When You Understand Israel’s May 1948 Borders, You Understand There is No “Occupation”

There are really only two ways to consider the borders of Israel when it declared independence in May 1948: the entirety of the Palestine Mandate OR the proposed border put forward by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947. As discussed below, only one of these is legally valid, while both options demonstrate that Israel does not occupy any “Palestinian Land.”

May 1948 Borders: the Palestine Mandate

When the Ottoman Empire broke up, the French and British assumed control of various mandates until the local populations were able to establish their own functioning governments. The French took the Lebanon and Syrian mandates, and each of them became countries in 1943 and 1946, respectively, after the last of the French troops withdrew. The British took the Palestine and Iraq mandates. Iraq declared its independence in 1932. As for Palestine, the situation was more labored and complicated.

The 1922 international mandate made clear that the British were to help the Jews reestablish their homeland in the territory. However, the land east of the Jordan River was viewed as a land that the British could option to separate (Article 25), which they did. That land ultimately became the Kingdom of Jordan.

Regarding the rest of the Palestine Mandate, the British had a difficult time dealing with a local Arab population which did not want to see a flood of Jews enter the area. The multi-year Arab riots between 1936 and 1939 led the British to consider dividing the land between the Jews and Arabs (the 1937 Peel Commission which was not adopted) and placing a cap on the number of Jews allowed to enter the territory (the 1939 White Paper which was enacted).

By the end of the devastation of World War II, the British had enough rebuilding to do at home and the Jews clearly needed to have the cap on immigration terminated, so the Brits asked the United Nations to tackle the issue in 1946. The UN General Assembly voted to partition the land between the Jews and Arabs in a non-binding vote in November 1947. All of the Arab countries voted ‘no’ and the partition never took place.

When the British withdrew their last troops in May 1948, the Jews declared the new Jewish State of Israel. Like the Mandates of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, the British troop withdrawal was accompanied by the declaration of a new state on the ENTIRETY OF THE MANDATE, including areas which have now become known as Gaza and the West Bank.

May 1948: the 1947 Partition Plan

When Israel declared its independence, the Arab community was still seeking to control the entirety of the Palestine Mandate itself. It rejected the State of Israel in 1948 the same way it rejected the 1947 proposed UN Partition Plan. It considered both illegal, null and void, invasions of their own Arab land.

When five Arab armies attacked Israel when it declared independence, the invasion did not start at Jerusalem. For the Arabs, all of the land was a single contiguous unit. The lines of the Partition Plan were as invisible and irrelevant as the proposed borders of the Peel Commission.

And so it was for the Jews.

The 1949 Armistice Lines / the Green Line

When the international community talks about “occupation” today of “Palestinian Land,” they are referring to the borders as they existed before the outbreak of the Six Day War in June 1967. These were the frontier areas that came into being at the end of the 1948-9 Israel War of Independence. These Armistice Lines established between Israel and a number of the invading countries were drawn in the maps in green, so also became known as the “Green Lines.”

The Egyptian army took over the Gaza Strip area. The Israeli-Egyptian truce specifically stated that those Armistice Lines were not to be construed as final borders. Similarly, the Jordanian army took over much of eastern Palestine, which over time became known as the “West Bank.” The Israeli-Jordanian agreement also stated that the lines were not meant as borders.

However, Jordan took a number of particularly hostile moves. Not only did it evict all Jews from the “West Bank,” it annexed the territory in 1950 in a move not recognized by almost the entire world. It took a further step of granting all of the Arabs who lived in the West Bank Jordanian citizenship in 1954 (Jews were specifically excluded from becoming Jordanians).

From 1949 until 1967, the land was divided between Israel, Egypt and Jordan. There was no Palestine.

It was in this window of time that many countries began to recognize the State of Israel. While the frontiers of the land were subject to possible modifications as outlined in the two armistice agreements, the countries recognized the Israeli sovereignty up to those lines. And so it is until this day.

The 1967 “Borders”

The fighting continued to rage between the Israelis and Egyptians and Jordanians between 1949 and 1967.

Arab fighters would cross the Green Line into Israel from Egypt and Jordan and kill Israelis in night raids and Israel would retaliate. The United Nations would debate the “Question on Palestine,” particularly as over 700,000 Arabs who fled the fighting zone were not allowed to return to towns in Israel. And the Palestinian independence movement would develop, with the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, whose stated mission was to destroy Israel and reclaim the entirety of the Palestine Mandate for Arabs.

As fate would have it, the Jordanians attacked Israel in June 1967, after Israel launched a preemptive defensive war against Syria and Egypt which were about to attack. The Jordanians lost all of the West Bank which they had illegally annexed, the Egyptians lost Gaza and the Syrians lost the Golan Heights.

The 1949 Armistice Lines which were established and understood to be temporary, somehow morphed into the minds of many as the 1967 “borders,” implying a new sense of permanence, even though the war did the exact opposite – it reestablished Israeli control of the entire Palestine Mandate and reclaimed its boundaries of May 1948.

Israel did itself no favors. Rather than clearly state that its borders had been reestablished, it “annexed” the eastern portion of Jerusalem which had been under Jordanian control and only established military rule over the West Bank. It did this – much like it handed control of the Jewish Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf – in the hopes of winning over global support for peace. So much for that theory.

