Did Israel consider doing this and if so, would that have been in violation of international law?
There is no evidence they seriously considered expelling all Palestinians. The impracticality, illegality and negative publicity was self-evident, even if fringe elements entertained the fantasy. However, there's evidence that smaller scale displacements were carried out. It resulted in the 1967 exodus.
During the brief war of 1967, 350,000 Palestinians were displaced, representing one-quarter of the population of the two sectors. Israel denied causing this exodus, but according to a U.S. State Department account, Israeli aircraft "hit many civilian targets on the West Bank where there are absolutely no military emplacements," causing thousands to flee.
Kattan, Victor, ed. The Palestine question in international law. British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2008.
Israel denies this, obviously. However, post-war surveys of Palestinian refugees in Jordan revealed that a majority reported air strikes as the reason they fled.
[I]n survey, 57% of West Bank Arabs who took refuge in Jordan during 1967 war cited aerial bombardment as reason for departing.
Quigley, John. "Displaced Palestinians and a Right of Return." Harvard International Law Journal 39(1), 1998.
This is also corroborated in contemporary reports from Western journalists during the war.
There seems to be little doubt that the 60,000 inhabitants of the three big U.N. camps around Jericho were attacked by planes on the second day of the fighting. They are now the biggest single group among the refugees who have arrived.
D. A. Schmidt, "100,000 in Jordan Said to Have Fled Across River," New York Times, June 12, 1967.
Furthermore, while Israel accuses them of antisemitism, the 1971 report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of Occupied Territories states that:
On the basis of the testimony placed before it or obtained by it in the course of its investigations, the Special Committee had been led to conclude that the Government of Israel is deliberately carrying out policies aimed at… forcing those who are in their homes in the occupied territories to leave, either by direct means such as deportation or indirectly by attempts at undermining their morale or through the offer of special inducements, all with the ultimate object of annexing and settling the occupied territories. The Special Committee considers the acts of the Government of Israel in furtherance of these policies to be the most serious violation of human rights that has come to its attention. The evidence shows that this situation has deteriorated since the last mission of the Special Committee in 1970.
However, again, they did not consider expelling all of the Palestinians. For one thing, unlike 1948, there was no huge reserve of Jewish immigrants to settle all this land. For another, Israel believed that maintaining an Arabic population in the West Bank would form a "human bridge" to the other Arab nations.
One was the hope that the Arabs of the occupied West Bank, in particular, might provide a human bridge over which Israel could "normalise" relations with other Arab countries… The second reason why Israel did not expel Arabs form the territories occupied in 1967 was that, unlike 1948, there were no waves of Jewish immigrants waiting to take the Arabs' place.
Shazly, Saad. The Arab Military Option. American Mideast Research, 1986.
Moreover, it would be impossible to hide the scale of such an expulsion, and that would have destroyed Israeli reputation worldwide. As has been pointed out, expelling civilian populations from occupied regions is an egregious, black-and-white violation of international law, including treaties Israel is party to. Specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 49:
Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.
I'm not aware of any evidence that Israel considered mass expulsions from occupied territories in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War.
As I understand it, the civilian populations would have been protected under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In particular, Article 49 of the Convention states that:
"Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."
Israel ratified the Geneva Conventions (1949) on 6 July 1951.
Question: When Israel won the six day war did they consider expelling all Arabs from the annexed territory?
Did Israel consider doing this and if so, would that have been in violation of international law?
Yes the expulsion of all Arabs from the occupied territories was considered at a cabinet meeting by the Israeli Prime Minister. Although Israel didn't expel all Arabs, they did conduct mass expulsions of some Arabs on the village scale to make room for Israeli settlements.
Overall, not just from forced expulsions, it is estimated that 300,000 Arabs of the occupied territories were displaced in the Six Day War. That was 30% of the pre-war Arab population of those territories.
The Six Day War: Captured territories and Arab displaced populations
There was extensive displacement of populations in the captured territories: of about one million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, 300,000 (according to the United States Department of State) either fled, or were displaced from their homes, to Jordan, where they contributed to the growing unrest.
Yes the mass expulsion of civilians was a violation of international law at least according to the current President of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. (It takes 4 judges to make a UN Tribunal ruling and they have never convened nor heard such a case.)
It was discussed at the highest levels of Israels government. From Israeli classified papers released May of 2017, we know it was mentioned and discussed at a cabinet meeting.
- Yahoo News.
- GMA News.
On June 15, 1967, five days after the end of the war, ministers of the security cabinet discussed various options for the newly occupied territories, with then foreign minister Abba Eban describing continued Israeli rule as a potential "powder keg".
"We are sitting here with two populations, one of them endowed with all the civil rights and the other denied all rights," he was quoted as saying in extracts published by Israeli daily Haaretz.
"The world will side with a liberation movement of that one and a half million" under occupation, he said.
The possibility of expelling them was mentioned, with Levy Eshkol, the Israeli prime minister at the time, saying that "if it were up to us, we would send all the Arabs to Brazil."
His justice minister, Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, objected."They are inhabitants of this land, and today you are ruling over it. There is no reason to take Arabs who were born here out of here and transfer them to Iraq," he said.
Eshkol was unconvinced."We didn't sneak in here. We said that the Land of Israel is ours by right," he wrote.
While forced removal of the entire Arab population was not pursued, mass removal at the village level was, along with the demolition of Arab homes.
Forcible removal: List of villages depopulated during the Arab-Israeli conflict: (see Six Day War).
Captured by the Israeli Defense Forces during the Six-Day War on June 7, 1967 along with the neighbouring villages of Yalo and Bayt Nuba,villagers of Imwas were expelled and the village destroyed on the orders of Yitzhak Rabin.
During the 1967 war, all the inhabitants of Yalo were expelled by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the village was destroyed, and Yalo and the entirety of Latrun were annexed from Jordan by Israel.5 Subsequently, with donations from Canadian benefactors, the Jewish National Fund built a recreational space, Canada Park, which contains the former sites of Yalo and two other neighboring villages, Dayr Ayyub,7 and Imwas.
Depopulated by Israeli forces during the 1967 war, it was subsequently leveled by military engineers using controlled explosions, and the Israeli settlement of Mevo Horon was established on its lands in 1970.
The population in the 1967 census conducted by the Israeli authorities was 1,468. After the 1967 six day war Beit Awwa was completely destroyed.Moshe Dayan claimed the destruction was carried out under the orders of an officer who wished to expel the residents, Brigadier General Uzi Narkis claimed the credit for the action.
The West Bank was occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and in the aftermath of the conflict over 800 homes in al-Jiftlik were razed by the Israeli army and its 6,000 inhabitants were ordered to leave.
Yes Israels mass expulsions were a violation of international law at least according to the current President of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals Theodor Meron.
- Judge and current President of the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals;
- Judge and Past President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia;
- Former Judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda;
- Charles L. Denison Professor Emeritus and Judicial Fellow, New York University School of Law;
- Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, since 2014;
- past Co-Editor- in-Chief of the Journal;
- past Honorary President of the American Society of International Law.
In 1967 Theodor Meron was a Legal advisor on International Law to the state of Israel. At that time he advised the Prime minister of Israel in a Top Secret Memo, that his planned deportation of Arabs in order to make room for an Israeli settlement was a violation of international law, specifically the fourth Geneva Conventions.
