Israel was a Jewish State for 1500 years, until the Roman Empire conquered it 2000 years ago and renamed it “Palestine”. Since then it was ruled by foreigners UNTIL the Jewish people re-established their sovereign rule in 1948, with the same language, laws, customs and religion as 2000 years before.
Jews lived in Palestine continuously since the Roman conquest, and thus have maintained a continuous presence in the region for 3500 years.
The Jews scattered around the globe for 2000 years since the Roman conquest, yearned and prayed to return. Jewish prayer, art, poetry and culture is infused with the love of Israel and the desire to return.
The West Bank
“The West Bank” refers to Judea and Samaria, west of the Jordan River and east of the armistice line (“Green Line”) that delineated the Jewish and Arab military forces at the end of the 1948-9 war.
Between 1949-1967, the West Bank was occupied by Jordan. It was the only time in history that Jews were prohibited from living in there. No separate Palestinian State ever existed there, and the “Palestine Liberation Organisation” renounced any claim to it until Israel occupied it in the 1967 war.
The highlands of Judea and Samaria strategically dominate the coastal plains of Israel and provide its water sources. The Jordan Valley is Israel’s only viable line of defence against attacks from the east.
What are “Settlements”?
“Settlements” refers to Jewish communities in the West Bank, which was occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967, then by Israel since 1967.
After 1967, such communities were re-established in strategic locations like the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem corridor, which had repeatedly seen heavy Arab-Jewish hostilities. Others constitute a revival of Jewish communities where they had flourished for hundreds or thousands of years, sometimes dating back to biblical times.
The Settlements today house about a half-million people, mainly in five blocs: all within a few kilometres of the Green Line, and representing about 7% of the area of the West Bank.
Jewish connection to the land runs long and deep, and the Jewish People have better title to the land than any other people.
In 1924, after World War 1, The League of Nations assigned administration of the region, including the West Bank, to Britain under its Mandate for Palestine, to foster the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. The Mandatory borders are permanent and irrevocable under international law.
The Green Line is an armistice line, not a recognised border. It has no legal force under international law, and doesn’t correspond to any prior administrative border. The parties to the Armistice Agreement formally acknowledged that any future borders are subject to negotiated agreement between them.
The Fourth Geneva Convention’s Article 49(6) has been grossly misinterpreted to be a prohibition against the occupying power’s citizens. In fact, it’s a set of injunctions to prevent forcible deportations and mass transfers of peoples as perpetrated by the Nazis. It doesn’t prevent civilians voluntarily moving to occupied territory. No Jewish Israelis in the West Bank were transferred there, and many didn’t even move there - they were born there!
Jordan’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank in 1949 was illegal. In 1967, Israel ended this illegal occupation in a war of self-defence, by taking control of the territory. Thus Israel has the strongest claim of sovereign title to the West Bank.
The Palestinian-Authority demand for a freeze on “settlement activity” as a pre-condition for peace negotiations is a violation of the Oslo Accords.
It is also a violation of human rights to demand ethnic cleansing of an area. Why should a Jew be forbidden to live somewhere simply because he is Jewish?
If a new Arab State is to be established in the region, why shouldn’t Jews live side by side with Muslims, Christians and others, in peace and security, just as they do in Israel?