Even if one were to believe that Israel’s May 1948 borders were based on the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan, various countries recognized Israel’s expanded borders up to the 1949 Armistice Lines, effectively endorsing the concept of expanding one’s borders in a defensive war. That same principle would apply to Israel taking the West Bank in another defensive war in 1967.

Either way one looks at it – Israel’s May 1948 borders constituted the entirety of the Palestine Mandate or were limited to the 1947 Partition Plan – the entirety of the West Bank is Israeli territory.

No Palestinian Land / No “Occupation”

As the history above details, the Palestinians quest for self-rule has been aspirational. The global community has attempted to create a new sovereign Arab Palestinian country, or to somehow give the Arabs who reside in Gaza and the West Bank self-determination. The Arabs in Gaza got self-determination in 2005 when the Israeli troops left the area, and the majority of Arabs in the West Bank also have some self-determination in “Area A” and to a lesser extent in “Area B” when Israel handed control of select lands to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of the Oslo II Accords of 1995.

But there is no “Palestinian Land” beyond these lands which the PA controls. The balance is Israeli territory as it was from the time Israel declared its independence. The 1967 War did not begin “occupation” of “Palestinian Land”; it brought Israeli territory back under Israeli control from the Egyptians and Jordanians who invaded Israel back in 1948.

As the only “Palestinian Land” that exists today are those which Israel handed to the Palestinian Authority, it is impossible for there to be any “occupation.” The Palestinians will get only get more “Palestinian Land” if and when Israel gives incremental land to the PA.


The international community had defined being gay as a mental illness until 1973, and homosexuality is still considered a crime in roughly half of the member states of the United Nations. Almost all of those same UN countries also refuse to recognize the existence of the Jewish State and believe there is a “colonial occupation” of “Palestinian Land.” They may never come to accept gays or the Jewish State.

It took the western world a long time to accept the mental well-being of homosexuals, and perhaps one day soon, they will realize the rights of Jews to live throughout their homeland and that there is no illegal occupation of Palestinian land.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Names and Narrative: Zionist Entity and Colonial Occupier

Republicans Do Not Believe There is Any “Occupation”

A Response to Rashid Khalidi’s Distortions on the Balfour Declaration

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The Green Line (music by The Kinks)

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Israel Has Much Higher Claims to The West Bank Than Golan Heights

On March 21, 2019, US President Donald Trump said that it was time to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The nature of the timing was viewed by cynics as a nod to help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win the election happening in a couple of weeks. For people who understand the nature of the strategic security need for the Golan, the timing had much more to do with the ending of the eight-year civil war in Syria and the rapidly expanding deployment of Iranian forces into Syria. An Iranian-Syrian axis in the Golan Heights would certainly lead to a war with Israel which would kill tens of thousands of people, conservatively.

While there was certainly some benefit politically to Netanyahu for the gesture, the rationale for Israel’s control of the plateau is definitely about security. But the arguments applied to the Golan are relatively weak compared to all of the reasons Israel should have sovereignty over the “West Bank.”

History

Jews lived in the Golan Heights for thousands of years. The ancient Kingdom of Israel occupied most of southern Lebanon and Syria and dozens of synagogues over 1000 years old can be found in the area. But most Jews did not live in that area, certainly compared to the West Bank, over the past 100 years.

Religion

There are no particularly important religious sites for Jews in the Golan. However, almost all of the sacred sites for Jews are located in the “West Bank,” which the Jordanians seized in 1949 including Jerusalem, the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus/Shechem.

Legal

When the global powers opted to divide the Ottoman Empire after World War I, they set some arbitrary lines. The French took the mandates of Lebanon and Syria and the British took Palestine. While the Syrians wanted control of all of Palestine, the global powers allotted Syria the Golan Heights, and Syria controlled the area until Israel attacked it in a preemptive defensive war in 1967.

The situation could not be more different regarding the “West Bank.” That area has always been a core part of the Jewish holy land for thousands of years. It was set as an integral part of the Jewish Homeland in international law in 1920 and 1922, specifically stating that no person should be denied the right to live there based on their religion.

The Jordanian army seized the land of Palestine and annexed it in 1949, contrary to all international laws, and evicted all of the Jewish inhabitants. The Jordanians then attacked Israel again in 1967 and lost the land for which they never had any rights.

Security

The security situation in the Golan is extraordinary, due both to the height and reach of the area which can cover all of northern Israel, as well as the military operation of an Iranian-Syrian pact.

But the security situation from the West Bank is also severe. The spine of the western West Bank is very high and overlooks all of Israel’s major population centers and airport. The miles of borders dwarf the size of borders in the Golan and Gaza.


The contrast between the Golan Heights and the West Bank is striking:

  • Original rights: Syria was allotted the Golan Heights roughly 100 years ago, while the West Bank was allotted to the Jewish homeland at the same time.
  • Rights of holder: Israel took the Golan from Syria which had rights to the land, while Israel took the West Bank from Jordan which had NO RIGHTS to the land.
  • Method of acquisition: Israel took the Golan in a preemptive attack, and took the West Bank in a DEFENSIVE ATTACK.
  • History/connection: While Israel has a connection to the Golan Heights, it pales compared to the eternal connection to the “West Bank” and Jerusalem.

