#GazaUnderAttack | The outlaw state of Israel ~ by Richard Falk (@rfalk13) & Akbar Ganji

Since 1948 Israel has drawn a long list of military aggression, human rights violations and war crimes.

Richard Falk
Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. He is also Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.


Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji is one of Iran’s leading political dissidents and has received over a dozen human rights awards for his efforts. Imprisoned in Iran until 2006, he is the author of The Road to Democracy in Iran, which lays out a strategy for a non-violent transition to democracy in Iran.



More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza [Getty Images]

Israel has become an outlaw state. In his book, The Law of Peoples, John Rawls defines an outlaw state as one that systematically violates the universal principles of human rights, and commits aggression against other nations. Israel is guilty of repeated such violations as well as several massive acts of aggression, making it reasonable and responsible to identify it as an outlaw state.


Israel’s military aggressions against other countries

Israel was born in 1948. Resolution 181 of the United Nations General Assembly is widely regarded as the most convincing legal basis for founding the State of Israel. At that time Palestinians were awarded 45 percent of historic Palestine, while 54 percent was allocated to Israel, and 1 percent was set aside as a special zone to be used for the internationalised city of Jerusalem.

After the 1948 War with the neighbouring Arab nations, Israel’s territorial gains reduced the Palestinian share to only 22 percent. In the 1967 War, Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territory, which had been administered since 1948 by Jordan and Egypt, and since that time has encroached on occupied Palestine in major unlawful ways, rendering impossible the project of a Palestinian state.

Additionally, Israel has launched a series of brutal aggressive attacks against Gaza (2008-09, 2012, 2014) violating international law, the UN Charter, and the laws of war.

Further aggravating Israel’s reputation are numerous acts of aggression against several other sovereign states:

Military attacks on Iraq in June 1981 that destroyed Osirak nuclear reactor that was under construction to disrupt Iraq’s nuclear programme and to perpetuate Israel’s regional monopoly over nuclear weaponry.

Invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982, coupled with the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon until 2000. In September 1982 Israel was complicit in the Sabra and Shatila massacre carried out by Maronite Phalangist militia units in which between 1500 and 3000 Palestinian women, children, and disabled persons were murdered in cold blood.

Military attack on the PLO Headquarters in Hamman, Tunisia in October 1985, killing 60, which was condemned by the UN Security Council.

Invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006 that resulted in the 33 days warfare directed at Hezbollah, the destruction of residential sections in the southern Beirut, applying the “Dahiya Doctrine” – the rationalisation given for unlawful Israeli reliance on disproportionate military power used against the Palestinian people.

Attacks on October 2, 2007 on Syria destroyed its nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor region.

The attack in May 2010 in international waters on the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara that was part of the Freedom Flotilla bringing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza in defiance of the international blockade, killing nine Turkish nonviolent peace activists.

Three unlawful military attacks on Syria in 2013 and 2014.

Repeated military attacks in Sudan in 2009, 2011, and 2012, supposedly to disrupt the supply of weapons to Hamas in Gaza, causing many deaths.

In addition, Israel has occupied Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967, built unlawful settlements, and established a permanent presence. Israel has refused to withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as called for by unanimous Security Council Resolution 242.

Israel secretly and illegitimately acquired an arsenal of an estimated 300 nuclear warheads, becoming the only nuclear power in the Middle East, and the only country in the world that refuses to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons.

Systematic violations of human rights and the apartheid regime

Former US President Jimmy Carter declared in his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid that Israel’s occupation regime in the West Bank possesses the systematic discriminatory features of an apartheid regime. As well, the Palestinian minority resident in Israel is subject to fifty discriminatory laws that restrict their individual and collective rights. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court treats apartheid as a crime against humanity.

Palestinians in the West Bank have been living without the protection of law or the possession of rights since 1967, being subject to military administration and the oppressive practices of the Palestinian Authority, while the unlawful settler population enjoys the full protection of Israel’s rule of law.

As Gideon Levy, the progressive Israeli journalist writes, Israel is “only a democracy for its Jewish citizens who are quick to fall in line with the mainstream every time Israeli tanks roll across the border.” Jewish citizens of Israel who dare oppose their country’s aggressions are often attacked and threatened. Palestinian Israelis are treated worse, harshly restricted and subject to acute suspicion whenever a security issue arises.

Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians

Not only does Security Council Resolution 465 speak twice of “Palestinian or Arab territories occupied since 1967”, but also declares and affirms that the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories represent a violation of Fourth Geneva Convention. The defiant refusal to dismantle the settlements – unlawful under Article 49(6) – and the refusal to remove the separation wall as mandated by the International Court of Justice are grave violations of this convention, and as such amount to war crimes.

Israel removed its military forces and settlers from the Gaza Strip in its “disengagement” initiative in 2005, but in actuality kept effective control of Gaza, and remained bound by the obligations as an occupying power contained in international humanitarian law.

In effect, Israel transformed the conditions of life in Gaza from direct military administration to life imprisonment of the population in the largest open-air jail on earth. Israel retained its total control of Gaza’s entrances and exits, of its airspace and offshore waters, disrupting life within the prison walls by lethal periodic violent incursions. Most Palestinian people living in Gaza have effectively been locked in ever since 1967, unconditionally since 2007. During this period, Israel has periodically launched massive military operations against Gaza; imposed and maintained an illegal blockade; committed frequent acts of cross-border violence; and committed numerous grave war crimes:

Israel attacked Gaza in 2008-2009, killing more than 1400 Palestinians, injuring 5300, creating 51,000 internal refugees, destroying 4000 homes, inflicting $4bn economic damage, and disallowing the delivery of materials needed for reconstruction efforts.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2012 killed 173 and injured 1,221, provoked by the Israeli targeted assassination of the Hamas military leader, Ahmed Jabari, as he was delivering a signed truce document.

Israel’s 2014 aggression against Gaza launched on July 8 has so far killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, injured nearly 10,181, with 75-80 percent of the casualties being civilians. This massive Israeli military operation has caused more than 660,000 Gazans to be internally displaced, highlighting the denial of any right of Palestinians to leave the combat area throughout the military onslaught that has terrorised the entire population of Gaza. It is estimated that 459 Palestinian children were killed and as many as 3,000 injured.

In contrast, Israel’s losses in this attack have led to 68 Israeli deaths, of whom 65 were soldiers. The casualty disparity and the ratio of military to civilian deaths are significant indicators of how to apportion moral responsibility of the carnage caused.

This is Part One of Richard Falk and Akbar Ganji’s essay on Israel’s international law violantions. The second part will be published on Thursday, August 21. 

Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. He is also Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

Akbar Ganji is one of Iran’s leading political dissidents and has received over a dozen human rights awards for his efforts. Imprisoned in Iran until 2006, he is the author of The Road to Democracy in Iran, which lays out a strategy for a non-violent transition to democracy in Iran.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.





The outlaw state of Israel, part II

Unconditional US support for the state of Israel has precluded a peace settlement and destabilised the Middle East.

The Obama administration has increased the aid to Israel through its reliance on various special appropriations, write Falk and Ganji [EPA]

In Part I of this article we described the reasons as to why Israel has become an outlaw state. In this part we discuss US support for Israel and its consequences.

The US as Israel’s servant

The United States has supported Israel without reservations since its founding in 1948. According to an agreement between the two countries, that has become a law in the US, the US has committed itself to preserve Israel’s strategic and military superiority in relation to other countries in the Middle East. From 1949 till today, the US has provided Israel with nearly $122bn in aid, calculated by reference to fixed dollars.

Counting the aid to Israel in 2003 dollars, from 1949 – 2003 the US has provided Israel with $140bn worth of military assistance, which has been increasing since 2003. The basic annual commitment to Israel is $3.1bn, which is far more than military aid that has been given to any other country in the world, and this figure is an understatement, hiding a variety of supplemental appropriations and other benefits accorded uniquely to Israel.

In effect, the US has been subsidising Israel’s aggressions, and ignoring military assistance legislation that seeks to withhold such aid to countries that are not acting defensively and in accordance with international law.

The Obama administration has even increased the aid to Israel through its reliance on various special appropriations. Most recently Congress appropriated an additional $225m for further development of the Iron Dome derence system.

The US Senate has even approved a resolution according to which if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites in the future defying international law, the US is obligated to help Israel. It reads in part, “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

Of course, the language as written of “legitimate self-defence” is understood to mean any action taken by Israel that is alleged to be “defensive”, whether or not in conformity to international law, which limits such claims to situations of response to prior armed attacks.

