B.D.S. Is Not A Social Mission Action

There is an emerging fight going on about Ben & Jerry’s sudden decision to stop selling ice cream in what it calls the “occupied Palestinian territories.” One side has called it anti-Semitic while the other defends the company and its parent, Unilever, from the charge stating that not deciding to sell a product in the OPT but continuing to do so in Israel cannot be called anti-Semitic as it differentiates between Israel and the West Bank/ Judea and Samaria.

While this sounds like a niche and irrelevant subject – about selling ice cream! – the discussion and decisions made on this topic are important for the broader review of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. As dissected and reviewed below, the Ben & Jerry’s board engaged in a boycott of the West Bank (and likely Israel) in concert with its far-left progressive followers but likely outside of its agreement with Unilever. Other companies will be taking note of the fallout.

The Ben & Jerry’s Board and Mission

B&J was acquired by Unilever in 2000 with a clause in the purchase agreement that allows the ice cream maker to retain its own independent board to preserve “Ben & Jerry’s social mission, brand integrity and product quality, by providing social mission-mindful insight and guidance to ensure we’re making the best ice cream possible in the best way possible.” The term “social mission” is a progressive catch-all that covers a wide range of activities. The three primary categories of values detailed on the company’s website are “human rights and dignity,” “social and economic justice” and “environmental protection.” The company pursues each of these items through a progressive lens which directs the company to use capitalism to the benefit of all, to protect the environment as best it can, and “support nonviolent ways to achieve peace and justice.”

These are clear and worthwhile missions for the company and within its rights to run a company as it sees fit. But any company working with a mission statement as its guide – and Ben & Jerry’s in particular, as this independent board takes actions BASED on the clause in its acquisition agreement that it can pursue its “social mission” – cannot do anything that it wants and just claim it as a “social mission.” Some important criteria to review:

  • is there really a social mission behind the action
  • is the action being taken an internal or external concern to the company
  • is the action itself legal and moral

While B&J was acquired with the proviso that it’s social mission is at the discretion of its independent board, these questions are critical for Unilever to review as to whether the board acted within its rights to boycott the OPT.

The Board Boycott and Intent

Before delving into each of these points, it is important to review what was and wasn’t said by B&J.

On July 19, 2021, B&J issued a statement which read:

We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners. 

We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.

Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”

The statement makes clear that its “values” make it difficult to see its product in the “OPT.” It differentiates the OPT from Israel and states in the last line that it will continue to sell ice cream in Israel.

But the B&J board never authorized the last sentence that it will remain in Israel. The board subsequently released a statement that “The statement released by Ben & Jerry’s regarding its operation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the OPT) does not reflect the position of the independent board, nor was it approved by the independent board.” The sentence was added solely by Unilever without B&J knowledge. The chair of the B&J board, Anuradha Mittal, was incensed by the statement that the ice cream will continue to be sold in Israel and said “I am saddened by the deceit of it. This is not about Israel; it is about the violation of the acquisition agreement that maintained the soul of the company. I can’t stop thinking that this is what happens when you have a board with all women and people of color who have been pushing to do the right thing.

Mittal specifically wanted no mention of Israel in its statement, just that it is boycotting the “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” presumably meaning the area east of the Green Line (EGL). She seemed poised to rally minorities to her defense describing her situation as pitting “women and people of color” against a conglomerate, deflecting the conversation from her values and actions.

B&J’s website showcases its board members and notes that Mittal’s primary social cause is “Land and Indigenous Rights.” Her resume led with a note that she is “founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, is an internationally renowned expert on development, human rights, and agriculture issues.

The Oakland Institute website covers a number of topics including “Palestine.” It refers to “research” published by Mittal on “Palestinian resistance & resilience 70 years after the Nakba & 100 years after the Balfour Declaration.” It includes a map regarding places of such “resistance” which includes areas in Israel.

The Oakland Institute website founded by the board chair of Ben and Jerry’s, refers to Palestine and occupation with locations inside of Israel.

Mittal’s references to the “Nakba” in 1948 and Balfour Declaration in 1917 (each well before there was a land called the “West Bank” in 1967) are part-and-parcel of her objection to the inclusion by Unilever of a statement regarding operating in Israel. Her position is seemingly that all of Israel and Israeli territory is “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” That is why she was alarmed by Israel’s “downgrading Arabic as an official language,” (nothing to do with the West Bank) and efforts by Congress “that would criminalize the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and Israeli settlements,” (note the inclusion of Israel.)

The B&J board’s statement was vague in verbiage as to whether OPT meant just the West Bank or the entire area known as Palestine in 1917, allowing mainstream progressive groups to jump to the defense of B&J on the premise that this action was just a non-violent “social mission” fighting against Israel’s “military occupation” of the West Bank, and cheered by the radical left and jihadi extremists who consider ALL of Israel to be under occupation.

What Constitutes a Social Mission

Is opposing the existence of a Jewish homeland a valid social mission?

That is the current mindset connecting jihadists, progressives and the alt-right today.

The anti-Zionists were birthed in the Arab and Muslim worlds in 1917 at the Balfour Declaration. The alt-right joined the cause in earnest during the reign of Nazi Germany which collaborated against “the shared… enemy [of world Jewry] and joint fight against it and creating the strong base uniting Germany and freedom-seeking Arabs around the world,” as Heinrich Himmler wrote to the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1943. The toxicity spread at the United Nations as more Arab and Muslim countries were admitted and effectively passed the “Zionism is Racism” resolution in 1975. While that resolution was rescinded in 1991 due to the efforts of the United States, it was reintroduced to the world at the Durban Conference in 2001, just before the jihadi attacks on America on 9/11. With the Zionism-is-Racism smear once again in vogue and the progressive wing of intersectionality pushing active anti-Racism initiatives, Anti-Zionism got incorporated under the same banner by necessity.

Is anti-Racism a social mission? Most likely. If one believes that “Zionism is Racism” it follows naturally that anti-Zionism is a social mission too.

Lost in the logic is recognizing the false premise of the “Zionism is Racism” mantra. The notion that Jews should be able to live throughout their holiest land where they have thousands of years of history is a matter of simple human rights. The dream of having independence and sovereignty in the land is no longer a “debatable political philosophy” (to quote Keith Ellison, a progressive politician) but a reality. Arguing against Zionism today is a call to dismantle the sole Jewish State, an anti-Semitic urge.

Anti-Semitism is not a social mission. At least, not for any decent human being or organization.

Internal / External Social Mission

The social mission of a company often helps it build its brand, empower employees and the community in which it operates and serves. The choices are therefore important.

Some experts suggest avoiding politics, niche causes and charisma-fueled social missions, while stressing issues like the environment, local community involvement and charity.

Ben & Jerry’s did not follow this advice and always made its political leanings known. It’s current focus areas include a host of progressive issues including: criminal justice reform; voting rights; racial justice; LGBT rights; climate justice; campaign finance reform; and refugee rights.

The company actively engages in some of these things as a matter of how it runs the company, for example making products in an environmentally-friendly way. In other situations, it tries to inform people about a topic – like criminal justice reform – with articles on its website and directing people how to register to vote.

