Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

The terminology used by the United Nations that Israel is “illegally occupying Palestinian Land” has angered Israelis for a long time. The Israelis do not believe that the land is “Palestinian,” that they are “occupying it” or that living in and controlling such land is “illegal.”

The Trump Administration agrees with this approach.

The 2016 Republican platform discussed Israel in several sections, including the B.D.S. (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement which it labeled antisemitic, in prioritizing the security needs of allies like Israel over foes, and in moving the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. It also clearly mentioned Israel’s control over disputed land:

“We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier”

The logic behind such attitude has been voiced by Israel and Israeli advocates for a long time, although it gets no air in the left-wing media. In short:

  • International law in 1920 and 1922 specifically called for Jews to reestablish their homeland throughout Palestine, covering all of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River;
  • The “Green Line” or “1967 border,” is no border at all, but simply the armistice lines of 1949 which were deliberately and specifically not called borders but temporary lines too be negotiated for final settlement;
  • Jordan illegally evicted all the Jews from the area between the Green Line and the Jordan River (an area which later became known as the “West Bank”) and annexed the land in a move which was not recognized by almost the entire world;
  • Jordan broke the Jordanian-Israeli Armistice Agreement by attacking Israel in June 1967;
  • Israel took the “West Bank” in a defensive war, which makes the situation completely distinct from laws regarding taking land in an offensive war, especially when such land was not part of a sovereign nation, and was designated to be part of the acquiring country in any event

In summary, Israel took the “West Bank” back from a country which had illegally evicted all Jews, illegally annexed the land and illegally attacked it (the “Three Illegal Actions”).

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration sided with the United Nations, a group dominated by over 50 Arab and Muslim countries, the majority of which do not recognize Israel in any form. The United States, as part of the “Middle East Quartet,” co-signed a joint statement in September 2016, the final declaration before the Trump Administration took over which included the following:

“The Quartet reiterated its call on the parties to implement the recommendations of the Quartet Report of 1 July 2016, and create the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations that will end the occupation that began in 1967 and resolve all final status issues.”

“The Quartet stressed the growing urgency of taking affirmative steps to reverse these trends in order to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.”

The Obama Administration followed this up in December 2016 when it allowed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass which stated:

“the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;”

The Republican and the Democratic Party/UN could not be further apart on this issue.

Since the Trump Administration has taken office, it has followed through on its position on this matter:

  • It has curtailed the announcements made by the Quartet, and none of them refer to an “occupation” of “Palestinian territory” being “illegal”;
  • In June 2019, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,“; and
  • U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt also stated in June that “We might get there [to peace] if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call ‘neighborhoods and cities,’ are the reason for the lack of peace.

US Envoy Jason Greenblatt speaks at the Israel Hayom forum in Jerusalem on June 27, 2019. (photo: Gideon Markovitz)

While the two positions seem incompatible, they need not be.

The Republican position is completely logical. Further, how can there really be an enduring peace assuming the Democratic position of blessing an Arab Jew-free state? How can “progressives” support the antisemitic notion that Jews should be banned from living somewhere, let alone, in parts of their homeland?

The Democratic position also has logic. The Palestinian Arabs and the broader Arab world are insistent on Palestinian sovereignty. While sovereignty is NOT an “inalienable right” which the biased United Nations bestowed upon the Palestinians uniquely (only self-determination is an inalienable right of all people), it might not be a bad solution to the current impasse. Should the Palestinian Arabs obtain sovereignty, they will require defined borders. However, such new state of Palestine need not – and should not – be based on the antisemitic notion that Jews cannot live there.

The blend of the positions might be that Palestinians obtain sovereignty over a portion of the land, say in Gaza and land east of the security barrier which Israel built to stem the waves of Palestinian terrorists. It is consistent with both the Democrats and Republicans stated positions of caring about Israel’s security, while acknowledging the substance of the Republican position that the “1967 borders” are arbitrary and not borders, and the Democratic position that a two-state solution is the best path towards a peaceful settlement.