In the late 1960s, Meron was legal counsel to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and wrote a secret 1967 memo for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who was considering creating an Israeli settlement at Kfar Etziodn. This was just after Israel's victory in the Six-Day War of June 1967. Meron's Memo concluded that creating new settlements in the Occupied Territories would be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol created the settlements anyway.
In a recent(2017) AJIL article, Theodor Meron elaborated on the above-mentioned legal advice that he had provided to the Israeli government in 1967-68.
Here is the AJIL(The American Society of International Law) Article written by Meron in 2017, revisiting his 1967 legal advice given to the Prime Minister of Israel:
- The West Bank and International Humanitarian Law on the Eve of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Six-Day War - 2017
Interesting Demographic Maps:
Really interesting documents and facts are brought here
More pictures and information here
Both sources describes people leaving on their own free will as a result of a war, some of it supported by the Israeli government funds and assistance , but according to the articles nothing about active deportation.
There was a plan that was partially executed to support and encourage people who wanted to leave, for example by helping in getting visas to other countries, offering money grants to people willing to leave and by trying to get out of the way of those leaving to neighboring countries.
The following official Israel documents from the first link gives the big picture: The document describes a budget assigned for encouraging immigration from the Gaza strip.
The document counts the number of people relocated during and after the war, none of them forcefully according to the articles above interpretation.
This is roughly translated as:
- Following the six days war left the strip:
A. to Egypt uncontrolled (in the storm of war) 12,000
back as part of family reunion -3500
total to Egypt 18,500
B. To Jordan (until the bridges were closed in August 68) 56,000
- On top of that moved to Judea and Samaria
A. moved as a base for working, family was not moved about 10,000
B. Relocation, with the help of the Gaza Rehabilitation Unit 1,469 (231 Families)
C. Out of this, in Fahame camp (18 Families) 120
This is a bit of speculation on my part, but I have seen it mentioned in military history books.
What you have to realize is how narrow the original Israel, minus the Occupied Territories is. And that these wars were taking place in a post WW2, armored blitzkrieg doctrinal context. A determined push could cut Israel in two.
Supposedly, the intent with the original settlements was to create buffer urban zones, even as small as farms, that would allow determined defenders to hold up rapid incursions, at least for a time. WW2 history is full of similar cases. Armed settlers + some military, to buy time for Israeli military might and to compensate for extreme lack of strategic depth. If so, that might, for understandable reasons, not have been made entirely clear to prospective settlers and the public as a whole.
Over time, both through ideology and incentives, the settlements have grown. But, if my speculation is correct, the original intent did not require taking over the territories as a whole. Just some of the key points.
Here are some of the easily found villages from @JMS's list. Notice that they mostly sit near major East-West roads (granted, it'd be better to show what roads were there in 67, but that's another story).
Legitimacy of Israel’s claim on land won in defensive wars
Thomas L. Friedman, a reporter for the New York Times, said in a recent article entitled, Iron Empires, Iron Fists, Iron Domes that, “Israelis have responded to the collapse of Arab iron fists around them — including the rise of militias with missiles in Lebanon and Gaza — with a third model. It is the wall Israel built around itself to seal off the West Bank coupled with its Iron Dome antimissile system.”
The problem that Friedman notes here is that as a result of foreign control, Arabs were forced to make “Iron Fists”, a rebellion to retake power. The problem with this idea is that Israel is a legitimate power in the land that it currently controls. The reason for this is simple: Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in entirely defensive wars, and thus should be considered a legitimate form of what is being called now occupation. Countries have captured and annexed territories in purely offensive wars and have kept the territory at no cost to the “occupying country.”
Now let us look at the history of modern day Israel and see how a country, which preaches and wants peace, is continually denied peace. First the date November 29 th , 1947 is important. This is the day when the United Nations, in its infancy, came up with the original offer of partitioning what was then the Palestine Mandate into two separate countries, one Jewish and one Arab. At this time, the Jews accepted the offer while the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate and the Arab countries of the world refused to even acknowledge the offer as valid, viewing even the creation of one small Jewish State as being an evil idea.
Then, in 1948, five Arab countries attacked the new state of Israel, which only wanted to live in peace with their Arab neighbors. Part of the Arab countries’ strategy was to tell many Palestinian Arabs to move out of their homes and join the war effort. Many Palestinian Arabs did join the Arab armies, however they could not return to their homes, seeing as the Arab armies lost this war. This is the true source of the Palestinian “refugee” problem. The Arab countries of old have basically created a modern day political pawn that they have been trying to use to cause Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth.
The next Israeli war we should note is the 1967 war known as the Six Day War. This war was started preemptively by Israel in order to ward off an Egyptian invasion. When Israel attacked Egypt, Syria responded and attacked Israel. It is of course important to note that at this point Jordan was controlling the old city in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Egypt controlled Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, and Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Jordan was originally reluctant to attack Israel, and Israel had promised that it would not try to capture any of Jordan’s holdings if Jordan did not enter the war. However, Jordan ended up joining the assault.
Israel won this defense-motivated war, in the end capturing the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. Then, something that had never occurred in the history of the victorious powers in a war: Israel, being the victor in the Six Day War, had to sue for peace with Egypt, who had been the major aggressor in this war. This is when the U.N. created Resolution 242, in which Israel would pull out of a captured territory and return it to the country of it’s origin if the country of origin cease acts of aggression and recognized Israel’s right to exist.
Then, in 2005, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. This decision caused many Israelis then living in the Gaza Strip to lose their homes, businesses, and most of their money, and many of them have yet to recover fully. Did the withdrawal cause a cease of violence originating from Gaza? No, we have actually seen an increase of violence since the withdrawal. Hamas has essentially taken almost complete control of Gaza and they have made it abundantly clear that they will not compromise with Israel.
Another irony here is that on November 29 th , 1947 the UN offered the original partition plan that the Israelis had accepted but the Palestinians had rejected. Now lets fast forward 65 years. On November 29 th , 2012 we see that the UN General assembly votes with a majority to grant the Palestinians non-member status. Why do the Palestinians get to change their mind and finally go the extra mile for independence 65 years later? Why didn’t they just accept the partition plan in 1947 that could of saved thousands of lives? It is my opinion that the only way we will be able to even try to accomplish peace is if the Palestinians admit that because of the conflict they started, innocent lives were lost.
48% of Israeli Jews Back ‘Expulsion’ or ‘Transfer’ of Arabs, New Pew Survey Says
Almost half of all Israeli Jews are in favor of transferring or expelling the state’s Arab population, a major U.S. survey of Israeli public opinion has found.
That staggering statistic comes from the Pew Research Center’s report on Israel’s religiously divided society, released on March 8.
The Israelis polled were not responding to an Israeli government policy proposal, but rather the broad concept of transfer and expulsion. Forty-eight percent of Israeli Jews strongly agree or agree with the idea while 46% strongly disagree or disagree.
“[Jewish] Israelis are feeling, at the time we took this survey at least, quite divided about the long-term prospects for living together with the non-Jewish population,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research at Pew. According to the report, Jews constitute about 81% of the country’s population non-Jews, the vast majority Arabs, constitute 19%. There are 8.4 million people living in Israel total.
Cooperman said the alarming data point should be taken in the context of other findings in the report, such as the fact that 45% of Israeli Jews say that a Palestinian state cannot exist alongside Israel, while 43% believe that one can.
