A classic Big Lie

How many times have you heard something like this:

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The statement is misleading or false in at least three ways:

First, there is no such thing as ‘Palestinian land’ unless you mean land owned by individual Palestinians, and most Israeli ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria are built on state land or land purchased by Jews.

The original Palestine Mandate (and the Anglo-American Convention of 1924) specified only that there would be a ‘Jewish National Home’ within its borders; it did not specify that all of it would constitute this home. But it also did not specify that any particular part of it would be a Palestinian Arab state. One might add that in 1922, Britain split off the better part of the Palestine Mandate and gave it to the Hashemites to create an Arab state of Transjordan, which could well be considered a partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab parts.

The 1947 General Assembly partition resolution did call for a division the land into Jewish and Arab states. But this was not accepted by the Arabs, and was not implemented as a result of the invasion by the Arab states in 1948. The Jordanian military aggression and annexation of this area was therefore illegal; in principle, it belonged to the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs.

The actual boundaries that define what the Jordanians decided to call “the West Bank”, which prior to 1950 was called “Judea and Samaria”, were entirely accidental, being the cease-fire lines of 1949. There is no treaty, Security Council resolution, or other basis in international law to say that the cease-fire lines define an Arab state. Indeed, the famous Security Council Resolution 242, as everyone knows, calls for

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

It does not say anything about creating a Palestinian state, it deliberately does not say that Israel must withdraw from all territories it occupied in 1967, and it clearly implies that the cease-fire lines are not the permanent borders of the state of Israel, but that borders must be secure and recognized.

Second, Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, this area whose status is still undetermined, are not illegal. In fact, the settlements have the same status as Arab settlements there! They are both located in a now-disputed portion of the original Mandate. Indeed, after Jordan gave up its claims to this area in 1988, control of the region has been divided under the Oslo agreement, between Israeli and  Palestinian Authority (PA) areas, with most Palestinians living in PA-controlled areas and most Israelis living in Israeli-controlled areas.

Mainstream media often refer to “Israeli settlements in the areas that Palestinians want for a future state.” Well, yes, they want it, but absent some basis in law, they do not have a right to it. They want Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc., too. As one says in Hebrew, “sh’irtzu” — almost impossible to translate, but it means something like “so they should want” (with a rising inflection at the end).

Finally, they are not an ‘obstacle to peace’, unless any  unmet Palestinian demand is, no matter how unreasonable. Israel has withdrawn from occupied areas before, for example the Sinai and Gaza, in both cases uprooting Jews who had lived there for years, and would likely withdraw from much of Judea and Samaria in return for a real peace. But it is unrealistic to think — as President Bush agreed in 2004 — that the larger settlement blocs relatively near the Green Line, would or could be evacuated as part of a peace agreement.

The Arabs and their supporters are trying to create reality by repeating the same falsehoods over and over, in a classic big lie operation.

Indeed, the true obstacles to peace are the PA’s insistence that Israel cede “every centimeter” of the land, including East Jerusalem, for the proposed state; its refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People; its demand to resettle hostile Arabs within Israel; and its continued of incitement of hatred and terrorism against Israel and Jews.

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One Response to “A classic Big Lie”

  1. mattpryor says:

    Israel needs to keep repeating this loud and clear – Judea and Samaria represent “disputed territory”, not “occupied territory”. Israeli claim to the land is every bit as valid as Palestinian.

    The assumption that such regions will automatically become part of the future mythical Palestinian state prejudges the outcome of similarly future mythical negotiations.