Since the 1970s, Israel’s leaders have insisted that their Palestinian interlocutors acknowledge Israel’s “right to exist” as a pre-condition for negotiations on a settlement of the conflict.
Amongst other concessions, the governments of Israel and the United States insist that Hamas makes precisely this declaration before being allowed to join Fatah in direct talks with their Israeli counterparts.
The problem with such a demand is that no such abstract “right to exist” can be found in international law or in any serious theory of international relations.
To put it succinctly, a “right to exist” does not exist for states. Nor does such a right exist in practice. Australia, for example, does not recognise Israel’s “right to exist”. Nor do any other states.
The question of what it would actually be recognising by acknowledging Israel’s “right to exist” has only one answer. Hamas would be acknowledging the legitimacy of the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland.
Why would they ever want to concede this, let alone as a precondition for peace negotiations? It would amount to a pre-emptive surrender.