Unconscionable Israeli Occupation of the West Bank
This article is based on the intellectual property of Yoram Ettinger, Tzvi Fleischer, Dore Gold, Yoram Ettinger and Akus [courtesy CIF Watch]
Sydney Morning Herald: “….Israel has continued to gobble up Palestinian land and the postage stamp that might be Palestine gets smaller and smaller.”
Oslo Principles: “The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East
peace process is to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority…leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338….Disputes which cannot be settled by negotiations may be resolved by a mechanism of conciliation to be agreed upon by the parties” (emphasis added).
Robert Barsocchini, July 2014: “In 1948, the people who wanted to form a Jewish state carried out a massive terror and ethnic cleansing campaign against the occupants of Palestine, expelling about half of them (750,000) from their land and into concentrated areas (Gaza and West Bank).”
In Part I we had a quick look at how Israel came to be in the “West Bank” in the first place. Contrary to mainstream media dogma, Israel’s entry into the West Bank in June 1967 was not part of a premeditated Israeli plan for territorial expansion. Quite the opposite: Israel’s own Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan, instructed the army not to fight the Jordanians, or move into the West Bank on any account.
This was despite the fact that Jordan entered into a mutual defence treaty with Egypt, and also permitted thousands of Iraqi soldiers to mass on its territory (Iraq and Israel do not share a border), because, as then Iraqi President Ar’ef stated: “our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the face of the map….”
Yet Moshe Dayan, up until 3 June, two days before hostilities commenced, instructed the Israeli Army Central Command to: “….not do anything to entangle Israel with the Jordanians…..”
That position only changed as a result of Jordan’s disregard for Israeli appeals to avoid hostilities, and by its intensive bombardment of Israeli civilian targets including West Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba, the Knesset and the Hadassah Hospital.
Again, the facts will never change, Arab attempts at cultural and historical revisionism notwithstanding.
The historical fact is that all this happened before Israel reacted militarily against Jordan, or moved at all into the West Bank.
Thus, unless one is hostile to the concept of a homeland and state for Jews, it is difficult to argue that Israel’s entry into the West Bank in 1967 was other than an act of self-defence. Its presence there originated as a result of Jordanian, not Israeli, aggression.
Israel moving into the “West Bank” in 1967 was about national survival, not national expansion in a war forced upon it by intolerant ethno-religious supremacists.
However, EU policy shapers and the intellectually lazy journalists who make a living off them have traditionally espoused the conventional wisdom and political correctness which have been shaped by Arab talk rather than Arab walk, by oversimplification and wishful thinking rather than Middle Eastern reality.
In truth, Israel remains a Jewish enclave under siege in its religious, cultural and spiritual homeland threatened by a vast population of hostile Muslim states who would see the demise of the state out of nothing more than religious intolerance and ethno-religious supremacist views.
And so, in keeping with the more easily understandable (but erroneous) European and American perception of “Palestinian” centrality to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, Clinton, Rabin and Arafat met and shook hands on the White House lawns in 1993.
I have quoted at the beginning of this article the remit of the 1993 Declaration of Principles which made up the Oslo Accords.
I will repeat them here: ““The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority…leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.”
Oslo II, in 1995, was a second attempt to realise what Europe and America perceived as the centrality of “Palestine” to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
However, between 1993 and 1995, Arafat, as PLO leader in Gaza and Ramallah gave free reign to Islamic Jihad and Hamas to kill 80 Israeli civilians at bus and railway stations and injure over 42 others going about their daily business inside Israel.
So, in order to implement a permanent solution, the Oslo II agreement of 1995, divided the West Bank into three Areas: A, under full Palestinian Authority control; B, under Palestinian civil control but joint Israeli-Palestinian security; and C, under full Israeli control
• Area A: includes all the areas from which Israeli military control has been transferred to the administration of the Palestinian Authority which now has full responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs of the seven major Palestinian population centres in the West Bank — Nablus, Kalkilya, Tulkarem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Hebron.
• Area B: includes 450 Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank. In these areas, as in Area A, the Palestinian Authority controls all civil authority However, it differs from Area A in that Israel maintains overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.
• Area C: comprised of the unpopulated areas of the West Bank, including areas of strategic importance to Israel and the settlements, where Israel retains full responsibility for security.
