Op-Ed: Annexation Wins Hands Down over a Two-State Solution
It has become an article of political faith in the West that the creation of an independent Palestinian state will resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the two-state paradigm is based on fictional assumptions – that an ancient Palestinian people occupied the land for thousands of years until its displacement by Israel, that the conflict is driven by this displacement, and that Israel usurped ancestral Arab soil.
These false premises are used to obscure the true nature of the conflict, which is not really a dispute between Israelis and Palestinians over real estate, but rather is a war of annihilation being waged by the entire Arab-Muslim world. The establishment of an independent Palestine will not facilitate peace because the goal of this war is Israel’s demise.
A more rational resolution, and one that makes historical, legal and demographic sense, would be for Israel to annex some or all of Judea, Samaria and other areas that were part of the ancient Jewish commonwealth, which was the only sovereign nation ever to exist between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
The western media relegates any discussion of annexation to the lunatic fringe, but there is nothing radical about the concept. Indeed, the San Remo Conference of 1920 and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922 originally contemplated Jewish settlement throughout the traditional homeland, well before the term “Palestinian” entered common usage after 1967 as a dissimulative weapon in the propaganda war against the Jewish state.
After Transjordan was created on the bulk of Mandate lands under British control, the goal for the remainder was unrestricted Jewish habitation west of the Jordan River. This objective was recognized long before the dialogue was hijacked by the myth of Palestine, a nation that never existed, and by the canard that Judea and Samaria were historically Arab lands. No amount of subterfuge can change the fact that Palestinian nationalism is an artificial construct or that Judea and Samaria were never lawfully part of any sovereign Arab nation.
Ironically, commentators who condemn any discussion of annexation as right-wing extremism conveniently ignore the singular role of Arab-Muslim rejectionism in perpetuating the state of war with Israel. The liberal media portrays the Palestinian Authority as moderate despite a charter that plainly calls for Israel’s destruction and regardless of its reconciliation with Hamas, whose own charter screams for jihad and genocide.
The Obama administration and European Union remain deaf, dumb and blind to Palestinian prevarications and incitement, even as they chastise Israel for not offering ever more unilateral concessions. Arab provocations are ignored or rewarded, while Israel is labeled obstructionist, despite the unrequited compromises she has made in the naive search for peace with those who seek her destruction.
Examples of this inequitable treatment abound. Israel facilitated Palestinian autonomy in much of Judea and Samaria, permitted the PA to arm itself, and fueled a local economy that provides the highest standard of living in the Arab world, and yet she is accused of discrimination and economic suppression.
She has afforded her Arab citizens the same political rights, economic opportunities and freedom of movement as Israeli Jews (indeed, many live in West Jerusalem and serve in the Knesset), but stands accused of apartheid.
She compromised her own security by unilaterally disengaging from Gaza, and yet remains the target of rancorous attacks from a delusional left-wing that persists in portraying Gaza as occupied.
She takes great pains to prevent or minimize civilian casualties when engaging in defensive military actions, only to be wrongfully accused of targeting noncombatants.
If the Palestinians were truly a displaced, indigenous people, they presumably would have demanded statehood when the Arab powers who today claim only to support their cause actually controlled the territories to which they now claim historical title.
In contrast, the Palestinians are barely reprimanded as they reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and continue to engage in systematic incitement and terrorism against Jewish men, women and children. Moreover, Palestinian national claims are validated uncritically in the West – even though there was no Palestinian nation at the time of Israel’s independence and although there was no demand for Palestinian statehood when Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria from 1948 to 1967.
If the Palestinians were truly a displaced, indigenous people, they presumably would have demanded statehood when the Arab powers who today claim only to support their cause actually controlled the territories to which they now claim historical title.
If these inequities show anything at all, it is that those who push the two-state agenda have no regard for Israeli sovereignty or Jewish historical rights. Rather, they are preoccupied with creating yet another Arab-Muslim state and in promoting the false narrative underlying Palestinian national claims.
Absent any historical justification for a state of Palestine, such blind advocacy can only be explained by hatred for Israel and the growing tolerance of western progressive culture for political antisemitism and the devaluation of Jewish claims. Indeed, delegitimization of Israel has become de rigueur in liberal intellectual society, which provides safe harbor for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) and anti-Israel “lawfare” movements.
Given the disregard for Jewish sovereignty that lies at the heart of American and European efforts to impose a two-state solution, it is clear that Israel is at a crossroads: Either she can continue participating in a farcical “peace process” that is heavily weighted against her national interests, or she can proactively seize the day and craft a solution that makes sense historically, geographically and legally.