The company is not shy about getting involved in controversial topics like “Defund the Police,” where it argues that Minneapolis disbanding its police department “is a great start.

Some topics, like abortion, do not make it onto its website, perhaps to avoid alienating about 40% of America. Still, it signs onto letters in advertisements that criticize abortion restrictions.

So with such history of activism outside the walls of the company’s business, it should not be a surprise that the company would wade into the Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict.

The question is, what is its position? Does it seek coexistence and peace? Does it advocate for a one state, two state or three state solution? Does it want to see the end of Israel as a Jewish State?

Ben & Jerry’s has operated in Israel since 1987, even before the First Intifada. It has distributed ice cream throughout Israel and EGL/West Bank over this time, even during the waves of Palestinian terrorism and wars over the past 20 years. This suggests that the company has (or at least had) no issue doing business in the Jewish State or its territories.

Anuradha Mittal joined the B&J board in 2008, the same year she founded the Oakland Institute. Her publications there covered many countries including Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Sierra Leone. Some publications were highly critical of the U.S. Bush Administration for using the War on Terror to cut aid to some poor countries. She wrote that “the U.S. threatened to sever humanitarian aid to the people of Palestine for exercising their right to vote.” Well, maybe not for the act of voting but for voting overwhelmingly for Hamas, a US designated terrorist organization which killed over a thousand people. She skipped that part but added “Alarmed by its [Hamas’s] victory, President Bush announced to his Cabinet that he will not support a Palestinian government made up of Hamas. The U.S. has put pressure on other international donors to follow similar action with the intention of bankrupting the future Hamas-led Palestinian Authority,” and added her concern that “nearly one-half of all Palestinians already live below the poverty line…. and cutting off aid would push the Palestinian territories into chaos.” She tacitly advocated for the US to support a government run by a Palestinian political-terrorist group.

That article which covered the broad War on Terror was an outlier and Mittal did not devote much time to the Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict at the Oakland Institute until 2017 when she became alarmed at the election of Donald Trump and his pro-Israel positions. It seems that despite B&J operating in Israel for 30 years, the idea of taking action against Israel really came to the front of her mind as U.S. policy began to favor Israel more explicitly.

Is the Action Legal or Moral

As discussed above, the promotion of peace and coexistence is a noble social mission. Actions to advance that mission could include donating to schools and organizations that facilitate dialogue and working together. Ben and Jerry’s donates to numerous causes and there is no shortage of groups (mostly in Israel) which seek to develop a harmonious future which would be happy beneficiaries of the company’s funds but the company specifically excludes donating to international organizations.

In contrast, there are actions that do not advance peace and coexistence such as supporting a ban on Jews living alongside Arabs in the West Bank and in eastern Jerusalem. The denial of Jewish history and connection to the land is not only anti-Semitic but harms the ability for the people to live together as it falsely portrays Jews as foreigners. Promoting a status quo which prevents Jews from praying at their holiest location is a simple denial of basic human rights.

The question comes back to what is the underlying “value” that the board is seeking to promote and is the subsequent course of action, legal and moral.

The board clearly feels that the United States needs to improve a lot in areas like police reform, refugee and LGBT rights, not to mention those of indigenous Americans. Yet B&J continues to manufacture and serve ice cream in these non-perfect lands. It runs its business as a profit-oriented company, selling its products in all 50 states, while articulating methods in which it believes the country can improve. It comments on its values and continues to sell ice cream.

The company has done the opposite in regards to Israel. There is no stated message anywhere on the B&J site about its objection to the state and how it is “inconsistent” with its values. It just published the July 19 statement above that it was going to stop conducting business in the “occupied Palestinian territories.” It did this, with the full knowledge – and perhaps hoping – that various states and countries which have laws banning the boycott of Israel and its territories would take action against the company to elevate the discussion globally.

If the company is against serving its products in disputed territories then it should say so and take similar actions in Cyprus/Turkey, Kashmir/India/Pakistan, Tibet/China, Western Sahara/Morocco and other locations as a new corporate policy and live with the ramifications of doing so. I cannot imagine that Unilever would allow B&J to take such actions of severely hurting the company’s business, which must fall outside the spirit of their agreement.

Israel did not annex the territory it took in a defensive war against Jordan (which itself, had illegally annexed the land in 1950), with the exception of the eastern half of Jerusalem which had been ethnically-cleansed of its Jews under Muslim Arab rule. Israel has withheld annexation in the hopes of arriving at a land-for-peace arrangement which has been consistently rejected by the Palestinians. To penalize Israel and/or the people living in the territory for holding out the hope of reaching an enduring peace goes beyond being illegal in many jurisdictions to being simply asinine.


Ben & Jerry’s board is headed by someone who seemingly thinks all of Israel is occupied Palestinian territory and believes the US should support the popular political-terrorist group Hamas. She is now taking aim at Israel and its territories in full knowledge that such action is considered illegal in many jurisdictions despite the company not taking similar actions in other disputed lands (which also do not incur financial repercussions). Further, while decrying a long list of problems in the United States, B&J continues to operate and sell its products here, but in contrast, it never says anything about the Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict and then suddenly announces its intention to boycott the region.

The shroud of a social mission does not provide a shield from the accusations of inconsistency, double-standards and poor business judgment, and a global progressive company joining the BDS movement does not miraculously christen anti-Zionism as a “value” for a either a person or a company.

The fallout from the B&J boycott is in the early days and may yet claim the chair of its board.


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“Settlements” Crossing the Line

The Legal Israeli Settlements

Abbas Declares All of Israel is a “Painful Settlement”

BDS is a Movement by Radical Islamists and Far-Left Progressives to Block Your Freedoms

The Three Camps of Ethnic Cleansing in the BDS Movement

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BBC’s Industrial Grade Blood Libel

A young Jewish yeshiva student was shot and killed while waiting at a bus stop in the Israeli territory of Area C, along with several friends who were shot and wounded. BBC News wouldn’t mention his name until a Palestinian Arab teenager was killed in the vicinity weeks later, amid a confrontation with Israeli police.

On June 11, 2021, BBC News published an article called “Palestinian teenager shot dead in clash at protest.” The name of the teenager was featured – three times – as were pictures of a Palestinian ambulance and mourning women. There were no pictures of the Jewish student, Yehuda Geutta, whose name was mentioned only once in the article.

The BBC storyline was that the Palestinian teenager was protesting “against the building of an illegal Jewish settlement near the city of Nablus.” The article would repeat several times that the settlement is “illegal” and is “occupied” by “settlers.” It would never mention that the land is in Area C, Israeli administered land as agreed to by the Palestinian Authority in the Oslo Accords.

So a more complete picture of the story is warranted for people who want an accurate picture and not one told by jaundiced mainstream media.


In early May 2021, several students from a yeshiva in Itamar in Area C were shot at while waiting at an established hitchhiking post at the nearby Tapauch Junction. Yehuda Guetta, 19, was hit in the head and died from his injuries on May 5. A Palestinian man, Muntasser Shalaby, 44, was arrested and charged with the shootings and murder.

