The Charge Against Israel
Legal, Political, Social and Biblical Facts make the Case for Israel
By Israel we refer primarily to the State of Israel, but also to the Jewish nation, Israel. If Israel could be tried in a world court, Israel would be prosecuted on several accounts. For example, she would probably be prosecuted on legal issues (as in so-called land occupation), on humanitarian issues (as in water deprivation and the destruction of Palestinian homes), and on the use of unreasonable or disproportionate force (as in her response to stabbings and rocket attacks). Most of the world would be on the side of the Prosecution.
Meet the Prosecution
The Media: The Prosecution is undoubtedly fuelled by media, political, and even legal bias against Israel, link, link. For example, in the UK the BBC and ITV have been accused of reporting bias in favour of Hamas. Statements are inflammatory e.g. “Israel ‘bombs civilian targets with links to Hamas’”, link. In the US, the American satellite TV and Cable News Network (CNN) has been awarded “first prize” for its biased reporting of atrocities in Israel. There is definitely a case for Honest Reporting.
Politicians: Two quotes suffice, one from the West and one from the Arab world. “When the ill winds blow, I will always stand with the Muslims” [Barak Obama, “The Audacity of Hope”]. “We will make the lives of the infidels hell – millions of martyrs marching on Jerusalem” [Yasser Arafat, in Arabic on Palestine Radio].
Growing World-wide Anti-Semitism: According to a comprehensive 2014 global survey, about 26% of the world’s adult population hold anti-Semitic views. That’s over one billion people. Not surprisingly, it is worst in the Middle East with some 74% of the adult population expressing anti-Semitic views, growing to 93% in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, link.
Most Americans tend to support Israel in the sense that they see the actions of Hamas against Israel as unjustified, link. But in 2014 the FBI found that 57% of Anti-Religious Hate Crimes targeted Jews, whilst only 16% targeted Muslims, link. This implies an underlying American bias against Israel, link.
A Biased Church: Even the church is generally aligned with the Prosecution against Israel, link. For example, the Anglican denomination is divided on Israel, but the majority position is anti-Israel. Likewise, the Church of Scotland says Israel does not belong to the Jewish people, link. And articles in the Baptist Union of Great Britain publications demonstrate a strongly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian position. In 2010, the Methodist Church of Britain voted to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from the West Bank because of Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian lands”. Apart from relatively small independent churches, it seems only the international Pentecostal church is prepared to act in defense of Israel.
In general, the church world-wide reflects the anti-Israel stance of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which itself reflects the worldview, link:
The persistence, after sixty-five years, of continuing dispossession of Palestinian people from their land by Israeli occupation, (and) continuing settlement of land inside the 1967 borders … is central to the turmoil in the region [WCC].
Israel’s Defense: The Case for Israel
Let’s examine some key issues brought by the Prosecution. What would be Israel’s defense? How would the Defense make the case for Israel?
1. Occupation of Palestinian Territories
Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) is in its fifth decade and is a flagrant disregard for international law. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces commit unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians, including children, and detain thousands of Palestinians [Amnesty International]. Some 70,000 Palestinians are now refugees after 50 years of Israeli occupation [UN, 2016]. The Gaza strip is “occupied territory” [UN, 2015].
Illegal Settlements: Israel occupied the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967. So Israel is building illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Since 1967, the Palestinians have lost control of their land, hilltop by hilltop, field by field, [Haaretz]. As of December 2015, altogether over 800,000 Israeli Jews resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines [WikiPedia]. Israel’s “security fence” (the Wall) violates international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It fragments not only the land but also the social fabric of the Palestinian people.
West Bank Settlements: The West Bank refers to an area bounded by the so-called ‘Green Line’ and the west bank of the River Jordan (see map). The Green line was merely an armistice line drawn up after the 1948-49 war under the auspices of the UN and it was intended to be temporary. Through the 1948-49 Arab aggression, Israel temporarily lost land mandated to her through the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, link, and this was only regained in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Green Line is not therefore Israel’s legal border.
In 1946 the Mandate was transferred over to the UN, and Article 80 of the UN Charter implicitly recognizes the ‘Mandate for Palestine’ of the League of Nations. The Mandate is the last legally binding document concerning the West Bank and Gaza, and so Jewish settlements in these areas are fully protected by Article 80, link. All of western Palestine, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean remains legally open to Jewish settlement under the original 1922 Mandate, link. That includes the West Bank, all of Jerusalem and Gaza.
