Thursday, February 13, 2020

  • Thursday, February 13, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

What is the legal basis for a Palestinian state?

According to the PLO's 1988 Declaration of Independence, the legal justification for a Palestinian Arab state comes from the UN General Assembly resolution 181, the 1947 partition resolution that the Arab world rejected. At the time, the Palestinian Arabs were so incensed at the resolution that they started a war only hours after the resolution passed.

In the language of the PLO Declaration of Independence:
Despite the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian Arab people resulting in their dispersion and depriving them of their right to self-determination, following upon U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947), which partitioned Palestine into two states, one Arab, one Jewish, yet it is this Resolution that still provides those conditions of international legitimacy that ensure the right of the Palestinian Arab people to sovereignty.
But there is a problem with that. If the PLO claims that the legal basis for the existence of an Arab state in Palestine is UNGA 181, then that means that they also accept Israel as the Jewish state, as the resolution stated - no less that thirty times! Moreover, the Declaration of Independence itself even explicitly says "two states, one Arab, one Jewish."

If they say that their legal legitimacy comes from the UNGA 181, then the PLO also accepted Israel's legitimacy as the Jewish state back in 1988!

In 1988, the "Jewish State" issue was nonexistent. It was first brought up as an issue that Israel requires for security in 2001, the early days of the second intifada, as Israeli leftists tried to build a path to peace with Palestinian intellectuals - who rejected the idea of Israel being considered a Jewish state. Ariel Sharon emphasized the issue's importance to Israel when he led the country. Accepting Israel as the Jewish state later became a demand by Tzipi Livni in negotiations in 2007 as well.

When Israelis brought up the issue in the 2000s, the Palestinians insisted that they could never accept that formulation. Saeb Erekat said in 2014 that such recognition is a problem of principle. “It’s my narrative, it’s my history, it’s my story,” he said. “I’ve never heard in the history of mankind that others must participate in defining the nature of others. It’s really ridiculous.”

But the PLO knows that the 1988 Declaration is problematic for them today.

The Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO now claims that the organization (implicitly) recognized Israel in 1988. This 2012 PLO NAD document (no longer on their site) confirms that "Palestine"'s legal foundation is UNGC 181 but it excludes the "Jewish State" language from its description by replacing it with an ellipsis:
2. What is the Declaration’s significance for the two-state solution?The Declaration contains an overt acceptance that “the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into two states […] provides the legal basis for the right of the Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence.” The PLO's recognition of Resolution 181, along with their acknowledgment (in the same session of the PNC) of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for negotiating a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, signaled the Palestinians’ formal acceptance of a two-state solution. 
They deleted the part about the Jewish state! The 2012 PLO realized that their legal argument for "Palestine" is also a legal argument for Israel as the Jewish State, so they tried to paper it over by erasing the phrase in their own Declaration of Independence. Clearly they knew then that the language in their declaration undercut all their arguments against recognizing Israel as the Jewish state today.

Keep in mind that the legal argument is bogus. UN General Assembly Resolutions are not international law.  But by making the claim that 181 is their legal basis for legitimacy, the PLO must also accept a Jewish state - the same document that they say is the legal basis for an Arab state must be accepted in toto, meaning that they have accepted a Jewish state since 1988.

It is a little difficult for them to deny the language and legal reasoning in their own Declaration of Independence.




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