Israeli medics and police inspect the scene of shooting attack in Tapuah Junction,
near the city of Ariel in Area C, on May 2, 2021. (Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

In response to the terrorist attack, several Jews moved to reestablish the outpost of Evyatar not far away. The outpost had been established in 2013 after a similar incident when a Palestinian Arab terrorist stabbed Evyatar Borovsky to death at the same intersection. The outpost was dismantled by Israel as it was built without approvals and permits.

The reestablished outpost quickly grew to around 50 people and Palestinian Arabs came frequently to protest their presence, often setting hundreds of tires on fire as a form of chemical arson to poison the new Jewish residents. One of the Palestinian Arabs participating in the assault saidwe come at night, we light up the mountain, to send them a message that they can’t have even an inch of this land.” During one such protest which included pelting soldiers with stones, a 15 year old Palestinian Arab named Mohammed Hamayel, was killed.

Palestinian Arabs brandishing torches protesting against Israeli Jews moving to Evyatar in Area C,
June 22, 2021 (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/ Reuters)

The new Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett just reached an agreement with the Nahala movement and the Samaria Regional Council that Evyatar would not be razed again, after it concluded that the land was not owned by anyone privately. The agreement stated that the civilians would evacuate the outpost which would be turned into an army post and yeshiva seminary.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian terrorist who killed Guetta, Muntasser Shalaby, is being put on trial. The Israeli courts have approved the demolition of Shalaby’s home, which set off a new round of Palestinian protests. Adding an interesting twist to the general arguments about the demolition of terrorists’ homes, is the fact that Shalaby is separated from his wife in the West Bank and normally resides with his three other wives in Tucson, Arizona. It is unclear whether Shalaby wanted to punish his estranged West Bank wife, knowing that her house would be razed after the Israeli police captured him for the terrorist attack.

None of those facts and background were found in the BBC article.

The BBC deliberately opted to craft a story to make the Israeli army out to be thugs who maliciously shoot young Palestinians for simply protesting illegal Israeli activities, an industrial-grade blood libel. It not only marks the BBC as not a credible source for information but one that incites hatred and violence against Jews and the Jewish State.


Related First One Through articles:

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Every Picture Tells a Story: Israel Is Scared of Female Iranian Shoppers

The Nerve of ‘Judaizing’ Neighborhoods

Related First One Through music video:

The 2011 Massacre of the Fogels in Itamar (music by Gorecki)

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The False Palestinian Refugee, Self-Determination Narrative

U.S. President Joe Biden decided that he would start to donate American taxpayer money to the specialized United Nations agency solely devoted to Palestinians, despite the troubled agency making few reforms. UNRWA has been constantly criticized for promoting anti-Semitism, has harbored weapons for terrorist groups and has long been a thorn in the Arab-Israeli peace process.

UNRWA actively perpetuates a false narrative that Palestinian Arabs are refugees from their homeland – even though Palestinians view all of pre-1948 Palestine as a single entity, meaning that they still live in their perceived homeland if they reside in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank.

Moreover, UNRWA encourages a storyline that all Palestinian Arabs are refugees. This is patently false. Many are stateless, but not refugees.

As seen in the charts above, according to UNRWA’s own numbers, 73% of Gazans are refugees (or more accurately, descendants of refugees) while another 8% are given services by UNRWA even though they are not refugees by any definition. Roughly one-in-five Gazans are simply residents, who have had family ties in the strip for generations who never had children with a descendant of a refugee (who would otherwise then get hereditary refugee status according to UNRWA).

The numbers east of the Green Line (EGL) / the “West Bank” are quite different, where over half of the Arabs are residents who have descendants from the region. Roughly 40% of Arab West Bankers registered with UNRWA as refugees to get free housing, education and healthcare, with another 9% “grantees” also getting services from the agency.

Another piece of commonly-stated fiction is that the Arabs have no self-determination and live under Israeli control. As Biden would say, that is “malarkey.”

Israel completely pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and gave the local Arabs there complete self-determination. With that freedom, Arabs voted the terrorist group Hamas to 58% of the Palestinian parliament in 2006 and watched Hamas take over the Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas has thus far launched three wars from the area in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014.

Regarding EGL, Israel handed control of Areas A and B to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo accords in the 1990’s. Only 14% of West Bank Arabs live in Area C under Israeli-control.

No matter. The world still berates Israel despite handing the PA land and being rewarded with wars, and condemns the Jewish State again for defending itself. No one pauses to contemplate why Israel would consider repeating the abuse at the hands of Palestinians, the UN and the media.

The Arab and Muslim-dominated United Nations manufactured a false narrative that Palestinian Arabs are refugees under Israeli-control which the anti-Israel media parrots in their quest to see the creation of a Palestinian State. In reality, it is those very lies that hinder the chance of reaching an enduring peace.


Related First One Through articles:

UNRWA Artificially Extends Its Mandate

New Head of UNRWA is Another Hamas-Sympathizer Politician

Palestinian Arabs De-Registering from UNRWA

UNRWA Anoints New Palestinian Wards

The Gross OVER-Staffing of UNRWA Schools

Enduring Peace versus Peace Now

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NY Times Alternative Facts: Area C

The New York Times has an aggressive re-education effort about the world. It distorts history and facts in its enterprise, particularly when it comes to Israel.

A March 21, 2021 article was designed to elicit empathy for Palestinian Arabs, which is the anti-Israel’s paper common practice and right. What is unfortunate is not simply the bias but distortion of truth.

March 21, 2021 New York Times article about Palestinian sheep hearders suffering under Israeli “occupation”

The paper’s background to the area commonly known as the “West Bank” was as follows:

The Israeli government’s explanation for the demolitions dates back to the 1990s Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. The agreement gave Israel administrative control over more than 60 percent of the West Bank, including most of the Jordan Valley, pending further negotiations which were meant to be completed within five years.

But over two decades of talks, the two sides have failed to agree on a deal, so Israel retains control of the lands – known as Area C – and has the right to demolish homes built there without planning permission.”

The 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords did not “give Israel administrative control” over area C; the Accords gave the Palestinian Authority (PA) control over Areas A and B. Israel has had administrative control of the West Bank for over fifty years. The Israelis gave the Palestinians the opportunity to control an area for the first time in history.

The Israelis were willing to give the PA more lands, including the vast majority of Area C in 2000. Not getting 100% of their stated desires, the Palestinians launched what is gently described as the “Second Intifada,” a murderous guerilla war waged for four years until Israel was able to halt the Palestinian killers by constructing a security barrier.

Israel handed additional lands to the Palestinians in 2005, as it withdrew from the Gaza Strip. That action led to wars from Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 followed by West Bank car ramming and stabbing attacks in 2015 and 2016. The Palestinian actions destroyed any notion of Israel ceding control of more land to an entity hell-bent on murder. This reality is a far cry from the Times narrative that “the two sides failed to agree on a deal.”

Lastly, the Times, which forever likes to use harsh terms like “occupation” and “illegal” for Israel, is loathe to point out Palestinian terrorism and illegal activities. Like “illegal aliens” in the United States being called “undocumented immigrants,” the Times sanitized the illegally built Arab structures by claiming they were simply completed “without planning permission.”