Arab Rights: The 1922 Mandate did not grant any national political rights to Arabs, but Article 2 did safeguard the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race or religion. Israel’s government endeavours to do this through democratic elections, link. Israelis of all ethnic groups and religious beliefs, including Arab-Israelis, can actively participate in the election process, and all votes cast are equal in weight, link.
Israeli control: Not all of the West Bank is under full Israeli control. Under the 1995 Oslo Accords II, the West Bank was divided into three areas (A, B, and C) and within these areas the Palestinian and Israeli authorities have different levels of control, link. Area A is under full control of the Palestinian Authority, Area B is under Palestinian civil control and shared Palestinian and Israeli security control, and Area C (62% of the West Bank) is under full Israeli control.
Gaza is not “occupied territory”. In 2005, Israel dismantled 21 Jewish settlements and pulled troops out of the strip. By 2006 Israel had withdrawn from Gaza as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. The plan aimed to bolster security for Israelis and lessen the tensions between them and the Palestinians. Some 9,000 Israeli citizens were forcibly relocated. Israel said: “The disengagement decision holds hope for a better future; it transfers responsibility for the Strip to the Palestinians“. Today, tight border control is essential because of threats from Hamas. Hamas siphons off some 95% of the cement transferred into Gaza for rebuilding homes, so that it can be used for military purposes, link.
The Bible promised all the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants … forever:
I will give to you and to your descendants … the whole land of Canaan … forever, and I will be their God (Gen 17.8)
Ancient Canaan embraced today’s Jordan, Israel (including the West Bank and Gaza) as well as the southern sections of Syria and Lebanon, link.
2. Palestinians are Suffering
House Demolitions: In the West Bank the Israeli authorities continue to promote illegal settlements whilst at the same time demolishing Palestinian homes. In 2016 the Israeli government flattened 660 houses and other structures, leaving almost 1,000 people homeless [UN Report].
Movement Restrictions: In Gaza, Israeli forces maintain their land, sea and air blockade, imposing a collective punishment on the territory’s 1.8 million inhabitants. Israeli controls on the movement of people and goods into and from Gaza, particularly on essential construction materials, combined with Egypt’s closure of border crossings severely hinders post-conflict reconstruction [Amnesty International].
Israel enforces severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the West Bank through a system of permanent, temporary and random manned checkpoints. Restrictions affect the economic status of Palestinians so severely that they breach the rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. That is, the right to a livelihood, the right to an acceptable standard of living, the right to satisfactory nutrition, clothing, and housing. By the end of 2015 unemployment in the West Bank amounted to 19 % and was twice as high in Gaza. It is exceptionally high amongst Palestinian youth [World Bank].
House demolitions are carried out for several reasons. It may be done to enforce building codes and regulations in areas controlled by the Israeli military. In 2016 demolitions largely affected East Jerusalem and locations designated as part of Area C under the Oslo Accord. Area C constitutes more than 60% of the West Bank and is under Israeli administrative and security control, link. Demolition is also done as a deterrent against terrorism, link. A 2014 study claimed that demolition causes “an immediate, significant decrease in the number of suicide attacks”, link. In 2016, following a recommendation of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Israel decided that Palestinian terrorists’ families who turn the killers in to security forces will be able to save their homes from demolition, link.
Movement restrictions: Israel’s security fence (the “Wall”) serves just one purpose: to prevent terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. It has significantly decreased the number of attacks originating in Judea and Samaria: suicide attacks down by 100% and shooting attacks down by 93.5%, link. The downside is that it has severely restricted Palestinian movements.
But movement restrictions have been eased. As of July 2009, Israeli authorities reported that 27 checkpoints and 140 roadblocks had been removed in order to ease security restrictions in the West Bank. An additional 140 roadblocks were opened to traffic in 2008, link. In 2016 Israel relaxed some restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, link. But the Israeli Supreme Court has accepted Israel’s position, that it has the right to prevent the free movement of people through Israel from the Gaza Strip for security reasons, link.
Improving economy: After years of decline due to war, Gaza’s economy expanded by about 3.3% in 2015 [World Bank]. Real GDP growth reached 5%, driven by strong growth in the construction sector as well as retail and wholesale trade. In the West Bank real GDP expanded by 2.8% [World Bank].
