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Goldberg Says Israel’s Raid on Iraq ‘legal’ Under International Law

June 18, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg believes Israel had a “legal right” under international law to bomb Iraq’s nuclear plant and that its June 7 air raid therefore was a “justified act of self-defense.”

Goldberg, who also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in the late 60s, offered his opinion in a letter to Premier Menachem Begin that was released here tonight. “I have no doubt about Israel’s right to bomb Iraq’s nuclear installations in light of the given circumstances under traditional principles of international law and generally accepted concepts of what actions constitute self-defense between belligerents,” Goldberg wrote.

He noted in that connection that Iraq and Israel were certainly belligerents in international law since “Iraq has consistently proclaimed that it is in a state of war with Israel.” He pointed out further that “Iraq, contrary to relevant resolutions of the United Nations, has refused to renounce belligerency against Israel and to conclude a peace treaty” or to accept Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. Israel has expressed willingness to make peace in accordance with those resolutions, he said.

According to Goldberg, “In light of the fact that Iraq deems itself to be at war with Israel, the State of Israel under established rules of international law has the right to take military action, including bombing, against installations in Iraq which potentially may assist Iraq in its proclaimed warlike designs.”

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