews in largely Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem have raised tensions in the city.