Entitlement to Land and the Right of Return: An Embarrassing Challenge for Liberal Zionism
29 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2003
Date Written: 2003
This essay undertakes a liberal critique of the legitimacy of Israel's territorial holdings and its refusal to acknowledge the right of return for the Palestinian refugees. In the first section, the article examines the distinction between Israel's alleged entitlement to the territories it occupied and resettled during the war of independence and those it occupied and resettled in 1967, arguing that from a moral perspective both episodes of conquest are tainted with illegitimacy, and that the former does not fare any better than the latter. In the second section, the essay provides a detailed analysis of the Palestinians' right of return, drawing on a distinction between two main types of argument which have been proposed to rebut such a right: liberal individualistic arguments and the Zionist-demographic argument. The essay argues that from a liberal perspective, both types of argument fail, and therefore Zionism could not claim to adhere to basic liberal values unless it acknowledges the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
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