No, Israel is not a corporation and its right to exist has not expired

By: Siri Christiansen
November 15 2023

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No, Israel is not a corporation and its right to exist has not expired

Social media users have misinterpreted the Balfour Declaration. (Source: Facebook)


The Verdict False

Claims that Israel is a corporation whose lease ended on October 31, 2023, suggest that QAnon conspiracies are seeping into the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Claim ID 5e230d8b

The claim

Several posts on TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook claim that Israel is a corporation issued through a “Balfour lease” that expired on October 31, 2023, which means that Israel no longer exists.

One TikTok video claiming that the “Balfour lease expires October 31, 2023” has amassed over 19,000 likes as of November 14. The claim has continued to spread after October 31, including a TikTok post on November 2 (here) and a Facebook post on November 5 (here). 

Source: X/TikTok/Screenshot (collage by Logically Facts)

“Israel registered themselves as a corporate entity in 1947. You can not register a Corp twice under the same name in 2023 after 70+ years and it be accepted,” on TikToker asserts. “The corp expires on October 31, you cannot re-register the corporation if you were involved in human trafficking, that means your assets are frozen.”

An X post on October 31 similarly claims: “Israel has just lost its RIGHTS TO EXISTENCE. (...). Everything they do now is illegal.” It has been seen 16,000 times as of November 14.

Source: X/Screenshot

Another user on X claims that Israel’s alleged expiration is the reason why the tech companies Alibaba and Baidu have removed the name Israel from their online maps. 

In fact

There is no such thing as a Balfour lease. Searching for “Balfour lease” in the British Library’s online archive or the National Archives yields no results. Since at least one of the posts circulating this claim refers to the Balfour Declaration, this document is likely mistaken for the “Balfour lease.”

Searching for the “Balfour Declaration” in the British Library’s online archives provides an image of the original copy archived in the Library. The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent in 1917 from the British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to the Anglo-Jewish community leader Lionel Rothschild to show British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It is not a legal contract, and it is not a land lease.

The Balfour Declaration letter, 1917. (Source: British Library Add. 41178)

Another segment of this claim is that “Israel registered as a corporate entity in 1947.” This date is likely referring to the United Nations (U.N.) Resolution 181. It was passed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1947 and called for the partition of Palestine to create a Jewish state. As of 2020, 165 countries recognize Israel as a country, which further disproves the idea that Israel is a corporate entity and not a recognized state.

Additionally, there have also been several studies conducted by actors, including the U.N., on Jewish land ownership in Israel/Palestine. By 1947, Jewish settlers had purchased 1,850,000 dunams (1,850 km2) from Arab landowners in Palestine, which shows that Israel’s land has not been subject to a lease.

Piggybacking the Israel-Hamas conflict

Some accounts spreading this theory are advocates of the Sovereign Citizens movement, using the claim of the expired “Balfour lease” to fuel the idea that the U.S. government is also a corporation.

“The U.S. actually registered itself as a corporation, so it’s a business, it’s what the United States is (...) Israel did the same thing”, claims one TikTok video about the Balfour lease with around 19,500 views and 1,750 likes as of November 14. 

According to a previous fact check by Logically, this conspiracy theory claims that an act by Congress in 1871 replaced the government with a corporation. It has been used to claim that every U.S. president and law passed after 1871 has been illegitimate and helped fuel the QAnon belief that Donald Trump would be inaugurated as the 19th president of the U.S. on March 4, 2021.

However, no such act was passed in 1871. Conspiracy theorists have partly evidenced this claim by pointing to the 28 U.S. Code § 3002, which partly defines the United States as a Federal corporation, but “corporation” in this context is a legal term that should not be confused with “business.”

The verdict

Posts on TikTok, Facebook, and X claim that Israel is a corporation whose land lease expired on October 31, 2023, meaning that Israel no longer exists. This is a baseless claim rooted in the Sovereign Citizens and QAnon movement. We have, therefore, marked it as false.

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