In its question about expulsion or transfer, the survey did not specify whether the Arabs in question are Arab citizens of Israel or whether they include East Jerusalem residents and stateless West Bank and Gaza Palestinians. Palestinian residents of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel won control of in the 1967 Six Day War, have been granted certain residency rights but have, by and large, rejected an offer of citizenship. The international community has also not recognized the state’s annexation of that sector of the city to Israel proper. Palestinian residents of the West Bank, which Israel also won control of in 1967, live under military occupation. The study did not look at whether the respondents consider Israel to include the territories it captured in the 1967 war nor did it state or ask respondents to what territory Arabs should be transferred.
However, Tamar Hermann, a professor at The Open University of Israel who advised on the study, offered insight into how the question, which has been asked on other occasions, is likely to be understood in the context Israeli political culture.
Typically,Hermanns aid, Israelis understand the transfer of Arabs as applying to Arab citizens of Israel. The word “transfer” in this context means “forceful expulsion,” she said, “putting them on trucks and sending them away” across the Jordan River, to Jordan.
According to Cooperman, the study was not conducted during a particularly volatile time in Israel or the Palestinian territories. The polling, which was conducted in person, took place in a relatively “calm” period between the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015. Researchers deliberately waited until after the 2014 Hamas-Israel war ended so that the immediate conflict would not bias their findings. The reporting also took place before the current spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks.
The transfer question, along with several other questions on the survey, was asked only of Israeli Jews. The margin of error for these questions was plus or minus 2.9%. For the broader survey, Pew researchers conducted 5,601 face-to-face interviews with Israeli adults over the age of 18 between October 2014 and May 2015. The sample for the broader survey included Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze. East Jerusalem Palestinians were also included in the survey, but not Palestinians on the West Bank. The questions for Jews only were put to 3,789 Israeli Jews.
Graffiti in Hebrew calls for Arabs to be forced out of Israel.
Israeli opinion on transfer correlates with religious identity. Those who identify as “dati’im,” or Orthodox, tend to prefer transfer more than other groups. Seventy-one percent of dati’im agree that Arabs should be transferred or expelled from Israel. “Hilonim,” or secular Jews, feel differently, with 58% disagreeing with the idea. “But even among these self-described secular Israeli Jews,” the study noted, “about one-third (36%) favor the expulsion of Arabs from the country.”
Unsurprisingly, political identity is a strong indicator of feelings about transfer. Seventy-two percent of Israelis on the right agree with the concept, while 87% of Israelis on the left disagree.
It correlates with where the respondents live, but only to a degree. Settlers in the occupied West Bank, which includes land that Palestinians claim as part of a future state, favor transfer at about the same rate as Israelis who live inside Israel proper. The difference is that some of them feel more intensely about it 27% of settlers strongly agree with transfer, compared to 20% of other Jews who strongly agree.
The topic has a long history in Israel, which is why it was included in the wide-ranging report. According to the research of historian Benny Morris, early Zionist leaders, including founding father David Ben-Gurion, advocated for the transfer of Palestinians from the Jewish state. In Israel’s founding war, some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by Jewish forces. But intense debate still seethes among historians on whether the exodus was due to a plan designed before or during the war by Zionist leaders, or whether it was an unintended result of the war. Government policy set soon afterward barred these Palestinians from returning.
More recently, Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman raised the specter of a kind of transfer with his plan to swap Arab population centers inside Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank. His proposal did not entail the physical transfer of people, but would mean that Arab-Israeli citizens of Israel would be forcibly stripped of their citizenship and transferred instead into the jurisdiction of a Palestinian entity of some kind.
Critics argue that such a move would violate the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Israel is a signatory. The declaration states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.” In surveys, most Israeli Arabs have rejected the concept.
The question of transfer has been studied before in Israel, the Pew report noted, but with different results. Over the past 13 years, a University of Haifa study has asked whether Arab citizens should leave Israel with proper compensation. In 2015, 32% of Israelis agreed with the statement and 64% disagreed. Meanwhile, a 2015 poll in the newspaper Maariv asked whether Israeli Jews support “voluntary transfer” of Palestinians from the West Bank. Fifty-eight percent of Jews were in favor, while 26% opposed it.
Hermann said that her own research with the Israel Democracy Institute also contradicts Pew’s findings. IDI’s Peace Index project asks if the government should “encourage immigration of Arabs out of the country.” According to Hermann, last year 55% of Israeli Jews disagreed and 37% agreed.
According to Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and an adviser on the Pew study, in addition to the implications inside Israel, the new data on transfer could further alienate American Jews from the Jewish state.
“American Jews project their view of the world on Israelis and when you have something so intolerant and anti-democratic, it runs counter to the American Jewish ethos,” he said.
Who lives there?
The Golan Heights is not densely populated. According to some estimates, there are around 50,000 people, with Israeli Jewish settlers making up nearly half. The rest are mostly people of Syrian ancestry who are Druze, a religion that has been described as an offshoot of Ismaili Islam.
Druze residents of the Golan Heights have largely resisted obtaining Israeli citizenship and have maintained a strong connection to Syria for decades. Despite the proximity — megaphones and binoculars have connected people in the Golan Heights with friends across the border — that connection has been tested by the devastating conflict in Syria.
But over all, life in the Golan Heights has been relatively tranquil compared with other places on Israel’s frontiers.
As a result of the 1967 war, Israel gained control of the West Bank (from Jordan), the Gaza Strip (from Egypt) and the Golan Heights (from Syria).
I. West Bank
Judea and Samaria, home to Jewish communities over thousands of years, was renamed the “West Bank” and annexed by Jordan in 1950. (This annexation was recognized by only two countries—Great Britain and Pakistan.) Iraqis, Syrians and Jordanians, and others built settlements on the land. Israeli Jews, however, were barred from living or buying property in the territories under Jordan’s regime.
In July 1967, Israeli cabinet minister Yigal Allon of the left-wing Mapai (Labor) party, a member of the inner war cabinet, drew up a peace plan with a proposal to reallocate the West Bank territories between Jordan and Israel. According to the Allon Plan, Israel would relinquish heavily Arab-populated areas in the West Bank to Jordanian political control, while fortifying its vulnerable border with Jordan by retaining military control over a Strip along the Jordan River, through the Jordan Valley to the eastern hills of the West Bank. The territory retained (comprising less than half of the West Bank) was to include a corridor from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem and west of Ramallah to protect a Greater Jerusalem. The Labor government also approved and supported construction of settlements in the Gush Etzion (Etzion Bloc) located south of Jerusalem, the site of Jewish communities destroyed by Arab armies in 1948.
Adhering to the Allon proposal, the Israeli Labor government sponsored the construction of settlements in strategic locations along the Jordan Valley, and in Gush Etzion, an area purchased by Jews long before the State of Israel was established. At the same time, the government resisted construction between the towns of Nablus and Hebron.
In March 1974, following the Yom Kippur War, Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful), an ideological, religious-nationalist group originally associated with the National Religious Party (NRP), was formed to initiate settlement in the biblical Land of Israel, “Eretz Yisrael.” Some of the members had already been active in 1968, attempting to resettle Hebron (see below) and in 1973, attempting to establish a settlement at the biblical site of Elon Moreh.
The group organized protests against the government for thwarting their attempts to settle the territories, and conducted tours and hikes of the territories to educate the Israeli public about the heartland of biblical Eretz Yisrael and to convince them of the need to resettle the territories.
