Our Legal Right to the Land

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
19 In july 1977
Individuals - Anwar Sadat. Security - Army, Fundamentals of Israeli Security, Self-Defense, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War. States - Egypt. Greater Land of Israel - Greater Israel. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Palestinians. Peace , peace process with Egypt
Begin stresses the importance of maintaining the post 1967 borders and not returning the territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. He recalls the Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt utilized the element of surprise to attack Israel to cause more damage and more lives to be lost. In order to prevent this from happening again, Begin emphasizes the legal right the Jewish people have to this land.
selected quotes from article new search

"Our Legal Right to the Land"

ALL THE PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES that are loyal to the State – except one which is totally enslaved to a foreign capital – are in complete agreement on a matter of great national significance. This national consensus is of overriding importance, in the coming discussions, both for us and for the capitals of the world, particularly the one I shall be visiting by invitation of the President of the U.S.A.

There is general agreement that Israel can not under any circumstances withdraw to the lines of June 4, 1967, and will not do so; and we will not agree under any circumstances that in Judea and Samaria and Gaza a state should come into being called Palestine.

These two proposals that are being voiced round the world entail danger for the very existence of the State of the Jews. To remove these proposals from the international agenda, we shall, in the truest sense of the term, fight for our lives. And when the People of Israel, during its history, has been called upon to defend its very existence, it fights with courage and overcomes. We have – and I say this in earnest belief – we have, with the help of the Almighty, a chance for success in this struggle. It is a good realistic chance. We have to succeed, for the danger is very great.

What would happen to us if – heaven forbid – that which our enemies demand and which is mentioned from time to time in various countries were to take place? If, in the conditions of modern military technology, to which there was nothing similar in 1948, nor in 1956 nor even in 1967, Israel were to be only eight miles wide between the coast and Qalqiliya, we should use the opportunity for peace, certainly in this generation, and perhaps also for future generations.


We must also take note of the act that even in return for an Israeli withdrawal to such an extent, our enemies are not promising peace, but what is called an end to the state of belligerency. They stress that they will not recognise Israel, nor will they sign a peace treaty with her. Only what they refer to as an "end to the state of belligerency," an expression that has no standing in international law.

Let us recall that Mussolini, on the outbreak of World War II, announced that his country was "non-belligerent." That didn't prevent him, after France had been overrun by the German tanks, from immediately joining in the war and trampling the fallen underfoot.

This then is the value of a non-belligerency declaration. It is not peace It is certainly not a peace treaty. It is not a recognition of sovereignty. It is just a declaration that, under certain circumstances, is worth no more than the paper on which is written.

If this is what our enemies are saying as a starter, then we lose the very chance for peace. Let us take a look at the map. We would be 14, 15, 25 kilometres from their guns, which today have a range of 43 kilometres and 800 metres – for this is the modern Soviet artillery which did not exist in 1948 or 1967.

In other words, with these guns they can reach every large city in Israel, every home in the country. Previously Haifa was outside their range, but the entry of the Syrian army into Lebanon, Haifa Bay can now be shelled directly, the oil refineries and parts of Haifa town.

The danger is indeed very real. We recall the surprise of the Yom Kippur War. Sadat does not deny that he surprised us primarily to inflict loss of life. Our people lost a third of its sons in a single generation, amongst them a million small children torn from their mothers' arms. In this land, we have sacrificed fifteen thousand of the best of our sons in wars that were forced upon us. How much blood can a people such as this give?

The enemy knows our feelings. Knows, and desires in the first instance to inflict loss of life on us. Consider the situation: With one massive barrage, on all the towns in the country, from Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Netanya and Bnei Braq, Rehovot and Rishon Lezion, Afula and Beersheba, in the first hours he could inflict thousands of casualties on us.

Even then we would win through, and our army would repel the enemy, capturing or destroying the guns. But we need to remember how many sacrifices would have to be made for this victory, amongst the civilian population and amongst our soldiers. And what for? To create a situation such as we have at present, whereby these guns can not reach every home in Tel Aviv or Rishon Lezion. It would be as though – and I say this in all earnestness, for it is something that, heaven forbid, could happen – it would be as though we were spilling blood for nothing. It will not be an excursion. Any war is tremendously costly in human terms. This, therefore, is the sort of danger ahead.


With regard to the Palestinian State, we have to realise that we are faced with the most cruel enemy of the Jewish people since the days of the Nazis. They have made up their minds to try to destroy us, man, woman and child. The Palestinian Charter affirms in Paragraph 19, that the establishment of the State of Israel is null and void as though it had never been.

Recently in Cairo, that was confirmed explicitly at an Arab summit.

The difference between the Jewish war of liberation and the Arab war is that we fought to save a people. They are shooting to destroy a people. We made every possible effort to prevent casualties amongst the civilian population. For them, the civilian population is the target, and when they inflict damage there is joy and happiness, but not one word of regret. They tell their men: it is permissible, necessary to kill Jewish children.

And it is they who, inevitably, would be in control of this state. No agreement will be made, unless it is with a body that would transfer Judea and Samaria and Gaza to these murderers. This is the reality, and we have to consider only the reality.

