Friday

20th Jan 2017

Opinion

Former Israeli law chief urges EU parliament to back Palestine recognition

  • 'Were it not for this moral foundation, it is doubtful whether the Zionist idea would have taken shape at all' (Photo: Ted Eytan)

Political Zionism sought to find a solution to the persecution of Jewish people by establishing a state to renew Jewish political life.

It did not strive to establish a state within the borders of the biblical “Promised Land”, nor did it seek to reclaim control over holy sites and the tombs of the patriarchs.

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It sought to actualise its national-historical affiliation with the land of Israel – not at the expense of another nation.

The state of Israel was established as Zionists realised that it is necessary to find a solution to the persecution of the Jewish people, and the international community recognised that.

International recognition of the moral justification for Israel's creation was an important and essential element in the establishment of the state. In other words, Israel was established on a clear morally recognised basis.

Were it not for this moral foundation, it is doubtful whether the Zionist idea would have taken shape at all.

The War of Independence (The 1948 Arab-Israeli War) was imposed upon us.

The Palestinian people refused to accept the partition plan defined by the UN. Thus, with the help of neighbouring Arab armies, they launched a war against Israel in an attempt to thwart the decision made by the UN General Assembly.

The war ended with Israel’s victory in 1949. At its end, Israel's borders were drawn, and our right to an independent existence in a free country was realised along with the ideals of political Zionism. These borders (Jerusalem aside) were recognised by the free and civilised world.

That was the case until the Six-Day-War of 1967.

Even if the Six-Day-War was imposed upon us (and this is a controversial assumption), the seventh day of the war - which began on 11 June 1967 and which continues to this day - was our choice.

With the excuse that we need the West Bank for security reasons, we have turned it into a colonial state.

The West Bank has remained an occupied territory for over 47 years. During this period we have ignored international treaties; expropriated land; moved Israeli settlers from Israel to the occupied territories; engaged in acts of disinheritance and theft. We have justified all these actions in the name of security.

Over the years, the motives for the occupation have merged into the following: economic exploitation of the occupied territories for the well-being of Israeli settlers and their needs.

In our eagerness to maintain control over the occupied territories, we have developed two separate legal systems: an advanced, liberal system for Israel and Israeli settlers; and a cruel, abusive system for Palestinians in the occupied territories.

In effect, we imposed an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately after their conquest. This oppressive regime exists to this day.

The seventh day of the Six-Day-War - which never ended - transformed us from a moral society confident in our just national revival, into an oppressive society that prevents “the other” from realising legitimate national aspirations.

For Palestinians’, resistance is a national liberation struggle.

Throughout the course of history we have learned that no nation is willing to live under foreign rule, and national liberation struggles always end in victory.

We understand this but we ignore it, prepared to engage in confrontations in order to prevent or delay the course of history. We do this knowing full well that the inevitable outcome is anchored in the moral justification for the right of all people to self-determination.

The only question that remains is, what is the bloody price that both nations will pay, up until the liberation of the Palestinian people?

In 2002, the Arab League adopted the Saudi initiative for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. As such, the Islamic non-Arab countries, adopted this peaceful initiative as well.

This initiative in essence extended an olive branch to Israel from the Palestinians and the Arab states, in order to "…see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of a comprehensive peace agreement."

This path will be about Israel’s regional integration peacefully, in turn realising the Zionist dream.

With the prolonged occupation, we are not only losing the moral basis for Israel’s existence as a free and just society, but are also seriously jeopardising chances for the state’s sustainable existence.

No security by sword alone

Israel's security cannot be based solely on the sword, but rather also on moral righteousness, peace with the Palestinian people and with neighbouring Arab states.

The regime of occupation is not only morally unjustifiable, but it also undermines Israel’s security and endangers its existence.

The Palestinian people are entitled to an independent state.

Do not expect them to accept a state that not only lacks territorial contiguity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but is also dismembered by Israeli settlements and foreign military outposts stuck like thorns in its side.

This will only lead to renewed military conflagrations between Israel and the Palestinians.

In this light, I praise the Swedish government’s decision to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel, based on the 1967 borders.

This step is not only just, but also protects the national security interests of both nations.

Furthermore, I commend the British House of Commons, the Irish Senate, and the Spanish Parliament for following suit, and I beseech the European Parliament to do the same.

Michael Ben-Yair is a former attorney general of Israel

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