It was President Barack Obama who saw the Israeli-Arab Conflict as one based purely on security. If he were president today and saw Iran embedding itself into Syria, he might have sought to help secure Israel’s rights and defenses in the Golan, just as Trump announced.

But Trump sees the Jewish State from more than just a security or political standpoint. As he appreciates the long history, deep religious connection and legal rights of Israel to the West Bank, one must foresee Trump embracing Israel’s annexation of that region as well.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

I call BS: You Never Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

The US Recognizes Israel’s Reality

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Names and Narrative: It is Called ‘Area C’

There was another terrible murder of innocent Israelis the other day. The slaying happened in the Barkan Industrial area, not far from Road 5 in Israel, about halfway between Rosh Haayin and Ariel.

The Barkan Industrial Zone is in ‘Area C’ as mapped out in the Oslo Accords, agreed to and signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That agreement delineated three distinct zones east of the Green Line (EGL), commonly referred to as the “West Bank” or “Judea and Samaria.”

  • Area A: where the Palestinian Authority has administration and military control of the area;
  • Area B: where there is shared control with Israel; and
  • Area C: which is administered completely by Israel. The area is predominantly Jewish; only 7% of the West Bank Arabs live in Area C.

Israel created are a number of joint development projects in Area C, such as the Barkan Industrial area where several thousand Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews work together. The United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman noted that Barkan “has been a model of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence since 1982, with thousands working and prospering together. Today a terrorist shattered that harmony by brutally murdering two Israelis at work.

That model of coexistence was not just shattered by a murderer, but by some members of the media.

Consider first how some decided to describe Area C:


Wall Street Journal October 8, 2018 page A12

The descriptions above demonstrate the range of narratives.  The Jerusalem Post called the area by its long historic name of “Samaria,” which connects Jews to the region for thousands of years. Most of the Western media used the modern term for the region east of the Green Line that evolved in the 1950s to be the “West Bank,” as the world adopted an Arab point of view after Jordan illegally annexed the region in 1950. Al Jazeera was on the far extremist camp which took an Arab anti-Zionist viewpoint.

The media’s choice of name for the region equates to the narrative of the story and the overall bias of the publication. That much is clear in all of the various Names and Narratives articles in the First.One.Through series.
But the vileness of Al Jazeera was on full display, when it chose to go on a rant regarding the murder of innocent civilians in a work place designed to promote coexistence.
CBN News chose to not refer the overall area at all. It simply said that Barkan was near the city of Ariel. It noted that “For 35 years the industrial zone has been a model of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.” It spent time describing the woman and man who were brutally killed. That’s a bias towards humanity, the polar opposite of Al Jazeera.
Zionists and decent people everywhere should shun anything produced by Al Jazeera and its pop video site AJ+. The videos should be neither viewed nor shared.
Names and definitions matter. When a horrific murder of innocents gets nothing but vile hateful Arab propaganda instead of mourning the lives lost in a region of coexistence, it is way past time that people to not only boycott Al Jazeera, but begin efforts to shut it down.
It is no longer a matter of Israel or Arab narratives. It is a matter of human decency versus noxious evil.

Related First.One.Through articles:

The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917 which endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People.” The declaration became the basis for the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) to endorse the Palestine Mandate which clearly articulated the history and rights of Jews to a reconstituted national homeland in the area now commonly thought of as Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Article 25 of the Mandate allowed the administrator (Britain) to change the contours of the reestablished Jewish homeland.

“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.”

On September 23, 1922, the League of Nations adopted the suggestion of the British to divide the territory in two, in a document called the “Transjordan Memorandum.” That memorandum stripped away any mention of Jewish history in the land, facilitating the emigration of Jews to Palestine or the creation of a Jewish homeland in the area east of the Jordan River.

The memorandum also facilitated a complete abrogation of key components of Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate that allowed such separation: that “no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.” Those provisions specifically enumerated non-discrimination clauses that were to be kept in place in the new TransJordan:

Article 15:

The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.

Article 16:

The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.

Article 18:

The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.

Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.”

International law was clear that any division of the territory would ensure that no discrimination of any kind be allowed on the basis of religion.

But that is exactly what Transjordan/Jordan became: an anti-Semitic country established by the United Nations which prohibits Jews in a variety of areas.

No Citizenship

Consider Jordan’s Nationality Law of 1954:

“Article 3:

The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:

Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;”

Can you think of anything more explicitly anti-Semitic than a law that specifically separates Jews from others and bans them from becoming citizens?

No Land Purchases

Jordan prohibited Jews from buying any land in the area that had been part of the Palestine Mandate in an edict, Law No. (40) of 1953 Concerning the Leasing and Selling of Immovable Properties from Foreigners, as amended by Law No. (12) of 1960; and  Law No. (2) of 1962.

Jordan has continued along this path even post its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

In March 2016, the Jordanian government singled out Israelis as being banned from buying or renting property around the city of Petra. No other country is subject to such provision.


