News media in South Africa and elsewhere frequently portray Israel as an illegal occupier of Palestinian land. And, according to recent reports, the state of Israel has imminent plans to perpetrate further land grabs. What are the facts? Vivienne Myburgh national director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in South Africa addresses the land issue.
Let us start by clarifying that the only one who recently “annexed” the land concerned was Jordan during the War of Independence in 1948 when they joined five other Arab armies in attacking the newly-formed State of Israel with the intention of annihilating the Jewish state.
In 1967 Jordan again attacked Israel, along with other Arab nations. Israel won the war and ended up not only ejecting the invading Arab forces but also capturing and holding some 5 000 km2 over and above the areas allocated to it by the original United Nations partition plan of 1947. The captured territory included Israel’s ancient biblical homeland of Judea and Samaria (so-called “West Bank”) and East Jerusalem.
Judea and Samaria was part of the original homeland of the Jewish nation. It was where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived and where they are buried. It includes the areas where Joshua first built the tabernacle at Shiloh and where Israel established herself as a nation around 3 370 years ago. Jesus was a Judean. If He lived in the area today He would be considered an illegal alien by some and would not be welcome in His hometown. This hilly countryside is known as the biblical heartland of Israel.
But let us take a short step back into history to confirm whose land it is legally.
1917 — during World War l the British war cabinet, under foreign secretary Lord Balfour, agreed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, based on their ancient rights to the land. This become known as the Balfour Declaration.
1919 — after WWI England and France as mandatory powers carved up the former Ottoman Empire. which had collapsed a year earlier, into geographic spheres of influence.
1920 – The Supreme Council of the Allied powers met at San Remo, Italy and ratified Article 22, which confirmed the Balfour Declaration which stated that Britain was mandated to govern the area known as Palestine until a Jewish homeland could be reconstituted. The designated homeland area included most of modern Israel and Jordan and was known as the area of the British Mandate of Palestine.
Let’s be clear that there has never been a nation or state called Palestine. The Romans renamed the area of Judea, Palestina in 134 AD in an attempt to wipe off any connection of Israel/Judea to her Biblical heritage. This is the origin of the name Palestine of today.
The mandate’s terms were finalised and unanimously approved on July 24 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations, which comprised 51 countries.
It is important to note that these agreements are the last legally-binding agreements regarding the status of what is today commonly called “the West Bank and Gaza”.
1922 — Britain betrayed its promise to the Jews and cut off 77% of the mandate area earmarked for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah (brother of Faisal bin Hussein, who they had given Iraq to), creating the new country of Transjordan, or Jordan, as it was later named.
In reality, two thirds of the original territory promised to the Jews was given to the Arabs.
The League of Nations was dissolved in 1946 and the United Nations was formed. It is important to note that Article 80 of the UN Charter, stated that any previous rights agreed to by the League of Nations, had to be honoured by the new body. This would have included the rights of the Jews to the remaining area of Palestine, as promised.
1947 — Resolution 181: the General Assembly of the UN proposed that the remaining territory (since Jordan had been cut off in 1922) be divided between Jews and Arabs and that they each have a state of their own, with Jerusalem as an international city. The Jews agreed but the Arabs did not. They refused to recognise a Jewish State. The result was that this resolution never became a binding resolution!
The White Paper of 1939 whereby Britain blocked Jewish immigrants and refugees from WW2 from returning to their homeland was a brutal betrayal of the Jews and contravened key conditions of the British Mandate. There is a clear case to be made for the downward slide of the British Empire since this betrayal — an example of the curse that follows nations who curse the Jews/Israel.
To summarise: the legal rights given to the Jewish people over the mandate area called Palestine were legally agreed to and ratified and have never been nullified.
After the Jews accepted the partition plan of 1947 they went on to declare the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14 1948. The next day the War of Independence broke out, when Israel was attacked by five Arab armies. Jordan went on to annex areas of Judea and Samaria and eventually renamed the area “The West Bank”.
The irony is that while Jordan had sovereignty over the territory between 1948 and 1967 nobody called for a Palestinian state. The quality of life for the Arabs living in the area was poor under Jordanian rule but improved dramatically when Israel took control of the territories after ‘67. Life expectancy increased from an average of around 48.5 years (1948-1967) to 73 years (post ’67) for the average Palestinian.
Claims by anti-Israel proponents that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians are preposterous. Truth be told, many Palestinians would far rather live under Israeli authorities than brutal Palestinian Authority (PA)/Hamas.
There has never been a nation-state called Palestine and the narrative of a Palestinian people with a national identity was invented by the likes of Yassar Arafat during the 1960s when he headed up the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), supported by Russia. Arafat himself was not a “Palestinian” but an Egyptian who only moved to Jordan/ West Bank area during the early 60s.
The call for Israel to return to pre-1967 borders or The Green line is also referred to by Israeli sceptics as Auschwitz lines due to the fact that a return to those borders would place many Israelis’ lives in mortal danger. The PA has never accepted the existence of Israel and has never stopped promoting terrorism. The PA is a weak authority and if Israel relinquished control of the “West Bank”, as they did of Gaza in 2005, the PA would most certainly be taken over by radical forces like Hamas, within a short time. Israelis would then face rocket attacks as they do from Gaza. In fact, 75% of Israelis would have 15 seconds to get to a nearby bomb shelter, Israel would be only about 15 km wide in some areas and its borders would be largely indefensible. It would be totally irresponsible to even contemplate the creation of a Palestinian State within such close proximity and within what is clearly their biblical, historical and legal land.
Israel cannot “annex” Judea and Samaria because, as Former prime minister Menachem Begin once said: “You can annex foreign territory. You cannot annex your own country.”
In contrast, it is high time that Israel exercises sovereignty over all of her land and supports the brave Jewish families who are settling the land of Judea and Samaria in fulfilment of God’s calling for them to do so.
The Arab inhabitants of the area can choose to live once again in peace, side by side with their Jewish brothers. Israel has always offered them peace and prosperity. The choice is theirs.
South Africa and most nations of the world would never agree to what Israel is being asked to do if they were in Israel’s position. The hypocrisy of the nations towards Israel needs to stop and the truth needs to be told.
We know that the battle is not against the Jewish state but against the God of the Jews Himself!
Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot….
Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”
…Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.
— Excerpts from Psalm 83