The Comprehensive Guide to
The Truth about the Judea & Samaria
Judea & Samaria – Occupied Territories?
In June 1967, following the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank of the Jordan River. The Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is one of the main issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any future agreement will demand an innovative solution to the issue.
- Why did Israel capture Judea and Samaria in 1967?
In May of 1967, three Arab countries, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, imposed an unlawful siege and blockade on Israel and amassed their armies in attack positions in order to destroy the state of Israel. As a result of the Arab aggression and within its right of self-defense, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, as well as Judea and Samaria, in June 1967.
- Who did Israel capture Judea and Samaria from?
Jordan had control of Judea and Samaria when Israel captured it in 1967, after Jordan joined the aggression against Israel, posed by Syria and Egypt.
- So do Judea and Samaria belong to Jordan?
Absolutely not. The land didn’t actually belong to Jordan. In order to explain this properly, we need to go back to 1917. Following British victory over the Ottomans in World War I, Britain’s Foreign Minister, Lord Balfour, who shared joint control over the Middle East with France, recognized the Jewish people’s historical right to their homeland. An area of land equivalent to 0.5% of the Middle East was allocated to form the Jewish homeland. The land included Judea and Samaria and even land that is part of what is now in Jordan. The total amount of land allocated was nearly four times Israel’s current size. The League of Nations, the United Nations’ predecessor, approved this plan, which included land on both sides of the Jordan River, and it was reaffirmed by the United Nations after World War II.
- Who does the West Bank belong to?
Historically, Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, belongs to the Jewish people. There was never ever a Palestinian state nor political entity that belonged to the Palestinians. According to the evolution of international agreements from 1917 until 1947, the land of Israel, renamed Palestine by the Romans in the 2nd century, was divided into three states: Jordan, which is east of the Jordan River, and a Jewish and Arab state to share the land west of the Jordan River. While the Jews accepted this painful compromise, shrinking the size of their land by over 75%, the Arabs refused. As a result of the Arab launched war of aggression against the reestablished state of Israel in 1948, Jordan occupied the area of Judea and Samaria and illegally annexed it.
At the conclusion of hostilities in 1949, a cease-fire was reached between Israel and her neighbors. However, the Arab nations surrounding Israel insisted, and even demanded, that this line had no political significance whatsoever. In essence, the lines which we call the 1967 borders were not from 1967, and by Arab demand, are not, and were not, legally binding borders.
It should be emphasized that the Palestinians never claimed to establish a Palestinian state following the Jordanian annexation. Rather, they wanted to establish their state in the land instead of the state of Israel, the land they previously refused and consequently lost in the 1948 war.
- Who did Judea and Samaria belong to following the 1948 war?
Because the annexation of the land by Jordan was not recognized and was considered illegal, and because the British had given up their claim on the land in 1948 when the British Mandate left the region, and because the Arab forces insisted that the 1949 Armistice lines had no legal significance, in essence, legally the land belonged to nobody!
- What does that mean, as far as the legal definition of the land goes?
Because the land did not belong to Jordan, the frequently used term “Occupied Territories” is entirely false. According to international law, the land cannot be considered “Occupied”, and instead, the term “Disputed Territories” should be used. Disputed Territories is the term used when there are territorial disputes, but they are not defined as occupied. Examples include Zubarah, the Tumbs Islands, Western Sahara, Abu Musa Island, Kashmir, and others. An example of proper usage of the term “Occupied Territories” would be the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus of the Russian occupation of Abkhazia.
- When did the Palestinians begin claiming the West Bank as their own?
The Palestinian claim to Judea and Samaria originated following the Israeli capture of Judea and Samaria from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. Remember, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (the PLO), was formed in 1964 before Israel’s capture of the West Bank, in order to establish a Palestinian state in Israel’s place, without reference to the land of the West Bank, which was annexed by Jordan. They only began demanding rights over the West Bank, once it too was in Israeli hands.
- What about the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 242, calling on Israel to withdraw from areas captured in the 1967 Six-Day War?
UNSCR 242 does call for a withdrawal from “captured territories”. However, it does NOT call for a complete withdrawal from “ALL captured territories”, which would infer a complete and total withdrawal, nor does it call for a unilateral withdrawal only on the Israeli side. The language of UNSCR 242 states that a withdrawal must me made towards “Secure and Recognized Boundaries”, or defensible borders. Many Israeli governments have recognized that Israel must withdraw from parts of Judea and Samaria, but there is no valid reason at all for a complete, unilateral withdrawal of Israel from the Judea and Samaria region, which is what the Palestinians are demanding. Because the Palestinians have been repeating their false narrative for decades now, a new generation has risen, one that doesn’t remember 1967, and which believes that the region is occupied.
- What should be the future status of Judea and Samaria?
According to all agreements with the Palestinians, beginning with the Oslo Accords of 1993, a permanent status solution of Judea and Samaria should be determined solely through negotiations. According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, Israel has agreed to give parts of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, but only in return for recognition as a Jewish state and guaranteed security, as Resolution 242 demands.
Indeed, Prime Ministers of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak all agreed to establish, for the first time in history, a Palestinian state alongside Israel in Gaza and in parts of Judea and Samaria. Barak and Olmert offered both Arafat and Abbas, respectively, almost all of Judea and Samaria in exchange for real peace and security and mutual recognition, and were rebuffed.
- How can this solution be reached?
The only way to reach an agreement is through serious negotiations between Israel and a trustworthy Palestinian partner, which is committed in its entirety to real peace.
- Why hasn’t peace been reached yet, after so many years of peace talks and negotiations?
So far, under both Arafat and Abbas, who refused to accept any generous Israeli offers, negotiations have been broken off repeatedly. Not only have the Palestinians refused the offers, they started a campaign of terror in the Second Intifada following Barak’s offer to Arafat in Camp David in 2000, as well as a campaign of political terror and warfare of de-legitimization following Abbas’ refusal of Olmert’s offer in Annapolis in 2007.