After signing peace agreements with the Palestinians, and a treaty with Jordan, Israel agreed to withdraw from most of the territory in the “West Bank” captured from Jordan in 1967.
A small area was returned to Jordan, and more than 40 percent was ceded to the Palestinian Authority. The agreement with the Palestinians also involved Israel’s withdrawal in 1994 from most of the Gaza Strip, which had been captured from Egypt in 1973. In 2005, Israeli unilaterally withdrew completely from there as well.
Today, there are 2.1 million mainly Muslim Arabs living in the west bank. Of that number, approximately 93.6% of west bank Arabs live in Areas A and B…..
That means that currently around 180,000 west bank Arabs live in Area C as per Oslo II. Yet it is precisely this land housing only 6.4% of ALL west bank Arabs that the Europe says is needed for a Palestinian state. Gaza is already lost to Abbas and is currently a take-over target of Daesh.
To put “Palestinian” intransigence another way and to highlight lazy journo hypocrisy, anti Israel EU politicians and journos would have you believe that Israel is strangling “palestinian” economy and livelihood because 94% of the Arab population in the West Bank Areas A & B can only generate GDP of $10 billion or less because Israel controls Area C which houses merely 6.7% of all west bank Arabs.
There is really no need for me to point out that Europe is supporting creeping aggrandisement of internationally sanctioned Israeli territory through the Arab money-supported strategy of lawfare.
So, is Israel an “occupier” or a country under constant siege because of ethno-religious supremacy of its neighbours?
For proof that it has been, and continues to be, under siege for 66 years, I submit that, on numerous occasions, to encourage peace with a hostile Muslim majority, Israel has withdrawn from many areas it could rightly keep under international law as a legally created entity under foreign attack.
As part of the 1974 disengagement process, Israel returned territories captured in the 1967 and 1973 wars to Syria (Limited Liability does indeed work…).
Under the terms of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula for the third time. It had already withdrawn from large parts of the desert area it captured in 1948. After capturing the entire Sinai in the 1956 Suez conflict, Israel relinquished the peninsula to Egypt a year later.
In 1992, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made an extremely contentious offer to withdraw from virtually all of the Golan heights in exchange for peace with Syria.
In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 95 percent of the west bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip in a final settlement. This was refused by the “Palestinians”.
In 2008, the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas rejected an offer by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to return 93% of the west bank plus a 5.5% land swap near Gaza in return for peace. This too was refused by the “Palestinians”.
In August 2005, all Israeli troops and civilians were evacuated unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and the territory was turned over to the control of the Palestinian Authority.
In addition, four communities in Northern Samaria that covered an area larger than the entire Gaza Strip were also evacuated as part of the disengagement plan. As a result, Israel has now withdrawn from approximately 94 percent of the territory it captured in 1967.
The sum total of all Israeli concessions to a hostile intransigent Arab leadership is that 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the west bank and 100 percent in Gaza came under the PA’s authority. Israel has transferred virtually all civilian authority in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.
Israel, however, has retained the power to control its own external and internal security and that of its citizens in the territories governed by the Palestinians’ because of ongoing lethal violence by PA residents on Israeli buses trains and streets inside Israel and a demonstrated PA unwillingness to end violence and incitement against Israel.
Does Israel “occupy” the west bank? Let us then look at how much of the West Bank is in fact covered by settlements?
At most 2%, but probably more like 1%.
The BBC published a series of maps as part of a fact sheet called “Israelis and Palestinian in depth”. Of the West Bank it says: “Since 1967, Israel has pursued a policy of building settlements on the West Bank. These cover about 2% of the area of the West Bank and are linked by Israeli-controlled roads…
B’tselem, an Israeli NGO highly critical of Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank, commissioned a detailed survey of the West Bank to determine the degree of settlement control and they conceded that their survey showed that the “built-up area” of settlements constituted a mere .99% of West Bank land.
An American CBS News story about the B’tselem report confirmed that, “…the actual buildings of the settlements cover just 1 percent of the West Bank’s land area…”
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s 2008 interview with the Arabic radio station As-Shams is on the record during the Olmert offer mentioned above as agreeing that the settlements were approximately 1.1% of the West Bank.
