This recognition of Jewish national rights was ratified by the United States on June 30, 1922, when both Houses of Congress issued a joint resolution unanimously endorsing the Mandate and the goal of reestablishing the Jewish national home. The Congressional resolution stated in relevant part:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.
(Joint Congressional Resolution No. 360, the Lodge-Fish Resolution.)
Despite the Jews’ willingness to accept an area comprising less than their traditional homeland, the Arab world refused to accept any expression of Jewish sovereignty and scorned all proposals providing for a modern Jewish state. The U.N. Partition Plan of 1947 was rejected by every Arab-Muslim nation simply because it provided for Jewish autonomy. There was no consideration of Palestinian claims because Palestinian nationality had not yet been invented. In fact, the Arabs altogether rejected the term “Palestine” to describe lands under mandatory control because, as stated by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the Peel Commission in 1937:
“There is no such country [as Palestine]. ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” This was the prevailing Arab view at the time.
In light of the resounding Arab-Muslim rejection of the 1947 partition plan, it cannot be relied on as legal precedent to validate Palestinian claims to Judea and Samaria, or for that matter to Jerusalem or Gaza. Moreover, Israel’s right of ownership cannot be impugned simply because she came into modern possession of these lands during wartime. Under internationally recognized legal principles, the seizure of land from belligerent nations during wartime gives rise to legitimate and lawful ownership.
In weighing the lawfulness of land acquisitions during wartime, it is important to distinguish belligerent nations from their victims. The laws of war have long recognized that a country that seizes territory while defending itself from unprovoked aggression has legitimate claims of ownership to lands captured from the aggressor nation. There is no dispute that the Arab nations started the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 with the expressed goal of destroying Israel and committing genocide.
There is likewise no dispute that in attacking Israel these nations violated Article 2, Section 4 of the U.N. Charter, which provides: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” Consequently, Israel was acting within her legal rights when she captured Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, Golan, Sinai, and Gaza during the Six-Day War.
Just as relevant is the fact that Judea and Samaria were never part of a sovereign nation at any time after the Roman conquest, but rather constituted unincorporated territories that ultimately were occupied by Jordan in derogation of international law. Furthermore, substantial portions of both had been designated under the Mandate for inclusion in the Jewish state. Thus, when Israel took control of these lands in 1967, she was not only liberating them from the illegal occupation of a belligerent nation that had attacked her without provocation, but was in fact enforcing Jewish national rights recognized under the Mandate. Israel’s stewardship of Judea and Samaria is therefore legally defensible. Despite disingenuous attempts by the U.N. to render Israel’s actions unlawful by the passage of ridiculously unbalanced resolutions ex post facto, Israel has legitimate grounds under recognized legal principles to support the annexation of Judea and Samaria and the expansion of so-called settlements.
Security Council Resolution 242 does not Require Israel to Surrender Judea and Samaria
Although U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is often invoked to demand that Israel withdraw and accept borders based on the 1949 armistice lines, it actually says nothing of the kind. Resolution 242 specifically recognizes that Israel was attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, and Resolution 242 specifically recognizes that Israel was attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, and calls on the parties to that conflict to negotiate a “just and lasting peace” based on “secure and recognized borders.” Implicit in this language is the recognition that Israel’s capture of Judea and Samaria, and also Golan, Gaza and Sinai, was legal under international law. If it were not, the resolution simply would have demanded that Israel return all lands captured from her attackers. That is, there would be nothing to negotiate and no imperative for deviating from the 1949 armistice demarcations known as the “Green Line.” It is significant that Resolution 242 does not characterize the Green Line as permanent.
Perhaps even more significantly, nowhere does Resolution 242 require Israel to withdraw from “all” of “the” territories captured from Jordan, Egypt and Syria. As was explained by the late Eugene Rostow, a former U.S. Undersecretary of State who participated in the drafting of Resolution 242, the exclusion of the adjective “all” and the definite article “the” was intentional and indicative of the essential meaning.
Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
. . .
Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from ‘all’ the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines [‘Green Line’], but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries …
(“The Future of Palestine,” Rostow, Eugene V., Institute for National Strategic Studies, November 1993.)
Furthermore, the black letter of Resolution 242 applies only to incorporated “states,” not to amorphous groups of people known as “Palestinians,” who did not constitute a state involved in the conflict and who, thus, were not mentioned in the resolution. Although Resolution 242 does mention the issue of refugees, the term as used therein refers to individual Jews and Arabs who lost their homes during the war in 1948, not to a displaced Palestinian nationality that never existed. The Palestinians as a group had no national interest in the land; and to the extent that Jordan conveyed to the Palestinians its interest in Judea and Samaria as part of the Oslo process, it must be remembered that Jordan never possessed lawful title in the first place.
