Mention the word “occupation” in polite society and the immediate association is Israel’s liberation Judea and Samaria from the illegal occupation of the Arabs, aka the “Israeli illegal occupation of the West Bank”. This meme is so ingrained that even we fervent Israel-supporters have become inured to the term, if only as a form of short-hand.
But this acceptance is illegitimate in essence and undermines our very own argument that Judea and Samaria were always Jewish territory. As I said above, and as I have asserted frequently on this blog, the only occupation that took place in that region was by Jordan which invaded in 1948, attacking the nascent Jewish State of Israel, and other Arabs who fictitiously claim a thousand-year long habitation of the place, when this could not be further from the truth. The illegal occupation by Jordan was recognized by only two states: Britain and Pakistan. This should give one some idea of the legality of that occupation. Furthermore, that Arab occupation lasted a mere 19 years!
See the map below, dating back to 1791 ! in which Judea and Samaria are noted under their original name, and there is no mention of the “ancient” fiction of the “West Bank”.
Which brings us to the Jewish claim to the territories. It is a mystery why, when so little international legitimacy was given to the Arab occupation of Judea and Samaria, such recognition is withheld from Israel too. This is all the more egregious when one considers the millennia-long Jewish connection to Judea (the very word “Jew” is rooted in the word “Judea”), and the mere 19-year Arab occupation.
Answering this question, Andreas Fagerbakke, a Norwegian pro-Israel blogger, has written an excellent concise piece in the Times of Israel which explains in a nutshell the history of the region and the terminology of the “Jewish Occupation of Judea“:
Judea and Samaria is a term you don’t often hear on the news, at least not outside of Israel. We usually hear about “the West Bank”. But where does this term come from? The name of the area was Judea and Samaria from biblical times until 1950, when Jordan occupied the area, renaming it “the West Bank”. So the name was changed during Jordan’s illegal occupation of Judea and Samaria during a period of nineteen years (1948–1967).
One has to wonder why the international community decided to use the term West Bank even after the area was liberated. And the fact that all Jews were forced out of Judea and Samaria during Jordan’s illegal occupation is something you rarely hear in the media or anywhere else. I guess people want to maintain the false image of Jews in Judea and Samaria as “foreign occupiers”? Well, they are not foreign occupiers. Jews lived in the so called “West Bank” for ages…. That’s until all of them were either killed or forced out of the area after Jordan’s occupation started in 1948.
Jews returned to Judea and Samaria after the area was liberated by Israel in 1967, but strangely enough they were referred to as illegal settlers by the international community and they still are to this day. So let me get this straight… A Jew can live in London, Paris, Moscow or New York, but not in Judea? To say that a Jew living in Judea (Judea is actually the origin of the term “Jew”) is an illegal settler is beyond absurd. Judea and Samaria is the cradle of Jewish history, religion and culture.
Then some would say that Judea and Samaria is “Palestinian land” and therefore Israel shouldn’t build Jewish settlements there. When did this area officially become “Palestinian”? In fact, let’s not only focus on the so called West Bank, but the entire geographical area once known as Palestine. One of the biggest lies out there is that this land belonged to the “Palestinian people” before 1948, and that Israel “stole” large parts of Palestine from the Palestinians through its re-establishment. First of all there has never been a Palestinian state, and “Palestine” did not belong to the Palestinians before 1948. It was ruled by Britain from 1917 to 1948, and before this the area was part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years.
Well said Mr. Fagerbakke! Read the rest at the link.
The good news is that the Israeli government is slowly waking up to the realization that not only are Judea and Samaria Israeli territory by historical, judicial and moral right, but if we do not assert those rights, someone will come to take them away. The Levy Report, written by Judge Edmond Levy, was commissioned by the Netanyahu government in 2012 to investigate the legalities of Israel’s retaining and building in the territories (aka “settlements”), found that Israel has every right to keep Judea and Samaria and to build there. However Netanyahu never implemented the report’s recommendations, as Legal Grounds reports:
When the prime minister was presented with the 90-page Report, which includes legal arguments, he declared, according to one impeccable source, “This is just what we need!” But then contents of the Report were leaked, and the prime minister began to understand the political opposition it might face. He tabled the Report, which has never even been brought before the Ministerial Committee on Settlements for discussion. The full text in Hebrew was briefly on the prime minister’s website, but was removed.