The League of Nations considered at the outset of its endorsement of a Jewish national home in 1920 and 1922 that perhaps the contours of such homeland should exclude the land east of the Jordan River. But international law has – and continues to fail – in two major respects:

  • In JORDAN: The provision (Article 25) to cut the eastern part of the Mandate (and ONLY the eastern part) from the Jewish homeland specifically did not allow the discrimination against Jews from buying land or obtaining citizenship there;
  • In the WEST BANK: All of the land west of the Jordan River was allocated for a Jewish homeland, and obviously with full legal authorization for Jews to purchase homes and obtain citizenship, despite calls by the current Palestinian Authority leadership to have a Jew-free country

The division of the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 to create Jordan was a disgraceful tragedy which denied Jewish history and rights east of the Jordan River. Despite this, people have attempted to expand upon Article 25 almost a century later to divide the land WEST of the Jordan River in an identical course of anti-Semitic charges that the West Bank should not have a single Jew.

The Palestinian Arabs coined the term “Nakba” (catastrophe) for the founding of the Jewish State on just a part of the Palestine Mandate on May 15, 1948. However, the original Nakba happened 26 years earlier, when the British gutted the essence of international law set out in the Palestine Mandate: for all of the land west of the Jordan River to be the Jewish homeland, and the land east of the river to have full legal rights for Jewish worship, land ownership and citizenship.

Remarkably, the Jewish Nakba of September 23, 1922 is seeking a second coming.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

A “Viable” Palestinian State

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

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Nakba 2: The Victory of a Democracy

The world has been long educated by Palestinian Arabs about the “Nakba”, the “disaster.” It was during 1948-9 when the newly established country of Israel withstood the onslaught of five Arab armies to not only survive, but to accumulate additional territory. All of that land was considered by the Arabs to be “Arab Land,” and Israel’s victory was not only an affront to their sensibilities as the rightful owners of the land, but was exacerbated by the fact that Israel did not allow the Arabs that left the region during the war – which they themselves had started – to return to their houses.

The Palestinian Nakba of 1948-9 was the founding of a Jewish State that the Arabs considered without merit, and the status of 711,000 Arabs who lost their homes to such foreign transplant. Adding insult to their situation was Egypt taking over Gaza without giving the local population citizenship. The Arabs on the west bank of the Jordan River at least got Jordanian citizenship.

In solidarity with their Arab brothers, over the following years the Arab countries from the MENA region evicted 1 million Jews from their midst, performing an ethnic cleansing of Jews for thousands of miles. Many of those Jews moved to Israel, to become citizens alongside the 160,000 Arabs who were already granted Israeli citizenship.


Israeli flags over Latrun Tank Museum,
scene of important battles in the Israeli War of Independence
(photo: First.One.Through)

The Palestinian Nakba would repeat in 1967.

Once again the surrounding Arab armies poised to destroy the Jewish State.

  • “The problem before the Arab countries is not whether the port of Eilat should be blockaded or how to blockade it – but how totally to exterminate the state of Israel for all time.”   –  President Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt, May 25, 1967
  • The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that the time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.”  –  Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Al-Assad (later President)
  • Those [Israelis] who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that none of them will survive.”  –  PLO Chairman Ahmed Shukhairy

However, once again Israel would defeat those that were ready to annihilate them. Once again the Israelis would take over more land. And once again the local Arab population would cry out to the world that they were the victims, and ask the world to isolate the Jewish State.

Nakba #2 left more of the local Arab population under Israeli authority. The Arabs in Gaza, Sinai, “West Bank”, and even the Golan Heights were no longer under Arab control or authoritarian rule. They were now subject to a democracy; and a Jewish one at that.

The Arabs claim that Nakba #1 had its roots in the western powers of Britain, France, Italy and Japan carving up the Ottoman Empire to fit their global ambitions. Those democracies chopped up “Arab land” (note that the Ottomans are not Arab) into fiefdoms and added an alien Jewish democracy squarely into the middle of it. To this day, Palestinian leadership asks Britain for an apology for the actions of 100 years ago, and Iranian leadership declares that the region needs to “cut out the cancer of Israel.

Nakba #2 of June 1967 continued to spread the foreign democracy into the Middle East, but only in part. Israel only annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem and gave everyone – Jews and non-Jews – in the area full rights. However, Israel declined to annex the other regions in the hope of trading portions of the land for peace. In 1979 it traded Sinai (which was never part of the Palestine Mandate) with Egypt for peace. It abandoned Gaza for war. And it negotiates with the Palestinian Authority about the future of the land east of the Green Line (EGL).

The short windows of Israeli control failed to instill long-term democratic values into the areas. Sinai is just another part of Egypt that is quickly removing the removing its Christian minority. Gaza is run by the terrorist group Hamas that is backed by the local radical Islamist population. And Area A of the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority has control, is managed by a corrupt regime that refuses to hold elections.

The newborn democracy survived an Arab onslaught in 1948, and the fledgling democracy would not be annihilated by the forces of hate and intolerance in 1967. While countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran still threaten to destroy the region’s only democracy, others have since given up on the pledge. Still, regrettably, Israel’s lessons of tolerance and democracy seem to be a hard tradition to instill in its neighbors.

For the Palestinians, the Nakba is that the foreign democracy still exists in their midst. For the western world, the disaster is that the Arabs in the region still cannot tolerate democracy.