The Bible instructs the people of Israel how they should treat foreigners (non-Jews). Old Testament Israel was commanded to love foreigners and to let them live normal lives amongst them:
Do not mistreat foreigners who are living in your land. Treat them as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves. (Lev 19.33,34)
Unfortunately, as long as Arab leaders refuse to recognise Israel and continue to attack her, peaceful cohabitation seems impossible. The Palestinian Authority engages in constant incitement against Israel by teaching hatred of Israel and Jews in its textbooks, newspapers and television broadcasts, link, link.
3. The Two-State Solution
Israel must accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if it wants to remain a Jewish state [UN]. The only solution is a democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state – negotiations will be necessary – but there’s little secret about where they must lead: two states for two peoples [Obama]. The Vatican “hopes for a solution to the Palestinian question according to the two-state solution” [Vatican, 2015].
As part of this solution, Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine [UN]. Put simply, Jerusalem is not recognised as part of Israel [US Supreme Court].
Israel’s leaders have talked about their desire for a “two states for two peoples” solution, but in reality this is impossible. Any unilateral declaration by the Palestinian Authority (PA) would violate the 1995 Oslo II Interim Agreement (signed by the Palestinians). Article 31(7) of this Agreement states:
“Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations“
This Accord is still binding, but is flouted by the PA, the EU and the UN. So any PA attempt to change the status of these territories, namely a two state solution without prior negotiations with Israel will violate this clause. It is here that the proposal will fail since the PA leadership:
- does not recognize Israel as a Jewish nation-state
- maintains that Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank are Palestinian Territories
- maintains that East Jerusalem is the capital of the future Palestinian State
All these are totally unacceptable to Israel. Moreover, according to a recent Stanley Greenberg poll, only 34% of Palestinians accept “two states for two peoples” as the solution. Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state, link. This is in line with the Hamas objective of replacing the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate, link. Recall that the Arab leadership rejected a two-state solution as far back as 1947 (see UN Partition Plan).
As for Jerusalem, Israel has a well-founded legal claim in international law to sovereignty over the city, link. So the UN and the West are totally unrealistic in their insistence on a two-state solution. Clearly, they are not reading from the same page as the Palestinians!
The Bible says that nations who mistreat Israel, or divide up the land promised to Israel via Abraham, will be judged accordingly:
I will gather the armies of the world into the valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will judge them for harming my people, my special possession, for scattering my people among the nations, and for dividing up my land. (Joel 3.2)
4. Water Apartheid: Palestinians are Denied Sufficient Water
Over 2 million Palestinians suffer from the unfair distribution of water sources, which remain under almost full Israeli control [PWA, 2015]. In the West Bank, daily per capita consumption (domestic, urban and industrial) is around 73 litres, and 242 litres in Israeli towns [CJPME, 2010]. This scarcity is deliberately created and sustained by Israel’s military occupation [The Ecologist].
Drilling: Both the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian farmers are denied the right to construct wells to meet the growing demand for water, even when that water originates almost entirely in the West Bank [UNCTAD, 2015].
Israel and the Palestinian Authority set up a Joint Water Committee (JWC) in 1995. Israel is abiding by the 1995 Oslo II Accord and supplying agreed water quantities. Under these Accords, Israel recognized the water rights of the Palestinians in the West Bank, and a clear allocation of quantities of water to each party was determined, link. Both sides agreed on the future needs of the Palestinians in the West Bank, which could total 200 million cubic meters (MCM) per year, link. In 2012, per capita water use was 150 MCM for Israelis and 140 MCM for Palestinians, link. The total water available to Palestinians in 2007 was 200 MCM per year, link.
Israel delivers water, but does not carry out water distribution in Palestinian areas – that task is up to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But water losses in Palestinian networks are very high, link.
Requests for water drilling is discussed and authorised by the JWC. But water is often used as a political weapon and authorized wells are not dug and leaks are not repaired. JWC permits have been granted for drilling into the Eastern Mountain Aquifer, but as of 2014 the Palestinians had drilled at just one-third of these sites, despite the offer of international finance, link.
