To understand the West Bank issues and to form any opinion about those issues, requires first an understanding of how the West Bank “became occupied territory.” It really began back in 1967 when Israel’s surrounding neighbors mobilized a full-scale invasion, blocked her waterways and Israel pre-empted them in a defensive war, known as the Six-Day War. Within six days, Israel conquered land, including the West Bank and Golan Heights.
The West Bank and other land won by Israel in this defensive war was offered back to the Arabs—with one catch….exchange of land for peace! The Arabs had attacked, Israel won, and were willing to give back the land they won, in exchange for promised peace. But the Arabs would not agree to peace. THIS is what began the “occupation.” Israel was forced to conquered land they didn’t want and couldn’t afford to maintain, and was willing to return it for peace, but the Arabs refused it. The question then, was how can Israel fortify a new border with Arabs still living in that land?
Israel decides that in order to secure their borders, they will move Israelis into their newly-acquired land to live. They own the land, after all, so why not? Ever since that day, the Arabs have called this land “occupied,” but never owned by Israel. They intend to claim this land in the future for an “Arab-run Palestine.” Meanwhile, the Arabs will never even negotiate for peace while Israel is called a Jewish state.
Since that Six-Day War, as a good gesture for peace talks with the Palestinians, Israel evacuated some of the “occupied territory” but the Palestinians never made good on their end. It appears Israel continues to be stuck with this land that the Arabs refuse to let Israel manage, even though it was fairly won back in 1967. Today, approximately 2.5 million Palestinians and 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank. This “occupied land” has been the center of conflicts in Israel.
Recently, the Israeli government appointed a committee to once again try to resolve this hot spot. The committee again affirmed that the West Bank is not occupied territory, but gave proof of capturing it from Jordan in 1967. The World Court ruled back in 2004, that the settlements in the West Bank were illegal. How they could rule this when the land was won clearly, I don’t understand.
To confuse the issue even more, there are many who ignore the Six-Day War acquisition and look back to 1947 when the British Mandate divided up the land so two states would exist (The Partitian Plan): Israel and Palestine (run by the Arabs). However, the Arabs refused that offer.
This Israeli committee recommended many new changes, one of which would annul previous Supreme Court rulings, so far as benefits given to settlers. The committee recommends that Israel legalize dozens of unsanctioned settler outposts. It also proposes that the military no longer would have the authority to force settlers off any land claimed by Palestinians, even if the settlers cannot prove full ownership.
Does it seem fair that Israel cannot make decisions for the land they own? Why can they not continue to allow their own settlers to live there. I am sure that if Israel came to the negotiating table today, they would gladly agree to a two-state solution, get rid of this “occupation” problem, all in exchange for peace. However, the Palestinians will never agree to this as long as Israel is called a Jewish state. So, we have a continued impasse and both sides continue to push and pull, but until the “Jewish state” is accepted by Palestinians, this issue will never be settled.
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