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Flower in Terra Barbarus

The Undemocratic Nature of Fire and Water in the Middle East

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

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The New York Times Pre-Occupation with Lies

On March 9, 2017, The New York Times wrote an editorial called “Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome.” The NYT editorial board did not simply disagree with Israel’s decision to bar entry to people that advocated for boycotting the Jewish State, it mischaracterized the situation completely.


New York Times editorial on March 9, 2017

In the editorial, the paper littered the article with the words “occupation” and “settlements.” It never stated that Israel does not view Jews living on the east side of the arbitrary Green Line (EGL) as an occupation, as international law in 1920 and 1922 explicitly gave Jews those exact rights. It never stated that advocates of the BDS campaign are adopting an anti-Semitic platform that was instituted by the Jordanians who expelled all of the Jews from the region in 1949, then annexed it and gave citizenship only to non-Jews. It did not give the readers the facts that the Palestinian Arabs have adopted this policy and have a law that selling any land to a Jew is punishable by death.

Further, the Times wrote that “The United States, Israel’s strongest military supporter, has consistently held that settlement building in the occupied territories is illegal.” That is a boldface lie. President Carter was the only US president to call Jews living in EGL/West Bank illegal. All others – including President Obama – used language like “unhelpful” or, as Obama said “illegitimate.”

Lastly, the editorial stated that BDS supporters are those “who support the search for a lasting peace.” The BDS campaign is all about anti-normalization of Jews and Arabs living and working together. It is either a call by anti-Semites and Israel haters, or by others that believe that a Jew-free state is the only solution for peace. If that is true, then Israel should apply the same logic and expel every Arab from the Jewish State. But the NYT labeled Israelis who advocate such approach as “far-right extremists.” Why not use the same label for BDS-supporters?


The editorial page is a place where the paper makes its opinions, and the paper has every right to state its ignorant views. However, printing outright lies and misinformation does nothing to educate readers. Other than to the fact that the Times consistently ignores facts.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Legal Israeli Settlements

The Israeli Peace Process versus the Palestinian Divorce Proceedings

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

The Many Lies of Jimmy Carter

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Israel’s Freedom of the Press; New York Times “Nonsense”

Social Media’s “Fake News” and Mainstream Media’s Half-Truths

The New York Times wants the military to defeat terrorists (but not Hamas)

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Heritage, Property and Sovereignty in the Holy Land

This land is my land, this land is your land. Whose land is this anyway?

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Silwan in the eastern half of Jerusalem
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Events over the past few weeks both in Israel and at the United Nations warrant a review of three distinct concepts that seem to be alternatively ignored, refuted and merged: heritage, property and sovereignty in the holy land. They are each distinct concepts.

Heritage

Jews have a connection to the holy land that not only surpasses any other people in regards to that land, it surpasses other people’s ties to their homelands, as the Jewish connection combines both history and religion.

History: While Italian-Americans may feel a connection to Italy as their ancestors came from there some generations ago, there are very few people on the planet that have a widely accepted history in a land that extends back 3700 years.

Starting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and extending for 1800 years, the majority of Jews on the planet lived in the holy land. During different periods they were self-governing while in others they were ruled by foreign powers that had control of the region as part of a broader kingdom. Only the Jews ruled the holy land as a distinct entity.

Religion: While some religions have holy sites like the Vatican, or a holy city like Medina, only the Jews have a holy LAND, in which the entirety of the land is viewed as a divine promise from God. For the last 2000 years, wherever Jews were in the world, they prayed facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Yet despite the glaringly obvious ties of Jews to the entirety of the holy land, various entities – including many Arab countries and the United Nations – have sought to distance Jews from the holy land. The Arabs have declared themselves as the true indigenous people in the land, even though the introduction of Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula occurred 2000 years after the Jews were in the land. Further, many of today’s “Palestinian Arabs” arrived from elsewhere in the Middle East like Iraq and Egypt during the 1920s and 1930s, after the start of the British Mandate.

The arguments that the Jews do not have a deep connection to the entirety of the holy land is an absurdity and insulting. And it does nothing to advance peace.

Property

While Jews around the world are deeply connected to the holy land, such bonds do not give them title to any property. Should someone – Jew or non-Jew – want to own land, they can go through the process of taking out a checkbook and buying a home. This is the same basic rule that applies anywhere in the world, such as an Italian-American owning property in Rome.

Despite the clear and obvious distinction between property ownership and heritage, some people in Israel have felt no compunction in seizing lands that are owned by Arabs east of the Green Line (EGL)/West Bank, on the premise that the land was promised to the Jews. That’s an absurdity.

While international law in the San Remo Agreement (1920) and the Palestine Mandate (1922) clearly recognized the Jewish heritage in the holy land, it only sought to give Jews priority to settle in STATE LANDS, not private property. That is why new communities in EGL like Maale Adumim are completely legitimate, since none of the city was built on private property. However, legalizing the theft of private property in outposts has no legal or moral basis.

Sovereignty

A third distinction is sovereignty – that is, what country rules the land. An individual Arab can own a house in Beer Sheva which is ruled by the Jewish State, and a Jew should be able to own a home in EGL, even if it becomes part of a new Palestinian State. The government that administers the land should be completely distinct from who lives in the land.

Unfortunately, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), that is principally only true for Israel.

