Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 40: Since 1948 Israel has frustrated Palestinian right to self-determination


Iran, 51st Session

“After eight decades of terror and violence, Palestine remains an ever-shrinking occupied territory struggling for its basic right to self-determination…”

China, 51st Session

“The Palestinian-Israeli issue has been on the agenda of the United Nations for more than 70 years, and the Human Rights Council has reviewed the human rights situation in Palestine year after year. However, the Palestinian people still have not been able to restore their legitimate national rights, and human rights cannot be guaranteed.”

Bolivia, 51st Session

“The constant denial from Israel for the return of the Palestinians are central elements to their apartheid policy in Palestine and they are not allowing for self-determination for the Palestinian people.”

Palestine, 49th Session

“Palestinian refugees who have been forcibly displaced and expelled by the Zionist gang since 1948 and who now number more than seven million are the original owners of the land… Yet until now they are denied their human rights including the exercise of the right of return to their own homes.”

Our Response

UN Watch

These accusations by Palestine, Bolivia, China, and Iran wrongly suggest that the very creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is the reason Palestinians still have not realized their right to self-determination. Palestine specifically refers to displacement of Palestinians “by the Zionist gang since 1948,” China notes that the Palestinian issue has been on the Council’s agenda “for more than 70 years,” and Iran cites to “eight decades of terror and violence,” all indicating that they consider Israel’s creation to be the source of the problem. Both Palestine and Bolivia also expressly link the lack of Palestinian self-determination to Israel’s denial of a so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, further implying a causal connection between Israel’s creation and the lack of Palestinian self-determination.

This is a complete distortion of history. As discussed in our response to Claim 2, the Palestinians had many opportunities for an independent state dating back to the 1947 UN Partition plan and before. The Jews accepted the Partition Plan and have put forward numerous peace offers over the years. By contrast, the Palestinians have categorically rejected all opportunities for peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan which would have given them control of more than 90% of the West Bank and the more recent January 2020 U.S. peace plan to which they responded with “a thousand no’s”.

Likewise, the implication that Israel’s denial of the so-called Palestinian right of return has anything to do with the lack of Palestinian statehood is a red herring. As discussed in our response to Claim 5, under international law, the Palestinians do not have a “right of return” to homes within the sovereign territory of the State of Israel.

The Palestinian refugee issue is political rather than legal, and as such was left to be dealt with in final status negotiations in the Oslo Accords. Yet, since Israel’s defeat of the Arab armies in 1948, the Palestinians and their supporters have routinely weaponized the refugee issue against Israel, understanding that the return of millions of Palestinian refugees to sovereign Israel would effectively end Israel as a Jewish state. At most, there are only a few thousands of the original 1948 refugees, but UNRWA treats all of their descendants as refugees regardless of whether they have citizenship from another country or reside in Palestine itself, leading to an inflated refugee number of 5.9 million.[1] Thus, when countries like Palestine and Bolivia claim that Israel impedes Palestinian self-determination by denying a right of return to the Palestinians, they are in effect denying the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel because an influx of millions of Palestinian refugees would destroy the Jewish state.

Finally, any discussion about why the Palestinians do not yet have a state of their own must also address the PLO and Hamas Charters[2] which expressly reject Jewish rights to self-determination in any part of the territory, and ongoing terrorism campaigns against Israel and incitement to terrorism by Palestinian leaders. In sum, by pinning the lack of Palestinian statehood only on Israel, these countries distort history and absolve the Palestinians of any obligation or responsibility for their own actions.

[1] Who We Are, UNRWA (last visited October 3, 2023),

[2] The Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968, The Avalon Project (Last visited May 1, 2023),; Hamas Covenant 1988, The Avalon Project (last visited May 1, 2023),

UN Watch