By Stephen L. Meszaros and Robert Ratonyi
Since its creation as a modern Jewish state in 1948, Israel has fought fifteen wars with its existence at stake against Arab neighbors and the Palestinians living within its borders. These wars ranged from the War of Independence in 1948, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to wars preventing the killing of innocent Israeli citizens, which included several Intifadas and constant rocket attacks to this day. Israel fought these wars brilliantly and became the strongest military country in the Middle East.
Israel’s success in wars on the international political front are more modest, but still remarkable, given the anti-Israeli political environment in the Arab world and internationally, including in the United Nations General Assembly. The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty signed in 1979, the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace signed in 1994, and the Abraham Accords agreed to in 2020 are major accomplishments. Fights on Israel’s domestic front, whether religious, social, cultural or political, have gone on since 1948 to this day, often threatening Israel’s stability. The most important achievement since 1948 is to have turned Israel from a socialistic, liberal, and primarily agricultural society into a highly developed capitalistic democracy, catapulted to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
Israel has not been very successful in fighting today’s public relations onslaught effectively. These wars on Israel are varied and sophisticated, blending partisan sponsored myth and falsehood with traditional tropes to rouse latent anti-Semitism across the world. These lies have proliferated in the U.S. and in foreign capitals and have become part of the doctrine of the leftist woke movement. An example is BDS — Boycott, Divest, Sanction — that has taken hold on campuses and in corporate boardrooms. Israel has also been accused of being a colonizing power running an Apartheid state, which is ironic, given the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and the fact that the Arab population enjoys extensive territorial autonomy in the West bank and Gaza. Arab political parties participate freely in parliamentary elections, and their representatives are members of the Knesset. This demonization of Israel is also a product of well placed financial backing, the withdrawal of which would stifle the institutions that have grown accustomed to the largess. The defense of being “anti-Israel” or “anti-Zionist” is simply a flimsy patina to cover glaring anti-Semitism, lighting a path to global destruction of Judaism once and for all.
The legal war to convince the Palestinians, Israel’s Arab neighbors, most of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the United States, the rest of the world, and even a portion of the Israeli population that Israel has an internationally approved agreement to its territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea since 1922 has been virtually nonexistent.
The purpose of this article is to expose the lies that have been promulgated against the Jewish state and to bring the legal fight to the forefront by adding an arrow to Israel’s quiver to defend its legal rights.
The international legal basis of the present sovereign state of Israel dates back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo Resolution, and to the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations.
The area of the Jewish national home was specified in the 1922 British Mandate, a legally binding international treaty based on the 1920 San Remo Resolution, by dividing the eastern and western parts of the Mandate area along the Jordan River. The western area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea was reserved for the future Jewish national home, and the eastern part, from the Jordan River to Iraq, for the establishment of Transjordan. The 1922 British Mandate has had far-reaching consequences to establish the international legal basis for the future state of Israel.
The 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Future Government of Palestine (“1947 U.N. Partition Plan“) did not override the previous division of territory as a result of the Arab rejection. The establishment of the State of Israel remains based on the 1922 British Mandate boundaries, entitling it to the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This conclusion is also confirmed by international legal principles of estoppel and uti possidetis juris.
To date, no international legal settlement has been reached to override the previous effective division under the 1922 British Mandate. In the absence of mutual acceptance by the parties concerned, the U.N. resolutions adopted so far regarding the Israeli-Palestinian territorial issues have no relevance under international law; they are merely political proposals. Therefore, Israel continues to have a valid international legal title to the possession of the West Bank (also known by its ancient name, Judea and Samaria), East Jerusalem, and even to the Gaza Strip to this day.
Israel’s continued valid legal title to the whole area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea does not prevent Israel from transferring certain rights, at its discretion, in relation to the administration of the territories. Examples of this are the Oslo Accords establishing Palestinian territorial autonomy. However, this territorial autonomy does not legally lead to or equal a Palestinian state; it is simply an act of administering the territory. There is currently no obligation under international law to do so.
The 1922 British Mandate assigned the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea for the Jewish national homeland. This zoning has not been overridden by a valid international law agreement, and the previous settlement cannot be disregarded. The Israeli-Arab relationship, and within that the settlement of the so-called Palestinian question, is obviously much more complex than to be approached solely based on international law. However, the rules of international law should not be ignored, and in particular, they should not be falsified with opposing political statements and antisemitic venom disguised as international law.
An in-depth legal study, and historic narrative, of Israel’s internationally approved legal rights to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea was published in 2020, on the centennial of the San Remo Resolution, in a Hungarian legal journal, DIKE, of the University of Pécs — Faculty of Law by Stephen L. Meszaros. An edited version of the English translation of this study, titled “The International Legal Basis of the Modern Jewish State,” is now available to the English-speaking world. This study should strengthen Israel’s fight to win more of the public relation and legal battles in the future.
Stephen L. Meszaros is an attorney-at-law, a former member of the Hungarian Parliament and the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Robert Ratonyi is a retired business executive, a regular speaker on behalf of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and the Breman Holocaust Museum. His book From Darkness into Light: My Journey Through Nazism, Fascism , and Communism to Freedom was published in 2022.
This article was earlier published at www.americanthinker.com