Most of the countries in MENA are almost completely Muslim and/or Arab. There is little tolerance in those countries for non-Muslims and non-Arabs.

The trend of creating Arab and Muslim-only areas has continued with Israel’s acquiescence, as demonstrated by the Jewish State’s removal of all Jews from the Sinai Peninsula (1982) and the Gaza Strip (2005). This has led to a presumption that Jews would once again be removed from EGL in a future peace deal. Should such an anti-Semitic condition be part of a peace deal, the notion that there is actually peace between the parties is laughable.


Jews have a connection to the holy land that surpasses any other people, and it is a major motivation for millions of Jews moving there, including both to Israel and EGL/West Bank. The UN and Arab countries are completely wrong in challenging the Jewish ties to their holy land.

Arabs that have demonstrated property rights must be respected as neighbors. Israel is wrong to take land that is privately owned, unless it is for a clear defensive purpose.

And the ultimate sovereignty of the disputed EGL/West Bank is a matter for the two sides to work out. Neither Jewish heritage nor Arab and Jewish property rights should be the defining considerations in determing sovereignty, but a thoughtful approach designed to improve the chance of a lasting peace for the people in the holy land.


Related First.One.Through articles:

“Settlements” Crossing the Line

It is Time to Insert “Jewish” into the Names of the Holy Sites

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Obama’s Select Religious Compassion

A “Viable” Palestinian State

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Samantha Power Breakthrough: Violence Erodes the Prospects for Peace

“1. Reaffirms that 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;”

US Security Council Resolution 2334

On December 23, 2016, the United States opted to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution that allowed the body to condemn all Israeli “settlements” living east of the 1949 Armistice Lines/ the Green Line as illegal.  Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations addressed the council after the vote to explain her reasons.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
December 23, 2016

Ms. Power began her speech by underscoring “the United States’ deep and long-standing commitment to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”  But her rationale really took aim with the goal of two states, not a comprehensive peace.

The Israeli Actions

She claimed that the “United States’ long-standing position that Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967:

  • undermines Israel’s security,
  • harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome, and
  • erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region.”

Each point is deeply flawed.

Israel is the tiniest and most isolated country in the Middle East and much of the world. It is only 15km across (without the West Bank) around its most densely populated areas.  The capital sits on the border of the West Bank, a situation that is impossible from a security perspective, especially considering the country has been in a state of war with its neighbors for virtually the entirety of its existence. To state that enlarging its narrow borders undermines its security is obviously false.

The second comment that the settlements harm the viability of a Palestinian State is ridiculous. Annexing portions of Area C of the West Bank such as E1 and Maale Adumim would make a Palestinian State in the West Bank 15km across at a single narrow place- not for many kilometers as is the case for Israel. The argument that a Palestinian state cannot be viable if it is 15km narrow at a single point underscores that Israel should annex the entire middle of the land.

Ms. Power reserved her comment about peace – theoretically what most concerned her – for the very end.  Because the connection to settlements it is nonsensical.  How can Jews in a new Palestinian State undermine peace? Doesn’t peace mean getting along?

Not for the Obama administration.

Power clarified that: “One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two-state solution that would end the conflict. One has to make a choice between settlements and separation.

If that is indeed the US position that peace can only be achieved by completely separating the parties, ensuring that no Jews be allowed to live east of the Green Line, then it would stand to reason that the US must be promoting the notion that all Arabs be expelled from Israel. How can Israel incorporate over 1 million Arabs if separation is the key to peace?

The essence of Power’s comments is that Israel thinks about peace the wrong way. It isn’t about coexistence, trade and commerce. It’s about distinct existences. Israel is looking for normalization while the Arabs are in divorce proceedings.

Palestinian Actions

The Obama administration pulled their world-view together when Power addressed the problems stemming from the actions of Palestinian Arabs:

“For Palestinian leaders, that means recognizing the obvious: that in addition to taking innocent lives – the incitement to violence, the glorification of terrorists, and the growth of violent extremism erodes prospects for peace, as this resolution makes crystal clear.

The comment that violent extremism and the murder of innocents “erodes the prospects for peace,” is not stating the obvious; it NEGATES the obvious by destroying its very definition. Killing someone doesn’t undermine the prospects for living, it ENDS living.

  • When acting-President of the Palestinian Authority names schools, squares and soccer tournaments after terrorists who killed civilians, it CONTRADICTS peace.
  • When Abbas takes to the loudspeakers asking for martyrs to converge on Jerusalem, he NEGATES peace.
  • When Palestinian Arabs vote the terrorist group Hamas – which has the most anti-Semitic charter in the world which calls for the complete destruction of Israel and murder of Jews – to a whopping 58% of the parliament, they DESTROY peace.
  • When 93% of Palestinian Arabs are anti-Semites, they NULLIFY peace.
  • When the UN Secretary General says that he supports the integration of Hamas into a Palestinian unity government, the global body UNDERMINES peace.

Power conflated the “prospects for peace” and a new Palestinian state.  She essentially argued that Palestinian Arabs are only killing now to get a new state, and will stop when they get independence.  Such approach willfully ignored the inconvenient fact that Hamas launched three wars from Gaza since Israel withdrew from the region.