One tends to forget unpleasant things. We have almost forgotten that before 1967 there was a continuous spilling of blood. Fifteen hundred Jewish civilians were killed and murdered; thousands of others were wounded and left disabled for the rest of their lives. The killers penetrated to Shafrir near Tel Aviv, to Romema in Jerusalem, to Ashkelon and Ashdod and Beersheba and between Beersheba and Ashkelon.

That was the situation when we were still in "the old borders."


A return to them would be a direct risk for us, and also for the whole of the free world. Let us take a look at the map of the Middle East. In South Yemen, the former Aden, there is a pro-Soviet government. In Somalia, along the Red Sea, on the way to the Indian Ocean, there is a pro-communist government. Libya – although ruled by a fanatical Muslim – is a Soviet base. It contains modern weaponry – to the tune of billions of dollars – which the Libyan ruler does not even have the manpower to operate – and is a base for the whole of the Middle East, for all the ports that are available to the Soviet fleet.

Iraq and Syria are bases for a determining Soviet influence. Egypt and Russia are again making an effort to renew the friendship between them.

And with regard to the organisation that calls itself the P.L.O. – it is virtually a Soviet agent. Is it coincidental that a strategic committee met in Moscow with the participation of Castro and Arafat? Because the Soviet Union is attempting to take the free world with a pincer movement with the help of the Cubans in Africa and those who are called "Palestinians" in the Middle East. This today is the map of the Middle East. Is it necessary to add to all these a main Soviet base in the heart of the Middle East – that is in the Land of Israel?

The Soviets, after their invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, discovered deficiencies in their logistic system, which they have since corrected and improved to such an extent that they are today capable of supplying heavy arms to Angola and Mozambique, a distance of thousands of miles from the southern U.S.S.R. From Odessa to Bethlehem is a mere few hours' flight.

Should Bethlehem fall within a Palestinian State, day after day planes would arrive with these same modern armaments. Nobody could prevent it. Airfields would not be necessary. Runways would suffice. Plane after plane. They would deliver the weaponry. In Bethlehem of Judea. Right on the doorstep of Jewish homes.

And so a central Soviet base would come into being right in the heart of the Middle East, in addition to those that I enumerated previously. Would this be good for the free world and for America? And we may also ask: Would this be good for free Europe?

The answer reflects the true partnership of interests between us and the free world.

Let me state again, therefore, that on these two points we have a national consensus. After the last debate in the Knesset, I was authorised to say that in the name of the decisive majority, over 110 members of the Knesset.

Let me add that in insisting on our right to the Land of Israel, we find no contradiction between this position and international documents, including Resolution 242.

It was not fortuitous, when that Resolution was under discussion but an explicit thought, and a conscious decision to remove the word "the" from the draft "withdrawal of forces from the territories."

The fact that it was proposed to include the word "the" and that it was taken out is of the greatest significance. Those who accepted it knew the opinions and the argument; the "the" was taken out, and it is therefore written not "from the territories" but "from territories."

With regard to the border, the territory that was conquered in 1948 – contrary to international law – by Abdullah's Arab Legion, never was nor is recognised as a state frontier. This is explicitly stated, in the famous but forgotten paragraph 2 of the Armistice Agreement which both sides signed.

"Under no circumstances," it said, "should the Armistice Line be interpreted as a state or territorial border, and in drawing it there is no prejudice to the rights, claims and positions of either of the parties to the Armistice Agreement concerning the final settlement of the question of the Land of Israel."

Intentionally and consciously it was determined that it is no more than a writ of demarcation, while Resolution 242 determines that the peoples must live in peace, within recognised and safe borders, and here is the main word, the key word, which is "recognised."

You will find these terms in every peace treaty. Every peace treaty starts with the announcement that the state of war has been terminated and subsequently the first paragraph is about the area and the border fixed in the peace treaty. In other words, if Resolution 242 determined that the borders have to be recognised by everyone – initially by the two parties and subsequently by the international community – this means that negotiations have to be conducted over it, obviously negotiations between the two parties.


And if the demarcation line is not a border, and the whole question of the Land of Israel was left open, we have every legal – not only historical – right, not only given but acquired by these international documents, to claim Judea and Samaria. About this there is no doubt. It is a matter for negotiations, but I have demonstrated that neither this international document nor Resolution 242 form an obstacle to the Jewish People's basic claim that the Land of Israel belongs by right to the Jewish People. Let us remember this.

This does not block the path to any negotiations. We are not putting forward any ultimatum. I want to state, specifically in English, that the words "not negotiable" do not appear in any of our dictionaries. Everything is open for negotiation. But the negotiation has to be free, as is written in the platform of the Democratic Party of the United States of America: "Without any externally devised formula for settlement." The parties, freely, without prior conditions and without an externally devised solution, must be free to present any proposal, and negotiate it between them.

This is international practice.

When negotiations start over a peace treaty there are differences of opinion between the parties. Were there not differences of opinion between the parties after the First World War? Were not two peace treaties signed with Turkey after the First World War?! Were there not differences of opinion between the parties after the Second World War? But the world attained peace – both peace treaties and actual peace.

For this indeed is the way to instill true peace between us and the Arabs – a peace for which we all hope and pray and which we believe will come. With the help of God, peace will come.