Many nations and assemblies have questioned the legitimacy of Israel. Israel has been a member of the United Nations since May 11, 1948. Yet today, 32 member states of the United Nations refuse to recognize Israel as a legal state.
Israel does have a right to exist. Israel is a legal state. We are going to review the international laws that gave her rights. We will also examine the strange phenomenon of why the legitimacy of Israel is questioned.
Israel's Legal Status from Rebirth
First, many of Israel’s founders were well trained in law.
They were determined to establish Israel legitimately. They understood that to prevail, statehood had to be obtained legally. Due to their training in law, they had the know-how to get it done.
Second, the nation had existed twice before in history…
- 1st Jewish State: 1000-586 BC
Between the years of 1200 and1000 BC, Israel had developed culturally and politically to the point that she was well established. The Egyptians perceived her as an entity, as well as a possible threat due to her size. This indicates that, throughout history, she was recognized as a nation.
During this period, villages were established, and the population doubled. By 1000 BC, favorable conditions for settlement and trade emerged. This expanded the population of Israel and the spread of her territory.
The First Temple was built in 1000 BC by King Solomon after King David had conquered Jerusalem. It was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.
Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, when listing his opponents in the battle of Qarqar, fought in 853 BC, names King Ahab (the seventh king of Israel) as one of the kings in the enemy forces. This is an indication that Israel was contesting for and had conquered the land during this time.
Archeologists have discovered artifacts that reveal the Israelite culture existed in what is now the established state of Israel before 1200 BC.
- 2nd Jewish State: 238-63 BC
After the king of Persia, Cyrus II, had conquered the Babylonians in 538 BC, the land of Israel was about to be inhabited once again by the Jewish people. Under the confines of the Persian Empire, Israel was a nation for which the council of elders and high priests in Jerusalem was responsible.
Alexander the Great broke the power of Persian rule (circa 332 BC) and during the rule of Antiochus IV, around 167 BC, the Jews were prohibited from practicing their faith, imposing upon them instead, Greek culture and customs.
The Maccabean Revolt took place from around 167 to 160 BC, and the nation of Israel once again fought for her right to exist. Israel won, and the kingdom regained her boundaries.
It wasn’t until 63 BC when Rome became the next great power of the area, that Israel, once again, fell under the thumb of another administration.
Israel's Legal Status as An Independent Nation | Obtained Lawfully
Israel obtained legal status as an independent nation through lawful steps.
They are as follows…
Israel's Legal Status: Step 1—Balfour Declaration in 1917
- The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary, on November 2, 1917. It declared the support of a “national home for the Jewish people.”
“His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” [i]
Israel's Legal Status: Step 2—San Remo Agreement in 1920
- The San Remo Conference was an international meeting held in San Remo, Italy, following World War I. Attendees were Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States (as a neutral observer).
It confirmed the pledge of the Balfour Declaration.
The San Remo Resolution…
- Was adopted by the League of Nations
- Was signed by all 51 countries of the League of Nations
- Gave the Jews rights to the land of Israel
- Gave the Arabs rights to other areas of the Middle East
Israel's Legal Status: Step 3—League of Nations Resolution in 1922
- The League of Nations Resolution was a legal document that established the United Kingdom as having mandatory control over the region.
This legal document was established to give Israel a national home, reiterating the Balfour Declaration. It was written to ensure the rights and positions of the communities and holy places in the land.
Israel's Legal Status: Step 4—Anglo-American Treaty in 1924
- This document, formally signed by the United States with the British Government, again reiterating the Balfour Declaration. Within it is stated…
“Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the 2nd [of] November 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…” [ii]
Israel's Legal Status: Step 5—Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948
- This proclamation made by David Ben-Gurion, who would become the first prime minister of Israel, was approved on May 14, 1948. At midnight of that day, Israel became a state as the British Mandate was terminated.
The first two paragraphs of the Israeli Declaration of Independence reads…
“Eretz-Israel [The Land of Israel] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained 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.” [iii]
How Did the Arab Nations Respond to Israel's Legal Status in 1948?
Immediately upon Israel's lawful establishment in 1948, she was attacked by the surrounding Arab nations.
What Was Lost?
- Lives. In defending her right to exist, Israel lost thousands of lives, including civilians and Holocaust survivors.
- Land. In the attack, she lost land that was rightfully assigned to her by the United Nations.
As Israel defended what was lawfully given to her, the eventual result was an armistice that lasted until 1967, when Israel was yet again attacked.
This was the Six-Day War.
During this war, Arab terrorists infiltrated Israel’s borders and killed Israeli citizens. Israel’s neighbors orchestrated this plan of attack. The surrounding governments and leaders were in clear violation of international law.
Why Israel's Legal Status Is Remarkable
Israel has prevailed in the face of opposition.
- Israel is the only country in the world that is surrounded by nations opposed to its existence. No other country has hostile enemies waiting with bated breath at its borders, prepared to attack with a single signal from leadership.
Israel, though attacked numerous times throughout history, has continued to seek legal status through lawful means, rather than with force.
- Israel has sought to establish peaceful negotiations.
- Peaceful treaty with Egypt in 1978
- Peaceful disengagement of the Gaza Strip in 2005
- Continued attempts to reach peace with surrounding Arab nations
The Phenomenon of Questioning Israel's Legal Status
It is evident that Israel's lawful origins give her grounds for existence. Yet, why are so many opposed?
Why do so many question Israel's legitimacy?
Perhaps the most perplexing question is as follows: Why do 32 member states of the United Nations deny her existence?
The truth is many are not aware of how Israel, in fact, lawfully came to be. Sadly, without this knowledge, it only opens doors for terrorism and acts of anti-Semitism.
But there is hope. There is something YOU can do. You can choose to educate yourself with the truth. You can choose to support Israel and our governmental leaders who also stand with her.
Every choice you make sows seeds into the future of this nation and into Israel. Once you know the facts, you've been given the responsibility to act.
We can act together. We can spread the truth. And we can stand united with a nation who has been a long-time ally and help to our nation.