Power recognized the threat of violence; she just felt that enough military hardware would make the inconvenient violence manageable:

“Israelis are rightfully concerned about making sure there is not a new terrorist haven next door. President Obama and this administration have shown an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security because that is what we believe in.”

While Power argued that the United States would supply enough military equipment to ensure a viable and secure Israel, even in narrow borders, she stated the armament was intended to combat “a new terrorist haven.”  She seemed to have missed the point that the terrorists are not new. They are part of the established elected Palestinian government itself, and supported by the world body that just condemned Israel.

lose-hope


When Power opened her remarks at the UNSC discussing a “comprehensive and lasting peace,” she was only addressing the Israelis.  Only the Israelis are seeking peace; the Palestinian Arabs are seeking a state.

The notion that Palestinian Arab violence undermines the “prospects for peace” is wishful thinking that the violence will stop once a Palestinian State is created. The violence that is incited and celebrated by Palestinian leadership is pure evil, and undermines the rationale of allowing such a state to come into being at all. While all people deserve freedom and self-determination, should the United Nations actively endorse the creation of a violent and anti-Semitic regime as a pathway towards peace and stability?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

An Inconvenient Truth: Palestinian Polls

Stabbing the Palestinian “Right of Return”

“Peace” According to Palestinian “Moderates”

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“Settlements” Crossing the Line

Jews living in various parts of the Holy Land is problematic for some people. Different statements and actions in the fall of 2016 brought various matters to the public attention, but few people understand which “settlements” actually “crossed the line.”

 

Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem
(Not over the Green Line and not Crossing the Line)

President-elect Donald Trump made statements after his election victory, that he planned on moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Israel has long designated as its capital. Today, it is not nearly as controversial as it once was.

The initial controversy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital stemmed from the 1947 UN Partition Plan which allocated Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem into a “corpus separatum,” an international zone called the “Holy Basin.” While the Jews accepted the proposal, the Arabs rejected it and launched a war to eliminate the Jewish State. At war’s end, Israel controlled the western part of Jerusalem, while the Arabs took all of Greater Bethlehem and the eastern part of Jerusalem. Jordan expelled all of the Jews from the region, granted citizenship to all of the Arabs (specifically excluding Jews) and annexed the region, in a move never recognized by any country in the world.

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1947 UN Proposal for the Holy Basin including
Greater Bethlehem and Greater Jerusalem

While the western half of Jerusalem has been always been inside of the 1949 Armistice Lines / the Green Line, many countries still did not want to move their embassies to Jerusalem in the expectation that some solution would evolve to create a two state solution, which would also settle the question of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  After Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 and lost all of the land east of the Green Line (EGL) including Bethlehem and the eastern part of Jerusalem, a solution appeared even more distant.

Indeed, things did change.

  • In 1980, Israel extended the borders of Jerusalem and declared that the city, “complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
  • In 1988, Jordan gave up all claims to the EGL lands, and in 1994, it signed a peace agreement with Israel. The peace agreement acknowledged Jordan’s special role on the Jewish Temple Mount, but did not give Jordan any sovereignty in Jerusalem whatsoever.
  • In 1993 and then in 1995, the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs signed the Oslo I and Oslo II Accords, respectively.  As part of those agreements, the Palestinian Authority (PA) effectively agreed that Israel has sovereignty over the western part of Jerusalem. And as part of that agreement, Israel handed control to the PA of half of the Holy Basin, the city of Bethlehem.

Today, the only part of the Holy Basin that remains disputed is the eastern half of Jerusalem. (Granted there are terrorist groups like Hamas that refuse to acknowledge Israel’s rights over the western part of the Jerusalem, but for that matter, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist at all.) As of today, the only countries that do not recognize that the western part of Jerusalem is part of Israel are the same countries that do not believe in Israel’s right to exist.

As such, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is no longer controversial, any more than recognizing the Jewish State.  Congress voted to approve moving the embassy in October 1995, at the time of Oslo II. However, US presidents have withheld executing the move as the broader Israeli-Arab peace has still not been realized.

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US Consulate in Jerusalem is not an embassy
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem does nothing to alter the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs that want to make peace. Withholding the move simply rewards entities like Hamas that are at war with Israel.

Jews in Apartments in the Eastern Part of Jerusalem
(Over the Green Line, but not Crossing the Line)

After Jews reunified the city of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, they moved back into the eastern half of their holiest city. Not only did they return to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, but to other sections outside of the Old City walls, like Silwan, which was founded in the second half of the 19th century by Yemenite Jews.

Jews returning to the area was viewed as controversial by Arabs, who had banned Jews from the region while they controlled the area from 1949 to 1967.  However, international law clearly stated that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Mandate of Palestine, Article 15).

Yet US President Obama preferred to endorse the anti-Semitic agenda of the Palestinian Authority in condemning Jews for moving into apartments that they legally purchased in Silwan. In October 2014, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said The US condemns the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions.”

The scenario was hard to fathom. The first black president in US history condemned people for moving into a neighborhood because such action was viewed with hostility by the current residents. Would Obama have sided with white racists in the 1950s in Selma, GA that were against blacks moving into the neighborhood?

The apartments which Jews had purchased were in existing buildings in their holiest city. To characterize the actions as a “occupation of residential buildings” made the action sound like a military maneuver against Arabs, rather than a normalization of people coexisting.