The Bible and Water: Israel is a dry land and supplements natural water supplies with desalinated water, link. But when Israel has fully returned to her land God promises to bless her with abundant rain, and in the correct seasons:
Rejoice, O sons of Zion … He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before. (Joel 2.23)
5. Jerusalem is not the Jewish Capital
Mt Zion. Image: Wikimedia
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed East Jerusalem, declaring it part of its eternal, indivisible capital, a move never recognised internationally [Haaretz]. The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Following the line of the UN, the community maintains that Jerusalem should be the capital of two states: Israel and Palestine [UN Secretary-General, 2009]. Likewise, the EU urges Israel to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians as part of a Middle East peace agreement and make the holy city the capital of two states. When challenged in 2014, the White House would not state which city it recognised as the capital of Israel (Jerusalem or Tel Aviv), link. But in 2015 the US Supreme Court declared that “the United States does not recognize Jerusalem – both the Eastern and Western parts of the city – as the capital of the state of Israel”. In 1994 The British Government stated that it did not recognize Israeli sovereignty of any part of Jerusalem [Malcolm Palmer, 1994]. The World Council of Churches (WCC) considers Jerusalem to be an occupied city.
The vast majority (92%) of Palestinians say Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, [Stanley Greenberg poll].
Following the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, Israel’s Knesset declared Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel in 1950. This was partly based on Israel’s strong historical connections, link. But it was also based on solid legal ground in international law, namely, the 1920 San Remo Resolution, the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine (ratified by 51 members of the League of Nations) and Article 80 of the UN Charter (which enshrines all obligations of the League of Nations), link. Essentially, all this states that the Jewish homeland includes the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights, plus Judea and Samaria, today’s ‘West Bank’. In short, the Jewish homeland embraces Jerusalem. After spending twenty years investigating the legal aspects of Jerusalem’s sovereignty, international human rights lawyer Jacques Gautier concludes:
“According to international law, Israel has a well-founded claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem, including its Old City [Dr Jacques Gautier, author ‘Sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem“, link]
Those who insist on Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (when Israel did not hold East Jerusalem) should note that the armistice lines of 1948 were intended to be temporary [Arthur Goldberg, drafter of Resolution 242]. The 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line) was never seen as Israel’s legal border in UN Resolution 242, link.
The Bible is clear on the ownwership of Jerusalem. The city belongs to the God of Israel despite what the nations say. It is called “the City of the King” (Ps 48.2), “the City of Righteousness” (Isa 1.26), “the Holy City” (Isa 52.1), “the Throne of the LORD” (Jer 3.17), “the LORD is there” (Ezek 48.35). Soon Christ will return and rule the nations from Jerusalem:
Thus says the LORD, I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth … for the law will go our from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Zech 8.3, Isa 2.3)
6. Israel uses Unreasonable-Disproportionate-Excessive Force
The Israeli Security Forces (ISF) have been accused of using excessive force: “There were numerous reports of the ISF killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations; in some cases they did not pose a threat to life” [US State Department report, 2016]. Specifically, in 2015, 149 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces, but only 77 of those deaths occurred in the course of attacking Israelis. Overall, in 2015 the number of deaths and injuries amongst Palestinians caused by Israeli forces was the highest for a decade [UN report].
In 2015 the ISF used excessive force against Palestinians in Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron. Tactics adopted by the ISF during this period included confiscation of land, ISF military operations in refugee camps, villages and cities, as well as Israelis trespassing into the Al Aqsa mosque [RedCrow Intelligence].
Torture: Israeli military and police forces, as well as Israel Security Agency (ISA) personnel, torture Palestinian detainees during arrest and interrogation. Torture includes beating with batons, slapping, throttling, prolonged shackling, stress positions, sleep deprivation and threats, [Amnesty International]. During the 2008-2009 Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead), Israel carried out what is known as “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza by wanton destruction of property, food, and sanitation infrastructure [UN Investigation, 2009]. Collective punishment is illegal under international humanitarian law.
From Protests to Riots: Palestinian Leaders encourage violence and terrorist attacks against Jews, link. In 2015 some observed a move away from “politically motivated Palestinian protests” in the streets of Jerusalem towards “riots”. These included acts of public property vandalism, the absence of law enforcement personnel, blocked streets, destroyed traffic lights, railways and burnt out bus stations, link. By mid-2015 at least 14 Israelis had been killed by Palestinian stone throwing, link.
Civilian Casualties: Israel has shown the greatest possible restraint and makes a determined effort to limit Palestinian civilian casualties during its operations against Palestinian terrorists, link. Civilian casualties sometimes occur since Hamas and other groups sometimes launch mortar shells and rockets at Israel from civilian areas e.g. close to schools and mosques, link, link. In cases of Palestinian civilian casualties, Israel has a comprehensive investigative process to determine whether errors were made by its soldiers and if legal action should be taken, link, link.
