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.

The West Bank – what/where is it?

June 10, 2008 by Lisa

You’ve heard of “The West Bank” in news reports. Maybe you’re not so sure if it’s on the coast or inland so you’ve gazed at a map and see that it’s a decent size territory in Israel north of some body of water. What’s the big deal about the West Bank anyway, other than it’s part of the territory of Israel and it’s always in the news?

Do you know what is contained in the West Bank? Do you know WHY they refer to it as “The West Bank” and not by another phrase?

Take a look here and see what places are contained within the famous West Bank.

Let’s see – there’s the eastern section of the religious capital city Jerusalem, all of Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nabulus… This is the territory known in the Bible as Judea and Samaria. Now THAT makes more sense, doesn’t it? Judea and Samaria. Oh, okay. Now we know more about what and where this West Bank is. So why don’t they just call it that so the rest of us know what they’re talking about? Do you have any ideas? I’m wagering that it’s because people would get upset if they heard that certain people are wanting to take Judea and Samaria away from Israel. If it stays abstract, nobody really cares. Right?

Do you notice what the map says? “-Israeli occupied-” Do you know what that is intended to imply? That Israel does not belong there. You only occupy territory if you’re an invader. So let’s find out what happened. The West Bank was under Jordanian control for a while, it was called the West Bank of the Jordan River. During the Six-Day War in 1967 Israel captured this territory and it’s part of the nation of Israel still today. Wikipedia says this:

Prior to the First World War, the area now known as the West Bank was under Ottoman rule as part of the province of Syria. In the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allied powers allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw the establishment of Israel in parts of the former Mandate, while the West Bank was captured and annexed by Jordan, who destroyed any existing Jewish villages. The 1949 Armistice Agreements defined its interim boundary. From 1948 until 1967, the area was under Jordanian rule, and Jordan did not officially relinquish its claim to the area until 1988. Jordan’s claim was never recognized by the international community. The West Bank was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem it was not annexed by Israel. Most of the residents are Arabs, although large numbers of Israeli settlements have been built in the region.

In 1967 Israel was the conquering country of this territory but it wasn’t till 1988 that Jordan relinquished it’s claim to the territory? Still, 1988 was 20 years ago. Israel hasn’t officially annexed this territory yet, which seems to show that it’s a sensitive political move to do so. Only Israel has claims to this territory, as far as I know, and it is covered under Israeli law. As long as the West Bank has been a part of the country of Israel the Arabs living in that territory have remained and have not been asked (or forced) to leave. That was part of the 1948 request too, “Please don’t leave. Please be comfortable staying here in your homes and your cities. We can live and work together.” Still, the maps say “occupied”. Occupied? Of course they occupy it, it’s part of their territory. That’s like saying the US occupies Hawaii or Texas. Of course. So why say “occupy”? I’m wagering that it’s because it just feeds the anti-Israel cause.

So I ask you to join me in referring to this territory as it should be – this is the area of Judea and Samaria, part of the modern country of Israel. Many Arabs live there, they live in other parts of Israel as well. In the US we have people from other cultures and countries too, so we should understand what it’s like in Israel for there to be people of various nationalities living in one country. Next time you hear a news report concerning The West Bank, remember just what and where that is and remind yourself that “This is happening in Judea and Samaria”.

Some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.7 million Palestinians. Some want to push their neighbors into the sea and others want all the fighting to go away so they can make a living, raise their children and live a peaceful life in the land of their ancestors along side their neighbors.