MYTH: Israel Occupies “Palestine”/the “West Bank”

Thousands of Jews gather at the Western Wall in eastern Jerusalem (the holist site for the Jewish people along with the Temple Mount) for the festival of Shavuot (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons, Daniel Majewski)

FACT: Under international law, an “occupation” is when one sovereign state takes over the territory of another sovereign state. Palestine was never a state; the land in question was never the sovereign territory of any country, thus it cannot be “occupied.”

Furthermore, Israel and the Jewish people have a legal and historical right to all of Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). Both the League of Nations and the United Nations formally recognized the Jews’ legal rights to all of Israel. No other group of people has been granted this right, seeing as Jordan illegally controlled part of the land from 1948 – 1967 and the Arabs inside and outside of Palestine rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1947, which would have given them a legal claim to part of the land.

The Jewish people also have a 4,000-year connection to the land of Israel and are the only group of people in the world that can make this claim. It is impossible to “occupy” land that legally and historically belongs to Israel and the Jewish people.

Moreover, the idea of Palestinian-Arab independence is very new. Throughout the 1930s, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and primary leader of the Palestinians, fought for the land to be annexed by Syria—seeing his people as Syrians, not Palestinians. In fact, the term “Palestinian” was used to describe Jews living in the area.

It was not until Israel’s establishment in 1948 that the Palestinian-Arab nationalism movement started to gain momentum. The creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964 – 16 years after the birth of Israel – was the first time an Arab political entity called itself “Palestinian.”

The term “West Bank” was created by the state of Jordan during its 19-year illegal occupation because the territory lies west of the Jordan River (hence, “West Bank”). Today, the term ironically refers to the area that many people consider more inherently “Palestinian,” yet it originates from the Jordanian attempt to annex the very same area and deny Palestinian-Arabs a state.