Annexation: Taking the Land That’s Ours

June 25, 2020

Illustration: View From Jerusalem by lovepetforever [Pixabay license - Public Domain] via pixabay.com

 

We're all keeping an eye on the calendar for the arrival of July 1st — the day our Prime Minister says he will bring a motion to declare sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, and oh, what an uproar there is against this. In fact, there has been such an uproar that the date will likely be pushed back. Why is there such an uproar about recognizing Israeli sovereignty over land that was previously owned by Jews and won back in a defensive war?

 

Our former Prime Minister, Golda Meir, once wrote: "One cannot and must not try to erase the past, simply because it does not fit the present." As in meteorology, the present (weather) always fits the past, even if we fail to forecast it.

 

But, what about the rest of the world that simply closes its eyes to the past? Or decides that the ‘present’ was frozen with the inception of the State of Israel in 1948?

 

For us, the past is pretty straightforward. After most of us were exiled from our land by the Romans in 70 C.E., the Jewish People spent the years dispersed among the nations. The land, renamed Palestine by the Roman occupiers, remained fairly desolate as it changed hands to the Islamic Caliphate in 637, was then conquered by the Christians in 1099, and sequentially conquered by the Khwarizmi Turks in 1244, the Ottomans in 1517, and the British in 1917. Through this time, there was a Jewish presence in the land, waxing and waning depending on the circumstances of who ruled the land.

 

And there, history ends — or so we're supposed to believe. Oh, there is a bit more, but apparently it meant very little when it came to the Jewish people. True, the British set aside a comparatively large parcel of land for Jewish settlement under the Balfour Declaration and were then given the mandate for Palestine by The League of Nations — transferred to the United Nations in 1946. According to the Covenant of the League of Nations, mandates included the provisional recognition of communities as individual nations until they could stand alone.

 

Evidently not wanting to waste any time, Britain quickly created an independent state east of the Jordan River in 1921 — except it was called Jordan and it wasn't for the Jewish people.

 

Eventually in 1947, despite the British, the U.N. Partition Plan provisionally divided the area west of the Jordan River, providing separate states for the local Arab and the local Jewish populations. The Plan was robustly rejected by the local Arab populations as well as the surrounding Arab countries, who sent their armies to snuff out the newly declared Jewish State of Israel — with British help.  

 

Having failed, the Arab nations tried again in 1967 and 1973 — today, Hizbullah, Hamas, and Iran are continuing the aggression. After the 1967 war — 53 years ago — Israel took possession of Jerusalem’s Old City as well as of Judea and Samaria, often referred to as the "West Bank," where close to 800,000 Israelis now live.

 

Except they shouldn't — because to the minds of the international community, Israelis living in these areas are doing so in contradiction to ‘International Law’. Besides being illegal, The New York Times (NYT) says that it would be bad policy, as it would encourage radicalism among the Palestinians and create a number of unstable "Bantustans."  

 

The NYT’s editors do however admit that the current U.S. Administration does not view the "settlements" as illegal and that there are legitimate arguments for accepting Jewish residency in the West Bank, contrary to the headline of their own editorial.

 

Moreover, they fail to mention — and the international community ignores — a 1983 letter to the NYT editorial board by Eugene Rostow, who was the former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, concerning U.N. Resolution 242, which noted that Israel should withdraw from territories captured in the 1967 war — mistranslated into the French as “the” territories. Hence, Israeli retention of some of the territory in the West Bank is consistent with U.N. Resolution 242, and acceptance of the Trump Plan would still leave at least 70% (or more) of the land mass for the creation of a Palestinian state.

 

This is not the first time the NYT has been inconsistent with regards to its editorial position. As recently as June 7, the NYT fired their opinion page editor for allowing the publication of a controversial piece by Senator Tom Cotton, concerning the use of force to stem U.S. rioting. The remaining NYT editors released a statement, saying among other things, that "... the published piece presents as facts assertions about the role of ‘cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa’; in fact, those allegations have not been substantiated and have been widely questioned.” 