The New York Times is deliberately posting ahistorical information to sway its readership to take a positive view of Palestinian Arabs and a negative view of Israel. It is part of the left-wing mantra to engage globally by distancing America from allies like Israel and warming relationships with state sponsors of terrorism like Iran.


Related First One Through articles:

Names and Narrative: It is Called ‘Area C’

Importing Peaceful Ideas to the West Bank

The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State

American Leaders Always Planned on Israel Absorbing Much of the West Bank

The New York Times Excuses Palestinian “Localized Expressions of Impatience.” I Mean Rockets.

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

Extreme and Mainstream. Germany 1933; West Bank & Gaza Today

NY Times Alternative Facts on Palestinian Elections

NY Times Will Not Write About Arab Pogroms

The NY Times Will Not Write About the Preferred Violence of Palestinians

NY Times Disgraceful Journeys

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Importing Peaceful Ideas to the West Bank

While the Arab-Israeli Conflict has been going on for 100 years, there have been notable breakthroughs. Peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994, respectively, were watershed moment which were unfortunately followed by the Two Percent War/Second Intifada (2000-2004), 2006 Lebanon War and Gaza Wars of 2008, 2012 and 2014. But in the waning years of the Trump Administration in 2020, Israel forged normalization agreements with several Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Democrats offered a tepid reaction to the new Arab-Israel peace announcements because there was no similar announcement with the Palestinians. However, a review of how Palestinians viewed their Israeli neighbors over the past several years shows interesting movements precisely when such archaic negative thinking is rejected.

Gazans consistently view Israel as an enemy. Palestinian polls show Gazans in favor of armed attacks inside of Israel against Jewish civilians by a majority ranging from two-thirds to over three-quarters, a shocking figure which should alarm the world (imagine if 75% of Pakistanis were in favor of killing civilians in India).

Arabs from the West Bank have a more nuanced attitude towards Israel. Their opinions change depending on current events.

results from Palestinian polls since mid-2015

The chart above shows how West Bank Arabs changed their attitudes in regards to launching an armed “Intifada” (blue line) and supporting the killing of Jewish civilians inside of Israel (orange line).

  • The “Stabbing Intifada” which included running over soldiers and civilians in the summer/fall of 2015 was popular among West Bank Arabs and saw a peak support level for terrorism at 47%.
  • The Trump administration announcement of its intention to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem saw an uptick supporting terrorism that had been dropping since the 2015 peak.
  • The lowest support for terrorism occurred after Trump cut funding for UNRWA. UNRWA is much more popular in Gaza where roughly 85% of Gazans get service from the UN agency, compared to only roughly 35% in the West Bank.
  • Support for Hamas and attacks against Israel spiked shortly thereafter, when Israel botched a military operation in Gaza. Palestinian Arabs widely viewed Hamas as being the victor in the contest, and with that perceived win, support for terror rose.
  • Support for attacking Israelis among West Bank Arabs declined since then and reached a low with the signing of the Abraham Accords

Interestingly, the Trump years saw a sharp decline in attitudes among West Bank Arabs supporting “lone wolf” attacks against Israeli Jewish civilians. Those four years saw the lowest Israeli death toll from terrorism in modern Israeli history. Meanwhile, the West Bankers support for an armed “Intifada” held somewhat constant.

Ending UNRWA’s mandate and fostering peace with more Arab nations seemingly directly impacts West Bank Arabs abandoning terrorism. Conversely, perceived “wins” for HAMAS in battles with Israel breathes new life for armed conflict. The path towards peace is clear: international peace brings peace while international meddling brings terror.


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The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State

American Leaders Always Planned on Israel Absorbing Much of the West Bank

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

The EU’s Choice of Labels: “Made in West Bank” and “Anti-Semite”

Names and Narrative: The West Bank / Judea and Samaria

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The West Bank / Gaza Coronavirus Gap

Palestinians polled themselves in December 2020, as they do every quarter. The differences between the West Bank and Gaza continued to be consistent in several areas such as Gazans favoring Hamas much more than West Bank Arabs.

The poll noted that more Gazans think that Hamas is not corrupt (45.3%) versus 8.3% of Arabs in the West Bank; Gazans back Hamas for president (64.4%) versus only 37.9% of West Bank Arabs; and 53.9% of Gazans believing fair elections can be held while 58.2% of West Bank Arabs think otherwise. When it comes to the Palestinian Authority (PA), almost everyone agrees that it is hopelessly corrupt (88.9% and 84.5% for Gaza and West Bank Arabs, respectively).

The latest poll also asked if people wanted to get the coronavirus vaccine. In Gaza, 50.5% and 31.6% stated they certainly did and thought they wanted to be vaccinated, respectively (82.1% in favor of vaccination), while 49.8% and 19.4% of West Bank Arabs said they certainly and probably DID NOT want to be vaccinated, respectively (69.2% against vaccination).

That is a remarkable difference in attitudes towards vaccination between the two regions which begs the question as to why Gazans want the vaccine while West Bank Arabs do not.

Two possible reasons: population density and trust in institutions.

Gaza is an extremely compact area with over 13,000 people per square mile. That compares to 759 people per square mile in the West Bank (17 times less). As the coronavirus spreads from person-to-person, it stands to reason that Gazans are more nervous about the virus rapidly spreading.

As relevant, is the fact that Gazans trust the Hamas authorities to look out for them. Both the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza do not trust the PA in any matter. With Hamas ruling Gaza and in charge of coordinating a vaccination program with the United Nations, Gazans are much more comfortable getting the vaccine than West Bank Arabs led by the PA with zero credibility.

Meanwhile in the United States, several far-left members of Congress including Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) criticized Israel for not vaccinating Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank, even though the PA took on the responsibility for healthcare in the Oslo Accords and does so together with the United Nations. To suggest that Israel should re-enter Gaza, which it left in 2005, to vaccinate people who have gone to war with Israel three times since 2008 is both illogical and dangerous. To push Israel to vaccinate West Bank Arabs who don’t want the vaccine would be an assault. If West Bankers do not trust the Palestinian Authority, why would anyone think they would trust Israel?

The PA stated publicly that it was not asking Israel to secure vaccinations for them and are coordinating efforts with the World Health Organization. Members of the PA Health Ministry were insulted by the suggestion that they work with Israel adding “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.

The concern of the American “progressives” uniquely for Palestinians is puzzling as they are faring better than most. According to the current information from Worldometers:

CountryCases per 1MDeaths per 1M
Bulgaria32,3211,346
Belize29,947761
Ukraine28,491540
Albania29,282503
Jordan32,527426
Denmark34,660382
Palestinians31,327362
Turkey29,744314
UAE32,46392
countries with roughly 31,000 cases per 1M population

The Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank rank 62nd globally in frequency of cases and have far fewer deaths than other countries with a similar positive infection rate. Yet there has been no outcry from those same Democrats about the situation in Bulgaria or Belize who are dying at rates multiples higher than Arabs. It seems to suggest that the left-wing Americans are using the coronavirus dynamic merely as a cudgel against Israel.

Israeli Arab receiving coronavirus vaccination

There is a significant gap in the attitude of Gazans and West Bank Arabs regarding the coronavirus vaccine as well as among far-left politicians regarding their concern for Palestinian Arabs and Albanians who are fairing much worse in the pandemic. The gap is one of trust, with Palestinians trusting Hamas but not the PA, and “Progressives” singularly not trusting Israel among all the nations.


