Everything We Need To Know About Israeli "Settlements"

Leo Hanono

            One of the most argued topics in today's politics is  Israel's "Illegal" or "Illegitimate" occupation of Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank). In modern media the word "settlement" has been repeatedly used to try to deprecate the beautiful cities that have been established and have them viewed as an area of tents that can be uprooted and moved with little harm to its inhabitants. If only that were true. Israel's right to the land of Judea and Samaria goes far beyond its religious claim to it of thousands of years.

                Nearly every recent US administration, from Nixon to Obama, has called the Settlements of Judea and Samaria "Illegitimate". A word used to clearly show disapproval without deeming it counter to any sort of international law. Simply stated, because it isn't. According to the Israel Central Bureu of Statitstics, cities like Ramat Shlomo, Efrat, Modi'in Illit, Beitar Illit and countless others cities are home to 372,945 of Israel's citizens. Quite a lot of "camp-sights" one would say...

                The land of Judea and Samaria was occupied by Jordan under the 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181. It wasn't until Jordan and other neighboring countries attacked Israel in 1967, that Israel reclaimed the territory. Acquiring land as a result of war is legal . The term "West Bank" only came about as a result of Jordan''s imperialist effort to expand its borders at the cost of the newly established Jewish State's public image. Before 1967, this land was always referred to as Judea and Samaria. So what does this term mean? West Bank refers to the actual west bank of the Jordan River, though it is on the eastern border of Israel. If Jordan and other Arab countries were to use to Hebrew names of the cities, it would leave the public confused as to what their claim to the land is. As a result, many people including myself, refuse to call the area the "West Bank". This is one of the many public media stunts used to  try to deny the legitimate right to Israel's so-called occupation.

                So where does all the controversy arise? Israel has not officially annexed the land as part of the State. Doing so would grant citizenship to the 2.8 Million Palestinians living in the area, which would allow them to vote in elections which would lead to the end of Jewish leadership in Israel, and eventually, the demise of the state as a whole. However, Israel provides many utilities and financial support to the Palestinians of the area although they are the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

                In 1947, before the establishment of the state of Israel, there was a proposed Partition Plan which would have granted an official Palestinian state as well as the Jewish state of Israel. While the plan was accepted by the Jewish public, the Arab leaders and government rejected the plan. They would not agree to any sort of partition that granted the Jewish people, their own state. The plan eventually fell apart after outbreaks of violence broke out between Arabs and the native Jewish population. This was known as the the 1947-48 Civil War . Had the plan been accepted, Palestinians would have had control over the land they seek to control now and then some. Israel would then be negotiating any claims to land with a formal Palestinian State and government and not the likes of Hamas (An internationally recognized terror organization) and the PA. In 2011 Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, stated that the rejection of the partition plan was a mistake. This is the same man who calls for the killing of Israeli civilians today.

                I've spent numerous Shabbatot in Settlement homes. With people who live there knowing that every day people try to deny their rights to live there with very little grounds to support that. These are the people who corrected my terminology when i asked how it feels to live in the "West Bank". These are the people who live their every day lives honoring the soldiers who died defending our land, by living on the very grounds on which they fought. We must do our part and speak up for those who can not speak for themselves. We can not remain silent as people try to uproot us from our land and deny our existence. May Hashem grant us peace in Israel, and may we see Jerusalem rebuilt "Bimhera B'yamenu.