Gaza War 2008-2009: In 2006, following the Israeli disengagement and pullout from the Gaza Strip, there was an increase of 436% in the number of Palestinian rockets launched towards Israel from Gaza (1,123 rockets in 2006). In 2008 this increased to 3,278 rocket attacks from the Gaza strip, link. Rockets were deliberately aimed at civilians. Every country has the moral responsibility to defend its people and so Israel responded with a deterrence – Operation Cast Lead. Civilian casualties were about 1:1 (one civilian death for every combatant death). This compares to the average ratio of 3:1 (three civilian deaths to one combatant death) in similar conflicts worldwide, link.
Bible prophecy says that the descendants of those who are now oppressing Israel will one day bless Israel and Jerusalem:
The descendants of those who oppressed you will come and bow low to show their respect. All who once despised you will worship at your feet. They will call you ‘The City of the Lord’, ‘Zion, the City of Israel’s Holy God.’ (Isa 60.14)
7. Jews have little Historical Connection with Israel
Jews who have recently returned to Israel lack a strong historical connection with the land. Any claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history, [Article 20, Palestinian National Charter, 1968]. The land was actually populated solely by indigenous Palestinians. Also, there is no tangible evidence of any Jewish remains in the Old City of Jerusalem and its immediate vicinity [Palestinian Ministry of Information, 1997].
Concerning the Temple Mount: Israel cannot show they had a temple here 2000 years ago, [Mahmoud Abbas, 2000]. No Jewish temple ever existed on the Temple Mount” [Yasser Arafat, 2000]. The historic existence of a Jewish Temple is a myth and a lie. So any Jewish claim should be ignored and the Temple Mount area should be referred to solely by the Muslim name Al-Aqsa Mosque or Al-Haram Al Sharif. Similarly, the Western Wall should be referred to by its Muslim name – “the al-Buraq wall” [UNESCO, 2016].
Here, the prosecution is weak and easily defended. Palestinian leaders have adopted the tack of “stealing the enemy’s heritage, history, and values”, link. But archaeology and historical documentation shows that Jews have lived continuously in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years, link, link, link.
Brief history: The descendants of Abraham formed the nation Israel around 1300 BC, King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in 1004 BC, and in 960 BC his son Solomon built the first Jewish temple.
Due to disobedience, the northern kingdom (Israel) was scattered throughout the nations by 722 BC and the southern kingdom (essentially Judah) was deported to Babylon by 586 BC. But some Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem between 536 BC and 444 BC. This was to rebuild the temple, establish temple worship and rebuild the walls. So a Jewish presence continued in Jerusalem up to the Roman period.
History records that in 70 AD, when the Jewish civilization was already over 1000 years old, the Romans forced most of the Jews of Judea and Samaria (now the West Bank) into exile and destroyed the Second Temple. However, some Jews remained in the land and archaeologists have discovered 34 synagogues in the Golan Heights dating from the late Roman period through the Byzantine era up until the Arab conquest of the Holy Land around 638 AD, link.
Jerusalem: The early name for Jerusalem (in Hebrew pronounced yer-oo-shaw-law-yimthe) is mentioned in the first book of the Jewish Torah (Gen 14.18). In fact, historic Jerusalem is mentioned 809 times in the Bible, beginning with Joshua 10:1 and ending with Galatians 4:25, link, whilst it is claimed Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran, link, link.
The Jewish temple: evidence from the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach), the New Testament, historians like Josephus, and archaeology all testify to the existence of a huge, impressive temple in Jerusalem. The traditional location lies in the immediate vicinity of the present-day Dome of the Rock, link, and the Western Wall is the western retaining wall of King Herod’s expanded Temple Mount. Historical accounts say that the Dome of the Rock was built by the Moslems to overlay the location of the original Jewish Temple, link. Professor of Archaeology, Kent Bramlett also claims that historical records of the destruction committed by the Romans (70 AD) give “pretty overwhelming” support for the existence of the Second Temple in the immediate vicinity of the Dome of the Rock.
If the Jewish temple never existed, then why does archaeological evidence suggest otherwise? Every year Jews would arrive at Solomon’s Temple to celebrate Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), and for this they needed fresh flowing water. Archaeologists have discovered an ancient water aqueduct running from the Hebron mountains, through Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem, and into the Temple Mount area, link, link. This was done at least 1500 years before any mosque was built!
For more see Who Owns Jerusalem?