Seven failed attempts were made by Gush Emunim to settle the Nablus (Shechem) area in Samaria. (Each time, the army evacuated them.) On the eighth try, however, the government’s resistance was broken and settlers established a temporary community at the Kadum military base, which later became known as Kedumim. Over the next few years, several military posts and settlements were built in the area.
Between 1967-77, successive Labor governments supported the construction of over 25 communities in Judea and Samaria. After Likud came into power in 1977, dozens more settlements were built.in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Many settlements were built on the sites of previous Jewish communities or in places with biblical significance. Many began as military or Nahal (military combat service combined with civilian service) camps which eventually became civilian settlements.
Peace Now, an Israeli organization vehemently opposed to the settlements, claimed in an October 2006 report that Israeli settlements are situated mostly on “private Palestinian land” based on Arab claims disputed by the Israeli government and by others who question the credibility of the organization’s information. For example, the organization stated that almost 90% of the settlement town of Ma’ale Adumim was built on private Palestinian land–a claim it was subsequently forced to admit was wrong.
245,000 people living in 121 settlements in the West Bank
Hebron, site of the Cave (Tomb) of the Patriarchs, is one of Judaism’s four holy cities (the others are Jerusalem, Safed, and Tiberias). With few interruptions, Hebron was inhabited by Jews since biblical times. In 1929, Arab rioters massacred their Jewish neighbors as British soldiers stood by, and put an end to the Jewish community. In 1931, 35 families resettled in Hebron until further Arab riots in 1936 led to their evacuation. After Jordan occupied Hebron in 1948, Jews were barred from living there and from praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
In April 1968, the eve of Passover, Rabbi Moshe Levinger and a group of his followers checked into the Park Hotel in Hebron in an attempt to re-establish the Jewish community there. They were opposed by both the local Arabs and the Israeli military. The settlers persisted and were eventually moved to Israeli military headquarters overlooking Hebron. In 1970, the government agreed to establish the adjacent town of Kiryat Arba, and the first housing units were erected in 1972. In 1979, settlers established the Committee of the Jewish Community of Hebron and moved into the former Jewish areas of Beit Hadassah and the Avraham Avinu synagogue. Israeli settlers, soldiers and visitors who came to the Cave of the Patriarchs were frequently subject to Arab violence. In 1976, Arabs destroyed the synagogue at the Cave of the Patriarchs and burned Torah scrolls. In May 1980, six Yeshiva students were killed and 20 wounded by Palestinian terrorists as they returned from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and in 1983, another yeshiva student was gunned down in the center of Hebron. Each murder and act of violence prompted the settlers to expand their presence in Hebron. By 1984, the Hebron Jewish community consisted of several enclaves.
Hebron was the scene of even more violence during the first intifada and after the Oslo Agreements. Jewish settlers were the victims of stabbings, firebombings and shootings. In 1994, a Jewish settler killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs and wounded 150 before being beaten to death. The violence continued during the second intifada with Palestinian suicide bombings, shootings and stabbings. Twelve security personnel—including civilian guards, border policemen and soldiers—were ambushed and killed as they accompanied worshippers returning from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarch, and a Jewish infant was targeted and shot dead by a Palestinian gunman. Settlers have been accused of stone throwing, verbal harrassment, and vandalism against Palestinians in the area.
A Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in 1997. In 2002, two TIPH members were shot and killed just outside Hebron by Palestinian gunmen. And in 2006, TIPH temporarily withdrew from Hebron after its headquarters were attacked and destroyed by Muslims angered about cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish magazine.
Because a Jewish presence in Hebron has long sparked a violent Arab response, there is debate both inside and outside Israel, about whether Jews should be permitted to live there. Opponents believe a Jewish presence irritates the local Arabs and requires military support that intrudes on Arab residents’ lives, while proponents believe Jews should not relinquish their right to live and pray in their holy city by giving in to violence.
The Jewish community in Hebron currently numbers
600 and Kiryat Arba’s population is
III. Golan Heights
From 1967-77, successive Labor governments sponsored the building of settlements in the Golan Heights for security reasons.
The Golan Heights, at an elevation of
2000 feet and fortified by Syria with a dense network of fortifications, trenches, concrete behind mine fields, had served as a strategic fortress from which to shell Israel’s agricultural heartland. The capture of this area now provided Israel a defensible border with Syria.
The first two kibbutzim to be established in the Golan were Merom Golan and Mevo Chama at either end. Between 1967 and 1977, 20 additional kibbutzim and moshavim were constructed in the Golan Heights. Additional settlements were built between 1978 and 1987 with the support of Likud governments.
There are now 33 settlements in the Golan, including kibbutzim, moshavim and the town of Katzrin, with a population numbering
In 1981, Israel ended its military rule of the Golan Heights, with the passage by Knesset of “The Golan Heights Law,” applying “the law, jurisdiction, and administration of the state….to the Golan Heights.” The Golan’s Druze residents were offered full Israeli citizenship, but most have not accepted.
IV. Sinai and the Gaza Strip
Under the 1949 armistice agreements, Egypt gained control of the Gaza Strip (part of the British Mandate and partially occupied by Israel during the 1948 war). Arab refugees from Jaffa and southern Israel moved to this small strip of land, but were kept by Egypt in squalid refugee camps. During the 1950‘s, the Egyptians used the Gaza Strip as a staging site for terror attacks by Fedayeen inside southern Israel.
In the 1956 war, prompted by Egypt’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran, the Israeli army captured Sinai and the Gaza Strip but withdrew after an agreement placed UN peacekeepers in the Sinai. As a result of the 1967 war triggered by Egypt which expelled the peacekeepers and used their position in Sinai to again close the Straits of Tiran, Israel was once again in control of the Sinai and Gaza Strip. This time, however, Israel’s leaders—including Yigal Allon—believed that settlements should be established in order to create a security buffer against Egyptian aggression.
Military installations, early warning stations, and 15 settlements, including the town of Yamit, were established by the Labor government in the Sinai.
In 1979, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin, signed a peace treaty with Egypt, agreeing to withdraw from the Sinai and dismantle the settlements in exchange for peace. Israel also relinquished the Alma Oil Field, valued at $100 billion, which it had discovered and developed, thereby giving up the opportunity to become self-sufficient in providing for the country’s energy needs.
In April 1982, over 170 military installations and early warning stations were dismantled and the settlements were forcibly evacuated by the Israeli army, overseen by General Ariel Sharon.
By that time, Sinai was home to 7,000 Israeli residents. Most of the settlements were demolished. Neot Sinai, with its cultivated gardens, was given intact to Egypt. In 1988, the resort town of Taba, developed by the Israelis, was handed over to Egypt as well.
Jews had long lived in Gaza before World War I. Kfar Darom was a Jewish-owned citrus grove in the 1930’s. The Jewish National Fund bought the land from its Jewish owner and established a kibbutz there in the 1940’s. During the 1948 war, Kfar Darom came under Egyptian attack and siege but managed to serve as a stronghold against the Egyptian onslaught before being evacuated. In 1970, Kfar Darom was re-established on the same site, supported by Israel’s Labor government. Twenty more settlements were established in the Gaza Strip in the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Some of the families evacuated from the Sinai settlements were resettled in Gaza settlements, such as Elei Sinai. The settlers transformed the Gaza dunes into lush oases of green. The presence of such settlements near squalid Palestinian refugee camps sparked envy and resentment among the local Arab populace.
In 2005, the Israeli government forcibly evacuated and dismantled the Gaza Strip settlements, together with 4 additional settlements in Northern Samaria, and withdrew its military presence from Gaza. The thriving greenhouses that the settlers had built and maintained were transferred to the Palestinians.
The Golan Heights: A Brief History
Situated high up on Israel’s northern frontier with Syria and Lebanon, the Golan Heights’ importance to Israel cannot be understated. Learn more about the area, its history and people in this quick guide. Read on here for an in-depth look at the region’s area, history and people, and check out this article for some lesser-known Golan Heights facts.
From time to time, the issue of the Golan Heights surfaces and international attention focuses on whether the territory should remain under Israeli control or be returned to Syria. But where is the Golan Heights, and why is it it so significant? Who lives there, and whose land is it really?
First, the basics: Situated adjacent to the Kinneret Lake, also known as the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli side of the Golan Heights covers around 500 square miles of fertile highland offering a commanding view over Israel and Syria. Ever since, both countries have claimed it as their own.
The Golan Heights, East and North-East of the Sea of Galilee (Google Maps)
Following taking control of the land in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has come under intermittent international pressure to return the land to Syria, a demand Israel rejects as inappropriate and impossible. But why?
Ancient Jewish History in the Golan
To understand the Israeli position, it’s important to understand both the contemporary security needs of the modern state of Israel, as well as the Jewish people’s deep ties with the territory. Jewish history in the Golan dates back to Biblical times, with the existence of Jewish life in the area recorded in various texts, including the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Back then, the region was known as the Bashan. The name Golan itself derives from the city of Bashan, which the Bible documents as one of 60-something fortified cities in the area. Golan functioned as a ‘city of refuge,’ a place where suspected murderers were allowed to flee to avoid reprisal.
Although the Jewish people were exiled from the Land of Israel on numerous occasions, Jewish exiles returned from Assyria, Babylonia and the region during numerous periods, even defying the great Roman army. The area is brimming with historic artifacts testifying to Jewish communal life in the land, and the repeated turnovers of control as the region was repeatedly taken, wrested back, and seized again. One particularly shocking episode at the clifftop town of Gamla closely resembled a famous final act of Jewish resistance at Masada when the besieged Jewish communities there committed mass suicide rather than surrender. When the Gamla fortifications were breached in 67 C.E., the entire Jewish community is said to have died around half of them killed by the Romans, and the other half by jumping off the steep climbs to certain death.
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Even after Jewish autonomy came to an end, Jewish life in the Golan continued. The remains of over 30 ancient synagogues have been discovered, ritual bathing facilities have been found, and beautiful mosaic floors with Jewish symbols have been found, all pointing to a sustained Jewish presence. Only in the 7th century were the Jewish communities of the Golan wiped out when Islamic invaders conquered the land from the Assyrians for the burgeoning Rashidun Caliphate. Only centuries later were Jews able to return to the land.
The Golan From Middle Ages to the Modern Era
Various peoples have resided in the Golan over the ages, with the Mongols, Persians, Romans and Arabs, some from as far away as Yemen, repeatedly invading. The Druze, a religio-political sect deriving from Islam, settled in the area in the 15th and 16th centuries and controlled the region for approximately 350 years, before the area was taken over by the Egyptians and then the Ottomans in quick succession.
The Golan’s population dwindled over the centuries as a result of the constant warring, leading to the region being almost entirely deserted by the mid-19th century, with one travel guidebook describing how only 11 of 127 ancient towns and villages in the area were populated.
Under Ottoman control, Jews attempted to return to the area, with a number of plots of land bought by Jews from Safed and Tiberias from Bedouins and by Baron Edmund de Rothschild. Farms and homesteads were established, although these didn’t last for long when the Ottomans seized the land. As the Ottoman Empire crumbled in 1917, territories were subsumed into the British and French empires, with Palestine falling under British control.
Three years later, Arab rioting forced the Jewish communities of the Golan to flee, and three years after that, in 1923, Britain and France came to an agreement in which the Golan was transferred to French territory in present-day Syria, in return for Mosul. The last remaining Jews were evicted by Syria in 1947 ahead of Israel’s independence, and took advantage of the location to fire armaments at Jewish communities and towns lying south of the ridge. The land remained largely free of Jews until 1967.
1948: The Establishment of Israel
During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the nascent Jewish state was attacked by local Palestinian Arab militias, together with Egyptian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Iraqi, and Syrian forces. Despite being surrounded and losing around 1% of its population at the time, Israel prevailed and its landmass expanded with the Jewish state ending up in control of one third more land than would have been allocated to it had a 1947 UN partition proposal not been rejected by the Arab leadership.
Following the war, Israel sought to establish borders with its Arab neighbors, but with the Arab states refusing to recognize Israeli legitimacy, an alternative was required. In the first half of 1949, armistice agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan in quick succession. A further agreement was reached between Israel and Syria and signed on July 20 that year.
Armistice Demarcation Lines were established under the agreements. At Arab insistence, however, the agreements included a statement making clear that the lines would not constitute legally-binding borders. Article V of the Israeli-Syrian General Armistice Agreement (20 July 1949) begins:
It is emphasized that the following arrangements for the Armistice Demarcation Line between the Israeli and Syrian armed forces and for the Demilitarized Zone are not to be interpreted as having any relation whatsoever to ultimate territorial arrangements affecting the two Parties to this Agreement.
Unfortunately, despite signing this agreement, the drawing of an armistice line between Israel and Syria did not lead to genuine peace between the two. Over the following years, intermittent hostilities broke out, with both sides making incursions into the other’s territory, with Syria attacking Israeli farmers and Syrian Prime Minister Salah Bitar bombastically declaring in 1963 that the Arab states would wage “an unyielding campaign to prevent [Israel] from realizing its dream” of making the desert flourish with water from the Jordan River. Between 1950 and 1967, approximately 370 Israelis were hit by Syrian fire, with 121 killed. In 1955 alone, there were exchanges of fire on 52 days.
The first three months of 1967 saw over 270 border ‘incidents’ in Israel. The majority of these emanated from Syria, and caused rising concern in Israel. Things came to a head in April 1967 when Israeli tractors were targeted by Syrian machine gun and anti-aircraft fire, sparking a confrontation involving over 130 planes between the Israeli and Syrian air forces. With rising hostilities on multiple fronts, it was no surprise when the Six-Day War broke out the just under two months later.
1967: The Six-Day War and Its Aftermath
Years of provocation came to an end in early June 1967 when Israel seized the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War. After Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had his army close the Straits of Tiran in late May, a provocation considered an act of war, Israel held intense diplomatic meetings with Western leaders before realizing that it would have to act alone.
In the early hours of June 5, the Israeli Air Force launched a mass attack on Egyptian airfields. Despite being dealt a decisive blow, Egypt refused to admit defeat and Syria and Jordan consequently entered the war in the belief that Israel was on the back foot.
After a few chaotic attempts to attack Israel, the Syrian forces were repelled and forced to retreat.
