Military occupation can be roughly defined as control over the territory of a state by a hostile army. Occupation can be legal under international law, as long as it can be distinguished from the acquisition of territory by force, which is frowned upon. An example of a legal occupation was the occupation of Japan by the US after WWII.
But the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is not an occupation in this sense. One might ask, “what state is occupied?” There is no such entity as ‘Palestine’ and never was. The Jewish people have a prima facie right to settle in the territory of the Palestine Mandate which was guaranteed by the League of Nations. The precise eastern border of the State of Israel has never been delineated. It is certainly not the 1949 armistice line (what is often incorrectly called the “pre-1967 border”), by any reasonable interpretation of UNSC resolutions 242 and 338, which called for “secure and recognized boundaries” which would be arrived at by negotiations between the parties in the dispute.
As a corollary, Israeli settlements east of the armistice lines are not, as the anti-Israel media are fond of saying, “illegal under international law.”
It should be clear by now that when Arabs and their supporters talk about “the occupation,” they are referring to the Jewish state, and not just the Jewish presence beyond the Green Line. Describing her experiences “occupying Birthright [see also here],” activist Kiera Feldman wrote recently:
Human mic speeches began, and my friends spoke eloquently about the dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948—the occupation of Israel. We were joined by a crew of Palestinians from the Jenin Freedom Theater, a renowned institution in the West Bank. “Where is their Birthright?” shouted my friend Max [Blumenthal].
Palestinian Arabs, led by the PLO, have asked the UN Security council to admit them as a state, although their application does not specify its borders. If they should be successful, it’s certain that they would continue to press their claims against Israel diplomatically and legally (and of course by terrorism, although they don’t admit that) after the UN grants them a toehold.
Their claim is based on nothing more than their chutzpah. According to them there was a flourishing Palestinian society prior to 1948 before the Zionists came along and occupied their land. In fact, the ancestors of the majority of the Arab residents in 1948 arrived in the area of the Mandate since the mid-19th century, mostly from Egypt and Syria. Many came after British and Zionist development created economic opportunities not available under prior oppressive Ottoman rule.
Although they could have coexisted with the Zionists, their reaction to Jewish immigration was vicious and racist, especially after the rise of Haj Amin al-Husseini to Palestinian leadership. In 1947 they could have accepted partition, and created a state of ‘Palestine’. No Arabs would have had to leave their homes, either in the Jewish or Palestinian state.
Instead they chose the path of war, and failed to destroy the Jewish state and expel or kill its inhabitants as they had intended (Husseini himself, who had spent much of WWII in Germany under Hitler’s protection, had plans to establish Nazi-model death camps in Palestine).
After the war, they followed the path of rejectionism, preventing the resettlement of Arab refugees. With the creation of the PLO, they institutionalized terrorism, killing thousands of Israelis and others in hundreds of attacks. The establishment of the Hamas added a new, religious, dimension to the conflict, as well as increasing the level of violence.
Between 1950 and 1973, Arab nationalists, with help from the Soviets, instigated several regional wars. The result was that more territory passed from Arab to Israeli control, which only added to the Palestinian Arabs’ sense of dispossession.
We see, however, that “the plight of the Palestinians” is entirely a result of their actions and those of their allies. And their leadership — the PLO that is the heir to Husseini and Arafat, and the viciously racist and murderous Hamas — continues to reject the existence of a Jewish state in the traditional homeland of the Jewish people. Having learned nothing from their long losing streak, they still think they can eliminate Israel and the Jews.
Despite all this, the Israeli government is prepared to negotiate in good faith to relinquish some of the territory for a state of ‘Palestine’! But this could only happen if the Palestinians could be prepared to once and for all agree that the Jewish state is not ‘occupied’ and does not in fact belong to them, and end their state of war with it. Unfortunately, the chance of this happening with the current Arab leadership is nil.