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The Palestinian Maps of 1995, 1997 and 2005

Palestinian Arabs often share a series of maps which show that “their land and country” are in a perpetual state of shrinking when the opposite is the truth.

Local Palestinian Arabs never had self-rule until 1995. The Ottomans ruled the region from 1517 to 1917 and then the British until 1948. Israel’s War of Independence of 1948-9 saw the area west of the Jordan River split into three distinct parts: a Jewish State of Israel which gave citizenship to all the local Arabs, an Egyptian-controlled Gaza and a Jordanian region which it illegally annexed in 1950, which later became known as the “West Bank.” Jordan lost control of that land after it attacked Israel in 1967 and Egypt lost Gaza (and the Sinai peninsula which Israel returned in 1980) at the same time. Neither the Egyptians nor Jordanians made any attempt to give local Palestinians autonomy during the duration of their control of lands from 1949 to 1967.

It was only with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1995 that local Palestinian Arabs got to rule themselves, as Israel handed over six cities and 450 villages to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The six major cities were Jericho, Jenin, Tulkarem, Nablus (Shechem), Qalqilya and Bethlehem.

Areas A and B in the West Bank handed by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Area A has full PA control

Israel continued to give the PA additional land to administer in 1997, giving almost the entirety of the city of Hebron, in an Area called H1.

Area H1 handed to the Palestinian Authority by Israel

Additional land was negotiated to be handed to the PA in September 2000 but the PA rejected the transfer of less than 100% of their demands and launched the Second Intifada, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians in numerous bombings.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew all Israelis from Gaza and left the region for the Palestinians to administer, subject to the understanding of the 2004 Bush letter which clearly articulated that Israel would NOT be expected to give into 100% of the PA’s land and refugee demands. This third installment was quickly met with yet additional rounds of Palestinian violence with a Hamas takeover of the area in 2007 and subsequent battles with Israel in 2008, 2012 and 2014.

No additional transfers of land from Israel to Palestinians has taken place in light of the Palestinians refusal to engage in a peace process after the 2014 process collapsed when the PA agreed to let the terrorist group Hamas into a power-sharing agreement.

Palestinians argue that their land has been shrinking for 100 years when the truth is that they continue to live throughout the land. The local Palestinian Arabs became self-governing for the first time when Israel gave them land in 1995 and subsequently handed them additional territory to administer in 1997 and 2005. If Palestinians come to the negotiating table it is possible for them to gain more land to govern, but their actions make that increasingly unlikely.


Related First One Through articles:

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

Recognition of Acquiring Disputed Land in a Defensive War

The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State

Abbas’s Harmful East Jerusalem Fantasy

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The 1967 War Created Both the “West Bank” and the Notion of a Palestinian State

The area east of the Armistice Lines struck between Israel and Jordan in 1949 is commonly referred to as the “West Bank.” It only got that moniker after Israel took the area in June 1967.

Timeline to Naming the “West Bank”

After Israel’s war of Independence in 1948-9, the United Nations did not have a specific name for that region.

When Jordan annexed the area on April 24, 1950, only the United Kingdom, Iraq and Pakistan recognized Jordan’s actions while the rest of the world rejected it. After that time, during the years 1950 through 1958, the United Nations used various terms for that area which were tied to either Jordan or the Jordan River:

  • “west bank of the river in Arab Palestine” (1951)
  • “the area west of the Jordan River” (1952)
  • “West Jordan” (1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958)
  • “the western bank” (1952)
  • “Western Jordan” (1951, 1952)
  • “that part of Jordan west of the Jordan River” (1956)
  • “west bank of the Jordan” (1957)

Then, in 1959, the United Nations seemed to embrace the Jordanian annexation, referring to the area simply as “Jordan,” no different than the eastern part of the kingdom. To the extent that the UN wanted to specifically call out that area it used wordy terms:

  • “Jordan side of the armistice demarcation line”
  • “frontier villagers in Jordan”

That all changed after Jordan attacked Israel in June 1967 and lost the region. By the end of that month, the United Nations quickly moved to shorthand (A/6713) by the third mention:

  • “the West Bank of the Jordan”
  • “West Bank area of the Jordan”
  • “West Bank”

This shortened version for that area east of the 1949 Armistice Line has stuck since that time.

The “West Bank”

Jordan

Israel

Seized the land in an offensive war against Israel in 1949 Took the land in a defensive war against Jordan in 1967
Annexed the land within a year Only annexed eastern Jerusalem thirteen years later
Only three countries recognized the annexation For fifty years, no country recognized the reunification of Jerusalem until the United States in December 2017
No country suggested boycotting Jordan for its illegal annexation Several countries have boycotted Israel since its re-establishment in 1948, even before taking eastern Jerusalem and the “West Bank”
Jordan expelled all Jews from the area, including the Old City of Jerusalem Israel did not expel anyone; many Palestinians who had taken Jordanian citizenship moved to Jordan
Jordan granted Arabs but not Jews citizenship within four years of annexation Israel immediately gave all people in Jerusalem – Arab and Jew alike – the option to apply for citizenship
The UN ultimately referred to the area as part of Jordan The UN to this day uses the term “East Jerusalem” even though such entity only existed between 1949 and 1967 as an artifice of war
The UN never called the region “West Bank” The UN only calls it the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem”
The UN never called it “occupied Palestinian territory” The UN only calls it “Occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem”

The United Nations applied a complete double standard to the “West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem when controlled by Jordan and then by Israel.

Timeline to Recommending Distinct Palestinian State

The United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of independent Jewish and Arab states in November 1947. Many countries recognized the enlarged frontiers of Israel’s border after it accumulated more land at the end of its war of independence of 1948-9.

United Nations proposed borders for the Jewish State in 1947 were much smaller than countries ultimately recognized two years later (inset map)

For eighteen years from 1949 to 1967, the United Nations considered Palestinian refugees living in the “West Bank” of Jordan as temporary residents who were waiting to move back to homes in Israel and take on Israeli citizenship. Together with their fellow Arab neighbors in the “West Bank” who were not refugees, they all took on Jordanian citizenship in 1954. For the United Nations, there was no plan for a Palestinian state until 1967; there were Palestinian Arab refugees who were to become Israelis and there were Jordanians (those who had lived in the “West Bank” before Israel’s war of independence.) The self-determination of the local Arabs was manifest in Jordan and the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization fought that narrative. The PLO’s founding charter in 1964 sought to create a new Arab State of Palestine in the ENTIRETY of the British Mandate, and to eradicate the Zionist state. It was not a two-state solution, but the same zero Jewish state solution which remained the consistent goal in the Arab world.

Only when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Israel in 1977 to forge peace was the notion of two states considered a reality anywhere in the Arab world. In his speech he called for:

  • “Ending the occupation of the Arab territories occupied in 1967. [Note: Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula in 1967 and wanted it back]
  • Achievement of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination, including their right to establish their own state.
  • The right of all states in the area to live in peace within their boundaries, their secure boundaries, which will be secured and guaranteed through procedures to be agreed upon, which will provide appropriate security to international boundaries in addition to appropriate international guarantees.”