Among the many UNSC resolutions that seek to criticise or condemn Israel for its actions against the Palestinians, almost all have been vetoed by the US. In fact, the US government opposes virtually every resolution approved by any UN organ, including UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), if it is deemed to be critical of Israel, and this includes even initiatives to establish fact-finding commissions of inquiry to determine whether charges of war crimes are well-founded.

When Israel attacks the defenceless and completely vulnerable Palestinian people, the US justifies such high-intensity and disproportionate violence as “self-defence”, obstructs the issuance of a UN call for an immediate ceasefire, and gives diplomatic and material aid and comfort to Israeli aggression from start to finish.

After the fact-finding “Goldstone Report” on Israel war crimes in Gaza in 2008-2009 was approved by UNHRC, the US and Israel successfully intervened with the Secretary General to prompt him to urge the non-implementation of the report in relation to Israeli accountability for war crimes. The US government also used its leverage to prevent even the discussion of this important report in the UNSC. When recently, the UNHRC approved a resolution to investigate Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, the US cast the only negative vote.

Amnesty International has reported that the evidence of systematic attacks by Israel’s military forces on schools and hospitals in Gaza during the current warfare is overwhelming. It includes targeting civilians who have sought shelter from Israeli attacks in United Nations schools and other buildings marked with the UN logo.

Human Rights Watch has reported on evidence of intentional shooting of Palestinians who were fleeing their homes, even after they had been ordered to do so by Israel’s military, and has declared such behaviour to be a war crime.

We can only comprehend this partisan pattern of US policy toward Israel by taking account of the leverage exerted on the government by the formidable lobby working on behalf of Israel known. Former President Jimmy Carter and the former President of Ireland and former Head of the UNHRC Mary Robinson have condemned this one-sidedness of US policy toward Israel and Hamas, insisting that as a first step Israel immediately ends without conditions the blockade of Gaza, allowing the people of Gaza to have finally some semblance of a normal life.


The US policy toward Israel has had dire consequences:

It has completely discredited the US government’s claim to act as an impartial arbitrator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hatred and resentment toward the US has been increasing throughout the region, not only because of its blind support of Israel, but also because of its military onslaughts against Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, and drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Read more of our coverage on Palestine

According to a poll conducted right before the current war, 85 percent of Egyptians and Jordanians, 73 percent of Turks, and 66 percent of Palestinians view the US unfavourably, while 84 percent of Israelis have a positive view of the US

What Israel has done in the region with the support of the US has contributed greatly to the growth of extremism and discord throughout the Middle East. If such policies are not reversed even more chaos, extremist violence, bloodshed, and devastation are likely to emerge in the future.

The Middle East and North Africa have been unstable for decades, and the consequences of the intensifying instability are spreading to other regions and endangering world peace.

These policies of unconditional support for Israel are going against the US national interests. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the mother of all problems in the Middle East. Israel has undermined all efforts to find a peaceful solution by way of diplomacy. It has rejected both the Arab Initiative of 2002 and the roadmap proposed by the Quartet – the US, Russia, the European Union, and the UN – which require Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders with the expectation that a sovereign and independent Palestinian state would emerge.

What is required of Israel as a precondition for peace – set forth in Security Council Resolution 242 and reaffirmed since its unanimous adoption in 1967 – enjoys support worldwide. It should be understood that ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories is not by itself sufficient to achieve a sustainable peace. Of paramount importance is also some arrangement that acknowledges the rights of several million Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled over the course of many years from Israel, most dramatically in the 1948 Nakba, the Palestinian national catastrophe.

There are also serious questions at this time as to whether the two-state solution is a viable and desirable goal, if it ever was. The question of Palestinian self-determination as the proper foundation for a sustained just peace is more open to debate and reflection in 2014 than ever before. Israel’s expansionism has put the international two-state consensus under question, and the international community, along with representatives of the Palestinian people must now consider new ways to achieve a just peace for both peoples, which cannot be realised without upholding Palestinian rights.

We believe that a crucial step in this direction is the widespread acknowledgement that Israel has become an outlaw state, and that appropriate adjustments to this reality must be made.

Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies. He is also Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

Follow him on Twitter: @rfalk13

Akbar Ganji is one of Iran’s leading political dissidents and has received over a dozen human rights awards for his efforts. Imprisoned in Iran until 2006, he is the author of The Road to Democracy in Iran, which lays out a strategy for a non-violent transition to democracy in Iran.

Follow him on Twitter: @GanjiAkbar


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


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