by Yoram Ettinger
1. Judea and Samaria (Jewish roots) or West Bank (Arab roots)?
“Judea” (יהודה) is the origin of the term “Jew” (יהודי). Its Hebrew spelling combines one of God’s names: Jehova (יהוה) and one of God’s acronyms: ד'. Judea and Samaria are the cradle of Jewish history, religion, culture, holidays, ethos, language and yearnings. The official name of the area was "Judea and Samaria" from Biblical times until April 1950, when Jordan occupied/annexed the area, renaming it "West Bank," as distinguished from the east bank of the Jordan River. Judea and Samaria was the official name used by the 1922-1948 British Mandate of Palestine, as well as by the U.N.
2. Are Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria an obstacle to peace?
Jewish settlements were established in Judea and Samaria after the 1967 War. However, it was pre-1967 Arab terrorism which annihilated the Jewish communities of Hebron, Gush Etzion and Gaza and raged in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s — Arab terrorism aimed at preventing the establishment of an “infidel” Jewish state in the “abode of Islam.” Several Arab armies, and Palestinian terrorists, raided Israel in 1948 and persisted in anti-Jewish terrorism before the 1967 establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
3. Is the strategic goal of Mahmoud Abbas to uproot the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria?
Mahmoud Abbas is the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which supersedes and oversees the Palestinian Authority. The PLO was established in 1964, three years before the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. The 1964 Covenant of the PLO referred only to the pre-1967 area of Israel. The current PLO Covenant targets Judea, Samaria and the pre-1967 area of Israel for “liberation.”
Abbas is, also, the leader of Fatah, which was established in 1959, eight years before the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. The August 2009 Sixth Convention of Fatah called for the continued struggle “to eradicate the Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence." The strategic goal of Abbas is to uproot the Jewish state and not, merely, the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
4. Would the uprooting of Jewish settlements advance peaceful coexistence?
Peaceful coexistence on the one hand, and the uprooting of Jewish or Arab communities on the other, constitute an oxymoron. The 1.6 million Arabs, among 6 million Jews, within pre-1967 Israel do not constitute an obstacle to peace; nor do the 350,000 Jews, among 1.7 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The uprooting of Arab communities in pre-1967 Israel would be as immoral as would be the uprooting of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. "Judenrhein areas" contradict peaceful coexistence. In fact, the litmus test of Palestinian/Arab intent is the acceptance or rejection of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
5. Does Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria prejudge the outcome of negotiation?
Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria — which is dramatically larger than Jewish construction there — presents facts on the ground, just as Jewish construction does. Western tendency to single out Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, while ignoring Palestinian construction, prejudges the outcome of negotiations! Opposition to Arab presence in pre-1967 Israel should not be tolerated; so, too, should the opposition to a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. Israel’s government razes illegal Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. Israel should, also, raze the 1,100 illegal Arab homes built annually in Jerusalem and the thousands of illegal Arab homes in Judea and Samaria.
6. Are Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria legal?
Judge Stephen Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice, determined that Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria was rooted in self-defense and therefore did not constitute "occupation." Eugene Rostow, former dean of Yale Law School, former undersecretary of state and co-author of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which sets out the criteria for Israel-Arab peacemaking said U.N. Resolution 242 does not call for withdrawal to the pre-1967 boundaries; Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai amounts to a 90 percent withdrawal from post-1967 areas; the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria “cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors, and perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, ‘the Palestine article,’" which upholds the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine. This 1922 international legal instrument considered Judea and Samaria part of the Jewish national homeland: “Jews have the same right to settle [in Judea and Samaria] as they have to settle in Haifa.” The 1993 Oslo Accord does not prohibit the construction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
The campaign against Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misrepresentations. It is not a peace-enhancer; it is an appeasement-enhancer, fueling terrorism and undermining the pursuit of peace.
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