On 7 and 8 June, the Israeli leadership debated about whether to attack the Golan Heights as well. Syria had supported pre-war raids that had helped raise tensions and had routinely shelled Israel from the Heights, so some Israeli leaders wanted to see Syria punished. Military opinion was that the attack would be extremely costly, since it would entail an uphill battle against a strongly fortified enemy. Despite the risks, Israel attacked on June 9 and swiftly gained control of the majority of the Golan Heights. The following day, Israel agreed upon a ceasefire with Syria, and a ceasefire line known as the Purple Line was established.
What exactly is the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and how did a dispute over who gets to live there trigger the Gaza war?
JERUSALEM—When Hamas and Islamic Jihad began firing more than 4,300 rockets at Israeli civilians, they and their terror masters in Tehran justified their attacks by claiming that Israeli Jews were engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of Arab families from an East Jerusalem neighborhood known as Sheikh Jarrah and that such “war crimes” must be avenged.
“The Qassam Brigades [of Hamas] will not stand idly by in the face of attacks on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” said Mohammed Deif, a top Hamas commander, in a written statement on May 5, just days before the rockets started flying.
“They will pay a heavy price if the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood does not stop immediately,” Deif said, according to the Al Jazeera satellite TV network.
“Tampering with Jerusalem will burn the heads of the occupiers,” said Saleh al-Arouri, another senior Hamas official.
Mustafa Barghouti, another Palestinian radical, told Al Jazeera that what was happening in Sheikh Jarrah was “a war crime against the [Palestinian] population of Jerusalem.”
“This act of ethnic cleansing is nothing but a reflection on the racist policies that Israel is following and the system of apartheid that is consolidated not only in Jerusalem but in the occupied Palestinian territories in general.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also weighed in on May 7.
“Palestine and Jerusalem are mentioned in the holy Quran as ‘sacred ground,’” Khamenei said. “For decades, this pure land has been occupied by the filthiest and most evil people – devil’s spawn who slaughter respectable people and shamelessly acknowledge this. They are racists who have tormented the [true] owners of the land [i.e. the Palestinians] with murder, looting, arrest, and torture for 70 years. But, with God's help, they have not succeeded in vanquishing their will.”
“There were days when the young Palestinian defended himself by throwing stones,” he added. “Today he responds to the enemy by firing precision missiles.”
On May 8, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, launched his own broadside attack against Israel over the matter.
“The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward,” Sanders wrote in a tweet.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and fellow presidential candidate, joined Sanders.
“The forced removal of long-time Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah is abhorrent and unacceptable,” Warren argued. “The [Biden] administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal and must stop immediately.”
Other far-left members of Congress – from Rashida Tlaib to Ilan Omar to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), among others – also attacked Israel over the neighborhood.
“Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence. It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians,” AOC tweeted.
Two days later – on the evening of Monday, May 10 – the rockets from Gaza started flying.
Fortunately, a ceasefire is now in place, and holding for the moment.
Yet as the smoke clears, the conflict is hardly over.
Hundreds are dead. Many more are wounded. Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the border have been traumatized. And the dispute remains.
Many people around the world have been asking us to lay out the basic facts of the case.
Today, then, ALL ISRAEL NEWS takes a closer look at was purported to be the war’s original spark.
WHAT AND WHERE IS SHEIKH JARRAH?
Sheikh Jarrah is a mostly Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem, located about a mile northeast from the Old City.
Visitors familiar with the American Colony Hotel and restaurant will find the neighborhood right next door.
The neighborhood is also close to Hebrew University and sits on the “seam,” the unofficial dividing line between Jewish and Arab Jerusalem.
Residents pay Israeli taxes and receive benefits from the state.
The neighborhood has ancient roots – it is home to the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik (Simeon the Just), who was a High Priest during the Second Temple period.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE DISPUTE ABOUT?
In recent years, and especially in the last few months, the otherwise quiet neighborhood became a hotspot for weekly protests where both right-wing Jewish extremists and pro-Palestinian and left-wing Israeli organizations have staked claims on two different sides of the dispute.
Here is the short version:
At issue are several properties that have been home to Arab families for decades.
But their leases have expired.
There are also some families who have no leases at all but are simply squatters.
The landlords took the families to court.
The litigation, and various appeals, have taken years to wind their way through the Israeli court system.
Yet the courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of the Jewish landlords.
Because the landlords have clear proof of ownership of the properties going back to the 1800s.
What’s more, The Jerusalem Post reported that rents have not been paid by many families since a major legal battle over the neighborhood in 1982.
Eventually, the Jewish organizations that owned the properties but were not receiving rent sold the buildings to Nahalat Shimon, a U.S.-based non-profit organization whose goal is to settle Jews in all parts of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem.
The new owners say the Arab tenants are still not paying rent and therefore should be evicted.
As far back as 2008, Nahalat Shimon “presented a plan for the removal of non-rent-paying families (now numbering around 500 people) and for the construction in the area of a Jewish neighborhood of 200 housing units,” reported the Post.
The parties in question are private entities, not political organizations or governments. The State of Israel is not officially party to the dispute.
That said, extremist right-wing Knesset members have shown up at protests in favor of the Israeli organization claiming rights to the property.
Meanwhile, left-wing Israeli groups, such as Peace Now, and international organizations including Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, are defending the Palestinian tenants.
When the landlords finally moved to evict the families to make way for new tenants, the families refused to leave.
“The issue has returned to prominence in recent days because three families were due to have the Supreme Court rule on their petition of appeal this week,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
However, on May 9, the Israeli Supreme Court postponed a scheduled hearing on the matter because of the erupting violent protests in the neighborhood and throughout the Old City.
Thus, the three Arab families were not evicted and their legal challenge is still pending.
Yet Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched their rocket war anyway.
GOING DEEPER: WHAT IS THE CASE MADE BY THE ARAB DEFENDANTS?
The Arab families and their supporters say this is a nationalistic cause and that Israeli “settlers” are seeking to expand the Jewish presence in the city through Nahalat Shimon.
“They don’t want Arabs here, or across East Jerusalem,” Abdelfatah Skafi, 71, one of the Palestinians facing eviction, told The New York Times. “They want to expel the Arabs, and that way they will be able to surround the Old City,” the contested ancient core of Jerusalem that contains sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
“It’s a land grab,” said Sami Abu Dayyeh, owner of the Ambassador Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, some of whose land has been confiscated by the Israeli state in a separate case, told the Times. “They [Israelis] are stealing land left and right.”
The Times summarized the dispute like this: “Israel captured the territory in 1967 and annexed East Jerusalem, later returning ownership of the Sheikh Jarrah homes to the Jewish trusts. They sold it to a right-wing settler group, which has tried to evict the residents ever since. In 1982, the Palestinian residents signed an agreement accepting Jewish ownership of the land and allowing them to live there as protected tenants. But they have since rejected the agreement, saying they were tricked into signing it. Some now dispute the Jewish ownership of the property. They have produced their own Ottoman-era land titles that they say undermine claims of historic Jewish ownership on at least part of the land.”
Reja Shehadeh, a Ramallah-based lawyer, specializing in human rights and international law, wrote an article published by the New Yorker on May 11, arguing that this dispute cannot be detached from the larger political struggle between Israelis and Palestinians.
“For decades, the Israeli national government and Jerusalem’s municipal authorities have pursued policies aimed at increasing the Jewish presence in the city and restricting the expansion of the Palestinian community,” Shehadeh wrote. “Initially, this meant expanding Jerusalem’s borders and building Jewish settlements to the east, outside of the city. Over the past decade, right-wing groups supported by the Israeli government have also spearheaded attempts to increase the Jewish presence in the Palestinian areas at the heart of East Jerusalem.”
