Judea & Samaria: What’s Legal?

October 22, 2010 by Lisa

I’ve written before about what is commonly called “The West Bank” and how this area really is the territory of Judea and Samaria. In that entry I asked my readers to remember just what territory the media is referring to when they say ‘The West Bank’ and to consider calling this territory “Judea and Samaria” instead. I also loosely addressed the issue of “occupation”, a term that the media also enjoys using when referencing the area of Judea and Samaria because of the image it puts into our minds.

Today there is much negative media coverage about the “settlers in the West Bank” and the fact that the building ban has been lifted so the settlers have begun to build. There is also much news about the harvest of the farmers crops being damaged and even schools, being damaged by zealous Jews.

I have wanted to shed a little more light on the matter of the West Bank for a while now, and today seems to be the day.

Prior to World War I the land of Israel was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. After the close of WWI, in April 1920, the four principle allied countries met together for a conference in San Remo, Italy to discuss the allocation of the former Ottoman Empire. New states were formed: Syria, Palestine (Israel & Jordan), Lebanon and parts of northern Mesopotamia was reserved as an independent Arab state or confederation of states. Syria and Mesopotamia became self-governing states and Israel/Jordan and Lebanon became mandates of Great Britain and France, respectively. As this agreement was a work in progress, it was two years before the League of Nations confirmed the council’s decisions with Turkey (what was left of the former Ottoman Empire) accepting the terms later on. See Mandate for Palestine

So this is how Great Britain became steward over the tiny land of Israel and the greater land of the Transjordan. Great Britain had desired to help establish a homeland for the Jewish people prior this time, as evidenced by The Government of His Majesty in 1917. You may recognize this statement by it’s name, The Balfour Declaration. Great Britain honored this declaration regarding Israel as they began working to establish this tiny wasteland as a home for the Jewish people while not displacing the current population – Arab or Jew. Jerusalem was made the capital city and the precise boundaries of this new homeland were left unspecified in 1917 but finalized in the Mandate for Palestine agreeing to give unbinding and irrevocable acknowledgement of Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, including Jerusalem.

The borders of Palestine (Israel) and Transjordan as eventually determined

What’s interesting to note about Israel at this time in history is that very few people lived there. This tiny bit of land was considered a wasteland to the majority of the world. I’m sure you have heard Mark Twain’s comment on The Land when he visited in 1867:

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Palestine is desolate and unlovely… It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land… [a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds – a silent mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action… We never saw a human being on the whole route… There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country…

Israel was not a robust or thriving metropolis, it did not even contain many cities with inhabitants. There were some Jewish communities and some Arab communities but overall life was incredibly difficult in The Land and few chose to dwell there. If you will notice in the map above, the Arabs were given a much greater piece of land on the east side of the Jordan River. The declarations and agreements that were made by the ruling parties clearly stated that the Arab population and the Jewish population were intended to dwell peacefully together, yet provision was made for them to migrate into separate nations if they choose to do so. The Arab leaders felt it was necessary to maintain a foothold in Jewish territory primarily because many zealous Arabs long to see the delegitimizing and ultimate destruction of not only a Jewish state but the Jewish people as a whole. You can see records of the Arab publications and media releases from 1948 as an example.

Modern Israel and Jordan

So, what’s with the “occupied” parts of the nation of Israel? Do you notice “the west bank” and “gaza” on this current map? What happened to the unbinding and irrevocable acknowledgement of Jewish sovereignty over all of Israel, including Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza that was part of the Palestinian Mandate that the League of Nations unanimously agreed to in 1920?

In 1946 the League of Nations became the United Nations and in 1948 Israel became it’s own independent state. As part of the agreement to recognize Israel as an independent state, Jordan demanded that Israel relinquish the territory of Judea and Samaria, and it’s title “The West Bank” was proposed by Jordan to distinguish this land as part of the Jordanian territory even though it was beyond it’s original border and was contrary to the Palestinian Mandate. After the War for Israel’s Independence in 1948, Jordan crowned King Abdulah as “King of Jerusalem” and he gave Palestinian Arabs and the Arabs of East Jerusalem Jordanian citizenship. From 1948 to 1967 this land was under Jordanian rule. The land was still sparsely inhabited as it was a difficult land to live in. However, it is a strategic bit of land that gives easy access to any attack on the nation of Israel (see video below). In 1967 Jordan retreated from the territory of Judea and Samaria, leaving it to Israel in the Six Day War. Jordan officially relinquished it’s claim to this land in 1988, stripping the Arab inhabitants of those territories of their Jordanian citizenship. Israel is the only nation that has laid claim to this land.

Who is occupying Judea and Samaria today?

Are the Jewish people “occupying” a land that they don’t have any right or claim to? Well, they are the ones the land was given to in 1920 and again in 1988. Judea and Samaria fall into a unique category in that it has never been it’s own independent state and there is no legitimate claim to the land by any body other than the ‘occupier’, which has been Israel since 1967 and recognized by their former occupier since 1988. These facts are ignored by the international community. It does seem strange, however, that a piece of land that wasn’t important to anyone before it became a homeland for the Jewish people, and was so sparsely populated even afterwards, all of the sudden became among the most highly valued territory in all the world and the primary obstacle to peace in the entire middle east region, at least the media would have us think so.

Is it illegal for Jewish settlers to build in Judea and Samaria? The truth is that no law has ever been passed by the United Nations or any other country that prohibits Israel from building homes in Judea, Samaria, Gaza or the East side of Jerusalem. Israel violates no law whatsoever when Jewish settlers build homes for themselves or other buildings necessary for their continued dwelling in their ancient homeland. The only violation that occurs with the renewed legal building in Judea and Samaria is the violation of the perception that the media and the Arab world would have us to believe. Why was there a building ban in the first place? It was part of an agreement that was intended to bring peace to the Middle East, just like the part the of the agreement that said Israel needed to withdraw it’s security forces from those same towns and districts that have experienced significant increases in bombings, shootings and terror as evidenced by recent terrorist activities targeting the Jewish settlers here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know – the rest of the story”. While this surely isn’t the wholeness of ’the rest of the story’ it just might be part of the story you didn’t know before and it just might change how you view the Jewish Occupied Territory of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem.