INTRODUCTION: To understand the present issues with regards to Jewish inhabitants in outpost towns in Judea and Samaria*, in the so-called “disputed territories”, requires some knowledge of the modern history of region. This article provides that brief history.
*Judea and Samaria is know as "the West Bank" as it is on the west bank of the Jordan River.
The ancient and biblical history of Jews in the land is beyond the scope of this article — suffice to say that the very term “Jew” is derived from the region from which they originated, Judea.
In terms of timeline, this article begins towards the end of World War I (WWI) with British involvement in the geographic area known as Palestine.
[For information regarding where the term "Palestine" came from, please see Where is Ancient Palestine and Who are the Palestinians: http://www.morehasbara.com/2015/10/11/where-is-ancient-palestine-who-are-the-palestinians/]
Balfour Declaration and the Mandate System
Towards the end of WWI, in November 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration in which it announced its intention to facilitate the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. The was the beginning of concrete plans for a modern state of Israel.
In 1920, the Mandate system was instituted by the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations) in order to administer non-self-governing territories. A nation granted mandatory powers by the League of Nations was to consider the mandated territory a temporary trust and to see to the well-being and advancement of its population.
In 1922, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, the British were granted mandatory powers by the League of Nations to administer the geographic region of Palestine. The British Mandate for Palestine included provisions calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, facilitating Jewish immigration and encouraging Jewish settlement on the land — all of which built on the foundation of the Balfour Declaration.
However just a few months later, the League of Nations and Britain arrived at the decision that the provisions for setting up a Jewish national home would not apply to the area east of the Jordan River.
In 1923, under Article 25 of the British Mandate for Palestine the first Arab-Palestinian state of Transjordan (later renamed Jordan) was created by the British, which allocated 78% of the land that had been set aside to be part of the reconstituted homeland for the Jewish people under the Balfour Declaration to an Arab state — and the British excluded it from Jewish settlement.
This left only 22% of the land for a Jewish state.
Judea and Samaria was included in this small piece of land destined for the Jewish State.
After the partition, Transjordan remained part of the British Mandate for Palestine, and Britain continued to be responsible for administering the land on both sides of the Jordan River.
The Arabs that remained living on the small piece of land earmarked for the Jewish state after the creation of the Arab-Palestinian state of Transjordan, attacked and killed Jews living there in an effort to drive them out and claim all of British Mandate of Palestine as Arab land. The Hebron Massacres of 1929 and the 1936-39 Arab Revolt are the most notable of these attacks.
In 1936, the British appointed the Peel Commission to find a solution to the violence, the outcome of which was a recommendation to partition the land under the British Mandate for Palestine, between Arabs and Jews.
In 1939, WWII began and shortly afterwards, the British issued a White Paper restricting Jewish immigration to British Mandated Palestine — just as thousands of Jews wanted to flee the escalating Nazi violence in Europe. The British set a limit that a maximum of 75,000 immigration certificates would be authorized by the mandatory power to incoming Jews. The British hoped to appease the local Arab population by limiting the number of Jews coming into the region — and with the US having also limited immigration of Jews, those being hunted by the Nazis had no place of escape.
The role of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his 1941 meeting with Adolph Hitler certainly factors into the “big picture” as does al-Husseini’s role in the Middle East after WWII and leading up to the Six Day War, including President Abdel Nasser of Egypt’s intent to “destroy Israel”.
For more information, please see; The Mufti and the Fuhrer (http://www.morehasbara.com/2015/10/22/the-mufti-and-the-fuhrer-background-to-nazi-influence-in-the-middle-east/) and Nazi Influence in the Middle East (http://www.morehasbara.com/2015/10/24/nazi-influence-in-the-middle-east-haj-amin-al-husseini/) for more information]
Under the British Mandate for Palestine, the Jewish community that was already in the land, formed political, social and economic institutions that governed daily life and served as a infrastructure for the community. David Ben-Gurion served as its head.
In 1946, Britain unilaterally granted Transjordan independence — creating an independent Palestine-Arab state. This was the first “two-state solution“. In doing so, however, Britain failed to live up to its responsibility under the Mandate system to see the well-being and advancement of all of its population, Jews included.
Shortly afterwards, the British government, unable to manage Arab tensions and ongoing violent attacks against the Jews in the land, handed control over to the United Nations.
After much debate and discussion, in November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted on Resolution 181, which allocated half of the land that the British had set aside for the Jewish homeland under the Balfour Declaration for creation of a second Arab state — with the remaining half (mostly of which was in the barren Negev desert) for a the Jewish state.
This became known as the “Partition Plan“.
The Jews accepted the Partition Plan that would have given the Arabs all of Gaza and all of Judea and Samaria — in exchange for peace with a Jewish state, but the Arabs rejected it. As little as 1/4 of the original land allocated to a Jewish state was still considered too much.
Birth of the State of Israel
At 4:00 PM on May 14, 1948, just 8 hours before the British Mandate for Palestine officially terminated, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the creation of the State of Israel and became its first prime minister.
The very next day the armies of all of the neighboring Arab states of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Trans-Jordan (now Jordan) and Egypt attacked the newly-created State of Israel, in an attempt to destroy it. This became known as the “War of Independence“.
By March 1949, at the end of the 10-month long War of Independence, Gaza was occupied by Egypt, and Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan.
On April 24, 1950, Jordan annexed both East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria — areas it had seized from Israel by military force in 1948. The annexation of East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria was viewed as illegal by most of the international community, including all of the Arab states.
In May of 1967, Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt announced his plans “to destroy Israel”. Given his documented, past affiliation with the Nazis during WWII, this should come as no surprise [see Nazi Influence in the Middle East, link above].
Nasser placed Egypt’s troops on Israel’s border, and after signing a treaty with Syria, placed the Syrian military under an Egyptian general. The armies of Egypt and Syria were mobilized to attack Israel.
Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria but did not attack Jordan — asking instead for King Hussein of Jordan not to join the war. King Hussein did not have a good relationship with Egypt’s President Nasser (Nasser’s intelligence service had tried to assassinate the King multiple times), but when the rest of the Arab world lined up behind Nasser’s promise to destroy Israel, King Hussein of Jordan joined the attack.
Jordan’s decision to join this Arab allegiance to destroy Israel, despite a request from Israel that they do not, ended by Israel taking control of its own land that Jordan had occupied in 1948 and illegally annexed in 1950— specifically East Jerusalem and the land on the “west bank” of the Jordan River; Judea and Samaria.
It was after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel reclaimed land that Jordan had seized from Israel, that East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (since dubbed “the West Bank”) became so-called “disputed territory” in the eyes for the International community, and Israel came to be called ‘occupiers’ and ‘settlers’ of their own land.
It should be noted that at no point from 1948 until 1967 did the international community ever view Jordan as "occupiers" of Judea and Samaria. The double standard is striking.
Israel is accused by the international community of not adhering to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 with respect to Judea and Samaria — a statute which outlines the obligations of an “occupying power” in times of war. The Fourth Geneva Convention cannot be applied to Israel, as it cannot be an “occupying power” in its own land — land it reclaimed from illegal annexation by Jordan.
The only “occupying power” in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention in Judea and Samaria was Jordan, from the years 1948 – 1967.
Most obvious, Jewish inhabitants of outpost towns in Judea and Samaria cannot be “settlers” or “occupiers“. Judea and Samaria has always been part of Israel, both in ancient times (beyond the scope of this article) and in modern times. The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan which would have given them all of Gaza and all of Judea and Samaria, in exchange for peace and rejected a similar offer in 2000. It seems apparent that any amount of land for a Jewish state is too much.
The Jews of Judea and Samaria have always been willing to live in peace with its non-Jewish inhabitants.
All the Arab inhabitants have ever needed to do is;
(1) recognize Israel as a Jewish state
(2) promise to live in peace with it.
It seems apparent from modern history that the Arabs do not want a Jewish state of any size that they need to recognize.