Does Israel have a right to exist?

Nov 17, 2023
Israeli security fence near Jerusalem separating territory.

Israel’s membership of the United Nations was approved in 1949. Unlike other states, it was approved conditionally upon Israel complying with Partition Resolution 181 as to the limits of the Israeli State, and UN Resolution 194, allowing the return of refugees. Israel has complied with neither condition. It refuses to define its borders and is today governed by an Apartheid regime that has murdered over 4,500 children in Gaza in the space of one month. Israel’s membership of the UN must be illegal. It should be expelled from the community of nations.

Once a regime is accepted as an apartheid regime, consequences flow. An apartheid regime is illegitimate and must be removed from the community of nations.

Just as the UN General Assembly did of apartheid South Africa in 1974, member states must vote to suspend Israel from the work of the UNGA immediately and recommend to the UN Security Council that it be expelled as a member state. That Western permanent members of the UNSC may seek to shield Israel from expulsion, just as Britain, France and the US did for apartheid South Africa in 1974, should not deter UNGA members.

Entities dealing with the apartheid regime of Israel expose themselves to criminal responsibility. Such entities may be a Head of State or Government, a member of a government, or government official. Indeed, on 13 October the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, based in Harrow, England, gave notice to Prime Minister Sunak, and the Foreign Secretary and Attorney General of an intention to prosecute UK officials complicit in war crimes.  Whilst complicity with the crime of apartheid was not directly relied upon, apartheid was cited as constituting the background to the current, more immediate, alleged criminal acts. The Rome Statute is relied upon to address complicity.

There can be no prospect of an acknowledged apartheid regime continuing and remaining a member of the community of nations. As with South Africa, the obligation would fall squarely on other states to boycott and sanction the subject regime. Article IV of the International Convention requires state parties to the Convention to take action to bring the regime to an end. Article VIII contemplates action to prevent and suppress the crime of apartheid.

Does apartheid Israel have a right to exist? The answer is no. The apartheid South African regime had no right to exist and ceased to exist, replaced by a non-apartheid South Africa. Israel or Israel/Palestine can continue to exist after the apartheid regime ends, in the same way that South Africa has.

That might happen in a number of ways. One way would be the two state solution. The occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza would end, (implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1967). Israel would have to define its own borders, something which to date it has refused to do. So far as the new state of Israel is concerned, it would also be necessary for certain racist legislation applying to Israel to be repealed, presumably to be replaced with a constitution guaranteeing the rights of all citizens equally. It should be noted that presently Israel does not have a constitution.

Another way would be the one state solution – one country embracing all the above lands with a similar constitution based on coexistence and equality of all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, and guaranteeing a right of return for refugees. I emphasise that neither option requires even one Jewish Israeli to leave the country.

It is of interest to note that UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese, in her first report delivered in October 2022 recommended that UN member states develop “a plan to end the Israeli …. apartheid regime”.

Readers will recall that Francesca Albanese recently delivered the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Adelaide on 11 November and a speech at the National Press Club on 14 November.


So where are we left? Here in Australia, I believe that we must press our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to re-think the issue of both Israel’s “right to defend itself” and Israel’s “right to exist” and to accept that they are not bound to follow the dictates of the US/Israeli entity.

Host to an apartheid regime which has murdered over 4,500 Palestinian children in the last month alone, and in breach of the conditions of its recognition as a state set by the UN, Israel has no ‘right to exist’, and no right to wage a brutal war of collective punishment in an occupied territory in breach of international law.


For more on this topic, P&I recommends:

Israel does not have the right to ‘defend itself’

The Palestinian catastrophe: Occupation, Illegality and Apartheid


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