If the inclination of the Obama administration and EU to denigrate Israel, favor the Palestinians, and appease Arab-Muslim sensibilities is any indication, Israel must act on the latter impulse. That is, she needs to reclaim Judea and Samaria as ancestral Jewish lands and shake off all vestiges of the societal ambivalence that was engendered by the Israeli left when it cajoled the nation into the ill-fated Oslo process, which led only to increased terrorism and diplomatic isolation, two costly wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and the disenfranchisement of Israel’s political center.
The Annexation of Judea and Samaria Makes Historical Sense
Israel has valid historical claims to Judea and Samaria because they were part of the Second Jewish Commonwealth. Jews lived there from ancient times through successive conquests, the Ottoman occupation, and the British Mandatory period until 1948, when they were attacked and expelled by combined Arab-Muslim forces that invaded from east of the Jordan.
These lands were conquered by Transjordan (thereafter called Jordan) and dubbed the “West Bank,” in much the same way that ancient Judea was renamed “Palestine” by the Romans in order to obscure the Jews’ connection to their ancestral land by invoking the name of the ancient Philistines – a people who had long since been swallowed by the sands of time. Jordan’s conquest of these territories violated international law and was recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan, and its subsequent occupation could never be legitimized under established legal principles.
Despite Jordanian attempts to erase all memory of the Jews’ presence from Judea and Samaria, the ancient provenance of these lands is evidenced by the treasure-trove of Jewish holy sites they contain, including, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron, and Ramat Rachel near Bethlehem.
The pedigree of the land is also reflected by the numerous Arabic place names that are merely etymological renderings of the original Hebrew, which names evidence Jewish habitation dating from Biblical times. These towns include: Batir, which corresponds to Beitar, the seat of Bar Kochba’s rebellion against Rome from 132 to 135 CE; Beit-Hur, an Arabic corruption of the name Beit Horon, where the Maccabees defeated the Assyrian Greeks; Beitin, corresponding to the town of Beit El, where the Prophet Shmuel held court and the Ark of the Covenant was kept before the Temple was built; and Tequa, the site of ancient Tekoa, where the Prophet Amos was born and received his prophesy.
Clearly, the Judenrein status of Judea and Samaria after 1948 did not reflect historical reality, but rather the slanted surreality created when the combined Arab-Muslim armies attempted to annihilate Israel and exterminate her people following the ill-fated U.N. partition vote. Considering that only the Jews had a continuous presence dating back to antiquity, it was clearly the Arab population that usurped traditional Jewish lands, not the other way around.
The Arab-Muslim world, aided and abetted by the political left, rationalizes this usurpation of Jewish lands with propaganda grounded in taqiyya – religiously-mandated dissimulation – to promote the lie that there was no Jewish presence in these lands before 1967 and that all subsequent Jewish “settlements” are colonial enterprises.
Israel has Superior Legal Claims to Judea and Samaria
In addition to the Jews’ historical connection to Judea and Samaria, Israel’s claim to these lands is consistent with established legal precedent as recognized by the San Remo Convention of 1920. Regarding the lands liberated from Ottoman rule during the First World War, the San Remo Resolution resolved as follows:
The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory, to be selected by the said Powers.
The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
(San Remo Convention Resolution, Paragraph (b).)
Underlying the San Remo Resolution’s affirmation of the Balfour Declaration was the recognition that the Jews are defined by descent as well as religion, are indigenous to the Land of Israel, and are possessed of the inalienable right to political and national ascendancy in their homeland.
The San Remo program was ratified by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922, the preamble of which included the following passages:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and
Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country…
Consistent with this language, Article 2 of the Mandate clearly set forth the British obligation to effectuate these goals in accordance with the San Remo Resolution thus:
The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.
(League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, Article 2.)
Regarding the intended geographical scope of Jewish habitation and settlement, the Mandate specifically provided that:
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
(League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, Article 6.)
The Mandate did not call for a Jewish state with indefensible borders (as did President Obama when he attempted in his recent State Department Speech to pressure Israel to accept the 1949 armistice lines as permanent boundaries). Rather, by recognizing the Jewish right of “close settlement,” the Mandate contemplated a Jewish state that would incorporate some or all of Judea and Samaria – and for that matter Gaza. Indeed, the Mandate specifically recognized the Jews’ connection to their entire homeland, which historically included these territories.
Certainly, there was international consensus that the Jews were entitled by right to a national home in Israel. Jewish rights under the Palestine Mandate were not recognized in a vacuum, and Arab self-determination was addressed by the establishment of the French Mandate in Lebanon and Syria and the British Mandate in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Transjordan.
There was no separate mandate for the “Palestinians” because they had no independent national existence, as evidenced by the lack of any historical record of an ancient Palestinian presence in the land and by the absence of any cultural or societal institutions that are the hallmarks of nationhood.
Palestinian nationality is a knowing contrivance, as even Yasser Arafat acknowledged in his authorized biography, wherein he stated:
“The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.”