According to far left-leaning daily Haaretz, Erekat stated furthermore that despite Israel’s continual policy of “occupation and settlement building,” an aerial photograph provided by European sources shows that settlements have been built on approximately 1.1% of the West Bank…
Former Obama Administration Middle East mediator George Mitchell, generally regarded as having been pretty sympathetic to Palestinian demands vis a vis settlements noted that, “The Palestinians opposed [peace offers] on the grounds, in their words, that it was worse than useless. So they refused to enter into the negotiations until nine months of the ten had elapsed. Once they entered, they then said it was indispensable. What had been worse than useless a few months before then became indispensable and they said they would not remain in the talks unless that indispensable element were extended.”
So, was Mitchell implying that Palestinian obsession with halting construction in settlements seemed to be little more than a negotiating ploy, a tactical game? You be the judge.
For EU policy makers in thrall to Arab money and journalists who are too lazy to do the research, the emphasis the EU places on Area C is yet another diversion from the core Palestinian problems – excessive reliance on foreign aid that distorts their tiny economy, masks massive corruption and promotes a culture of entitlement, incitement and scapegoating inconsistent with the values necessary for social and economic progress.
The alleged importance and contribution of Area C could provide are grossly overstated as part of the coordinated campaign of creeping aggrandizement in line with the precepts of the Doctrine of Limited Liability.
The dismal economic and cultural record of what is now Area C goes back into 400 years Ottoman neglect, through the Jordanian occupation, and 40 plus years that included, until the terror activities became more than Israel could bear, close integration with their far wealthier Jewish neighbour.
The issue for the lazy and the biased is not the 6.7% of Area C that Israel wants to keep– it is what goes on in Areas A and B, and Gaza. Once that is done, “Palestinian” Arabs will achieve more than the arid hills of Area C could ever provide.
To conclude, then, Israel has withdrawn from more than 40 percent of the west bank since Oslo (1993). The Palestinians have conceded nothing since 1948.
Israel will not, however, return to the pre-1967 borders as demanded by the Palestinians and the Arab states.
This is not bloody mindedness.
Given the neighbourhood Israel finds itself in, this is simple survival and the calculations are blindingly simple.
No matter what any eventual negotiated border settlement finally looks like, Israel must have control over a unified airspace which cannot be divided.
The reasons for this Israeli requirement of the West Bank’s airspace are equally simple. Israel, together with the West Bank, is only 70 kilometres wide. Modern combat aircraft can cross that distance from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean in less than 4 minutes. The minimal time Israel needs to scramble Israeli fighters in order to intercept incoming enemy aircraft is about 3 minutes.
But if Israel no longer controlled the West Bank’s airspace, and all it had to defend Israel from the air along the Green Line, it would only have roughly 2 minutes or less to respond to an air threat. In short, in that narrow space, Israel could not be defended from air attack.
Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders, which the Arab states want to reimpose, would sorely tempt potential aggressors to launch attacks on the Jewish State—as they did routinely before 1967; the sole reason for Israeli presence in the west bank.
Additionally, Israel would lose the extensive system of early-warning radars it has set up in the hills of Judea and Samaria. Were a hostile neighbour (Hezbollah; Iran; ISIS, Muslim Brotherhood) then to seize control of these mountains, its army could split Israel in two: From there, it is only about 24 kilometres—without any major geographic obstacles—to the Mediterranean.
At their narrowest point, these 1967 lines are within 15 kilometres of the Israeli coast, 18 kilometres from Tel Aviv 16 from Be’er Sheva, 34 from Haifa and one foot from Jerusalem.
Arab policymakers are not preoccupied with the Palestinian issue.
It is only a lazy western myth of Palestinian centrality has led to an oversimplification of Middle East complexities, corrupting Western policy, undermining vital Western interests, exacerbating problems rather than advancing solutions, intensifying terrorism, and diverting attention away from major obstacles to peace, thus creating another major obstacle to peace.
Group think in the EU and amongst the media opinion makers may make for good copy and provide a focal point for old anti-Semitic mores.
Ten minutes of reading time, however, will show that the only way to end the dispute over the territories is for the “Palestinians” to negotiate a final settlement.
The Western-formulated myth of Palestinian centrality and the myth of the Israeli bogeyman, has led to a corrupting Western policy, undermining vital Western interests, exacerbating problems rather than advancing solutions, intensifying terrorism, and diverting attention away from major obstacles to peace, thus creating another major obstacle to peace.