 

This is a strong reason for firing the editor, right? Yet, how many times has the NYT published articles and opinion pieces about Israel that substitute assertions for facts, falsely declaring that Israel is an Apartheid state, that it illegally occupies the West Bank, and has no "right" to exist.  When it comes to the State of Israel, the rules that govern day to day life and judgement seem not to apply.

 

And, it’s not just the NYT but the EU  has also warned Israel about the possibility of it imposing sanctions. Germany wants to hold Israel ‘accountable’ for her policies. The king of Jordan warns of massive unrest and that his government will consider all options — if Israel ‘annexes’ (actually declares civil law) over any part of Judea and Samaria.

 

In refusing to accept any changes to the 1949 Armistice Line, the naysayers don’t simply say that Jews shouldn't have settled over it or shouldn't live there, but in their minds, it’s as if there are no Jewish towns and villages there. Even if they flew over our towns and looked down, they wouldn't see them and they wouldn’t see us as people — in the present, we simply don't exist.

 

If you don't believe me, here is U.N. envoy Nikolay Mladenov, speaking earlier this week —  not to Israelis but to Palestinians, who have been ruled by the same PA president (for the last 14 years due to delaying elections) or by Hamas in Gaza for an equal amount of time. “You’re not renting a house here," he said. "This is your home. You do not throw away the keys to something that you have been building for 25 years. You protect it and you invest in the future, a future that is built on shared values of democracy, accountability and prosperity for everyone."   

 

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who said the problem is that we shouldn't make unilateral decisions — that it all has to be done by negotiation. This seems to be the position of the German Foreign Minister. Yossi Klein Halevi writes that any annexation will "undermine the core commitment Israel has made for decades: our willingness to negotiate over disputed territory." He concludes that we (Israel) will be viewed as the rejectionists... apparently regardless of how many potential peace agreements the Palestinians have already rejected, including the Trump Plan.

 

This may be true, but these are positions contrary to common sense based on the means by which Israel came into possession of the land, its past ownership of the land and its historical rights, the recognition of its need for secure borders, and the length of time Israeli towns have existed over the old Armistice line.

 

If you miss my point, keep in mind that the following recent announcement approving the EU-Israel "Open Skies Agreement" which includes the following: "the application of this Agreement is understood to be without prejudice to the status of the territories that came under Israeli administration after June 1967," and that “the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967.”  

 

The Foreign Minister of Jordan said, "“If annexation occurs, it will kill the two-state solution and destroy all the foundations on which the peace process was based. It will deprive the residents of the region of their right to live in peace and stability.” And Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, clarified, “...there is a well-established norm against theft. This is one of the basic norms of human coexistence and a fundamental principle of international law. The acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible."

 

And so there you have it and don't you forget it: airplanes may fly over it, but it isn't part of the State of Israel; annexation (ANY!) will kill the two state solution; and Israelis, of all people, should know not to steal, even if the land discussed was internationally allocated to them by the League of Nations 100 years ago.

 

I think the explanation for this hypocrisy is simple. For the vast majority of the world's peoples — but especially for the European and Arab nations — it was bad enough that the State of Israel survived its War of Independence long enough to reach an Armistice agreement, which explicitly stated that the "Green Line" was not an international border. 

 

But  for the government to extend Jewish sovereignty over even more territory is simply an affront that cannot go unchallenged. Basically, the ingrained (and sometimes spoken) belief is that “we, the Europeans, allowed you to survive as a people in your own sliver of land until now — don't make us regret it even more than we already do.”

 

Still, there is room for optimism. If we go ahead and declare sovereignty, the same Luxembourg FM says that his country will recognize the State of Palestine and so will others. Why is this good? Because once they do, in the minds of the EU statesmen, the argument will become one over borders, and they might — just might — forget that they don't want us to exist at all. 

 

Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.

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בס"ד

...הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם! (ישעיה  מ:ט)

...Raise your voice with strength, herald of Jerusalem; raise it, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your G-d!"

(Isaiah 40:9)

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