At the Herzliya Conference on February 2, Salam Fayyad called for a Palestinian state connecting Judea, Samaria and Gaza that has East Jerusalem as its capital, ending the “occupation of areas that were Palestinian territory before 1967”.
Published: february 02, 2010; Sovereignty Now!! (Arutz Sheva; israelnationalnews.com).
by Moshe Dann
Salam Fayyad, the PLO Prime Minister, claims that he is preparing the non political groundwork of the Palestinian state, while the US is seeing to the political aspects, that is, to making sure Israel ends “occupation”. He doesn’t blink an eye when talking about East Jerusalem being Palestinian territory before 1967, although there was no such entity at the time.
This should be a wake-up call for Israel, whose failure to express its legitimate sovereign rights over Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people, plays into the hands of those who would destroy Israel and weakens Israel’s diplomatic position.
A declaration of sovereignty would strengthen Israel’s demand for recognized and defensible borders.
Born in conflict and strife, attacked from within and without, the State of Israel has never known real peace. Cease-fire armistice lines agreed to in 1949 were never recognized by Arab countries; their intentions were to destroy Israel. These temporary lines are neither defensible, nor “borders.”
Although Egypt and Jordan recognized borders with Israel in peace treaties, the definition of Israel’s border with Jordan refers, on the one hand, to lines established by the League of Nations for the Palestine Mandate, which would seem to indicate that Israel’s eastern border is the Jordan River. On the other hand, a proviso in the treaty states, “without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.” This reflects Jordan’s reservations concerning Israel’s legal entitlement to Judea and Samaria.
Syria and Lebanon do not accept Israel’s legitimacy at all, continue a state of war, and do not recognize any boundaries with Israel. Despite formal treaties and “peace plans,” most Arabs reject Israel’s very right to exist, not which territory it occupies.
The question of what legitimately belongs to Israel became more complicated after Israel acquired Judea, Samaria and Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in 1967. Although Jerusalem was annexed in 1967 and Israeli law and administration applied to the Golan in 1981, Israeli politicians, jurists and media opposed extending Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
Officially defining Judea and Samaria as “disputed,” Israeli jurists referred to these areas as under “belligerent occupation,” because they were acquired in war. Most of the international community, the ICRC, ICJ, and UN agencies hold Israel is “illegally occupying” these areas. Despite existing Israeli law and international law, Israel’s own position has led to confusion about the status of these areas and Israeli sovereign rights.
This became even more complicated when Israel recognized a “Palestinian Authority” (in the Oslo Accords of 1993) – a pseudonym for the PLO, which is still the “sole official representative of the Palestinian people,” and Israel unilaterally withdrew from large parts of Judea and Samaria, designated “Areas A & B,” in which nearly all Arab Palestinians reside.
More damaging, PM Ehud Barak (in 2000) and PM Ehud Olmert (in 2007) offered the PA 97% of Judea and Samaria, plus 3% of sovereign Israeli territory, including parts of eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount – in return for an agreement to end the conflict and claims against Israel. They were refused.
Part of Judea and Samaria remained under Israeli control, Area C, in which all Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria (“settlements”) are located, including the Jordan Valley, and Judean Desert. Although citizens of Israel, its residents are subject to military law and administration, under “Emergency Regulations” handed down from the British Mandate. This situation violates basic notions of civil and human rights and democratic norms.
Instead of advancing its legitimate sovereign rights in these areas, Israeli politicians and jurists have been apologizing for and denying them. Some pundits and anti-Israel NGOs call Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria a “moral disaster.” The international community, including the US State Dept, call for Israel’s withdrawal .from all areas “occupied by Israel in 1967.”
It is unlikely that advancing Israel’s claim of sovereignty would change their position, but it would at least present an alternative argument over who has rightful possession. Not presenting its case for legitimacy makes it more difficult for Israel to justify its rightful possession of areas demanded by the PA.
That many Israelis accept the false notion that Israel is “illegally occupying Palestinian land” is especially troubling. Many do not know what Israel’s historic and legal rights are in these areas – or don’t care. They are concerned that extending Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria would compromise Israeli democracy and antagonize world opinion.
Their concerns and arguments are understandable and reasonable:
“Not realistic. There are all kinds of documents–for instance, Security Council Resolution 242 and the Oslo Accords–that say these matters are to be determined through negotiations, not by unilateral declarations.”
“The strategic relationship with the U.S. is crucial to us. This would wreck it.”
“Prime Minister Menachem Begin said of the autonomy plan contained in the 1978 Camp David Accords: ‘Israel stands by its right and its claim of sovereignty to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district. In the knowledge that other claims exist, it proposes, for the sake of the agreement of the peace, that the question of sovereignty in these areas be left open.'”
“No other state in the world would recognize such a move.”
But sovereignty is not a popularity contest. If it were, the UN General Assembly would probably vote for Israel’s expulsion, following Arab contentions that there were two “illegal occupations” — the first in 1948 and the second in 1967 — both deemed illegitimate and Israel itself, anathema.
The State of Israel, on behalf of the Jewish people, has the responsibility to say the truth: All of Eretz Yisrael, including Judea and Samaria, legitimately — historically, legally — is the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people. This is a statement of fact, regardless of political concerns and concessions.
That an Israeli government decides to abandon territory does not mean that those areas do not legitimately belong to Israel and the Jewish People.
As has been demonstrated time and again, Israeli control is the only stabilizing factor, the only barrier to anarchy and the expansion of terrorism.
Grounded in League of Nations decisions, which recognized the legitimacy of “Palestine as the Jewish national homeland” and called for “close Jewish settlement” in all of Mandatory Palestine, Israel’s sovereign rights are peerless.
Though Muslims today deny Jewish historic and legal claims, the Qur’an (5:20-21) powerfully affirms Jewish sovereignty: “Remember Moses said to his people: ‘O my people! Recall in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'”
Extending Jewish sovereignty is not to aggrandize; it is an authentic statement of the historic and spiritual relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The return of the Jewish people to their homeland, the establishment of the State of Israel, and Israel’s achievements in science and technology are physical, material representations of a profound spiritual dimension–the fulfillment of Jewish destiny.
Sovereignty speaks to the purpose and the promise of the State of Israel and to everyone, Jew and non-Jew, who is inspired by that vision.
Israel should focus on Area C, in which 300,000 Jews live. Arab “Palestinians” living in Area C, about an estimated 30-40,000, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship, should be free to remain as residents, or opt for Israeli citizenship, taking on the obligations that come with it.
There are many details to work out, but that is for later– once the principle of Israeli sovereignty is affirmed.
To live in peace, to strengthen its strategic and security interests, to safeguard vital water resources, prevent environmental and ecological deterioration it is imperative that Israel maintain control of Judea and Samaria and embrace enthusiastically — Sovereignty Now!
About the author:
Moshe Dann is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.