He blasted the lack of Palestinian political rights, and claimed, along with Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset, Osama Saadi of the Ta’al party, that there is no reciprocal law allowing Palestinians to reclaim property in the part of Jerusalem from which Palestinians fled in 1948.
The United Nations claims that the pending evictions of these families violates Israel’s obligations under international law.
“Given the disturbing scenes in Sheikh Jarrah over the past few days, we wish to emphasize that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which International Humanitarian Law applies,” said UN office of human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville. “The occupying Power must respect and cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory, and must respect, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.”
GOING DEEPER: WHAT IS THE CASE MADE BY THE ISRAELI CLAIMANTS?
“I would ask you,” says Aryeh King, a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, “if you are the owner of the property and somebody is squatting on your property, wouldn’t you have the right to take him out from your property?”
“Regrettably, the PA [Palestinian Authority] and Palestinian terror groups are presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties, as a nationalistic cause, in order to incite violence in Jerusalem,” noted the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Professor Avi Bell, of Bar Ilan University and the University of San Diego School of Law, wrote a legal analysis of the Sheikh Jarrah dispute for the Kohelet Policy Forum, an Israeli think tank.
Bell highlighted and documented the following points:
Jewish ownership over these properties was established back in the 19th century.
The Jewish property rights were awarded by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire and were never since abrogated.
The current Arab tenants and their predecessors never received legal ownership rights, even when the properties were under Jordanian control, from 1948 to 1967.
Had the Arab tenants been rewarded ownership rights, Israeli law would have respected and enforced those rights, which has been the practice since Israel gained control over Jerusalem in 1967.
At its core, this is a dispute between private parties pursuing a decades-long legal process in Israeli courts.
They wrote: “In the case now before Israel’s Supreme Court, the owner is an Israeli corporation with Jewish owners whose chain of title is documented back to an original purchase in 1875. Until 1948, the neighborhood now known as Sheikh Jarrah was home to both Jewish and Arab communities. Jordan invaded Israel in 1948 and occupied half of Jerusalem, expelling every one of its Jewish inhabitants and seizing their property.”
“When Israel reunited Jerusalem and ended the Jordanian occupation in 1967, it had to decide what to do with these properties,” they noted. “In the many cases in which Jordan had officially transferred the title of Jewish-owned properties to Palestinians, Israel respected the new titles—and still does—even though they are based on forcible takings in a war of aggression followed by ethnic cleansing against Jews. Where title had never been transferred, however, Israel returned properties to their owners. Critics of Israel claim that Arabs can’t recover property under the same law, but the law is entirely neutral—it is simply the case that Jordan took property from Jews, not Palestinians.”
“Title to the properties in dispute in Sheikh Jarrah was never given by Jordan to Palestinians, so Israeli law respects the unbroken title of the plaintiffs. This case has nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. The only discrimination in the legal treatment of Sheikh Jarrah property is historic, by Jordan, and against Jews to the benefit of Palestinians.”
Clearly, emotions are running deep on both sides.
What seems like a simple and clear-cut property rights dispute to one side seems like a “land grab” and a “war crime” to the other side.
And extremists on both sides are doing their utmost to pour gasoline on this geopolitical fire.
Please pray for the Israeli Supreme Court to have wisdom and discernment to know what is really true and what is the right and fair outcome of this complicated and decades-long case.
And please pray for calm and reason to prevail in the end, whatever the legal outcome.
In retrospect it can be seen that the 1967 war, the Six Days War, was the turning point in the relationship between the Zionist state of Israel and the Jews of the world (the majority of Jews who prefer to live not in Israel but as citizens of many other nations).
Until the 1967 war, and with the exception of a minority of who were politically active, most non-Israeli Jews did not have – how can I put it? – a great empathy with Zionism’s child. Israel was there and, in the sub-consciousness, a refuge of last resort but the Jewish nationalism it represented had not generated the overtly enthusiastic support of the Jews of the world. The Jews of Israel were in their chosen place and the Jews of the world were in their chosen places. There was not, so to speak, a great feeling of togetherness. At a point David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, was so disillusioned by the indifference of world Jewry that he went public with his criticism – not enough Jews were coming to live in Israel.
So how and why did the 1967 war transform the relationship between the Jews of the world and Israel?
Part of the answer is in a single word – pride. From the Jewish perspective there was indeed much to be proud about. Little Israel with its small but highly professional defence force and its mainly citizen army had smashed the war machines of the frontline Arab states in six days. The Jewish David had slain the Arab Goliath. Israeli forces were in occupation of the whole of the Sinai and the Gaza Strip (Egyptian territory), the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem (Jordanian territory) and the Golan Heights (Syrian territory). And it was not much of a secret that the Israelis could have gone on to capture Cairo, Amman and Damascus. There was nothing to stop them except the impossibility of maintaining the occupation of three Arab capitals.
But the intensity of the pride most Jews of the world experienced with Israel’s military victory was in large part a product of the intensity of the fear that came before it. In the three weeks before the war, the Jews of the world truly believed, because (like Israeli Jews) they were conditioned by Zionism to believe, that the Arabs were poised to attack and that Israel’s very existence was at stake and much in doubt.
The Jews of the world (and Israeli Jews) could not be blamed for believing that, but it was a big, fat propaganda lie. Though Egypt’s President Nasser had asked UNEF forces to withdraw, had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and had reinforced his army in the Sinai, neither his Egypt nor any of the frontline Arab states had any intention of attacking Israel. And Israel’s leaders, and the Johnson administration, knew that.
In short, and as I detail and document in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the offensive Israel launched at 0750 hours (local time) on Monday 5 June was not a pre-emptive strike or an act of self-defence. It was a war of aggression.
The summary truth about that war is this.
Assisted by the regeneration Palestinian nationalism, which became the tail that wagged the Arab dog despite the brutal efforts of the intelligence services of the frontline Arab states to prevent it happening, Israel’s military and political hawks set a trap for Nasser and he walked into it, with eyes half-open, in the hope that the international community, led by the Johnson administration, would restrain Israel and require it and Egypt to settle the problem of the moment by diplomacy. From Nasser’s perspective that was not an unreasonable expectation because of the commitment, given by President Eisenhower, that in the event of the closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt to Israeli shipping, the U.S. would work with the “society of nations” to cause Egypt to restore Israel’s right of passage, and by so doing, prevent war.
A large part of the reason why today rational debate about making peace is impossible with the vast majority of Jews everywhere is that they still believe Egypt and the frontline Arab states were intending to annihilate Israel in 1967, and were only prevented from doing so by Israel’s pre-emptive strike.
If the statement that the Arabs were not intending to attack Israel and that the existence of the Zionist state was not in danger was only that of a goy (a non-Jew, me), it could be dismissed by supporters of Israel right or wrong as anti-Semitic conjecture. In fact the truth the statement represents was admitted by some of the key Israeli players – after the war, of course.
On this 45 th anniversary of the start of the Six Days War, here is a reminder of what they said.
In an interview published in Le Monde on 28 February 1968, Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin said this: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
On 14 April 1971, a report in the Israeli newspaper Al-Hamishmar contained the following statement by Mordecai Bentov, a member of the wartime national government. “The entire story of the danger of extermination was invented in every detail and exaggerated a posteriori to justify the annexation of new Arab territory.”
