By Jason Michael

Santa has come early for the State of Palestine in the guise of a UN Security Council resolution that has not been vetoed by the United States. It recognises that both Israel and Palestine have territories, and says that Israel should stick to its own.

Last Friday the United Nations Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 2334 (2016), a joint decision of the global community that affirmed previous resolutions condemning the State of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and the entire settlement program. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, childishly responded to the Council that the resolution was based on lies and proceeded to deliver a puerile diatribe on the history of Israel according to the Bible. In Jerusalem Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described it as another “gang up” on Israel and laid the blame squarely at the feet of the United States for not vetoing the resolution to protect Israel.

For more than a year now the overwhelming majority of UN member states – including two observer states – have recognised the State of Palestine in the Israeli occupied territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Thus, according to consensus, Palestine is a de facto state under international law, and Israel’s continued occupation is in breach of that law and its official and unofficial settlements in that occupied state are illegal. Under this international law the people of Palestine do have a sovereign right to defend their land from foreign invasion and illegal occupation and they do have the right to seek justice in the International Criminal Court.

Israel – for the moment pretty much alone – has predictably and boringly defended its now clearly illegitimate and criminal position on two grounds; the right of the State of Israel to exist and the dubious case for Eretz Israel being the “historic homeland of the Jewish people.” Israel does not have the right to exist. In fact no state has the right to exist. States exist merely because they do and that their existence and right to defend their territories are recognised by other states (Treaty of Westphalia, 1648). Israel’s existence is recognised and its right to defence is secure and has been since 1948. Its continued insistence that others – particularly the Palestinian people and its Arab neighbours – recognise its right to exist is a smokescreen intended to hide its refusal to allow Palestinian statehood.

The claim to ownership of a land, based on biblical stories and ancient historical memory, is equally bogus. It is true that Judeans and Israelites inhabited the Levant between 3,000 and 2,000 years ago. Judaism, in any modern and recognisable sense, did not exist until after the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from the province of Judea. Judaism and Jewishness – as we know them – were themselves the product of exile. Moreover, the ancient Judeans and Israelites were never the same people – and they were never alone in their claim to the land. If we are to recognise a modern state of singular Jewish ethnicity on these hilarious grounds then we must also grant the same to the more ancient claims of the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, and the wonderfully names Girgashites.

Ambassador Danon’s fictive biblical history of a right to a homeland is all the more interesting because the book he wielded to prove his case is a rather big book. It says a great many things – often contradictory things – about the original homeland of these ancient peoples. If we choose to start with Abraham then his home is in Ur of the Chaldeans (possibly southern Turkey or northern Iraq) and a small burial ground near Hebron. If we move it forward to the first verifiable archaeological evidence of the “Hebrews” and a people who worship a deity called YHWH then we are somewhere on the west coast of present day Saudi Arabia. But in reality, when it comes to gods acting as real estate agents there has to be a statute of limitations – not to mention a rationalist intervention.

In the real world – a place both Netanyahu and Danon are ill at ease – we have to deal with real people and their real rights and claims. In the real world gods don’t act as guarantors. Laws do. In this case we have the current position of international law and the reality of Palestine and Israel as real and existing states with rights. Resolution 2334 is far from “anti-Israeli.” It recognises the State of Israel in the exact same way that it recognises other states – including Palestine, and the rights of both peoples to their respective territories. Coming just before Christmas we can take this decision as a gift; the two-state solution is back on the table and Israel has been reminded that the world has not forgotten Palestine and its people.

Israeli Ambassador full speech on UN settlement vote (UNSC Resolution 2334)

Author: Jason Michael (@Jeggit)

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