The uproar which greeted Israel’s announcement that it was planning to transfer territory in Judea and Samaria to state ownership was predictable.
An area of around 1000 acres in Gush Etzion between Hebron and Jerusalem has been earmarked for development at some unspecified time in the future.
Most of the world regards this action as incomprehensible, provocative, and simply illegal. But that is because most of the world, and certainly all of the media, has no understanding of the historical basis of the Israel – Arab conflict in general, and the status of what is popularly known as the West Bank in particular.
The myth has grown over the years that the West Bank was once part of a country called Palestine and Israel simply stole it. A combination of heavily funded Palestinian P.R. and a gullible,credulous, hostile and ignorant world has simply allowed the myth to be perpetuated. Simply using the term “land grab” is perjorative.
Israel’s critics have conveniently “forgotten” history in a blatant example of not allowing the facts to get in the way of the narrative.
So here is the historical background:
During the 1948 War Of Independence the area now known as the West Bank was captured by Jordan. In the 1949 Armistice Agreements, it was declared part of Jordanian territory and defined the interim boundary between Israel and Jordan. Jordan ruled over the West Bank from 1948 until 1967. It annexed the territory in 1950, but that action was only recognized by the United Kingdom.
The concept of an independent Palestinian state in that territory was never ever raised by the Arab populations there at the time. The Arabs living there were granted, and accepted, Jordanian citizenship.
In June 1967, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel as a result of the Six-Day War but the West Bank was not annexed. Jordan relinquished its claim to the area in1988, and severed all administrative and legal ties with it. Eventually Jordan stripped West Bank Arabs of Jordanian citizenship
Though the world refers to the West Bank, including, East Jerusalem, as “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, the state of Israel has a more accurate interpretation of the international law on captured territory.
Only territories captured in war from “an established and recognized sovereign” are considered occupied territories. Apart from the U.K, no other country in the world recognized Jordanian sovereignty over the area.
Consequently, it is the height of hypocrisy to claim that Israel “stole” land which the world itself did not accept belonged to any state.
Despite Palestinian claims to the contrary, there is no legal obstacle to Israel selecting areas in the West Bank for building. Of course, in the current climate of anti-Israel feeling the knee-jerk reaction to the announcement was only to be expected.
So, why now?
The explanation was provided by government minister Naftali Bennett on a visit to the Makor Hayim yeshiva in Gush Etzion, where Naftali Fraenkel and Gil-Ad Shaer, two of three boys kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in June had been students.
“What we did yesterday was a display of Zionism,” Bennett said while on a tour of the area where the new project is expected. “Building is our answer to murder.”
A very simple equation. Murder Israelis, lose territory.
The practice of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians who have carried out terrorist acts has been in place for decades. But its deterrent effect is limited since the houses are simply rebuilt with monies taken from donors or countries supporting terrorism.
Land is different because the “punishment” is permanent and not reversible.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely said Monday that the appropriation of the land, “made clear to the majority of the public that terrorism is only intensified when Israel relinquishes territory. “The facts on the ground are a symbolic move in the right direction,” she said.
In any event, following the lessons learned in the recent war against Hamas, the possibility of a Palestinian state looks more remote than ever. Israel will insist on total demilitarization both in the West Bank and Gaza, and the Palestinians will refuse.
Don’t expect to see the creation of the State of Palestine any time soon – even if the Palestinian leadership persists in its delusional belief that it actually exists now!