Demographic Reality Favors Annexation
Nearly 60% of Judea and Samaria rests within “Area C,” which has a Jewish population exceeding 300,000 and is currently under Israeli control. (The Oslo Accords established three administrative divisions, known as Areas A, B and C.) In contrast, the Arab population there is calculated only in the tens of thousands.
There are also more than 200,000 Jews living in greater Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line. Consequently, despite Arab-Muslim and left-wing propaganda warning of an Arab demographic time bomb, Jews actually comprise the majority in the territories under Israeli control and are not likely to be dispossessed. There is no doubt that these territories were historically Jewish, and that the Arab-Muslim population accrued largely through immigration during the late Nineteenth Century and the British Mandatory period.
There is a two-thirds Jewish majority when Israel and the territories she controls are combined; and based on increasing Jewish and declining Arab population trends, the Jewish majority is likely only to increase in the future. Moreover, the Jewish population in Israel proper is growing as well. As noted by demographer Bennett Zimmerman in a Jerusalem Post interview back in 2007: “for the first time since 1967, Israel has a stable 2-1 Jewish majority . . . [and] a two-thirds Jewish majority in Jerusalem.” The demographic threat appears therefore to be nothing more than politically motivated propaganda, particularly as it relies on conjecture, surmise and doubtful census statistics that overstate the Palestinian population by as much as half.
In addition, analysis of the Arab population shows that it is not composed of a uniform cultural group with common roots in the land. The population in Gaza, for example, is largely Bedouin in origin with no long-standing, sedentary history in the land. In contrast, the population in Judea and Samaria was always more village- or town-centered and is descended from immigrants from other parts of Arab world and the former Ottoman Empire. Thus, the Palestinians do not comprise a singular cultural stock, but rather reflect the heterogeneous make-up of the wider Arab-Muslim world, which is home to disparate and often clashing, religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities.
Indeed, the Arab world is a diverse hodgepodge containing various ethnic groups, such as Arabs, Copts, Kurds, Berbers, Turks, Maronites, Armenians, and Circassians, as well as assorted religious groups, including Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Zoroastrians. Though these groups are often at odds, they have been forced together into modern states that were arbitrarily created by the European mandatory powers. The boundaries of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, for example, were drawn to include ethnic and religious groups that have been enemies for generations and who continue to persecute and slaughter one another.
The European powers never understood the ethnic and religious complexities of Mideast society during the mandatory era, and today attempt to enforce a dysfunctional dynamic on Israel without regard for the ethnic, cultural and religious differences among those who now call themselves Palestinians.
Considering the irreconcilable intricacies of Mideast culture, and the suspect motivations of the progressive west in attempting to force the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel would be better served by annexing those territories that are integral to her security and continuity as a Jewish state. That is the only reality that will insure her survival.
Formal or Passive Annexation
Although the subject of annexation was made taboo by the political left in Israel and abroad, it has recently become an acceptable topic for discussion. This should not be surprising because Israel has already annexed some of the territory – i.e., Jerusalem and the Golan – that she liberated while defending herself in a war started by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Jerusalem was formally annexed shortly after the 1967 War, while the Golan was informally incorporated through the extension of Israeli civil law there in 1981.
The concept of incorporating land by either method, or a combination of the two, has been the subject of growing interest – and not only from the settler movement. Those favoring formal annexation believe it would manifest the reality that Israel already controls those territories that are necessary for her survival. Others advocate the formal integration of Judea and Samaria and the extension of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley. Still others advocate de facto annexation by the extension of Israeli civil law throughout Judea and Samaria and the institution of economic incentive programs to integrate the Israeli and territorial economies.
Issues to be determined would include whether to provide Arab inhabitants of the territories with the opportunity for citizenship, grant them permanent resident status, or compensate them for moving elsewhere. However, given that the original intent of San Remo and the Mandate was to restore to the Jews their ancestral homeland, and that an Arab state in Jordan was created on three-quarters of the territory under the Mandate, Israel arguably has no legal or ethical obligation to extend any citizenship benefits, particularly to those who reject her right to exist as a Jewish state.
Regardless of the methods to be employed, Israel certainly has valid historical and legal claims to Judea and Samaria. How she chooses to express those claims are matters to be determined by her and her alone. The international community has shown that it has no intention of supporting Israel’s historical rights or legal interests, but seeks instead to force the creation of a Palestinian state at the expense of those very rights and interests.
Therefore, Israel can rely only on herself to craft a solution that makes legal, historical and moral sense, and which assures her security and continuity as a democratic, Jewish state.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.