The Trump administration has not yet revealed the political portion of its Middle East plan and may not do so until after the Israeli elections scheduled for September 17. It might call for a new independent Palestinian State on the lines above, or it might suggest some sort of confederation with Jordan, which poses its own issues for Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Either way, the Republicans have clearly broken with the notion endorsed by the Unsavory UN and the Democratic Party that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian Land, and will advance a peace proposal on such basis.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Marking November 29 as The International Day of Solidarity with Jews Living East of the Green Line

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

Anti-“Settlements” is Anti-Semitism

Names and Narrative: It is Called ‘Area C’

The New York Times Major anti-Netanyahu Propaganda Piece

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9 thoughts on “Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

  1. International law establishes the borders of new states emerging from Mandates or colonies on the basis of territorial frontiers at the time of independence. Application of this doctrine (known as uti possidetis juris) to the Mandate for Palestine means that the State of Israel has a legitimate claim of sovereignty up to the territorial frontiers of the Palestine Mandate in May 1948 when Israel became an independent state, inclusive of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the “West Bank”.
    International law contains several principles upon which legally enforceable borders can come into existence. These include: effective control; historical title; and treaties. In recent years, many legal judgments, including the rulings of the International Court of Justice regarding border disputes in Asia and Africa, and examinations by lawyers regarding issues such as the borders of the new states emerging from Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union, have emphasized that the most persuasive principle for determining the borders of new states is the doctrine known as uti possidetis juris. The borders of the state of Israel, no less than those of other states, are subject to this doctrine.
    Uti possidetis juris is one of the main principles of customary international law intended to ensure stability, certainty and continuity in the demarcation of boundaries. The principle acts to clarify and determine the territorial boundaries of newly emerging states by providing that states emerging from decolonization or mandates shall presumptively inherit the colonial administrative borders that existed at the time of independence. In effect, the principle of uti possidetis juris transforms the colonial and administrative lines existing at the moment of the birth of the new State into national borders. The principle applies to the State as it is [at the moment of independence], i.e. to the ‘photograph’ of the territorial situation then existing.
    In 1947 Britain decided to terminate her stewardship of the Mandate for Palestine and notified the United Nations accordingly. It should be noted that the Mandate itself was not terminated but only Britain’s stewardship of it. Applying the principle of uti possidetis juris to the borders of the State of Israel (the only state to emerge in Palestine upon the withdrawal of Great Britain), the administrative boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine on 14th May 1948 became the borders of the State of Israel that came into existence upon the proclamation of its independence on that date. On 15th May 1948, Great Britain, the Mandatory for Palestine, officially departed. The eastern boundary of the Mandate on 14th May 1948 was the Jordan River, and a line extending south from the Dead Sea (into which the Jordan River empties) to the Red Sea near Aqaba. (The Mandate had originally included the territory of Transjordan, but Transjordan was administratively separated from Palestine in 1922, with the approval of the League of Nations, and granted its independence by Britain in 1946.)
    It is generally understood that the principle of uti possidetis juris operates retrospectively to the moment of independence, without reference to the territories actually controlled by the new state. Thus, even though the State of Israel, upon its creation, did not have effective control over all of the area previously covered by the Mandate for Palestine, it acquired the borders of the Mandate.
    The administrative boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine remained effective right up to the proclamation of the State of Israel on 14th May, 1948. It is important to note that the November 1947 UN “Partition Plan”, recommended by General Assembly Resolution 181, never went into effect. Its primary objective was to partition the remaining Israel territory (already reduced – as a result of the separation of Transjordan in 1922 – by approximately 78% of the originally mandated territory) to create independent Jewish and Arab states, which were to work together in an economic union. The principal reason the Plan was never implemented was that the Arabs rejected it in its entirety7 and chose instead to engage in war, thereby destroying any possibility of the cooperation necessary to realize the economic union and precluding any subsequent attempt to revive the resolution. Owing to the Arab rejection and subsequent military aggression, counter to the UN Charter, the Security Council, even though asked by the General Assembly, took no action to implement the resolution. Likewise, Britain took no action to implement the resolution and it refused to facilitate the Palestine Commission’s attempts to do so.
    Finally, it is strongly arguable that nothing that has happened since May 1948 has altered the legal status of those borders. Specifically, neither the 1949 Armistice Agreements, the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, the PLO’s claims since 1988 to the existence of a “State of Palestine”, nor the Oslo Agreements, have been legally effective to alter the borders of the State of Israel as they existed in May 1948. Moreover, Article 3.1 of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan recognized that the “international boundary between Israel and Jordan is delimited with reference to the boundary definition under the Mandate” which is significant since it comports fully with the application of uti possidetis juris.


  2. Any more compromises by Israel would be foolish as well as unjust. Area C should be incorporated into Israel immediately. It is majority Jewish. As for the rest, at some point, full military occupation must be restored and the Arabs incentivized to emigrate.


  3. The position of the Trump Admin & Republicans is in line with a newish project from the Middle East Forum called the Israel Victory Project. This project also has an Israeli counterpart. In a nutshell, encouraging Palestinians to believe that they will win if they just keep up the terror, remain intractable and refuse to deal with the reality of Israel’s existence, is counterproductive. There is no “occupation” that will end and the Palestinians will re-enter their homes with their ancient keys. Jews are here to stay.


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