Or, in the words of the late Zahir Muhse’in, who said:
The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. For our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of Palestinian people, since Arab national interest demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.
In contrast, both San Remo and the Mandate for Palestine evidenced universal recognition of the Jews’ historical rights in their homeland.
This recognition of Jewish national rights was ratified by the United States on June 30, 1922, when both Houses of Congress issued a joint resolution unanimously endorsing the Mandate and the goal of reestablishing the Jewish national home. The Congressional resolution stated in relevant part:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.
(Joint Congressional Resolution No. 360, the Lodge-Fish Resolution.)
Despite the Jews’ willingness to accept an area comprising less than their traditional homeland, the Arab world refused to accept any expression of Jewish sovereignty and scorned all proposals providing for a modern Jewish state. The U.N. Partition Plan of 1947 was rejected by every Arab-Muslim nation simply because it provided for Jewish autonomy. There was no consideration of Palestinian claims because Palestinian nationality had not yet been invented. In fact, the Arabs altogether rejected the term “Palestine” to describe lands under mandatory control because, as stated by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the Peel Commission in 1937:
“There is no such country [as Palestine]. ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” This was the prevailing Arab view at the time.
In light of the resounding Arab-Muslim rejection of the 1947 partition plan, it cannot be relied on as legal precedent to validate Palestinian claims to Judea and Samaria, or for that matter to Jerusalem or Gaza. Moreover, Israel’s right of ownership cannot be impugned simply because she came into modern possession of these lands during wartime. Under internationally recognized legal principles, the seizure of land from belligerent nations during wartime gives rise to legitimate and lawful ownership.
In weighing the lawfulness of land acquisitions during wartime, it is important to distinguish belligerent nations from their victims. The laws of war have long recognized that a country that seizes territory while defending itself from unprovoked aggression has legitimate claims of ownership to lands captured from the aggressor nation. There is no dispute that the Arab nations started the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 with the expressed goal of destroying Israel and committing genocide.
There is likewise no dispute that in attacking Israel these nations violated Article 2, Section 4 of the U.N. Charter, which provides: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” Consequently, Israel was acting within her legal rights when she captured Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, Golan, Sinai, and Gaza during the Six-Day War.
Just as relevant is the fact that Judea and Samaria were never part of a sovereign nation at any time after the Roman conquest, but rather constituted unincorporated territories that ultimately were occupied by Jordan in derogation of international law. Furthermore, substantial portions of both had been designated under the Mandate for inclusion in the Jewish state. Thus, when Israel took control of these lands in 1967, she was not only liberating them from the illegal occupation of a belligerent nation that had attacked her without provocation, but was in fact enforcing Jewish national rights recognized under the Mandate. Israel’s stewardship of Judea and Samaria is therefore legally defensible. Despite disingenuous attempts by the U.N. to render Israel’s actions unlawful by the passage of ridiculously unbalanced resolutions ex post facto, Israel has legitimate grounds under recognized legal principles to support the annexation of Judea and Samaria and the expansion of so-called settlements.
Security Council Resolution 242 does not Require Israel to Surrender Judea and Samaria
Although U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is often invoked to demand that Israel withdraw and accept borders based on the 1949 armistice lines, it actually says nothing of the kind. Resolution 242 specifically recognizes that Israel was attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, and
Resolution 242 specifically recognizes that Israel was attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, and calls on the parties to that conflict to negotiate a “just and lasting peace” based on “secure and recognized borders.
calls on the parties to that conflict to negotiate a “just and lasting peace” based on “secure and recognized borders.” Implicit in this language is the recognition that Israel’s capture of Judea and Samaria, and also Golan, Gaza and Sinai, was legal under international law. If it were not, the resolution simply would have demanded that Israel return all lands captured from her attackers. That is, there would be nothing to negotiate and no imperative for deviating from the 1949 armistice demarcations known as the “Green Line.” It is significant that Resolution 242 does not characterize the Green Line as permanent.
Perhaps even more significantly, nowhere does Resolution 242 require Israel to withdraw from “all” of “the” territories captured from Jordan, Egypt and Syria. As was explained by the late Eugene Rostow, a former U.S. Undersecretary of State who participated in the drafting of Resolution 242, the exclusion of the adjective “all” and the definite article “the” was intentional and indicative of the essential meaning.
Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
. . .
Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from ‘all’ the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines [‘Green Line’], but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries …
(“The Future of Palestine,” Rostow, Eugene V., Institute for National Strategic Studies, November 1993.)
Furthermore, the black letter of Resolution 242 applies only to incorporated “states,” not to amorphous groups of people known as “Palestinians,” who did not constitute a state involved in the conflict and who, thus, were not mentioned in the resolution. Although Resolution 242 does mention the issue of refugees, the term as used therein refers to individual Jews and Arabs who lost their homes during the war in 1948, not to a displaced Palestinian nationality that never existed. The Palestinians as a group had no national interest in the land; and to the extent that Jordan conveyed to the Palestinians its interest in Judea and Samaria as part of the Oslo process, it must be remembered that Jordan never possessed lawful title in the first place.