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Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

While the apartments were over the invisible Green Line (which was clearly defined as not a permanent border in the 1949 Armistice Agreement), the Obama administration was completely wrong that such actions crossed the line of appropriate behavior.

 

Settlements on Private Palestinian Arab Land
(Over the Line and Crossing the Line)

On November 15, 2016, the Israeli Knesset voted to legalize Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria that were built on private Palestinian Arab land.

That was wrong.

International law gave Jews the right live anywhere in Palestine, as described in Article 6 of the Mandate of Palestine “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”  But private property is not state land.  The introduction of Article 6 states “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced…”  It is unjust and immoral to seize an individual’s private property unless there are extenuating circumstances.

This does not appear to be one of those cases.


There is a broad movement to delegitimize Jews who are living anywhere in the Holy Land. That is wrong and anti-Semitic. However, those disgusting calls to expel and ban Jews from living in homes they have every legal and moral right to inhabit, should not override the rights of Arabs to live on their private property as well.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

The Arguments over Jerusalem

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

“East Jerusalem” – the 0.5% Molehill

“Extremist” or “Courageous”

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

New York Times Lies about the Gentleness of Zionism

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Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

On September 20, 2016, US President Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. His passing comment on Palestinian Arab-Israel conflict underscored why peace did not advance, and his relationship with Israel worsened over his term.

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US President Barack Obama addressing the United Nations
September 20, 2016

Obama’s UN remarks covered a lot of activities during his eight years in office, including the Iranian nuclear deal; opening relations with Cuba; and tackling climate change. He spoke about the Arab-Israeli conflict very briefly, but the remark was telling:

“…surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.  We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.”

“Palestinian land.”  What exactly is Palestinian land, according to the parties themselves? According to the United States? According to Obama?

Oslo Agreements

Since 1993, successive US governments have stood behind the Oslo Accords signed by both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, and its successor document, Oslo II signed in 1995.  That document was the last agreement signed by the two parties to settle the “Question of Palestine.”

Oslo II clearly spelled out what was “Palestinian land” to be fully governed by the Palestinian Authority in regards to military and civil administration.  That area is known as “Area A” in EGL (east of the Green Line) and the Gaza Strip.  Israel handed over all of that land to the Palestinians over a decade ago.

“Area B” in EGL/west bank of the Jordan River, is a mixed territory, in which the Palestinian Authority has responsibilities for civil matters, and military matters are coordinated jointly.  That land is neither “Palestinian Authority” nor “Israeli” exclusively.

“Area C” makes up the majority of EGL, and is “Israeli Territory,” in which Israel administers all matters, including civil and security responsibilities.

egl
Map showing Areas A, B and C, east of the Green Line

The Israelis and Palestinians negotiated and agreed to the contours of these three blocks.  The parties also worked on a plan for additional land to be transferred from “Israeli Territory” to “Palestinian Authority Territory” over the years 1995 to 2000.  However, Yasser Arafat (fungus be upon him) rejected those negotiations at the last moment, and launched the Second Intifada in September 2000, as the interim Oslo II Accord was due to become permanent.  As such, no additional transfer from Israeli Territory to Palestinian Authority Territory has occurred.

As every US administration has pushed for the two parties to negotiate a two-state agreement on the basis of the Oslo Accords, there is NO BASIS for Obama to refer to Area C as “Palestinian Land.”  That land will continue to be Israeli land until such time as they agree to transfer parts of it to the PA.

As there is no Israeli “occupation” or “settlement” activity in the Israeli territory of Area C, Obama’s mischaracterization of Israeli actions in that land that they legally administer explains his comments and treatment of Israel since he took office in 2009.

Mandate of Palestine

It is also worth noting that international law, established in the 1920 San Remo agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine, specifically gave Jews the legal rights to live and settle throughout Judea and Samaria (the entity known as EGL/West Bank did not even exist when five Arab armies illegally attacked Israel (1948-9) and Jordan annexed the region in 1950.)

The Palestine Mandate stated:

secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion” (Article 1) Jews were to have full civil rights throughout Palestine, such as buying and building homes.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.” (Article 5) which Britain did anyway when it separated the east bank of the Jordan River to the Hashemite Kingdom, but which wasn’t a foreign power.

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” (Article 6) specifically stating that Jews were to settle throughout Palestine, including lands that Obama believes Jews “occupy”.

The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.” (Article 7) in which Jews do not only move and settle the land, but become citizens of the country if they live ANYWHERE in the land, including Judea and Samaria.

No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Article 15) clearly states that no person should be barred from living anywhere in the land just because they are Jewish – as if human rights law wasn’t enough.

International law – and human rights law – clearly allow Jews to live throughout EGL/the West Bank. The Oslo Accords signed between the parties specifically state that Israel controls all of Area C until such time as the parties negotiate the transfer of more lands.

The notion that Jews living in houses that they have every legal and moral right to live in, is somehow connected to Obama’s belief of a “permanent occupation of Palestinian land” is false, misleading and arguably anti-Semitic on every level.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Illogic of Land Swaps

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Names and Narrative: Palestinian Territories/ Israeli Territories

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

New York Times’ Tales of Israeli Messianic War-Mongering

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

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