Yesterday, Israel was granted historical recognition of its 500-year effort to settle in Judea and Samaria. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer considers Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria as inconsistent with international law. The area in question is the territory known as the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan. It is referred to as the West Bank since the main part of the Hashemite Kingdom was situated on the east bank of the River Jordan, while the other, smaller part lay to the west. Those who are particularly “anti-Israel” refer to this territory as Palestine, despite the fact that such a state does not exist and has never existed.
We have already written many times that this issue concerns 6,000 square kilometers of land in addition to East Jerusalem. For hundreds of years, this land belonged to the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, it was captured by the British, and the League of Nations issued a legally binding mandate to establish a “national home for the Jewish people.” This plan didn’t just incorporate the current territory of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, but also the entirety of modern-day Jordan.
According to a U.N. resolution adopted on Nov. 29, 1947, the territory of Mandatory Palestine (not including the newly formed Jordan) should have been partitioned into Jewish and Arab states. However, the Arab countries rejected this resolution. Moreover, following the end of the War of Independence in 1948, which concluded with the victory of Israel and a ceasefire, the Arab side completely forgot about the creation of a Palestinian state. Jordan illegally occupied the territories of Judea and Samaria, naming them the “West Bank.”
Consequently, these territories were unlawfully occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Back then, nobody dreamed of forming a Palestinian state. In 1964, when the Palestine Liberation Organization came into being, its charter stated that it would not claim these lands, including East Jerusalem. Its aim was to eliminate the state of Israel and establish itself there. In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel. That is, Jordan was the first to open fire, unlike Egypt and Syria, against which Israel carried out preemptive strikes. As a result of the war, Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem were conquered by Israel. They have been under Israeli control for 52 years.
This is not an interpretation; this is a series of indisputable facts. In this case, where has the term “the Palestinian territories” come from? This means that somebody must believe that Israel is obliged to give these lands to the local Arabs, who refer to themselves as Palestinians, and establish a state in accordance with the 1947 resolution. Israel’s refusal to exchange its territory for the formation of a 23rd Arab state might be deemed unfair. However, what does the notion that they are Palestinian territories have to do with it if they once also belonged to Turkey, Britain and Jordan? And we all know to whom they belonged in the olden days and who has continued to live and settle there since the beginning of time.
The demographic map of these territories has changed over the last 52 years. Today around half a million Arabs and around 900,000 Israelis live there, if we include East Jerusalem. Therefore, the reality and slogans of the international community have become disjointed. Today no one in Israel will seriously discuss the forced deportation of around 1 million Israeli citizens.
Nevertheless, for half a century the majority of the world has considered these territories to be unlawfully occupied by Israel, and the Jewish settlements there illegal. The U.S. State Department, the Soviet government, the European Union and the entire Muslim world were, for years, united in this assessment of the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
But now, Pompeo has shattered the entire international system concerning Israel and the territories controlled by it. He has officially declared it a political conflict that demands a political solution. Pompeo has rejected the old concept regarding the illegality of Israel’s settlement program.
Pompeo’s statement did not express direct support for the idea of extending Israel’s full sovereignty to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). But he has changed the global balance surrounding the question of Israel’s presence in these territories.
As we know, a year ago, President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and a few months later, relocated the U.S. embassy to the city. After that, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Now, with this new declaration, he is writing himself and Pompeo into world history.
There is no doubt that Trump will be remembered for many hundreds of years for his initiatives in recognition of Israel’s sovereignty. The Land of the Bible is making it onto the front pages of newspapers and will be forever imprinted on the canvas of history. The whole world remembers Lord Arthur Balfour thanks to his declaration in support of creating an area that would become known as Israel. Just as the whole world remembers the construction of the Second Temple of Cyrus the Great, whose name is written in the Book of Isaiah. Trump, together with Pompeo, is aiming for this level of recognition.