Demographic Reality Favors Annexation
Nearly 60% of Judea and Samaria rests within “Area C,” which has a Jewish population exceeding 300,000 and is currently under Israeli control. (The Oslo Accords established three administrative divisions, known as Areas A, B and C.) In contrast, the Arab population there is calculated only in the tens of thousands.
There are also more than 200,000 Jews living in greater Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line. Consequently, despite Arab-Muslim and left-wing propaganda warning of an Arab demographic time bomb, Jews actually comprise the majority in the territories under Israeli control and are not likely to be dispossessed. There is no doubt that these territories were historically Jewish, and that the Arab-Muslim population accrued largely through immigration during the late Nineteenth Century and the British Mandatory period.
There is a two-thirds Jewish majority when Israel and the territories she controls are combined; and based on increasing Jewish and declining Arab population trends, the Jewish majority is likely only to increase in the future. Moreover, the Jewish population in Israel proper is growing as well. As noted by demographer Bennett Zimmerman in a Jerusalem Post interview back in 2007: “for the first time since 1967, Israel has a stable 2-1 Jewish majority . . . [and] a two-thirds Jewish majority in Jerusalem.” The demographic threat appears therefore to be nothing more than politically motivated propaganda, particularly as it relies on conjecture, surmise and doubtful census statistics that overstate the Palestinian population by as much as half.
In addition, analysis of the Arab population shows that it is not composed of a uniform cultural group with common roots in the land. The population in Gaza, for example, is largely Bedouin in origin with no long-standing, sedentary history in the land. In contrast, the population in Judea and Samaria was always more village- or town-centered and is descended from immigrants from other parts of Arab world and the former Ottoman Empire. Thus, the Palestinians do not comprise a singular cultural stock, but rather reflect the heterogeneous make-up of the wider Arab-Muslim world, which is home to disparate and often clashing, religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities.
Indeed, the Arab world is a diverse hodgepodge containing various ethnic groups, such as Arabs, Copts, Kurds, Berbers, Turks, Maronites, Armenians, and Circassians, as well as assorted religious groups, including Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Zoroastrians. Though these groups are often at odds, they have been forced together into modern states that were arbitrarily created by the European mandatory powers. The boundaries of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, for example, were drawn to include ethnic and religious groups that have been enemies for generations and who continue to persecute and slaughter one another.
The European powers never understood the ethnic and religious complexities of Mideast society during the mandatory era, and today attempt to enforce a dysfunctional dynamic on Israel without regard for the ethnic, cultural and religious differences among those who now call themselves Palestinians.
Considering the irreconcilable intricacies of Mideast culture, and the suspect motivations of the progressive west in attempting to force the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel would be better served by annexing those territories that are integral to her security and continuity as a Jewish state. That is the only reality that will insure her survival.
Formal or Passive Annexation
Although the subject of annexation was made taboo by the political left in Israel and abroad, it has recently become an acceptable topic for discussion. This should not be surprising because Israel has already annexed some of the territory – i.e., Jerusalem and the Golan – that she liberated while defending herself in a war started by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Jerusalem was formally annexed shortly after the 1967 War, while the Golan was informally incorporated through the extension of Israeli civil law there in 1981.
The concept of incorporating land by either method, or a combination of the two, has been the subject of growing interest – and not only from the settler movement. Those favoring formal annexation believe it would manifest the reality that Israel already controls those territories that are necessary for her survival. Others advocate the formal integration of Judea and Samaria and the extension of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley. Still others advocate de facto annexation by the extension of Israeli civil law throughout Judea and Samaria and the institution of economic incentive programs to integrate the Israeli and territorial economies.
Issues to be determined would include whether to provide Arab inhabitants of the territories with the opportunity for citizenship, grant them permanent resident status, or compensate them for moving elsewhere. However, given that the original intent of San Remo and the Mandate was to restore to the Jews their ancestral homeland, and that an Arab state in Jordan was created on three-quarters of the territory under the Mandate, Israel arguably has no legal or ethical obligation to extend any citizenship benefits, particularly to those who reject her right to exist as a Jewish state.
Regardless of the methods to be employed, Israel certainly has valid historical and legal claims to Judea and Samaria. How she chooses to express those claims are matters to be determined by her and her alone. The international community has shown that it has no intention of supporting Israel’s historical rights or legal interests, but seeks instead to force the creation of a Palestinian state at the expense of those very rights and interests.
Therefore, Israel can rely only on herself to craft a solution that makes legal, historical and moral sense, and which assures her security and continuity as a democratic, Jewish state.