The United Nations began to consider an independent Palestinian State in 1967 and the Arab world began to consider a Jewish State in 1977. The Jordanians gave up claim to the “West Bank” in 1988 and Palestinians slowly came to recognize Israel in the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995.

The move towards a “two-state solution” began to unravel with the Palestinian Second Intifada from September 2000 to February 2005, followed by the election of the terrorist group Hamas to the majority of the Palestinian parliament in 2006 and their subsequent takeover of Gaza in 2007. When the Palestinian Authority sought to enter a unity government with Hamas in 2014, the U.S.-brokered peace talks officially collapsed.

As we approach the 53rd anniversary of the 1967 war and consider Israel’s possible application of sovereignty to parts of Area C in the West Bank which are officially under full Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords signed by the Palestinians, it is worth noting that the world has already accepted Israel expanding its borders in a defensive war in 1949 and did not even consider the need for another Arab state in the region until 1967. There are many pathways to local Arab self-determination, and currently proposed initiatives do not terminate that aspiration.


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The Jewish Israeli Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, a black seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus for a white man. In those days, segregation, the law that kept races apart, ruled the land. While black people were allowed on public transportation, they had to cede their seats in the front of the bus to white people. On that day 64 years ago, Rosa Parks was defiant and would not cater to the indecent law. Riots ensued, but ultimately, in 1964, the United States passed the Civil Rights Act which desegregated society.

Eight years earlier, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition the remaining portion of the British Mandate of Palestine (the land east of the Jordan River had previously been handed to the Hashemite Kingdom at the sole discretion of the British), into distinct Jewish and Arab states. While the vote was designed to create peace by separating the two peoples living in the land by establishing two clear majority-societies based on religion and culture, it still sought to allow the minority populations to live, pray and work in the majority-ruled lands. To minimize religious tension, the holy cities of Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem were voted to be placed under an international regime.

But the Arabs rejected the partition vote as they considered all of the land to be Arab and Muslim, and launched a war to destroy the Jewish State. At war’s end, they evicted all of the Jews from the lands they conquered, including all of the holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. The Arabs forbade any Jew from living, praying or visiting their Jewish holy sites during their period of control from 1949 to 1967.

The Arabs would try to destroy Israel again, with the Jordanian Arabs (and Palestinian Arabs whom had been granted Jordanian citizenship) attacking Israel in 1967, losing their illegally seized lands. Under Jewish control, Israel opened up the holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron and enabled everyone – even Jews! – to visit, but they opted to maintain the ban on Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest locations, the Temple Mount, hoping to placate the broader Muslim and Arab worlds.

It did not.

The Arab and Muslim countries dug in deeper and turned the United Nations into a complete circus of antisemitic hate. While Palestinians began hijacking planes over the following decade, the other Arab nations advanced the political theory that Zionism was racism on November 10, 1975. After the United States finally led its repeal in December 1991, the Arab world advanced the same premise at the 2001 Durban Conference Against Racism, pushing the notion that not only should Jews be barred from living in parts of the holy land, but their refusal to acquiesce to antisemitic edicts was itself racist.

The September 2000 visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount coincided with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s destruction of the Oslo Accords and launch of the Second Intifada which killed thousands. Rabbi Yehuda Glick’s advocacy for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount in October 2014 also brought Palestinian terrorist to shoot him and launch a “stabbing intifada.” As the antisemitic Hamas Charter says, “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people.” The presence of Jews in Muslim lands and holy sites is considered appalling.

The United Nations joined the chorus penned by over 50 Arab and Muslim nations that Israeli Jews should not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, nor live east of the 1949 Armistice Lines in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the “West Bank,” the lands which the Jordanians had seized. In December 2016, the UN Security Council, with the tacit approval of the United States’ Obama administration, passed Resolution 2334 which said that banning (not even segregating!) Israeli Jews is legal, and that such people have no rights to live and work in their holy land.


Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jewish Rosa Parks who defy the notion that laws banning Jews from natural activities which others enjoy is in any way immoral or illegal. These Jews live in Judea and Samaria, in the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron and fight for open access and prayer at their holy sites on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem and throughout the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. Perhaps it is time to erect a monument for these “settlers” at the UN Plaza, much as Rosa Parks got a statue in Montgomery, AL.


Jerusalem on Sukkot, a full Kotel Plaza,
but no Jews on the Temple Mount


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Considering Carter’s 1978 Letter Claiming Settlements Are Illegal

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Considering Carter’s 1978 Letter Claiming Settlements Are Illegal

The November 18, 2019 announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Israeli “settlements” are not illegal reverses the conclusion of a lawyer advising President Jimmy Carter’s State Department in 1978. A First One Through (FOT) deconstruction of that opinion follows.

The letter was compiled by Herbet Hansell, a lawyer from Jones Day who provided occasional legal consulting services to the State Department. His letter of April 21, 1978 set the framework for Carter to label the settlements as “illegal,” an opinion not shared by any other U.S. president before or since.

“Dear Chairmen Fraser and Hamilton:

Secretary Vance has asked me to reply to your request for a statement of legal considerations underlying the United States view that the establishment of the Israeli civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel is inconsistent with international law. Accordingly, I am approving the following in response to that request:”

FOT COMMENT: It is important to note that the conclusion was already given to Hansell, that the “United States view that the establishment of the Israeli civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel is inconsistent with international law.” Any good lawyer trained at arguing either side of a case can find a rationale to give his employer the backup required. Hansell did his best in the letter.

“The Territories Involved

The Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights were ruled by the Ottoman Empire before World War I. Following World War I, Sinai was part of Egypt; the Gaza strip and the West Bank (as well as the area east of the Jordan) were part of the British Mandate for Palestine; and the Golan Heights were part of the French Mandate for Syria. Syria and Jordan later became independent. The
West Bank and Gaza continued under British Mandate until May 1948.”

FOT: All of these statements are true to some extent. The issue is that these parcels of land like the “West Bank” were non-entities at the end of World War I. The definition of what they were to become were artifices of war and armistice lines.

Further, there is no discussion of the purpose of the British Mandate of Palestine. There was no mention that the Mandate specifically stated in Article 4 that it “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land,” nor Article 15 that “No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” The Mandate not only considered Jews living in Gaza and what would become the “West Bank” as legal, it ENCOURAGED Jews living throughout the land.

In 1947, the United Nations recommended a plan of partition, never effectuated, that allocated some territory to a Jewish state and other territory (including the West Bank and Gaza) to an Arab state. On 14 May 1948, immediately prior to British termination of the Mandate, a provisional government of Israel proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish state in the areas allocated to it under the Jewish plan. The Arab League rejected partition and commenced hostilities. When the hostilities ceased, Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan occupied the West Bank. These territorial lines of demarcation were incorporated, with minor changes, in the armistice agreements concluded in 1949. The armistice agreements expressly denied political significance to the new lines, but they were de facto boundaries until June 1967.”

FOT: The summary of the 1947 partition plan leaves out the principle that Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem were designed to be a “corpus separatum” and internationally-administered. Its legal position is completely unique and distinct from the “West Bank,” a horrible omission by Hansell.

