By Dr. Asher Eder
Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
It is common parlance to refer to the so-called West Bank as "occupied territories." Mr. Moshe Zak uses these terms in his article, "The dangers of the Roman Statute" (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2000, p. A8). But both these terms--West Bank and occupied territories--were invented for purposes of Arab propaganda.
The term West Bank describes a certain geographic entity, a small strip of land west of the Jordan River, roughly the area known as Judea and Samaria. In contrast, the term occupied territory (or territories) is generally applied to the occupied part, or the whole of, another nation. Since 1967, Arab propaganda, and in its wake the media of the world, have applied it to the West Bank, without justification.
The Turkish (Ottoman) Empire collapsed in 1917, and its former territory became independent nations: Turkey proper, Egypt, Trans-Jordan, etc,--with one exception: the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In 1922 the League of Nations granted Great Britain a "Mandate" to pursue the "Balfour Declaration" of l917 and to administer that land accordingly. The British named it Palestine, taking this name from the Romans. (In the 2nd c. C.E., the Emperor Hadrian wished to erase the term "Land of Israel" (cf. Matt. 2:20) and renamed the country after Israel's arch-enemy, the Philistines.
Interestingly enough, "Palestine" was legally never part of the British Empire (although the British treated it as if it were, particularly Haifa). It remained administered territory, but legally ownerless.
When Arab hostilities against Jewish immigration reached new peaks after WWII, the United Nations came forward with their "Partition Plan" of Nov.29, 1947. In the ensuing civil war, England gave up its "Mandate" and withdrew its last soldiers on May 14, 1948. The following day, Israel declared its independence, and 24 hours later the armies of seven Arab nations attacked the newly born state.
These nations did not declare war, as that would have implied recognition of Israel's existence as a state. They saw--and still see--the whole land (of Palestine) as part of the Dar-es-Salam (the "Residence of Peace/Islam") which the PLO (=Palestine Liberation Organization) has vowed to restore to the rule of Islam. The concept of Dar-es-Salam, however, is an internal theological concept of Islam which may entail political consequences for its adherents, but there is no political entity, not even the Arab League, which would or could represent it in an international forum.*
Israel emerged from this war with cease fire lines with its neighbors determined by the armistice agreements of 1948/9 . Later, these lines became known as the "1967 borders," a term which outlines Israel's territory before the Six Day War).
In the War of 1948, the Emirate of Trans-Jordan conquered the greater portion of the area that the UNO's Partition Plan of 1947 had designated to become an Arab Palestinian state. Trans-Jordan then annexed this territory, including East Jerusalem, and re-named itself The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As it had previously existed for two years already on the East bank of the Jordan River, it coined the term West Bank to lend legitimacy to this land grab.
While the majority of the United Nations recognized the State of Israel officially and accepted her as a member state, no nation of the world, not even Arab nations, officially recognized Jordan's annexation of the "West Bank." The sole exceptions were England and Pakistan, and the legality of the recognition by the latter seems to have some serious question marks.
In other words, the so-called West Bank is still ownerless from the legal point of view. Israel's military operation in 1967 against Jordan was triggered by the latter's hostilities (shelling of West Jerusalem, etc), and as self-defense, was legal within the frame of international law. The new cease fire lines brought Judea and Samaria-- the so-called West Bank--under Israel's military and later civil administration.
If the West Bank was ever occupied illegally, it was done so by Trans-Jordan in 1948, as pointed out above.
We should not senselessly repeat Arab propaganda slogans. Under the prevailing circumstances, we should refer to Judea and Samaria, as administered territory.
Seen from this angle, the "Rome statute" poses no danger for Israel.
* In my article "Peace is possible between Ishmael and Israel according to the Koran" I showed that the term and idea , Dar-es-Salam, is not applicable to the Land of Israel, not even from the point of view of the Koran.
© Copyright 2001, Dr. Asher Eder
ROOT & BRANCH ASSOC, Jerusalem, Fax 02-6719012, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Dr. Eder, for allowing me to post your article.