The fact that he has to contend with fierce domestic opposition to these recommendations is both outrageous and a sad reflection on the defeatism of the Israeli Left.
It: Provides basic legal conclusions. Because of both historical and legal factors, the decades-long presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria is not “belligerent occupation.” Israel’s situation is unique (sui generis) and Israel has the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria. The accusations currently being leveled by the international community against Israel as a violator of “international law” because of plans to build in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria are countered by the Levy Report conclusions. Offers a number of important recommendations, consistent with the conclusions, regarding adjustments in Israeli policies and practices in Judea and Samaria.
These recommendations would clarify the rights of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria, who currently find themselves at a serious disadvantage when conducting land transactions in Judea and Samaria: It cannot be overemphasized: The Israeli legal system default in Judea and Samaria favors Arabs claims in land transactions.
An even shorter synopsis, from Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, reads as follows:
The Report debunks the myth of “occupation”; it rejects the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention which is always misguidedly invoked by those who oppose the “settlements”; and it brings forward the historic events and legal documents which support Israel’s Legal Rights in Judea and Samaria.
It is therefore most gratifying to learn that the Israeli government is now quietly implementing the Levy Report‘s recommendations on the ground:
The Levy Report on the legality of West Bank settlement construction, though never officially adopted by the Israeli government, is being informally implemented, a newly released document published by a left-wing organization claims.
According to the Hebrew news site nrg, the contents of the document – released by Yesh Din (“there is law”), an Israeli NGO that provides free legal assistance to Palestinians – was confirmed by right-wing sources in the know. These sources said that the Netanyahu government, through Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, has in effect adopted the findings of the “Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria,” prepared by the late Israeli Supreme Court justice, Edmund Levy, and published in July 2012.
According to nrg, Ya’alon’s office is refusing to comment on the Yesh Din document, authored by Ziv Stahl and attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, whose petitions to the High Court led to the evacuation some years ago of the Givat Ha’ulpana and Amona outposts.
Their document, says nrg, highlights changes that have taken place in court rulings, which its authors claim indicate the government has been putting Levy’s recommendations into practice without officially acknowledging doing so. Their assertion is that, unlike in the past, the government has begun siding with the settlers in most petitions against them, and that it has made clear to judges that it would prefer to find a way of authorizing the settlements in question, rather than demolishing them.
One example cited by nrg from the document was the recent petition submitted against Mitzpe Dani, an outpost in the Binyamin region. The petitioners demanded that the demolition orders issued by the Civil Administration (the Israeli governing body in the West Bank) be implemented – on the grounds that the outpost did not have an approved construction plan. But the state declared it was moving ahead with a general plan for government-owned land in the area, and as part of that plan, Mitzpe Dani would become a neighborhood within the communal settlement of Ma’ale Michmash.
I think it is brilliant that this report is emanating davka from the extreme Left. I am taking great delight in their discomfort after all the trouble that they have caused Israel through their anti-democratic, traitorous NGOs like Breaking the Silence and B’tselem. It’s about time the shoe was on the other foot, that the Israeli government began siding with its own citizens and not with the enemy. More importantly, it is vital that it came to the realization that the world is never going to accept Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria if the Israeli government itself is in two minds about it, and produces rulings that militate against Israeli building in those areas while permitting illegal Palestinian and European construction.
The fact that this news comes from the Left reminds me of the old Jewish joke of two old Jewish men on a train in Nazi Europe; one is reading a Jewish newspaper and the other is reading Der Stuermer. The first gentlemen is shocked at his friend reading such an antisemitic paper! “How can you read such a rag?!” he asks. His friend answers, “If you read the Jewish paper, the news is terrible. They are killing us and murdering us and there is nowhere to turn to. But if you read Der Stuermer you find that the Jews really rule the world, we control all the banks, and we’re killing off the anti-semites in droves. I much prefer reading such news!”.
I just hope that the Yesh Din report is a lot more reliable than the false news of Jewish power in the joke.