Another shortcoming is that Hansell’s observation that the UN “recommended a plan of partition, never effectuated,” never enters his calculus for the remainder of his letter. If the UN simply “recommended” the partition, it had no legal validity. Therefore, when Israel declared itself an independent state at the end of the British Mandate, its borders would be set as the FULL territory, including Gaza and what would become the “West Bank” under international law known as Uti possidetis juris.

The reason that partition was never effectuated, was that the Arabs rejected it completely, as they considered the entirety of the land to be Arab with no space for a Jewish state. This makes the issue one about a civil war over a single tract of land, not one between two autonomous countries. Therefore the only international laws which would pertain would be regarding rules of war and protecting civilians, not laws dealing with incursions into foreign territory.

Even if one were to look past these failures and try to see Hansell’s point of view, the historic background still falls flat. Jordan did not simply “occupy” the West Bank; it evicted all of the Jews in 1949, annexed the territory in 1950 and then granted all non-Jews citizenship in 1954. The Arabs ethnically cleansed Judea and Samaria and then renamed the area east of the 1949 Armistice Lines the “west bank of the Jordan River,” which, over time, was shortened to the commonly used term “West Bank.” Such racist and antisemitic behavior – coming just a few years after the Holocaust no less! – should never be embraced.

Additionally, Israel secured additional land in the 1948-9 war beyond what was proposed for the Jewish State in the 1947 Partition Plan. The world accepted this additional territory both because Israel acquired the land in a defensive battle and that the Armistice Lines were expressly viewed as subject to change by both parties (the Arabs assumed Israel would shrink and the Zionists believed Israel sovereignty would expand). The principle of acquiring more land in a defensive battle in 1967 similarly applies.

Lastly, not only did the Palestinians not declare an independent Arab state, there was no more land to even consider as independent, as Egypt assumed control of Gaza and Jordan annexed the West Bank. When Hansell considers the Israeli counter-party in 1978, is he thinking about the Jordanians? Palestinians (who had accepted Jordanian citizenship)?

“During the June 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Egypt regained some territory in Sinai during the October 1973 war and in subsequent disengagement agreements, but Israeli control of the other occupied territories was not affected, except for minor changes on the Golan Heights through a disengagement agreement with Syria.”

FOT: Completely absent from the narrative is the not-inconsequential point that Israel was the DEFENSIVE PARTY during the June 1967 war. While it is a matter of debate whether Israel’s preemptive attack on Syria and Egypt which had threatened to attack Israel and amassed troops on the border was defensive, there is no question that Jordan attacked Israel first. Just as Israel acquired additional land in a defensive battle in 1949 which was endorsed by the world, so too was Israel’s acquisition of the West Bank.

The Settlements
Some seventy-five Israeli settlements have been established in the above territories (excluding military camps on the West Bank into which small groups of civilians have recently moved). Israel established its first settlements in the occupied territories in 1967 as para-military ‘nahals’. A number of ‘nahals’ have
become civilian settlements as they have become economically viable.

“Israel began establishing civilian settlements in 1968. Civilian settlements are supported by the government, and also by non-governmental settlement movements affiliated in most cases with political parties. Most are reportedly built on public lands outside the boundaries of any municipality, but some are built on private or municipal lands expropriated for the purpose.”

FOT: Stating that settlements are “supported” by the Israeli government is misleading. Israel “supports” all civilians in the West Bank – including Arab towns – with various services ranging from protection to electricity and water. Hansell’s caveat that most settlements are “reportedly” built on public lands seems peculiar, as though he doubted the veracity of the report to add that “some are built on private or municipal lands.”

Legal Considerations
1. As noted above, the Israeli armed forces entered Gaza, the West Bank, Sinai and the Golan Heights in June 1967, in the course of an armed conflict. Those areas had not previously been part of Israel’s sovereign territory nor otherwise under its administration. By reason of such entry of its armed forces, Israel established control and began to exercise authority over these territories; and under international law, Israel became a belligerent occupant of these territories.”

FOT: Hansell now delves into the legal analysis of the settlements, but his omissions in the background now become toxic to the analysis.

  • There is no factual mention that Israel was without question the defensive party regarding Jordan in the West Bank, yet Hansell declares that Israel was the “belligerent” party.
  • Hansell noted that the 1949 Armistice Lines had no “political significance.” Therefore, the area one foot to the right or left of the the armistice lines was only theoretically Israel and Jordan. While the world recognized the sovereignty of Israel to the west of the line, the entirety of the UN (except Pakistan and the UK) did not acknowledge Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank. These Arabs also never declared an independent state as noted above.
  • In short, Israel entered into a disputed territory which was an integral part of the Palestine Mandate from which Jews were expelled in a defensive war 18 years earlier in a defensive maneuver.

Hansell continued:

“Territory coming under the control of a belligerent occupant does not thereby become its sovereign territory. International law confers upon the occupying State authority to undertake interim military administration over the territory and its inhabitants; that authority is not unlimited. The governing rules are designed to permit pursuit of its military needs by the occupying power, to protect the security of the occupying forces, to provide for orderly government, to protect the rights and interests of the inhabitants, and to reserve questions of territorial change and sovereignty to a later stage when the war is ended. See L. Oppenheim, 2 International Law 432-438 (7th ed., H. Lauterpacht ed., 1952); E. Feilchenfield, The International Economic Law of Belligerent Occupation 4-5, 11-12, 15-17, 87 (1942); M. McDougal & F. Feliciano, Law and Minimum World Public Order 734-46, 751-7 (1961); Regulations annexed to the 1907 Hague Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Articles 42-56, 1 Bevans 643; Department of the Army, The Law of Land Warfare, Chapter 6 (1956) (FM-27-10).

‘In positive terms, and broadly stated, the Occupant’s powers are (1) to continue orderly government, (2) to exercise control over and utilize the resources of the country so far as necessary for that purpose and to meet his own military needs. He may thus, under the latter head, apply its resources to his own military objects, claim services from the inhabitants, use, requisition, seize or destroy their property, within the limits of what is required for the army of occupation and the needs of the local population.”

FOT: Even while Hansell labels Israel as a “belligerent occupant” as if Israel aggressively attacked and entered a sovereign nation’s territory, he comments that such party has the authority to manage the security of the territory and “provide for orderly government” and oversee the inhabitants until “the war is ended.” Has the war ended? It certainly had not by 1978 when this letter was drafted. Jordan only made peace with Israel in 1994, and abandoned all claim to the West Bank in 1988, ten years after this opinion letter was drafted. As such, according to Hansell, Israel’s role in the West Bank is undisputed.

“But beyond the limits of quality, quantum and duration thus implied, the Occupant’s acts will not have legal effect, although they may in fact be unchallengeable until the territory is liberated. He is not entitled to treat the country as his own territory or its inhabitants as his own subjects…, and over a wide range of public property, he can confer rights only as against himself, and within his own limited period of de facto rule. J. Stone, Legal Controls of International Conflict, 697 (1959).”

FOT: Hansell himself comments that the “Occupant” is in charge of orderly government and security until it is “liberated.” Was the West Bank to be “liberated” to the Jordanians who illegally annexed the land? Liberated to the British who ran the Mandate until the Jordanians invaded? Liberated to the Ottoman Empire who ruled the land until the end of World War I? In 1978, the “Palestinians” of the West Bank were all Jordanians, citizens of the invading army which had ethnically cleansed the region of its Jews. It is arguable that the land was liberated from Jordan back to Israel. Yet the fact that Israel did not immediately annex the land in 1967 and put it under its full sovereignty also suggests that Israel viewed the land as disputed.

Hansell stated that the Occupant must not treat the “inhabitants as his own subjects.” A curiosity, as today people complain that Palestinian Arabs have no right to vote in Israeli elections, but that’s the desired result according to Hansell.

“On the basis of the available information, the civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel do not appear to be consistent with these limits on Israel’s authority as belligerent occupant in that they do not seem intended to be of limited duration or established to provide orderly government of the territories and, though some may serve incidental security purposes, they do not appear to be required to meet military needs during the occupation.”

FOT: Hansell was very unsure of himself, using couched language throughout his conclusion. He noted that the civilian settlements do not “appear” consistent with the limits as the “belligerent occupant.” Of course, that also doesn’t mean that it is illegal. It just means that his first line of consideration did not touch upon Israeli civilians. However, it did make clear that Israel has security responsibility for the entire land and that the inhabitants should not be considered citizens of the Occupant, therefore only subject to military rule with no rights to vote.

“2. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, 6 UST 3516, provides, in paragraph 6: ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies’.

Paragraph 6 appears to apply by its terms to any transfer by an occupying power of parts of its civilian population, whatever the objective and whether involuntary or voluntary. It seems clearly to reach such involvements of the occupying power as determining the location of the settlements, making land available and financing of settlements, as well as other kinds of assistance and participation in their creation. And the paragraph appears applicable whether or not harm is done by a particular transfer. The language and history of the provision lead to the conclusion that transfers of a belligerent occupant’s civilian population into occupied territory are broadly proscribed as beyond the scope of interim military administration.”

FOT: Hansell uses a very broad interpretation of the word “transfer,” well beyond its definition.

The law states that the government cannot “deport or transfer” its own citizens. The word “deport” means to expel, sort of the way Turkey has invaded Syria and is deporting thousands of its unwanted refugees into Syria (of course, there has been no UN Security Council resolution of Turkey’s slaughter of the Syrian Kurds and dumping unwanteds, but that’s another story). The deported people have no right to return to the original Occupant’s land. This is in contrast to “transfer” in which the civilians remain citizens of the Occupant’s country.

Because the transferred people maintain citizenship rights, Hansell seems to argue that it covers voluntary movement of civilians. However, that interpretation has nothing to do with the definition of “transfer.” Arguing that Israel is enticing its citizens to move to the West Bank because it plans the towns still does not mean the government is moving (“transferring”) anybody. It is simply providing an orderly government in the land which it is obligated to do as discussed above.

Further, Hansell’s concluding point is that the very essence of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention has to do with situations which are inherently short-term in nature. The Civil War between the Jews and Arabs for the holy land started in the 1920’s and began raging in full force in 1936 and is still going strong as evidenced by three wars, the Second Intifada and Stabbing Intifada, in just the last twenty years. The Article in question is not designed or equipped to deal with a civil war, let alone one which has been going on for decades.

“The view has been advanced that a transfer is prohibited under paragraph 6 only to the extent that it involves the displacement of the local population. Although one respected authority, Lauterpacht, evidently took this view, it is otherwise unsupported in the literature, in the rules of international law or in the language and negotiating history of the Convention, and it seems clearly not correct.
Displacement of protected persons is dealt with separately in the Convention and paragraph 6 would seem redundant if limited to cases of displacement. Another view of paragraph 6 is that it is directed against mass population transfers such as occurred in World War II for political, racial or colonization ends; but there is no apparent support or reason for limiting its application to such cases.

The Israeli civilian settlements thus appear to constitute a ‘transfer of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies’ within the scope of paragraph 6.”

FOT: Having stretched the definition of “transfer” well beyond its intent, Hansell argues against a straw man whether the impact or quantity of people has any impact on his definition of “transfer.” It’s a foolish point and does not buttress his argument for reinterpreting the definition of “transfer.”

“3. Under Art. 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, paragraph 6 of Article 49 would cease to be applicable to Israel in the territories occupied by it if and when it discontinues the exercise of governmental functions in those territories. The laws of belligerent occupation generally would continue to apply with respect to particular occupied territory until Israel leaves it or the war ends between Israel and its neighbours concerned with the particular territory. The war can end in many ways, including by express agreement or by de facto acceptance of the status quo by the belligerent.”

FOT: Hansell’s argument is that Israel remains bound to the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention as long as it remains in the territory or the war ends. While the parties were still fighting in 1978, Israel and Jordan subsequently signed a peace agreement in 1994 therefore implying an end to the applicability of this law. Some might note that Jordan gave up all claims to the West Bank in 1988 and effectively handed such claim to the Palestinians whom Jordan began to strip of Jordanian citizenship. But such arguments fall flat. Jordan had no rights to the West Bank in any form to relinquish them to the Palestinians; the West Bank was land being fought over in a civil war between the Zionists and the local Arabs.

4. It has been suggested that the principles of belligerent occupation, including Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention, may not apply in the West Bank and Gaza because Jordan and Egypt were not the respective legitimate sovereigns of these territories. However, those principles appear applicable whether or not Jordan and Egypt possessed legitimate sovereign rights in respect of those territories. Protecting the reversionary interest of an ousted sovereign is not their sole or essential purpose; the paramount purposes are protecting the civilian population of an occupied territory and reserving permanent territorial changes, if any, until settlement of the conflict. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel, Egypt and Jordan are parties, binds signatories with respect to their territories and the territories of other contracting parties, and “in all circumstances” (Article 1), and in ‘all cases’ of armed conflict among them (Article 2) and with respect to all persons who ‘in any manner whatsoever’ find themselves under the control of a party of which they are not nationals (Article 4).”

FOT: Hansell continued to point out that the relevant parties regarding the Geneva Convention are not the Palestinians (which makes sense as those living in the West Bank were all Jordanian in 1978) but Israel, Egypt and Jordan. As Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994, the Geneva Convention no longer applies so the Trump Administration can easily state that Israeli civilians living in the West Bank are not illegal.

“Conclusion
While Israel may undertake, in the occupied territories, actions necessary to meet its military needs and to provide for orderly government during the occupation, for reasons indicated above the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law.”

FOT: Hansell’s arguments were extremely weak and inherently flawed in 1978 and are not relevant today as Israel has peace agreements with both Egypt and Jordan. The Trump administration’s recognition of this fact is welcome and was overdue.

Jews and Arabs are coexisting in Israel and are building a thriving country together in the midst of mayhem all around them. While it is desirable for the stateless Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank to have citizenship in some country, such goal has no relevance on the legality of Israeli Jews living in the West Bank.

Jewish homes in Psagot, Judea and Samaria/ the West Bank
(photo: First.One.Through)


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