On 4 April 1972, General Haim Bar-Lev, Rabin’s predecessor as chief of staff, was quoted in Ma’ariv as follows: “We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the Six Days War, and we had never thought of such a possibility.”
In the same Israeli newspaper on the same day, General Ezer Weizmann, Chief of Operations during the war and a nephew of Chaim Weizmann, was quoted as saying: “There was never any danger of annihilation. This hypothesis has never been considered in any serious meeting.”
In the spring of 1972, General Matetiyahu Peled, Chief of Logistical Command during the war and one of 12 members of Israel’s General Staff, addressed a political literary club in Tel Aviv. He said: “The thesis according to which the danger of genocide hung over us in June 1967, and according to which Israel was fighting for her very physical survival, was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war.”
In a radio debate Peled also said: “Israel was never in real danger and there was no evidence that Egypt had any intention of attacking Israel.” He added that “Israeli intelligence knew that Egypt was not prepared for war.”
In the same programme General Chaim Herzog (former Director of Military Intelligence, future Israeli Ambassador to the UN and President of his state) said: “There was no danger of annihilation. Neither Israeli headquarters nor the Pentagon – as the memoirs of President Johnson proved – believed in this danger.”
On 3 June 1972 Peled was even more explicit in an article of his own for Le Monde. He wrote: “All those stories about the huge danger we were facing because of our small territorial size, an argument expounded once the war was over, have never been considered in our calculations. While we proceeded towards the full mobilisation of our forces, no person in his right mind could believe that all this force was necessary to our ‘defence’ against the Egyptian threat. This force was to crush once and for all the Egyptians at the military level and their Soviet masters at the political level. To pretend that the Egyptian forces concentrated on our borders were capable of threatening Israel’s existence does not only insult the intelligence of any person capable of analysing this kind of situation, but is primarily an insult to the Israeli army.”
The preference of some generals for truth-telling after the event provoked something of a debate in Israel, but it was short-lived. If some Israeli journalists had had their way, the generals would have kept their mouths shut. Weizmann was one of those approached with the suggestion that he and others who wanted to speak out should “not exercise their inalienable right to free speech lest they prejudice world opinion and the Jewish diaspora against Israel.”
It is not surprising that debate in Israel was shut down before it led to some serious soul-searching about the nature of the state and whether it should continue to live by the lie as well as the sword but it is more than remarkable, I think, that the mainstream Western media continues to prefer the convenience of the Zionist myth to the reality of what happened in 1967 and why. When reporters and commentators have need today to make reference to the Six Days War, almost all of them still tell it like the Zionists said it was in 1967 rather than how it really was. Obviously there are still limits to how far the mainstream media is prepared to go in challenging the Zionist account of history, but it could also be that lazy journalism is a factor in the equation.
For those journalists, lazy or not, who might still have doubts about who started the Six Days War, here’s a quote from what Prime Minister Begin said in an unguarded, public moment in 1982. “In June 1967 we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us, We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
Six Day War
Once Israel was formed as an independent Jewish state, the Arab world in unison rejected to accept the existence of the state. They also threatened with violent attack and pledged to destroy the state. During this time, many organizations were formed to counter the creation of Israel like Fatah in 1959 and PLO in 1964 under the leadership of Yasser Arafat .
In 1967, the tension aggravated as Egypt along with other Arab nations stopped all bilateral talks with international and Israeli counterparts, and stationed a large number of troops along the Israeli border. The tension between the two parties escalated, and in the same year, Israel attacked and won Gaza Strip and Sinai desert from Egypt, West bank from Jordan, and Golan Heights from Syria .
After the war was over, Israel was willing to return the acquired lands to Palestine peacefully, but the Arab countries refused to negotiate and continued their fatwa against Israel . The Six Day War brought a large number of Palestinians under the Israeli governance, and there emerged a religious-political debate in Israel aimed to decide on the fate of the newly acquired land.
On the other hand, the Arab movement against Israel took a new turn, and it was decided to liberate West Bank and Gaza Strip as the first step to liberating Palestine. Arthur Goldschmidt pointed out that the US policy in terms of the Israel-Arab conflict was in form of “shuttle diplomacy” designed by Henry Kissinger, the then Secretary of State of US.
The political succession and war that operated in Iraq, Israel, and Syria led to the Rogers Peace Plan prompted by the US . In 1974, the PLO gave UN an observer status to the Palestinian Arabs and in 1975, the UN declared Zionism as a form of racism . These actions by the UN were considered biased by Israel and it went ahead to recognize UNRWA as a separate organization that was used to send back the Palestinian refugees.
In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in which the US played the role of a mediator. However, the negotiation fell apart due to the limited autonomy presented by the Israelis. In the 1990s, Israel denounced to accept PLO as a negotiating agent. In the same decade, PLO left violent movement and strove to form an independent Palestine .
In 1994, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was formed with Yasser Arafat as its appointed leader. A negotiation in Oslo led to the negotiation that Israel had to transfer Palestinian land slowly to the PLO. In a period of five years, more than ninety percent of the Palestinian land went under the control of PNA.
However, it had a separate repercussion. When Israel withdrew from Palestine, it led to the formation of an extremist organization called Hamas in the mid-1990s that started carrying out a number of terror attacks within Israel. PNA under Arafat did not take any action against these terror groups, instead helped them financially.
This continued violence by Palestinian extremist groups led to another obstacle towards a peace process between the Arabs and Israelis. The failure of the Oslo peace process was mainly due to the inability of both the sides to adhere to the agreement. Protests were voiced on both sides against the negotiating process. The negotiation held at Camp David in 2000 failed too .
The process took a violent turn when Ariel Sharon visited the holy temple of Jerusalem, the second Intifada was declared by the Palestinian Authority (PA) . In 2000, the US mediated to form a final compromise between the two parties. In this negotiation they annexed 97% of Palestine and Gaza to Israelis and gave no right to the Palestinians to return to Israel . The Taba negotiation of 2001 where these points were forwarded ended in another failure .
The areas were transferred to PA that was later re-occupied by Israel in 2002 . Israel started construction of a barrier in 2003 in Palestine, which led to a series of suicide attacks on Israel by Palestinian extremist groups . In 2005, a new aspect emerged in the tension between Israel and the Arab world when Hamas won the elections in Palestine, which was followed by a series of attacks on Israel from south Lebanon, which led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
In a more recent development in 2009, US President, Barack Obama, tried to mediate a negotiation between Israel and Palestine . However, during the negotiation the Palestinians maintained that the Israelis had to totally freeze “the building and expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, if they are to secure that elusive long-term peace” . This too led to an inevitable failure.
The long peacemaking process mediated by the international players, international organizations, and within the two parties have failed again and again over the years. The departure from any potent solution is based on various reasons. The next section is a discussion on the different causes that still afflicts the two parties and hinders a peacemaking process.
7 Answers 7
First, They already have, and that is part of the reason for the conflict in the first place.
What it seems like you are suggesting is that they go in and remove the existing inhabitants from Palestine all together. The truth is none of the other Arab nations want the Palestinians either. They are from Arab tribes that have a history of conflict with their Arab neighbors. They have no wealth to speak of and bring little to no skill to anyone that would take them in. So they would become a burden on any state that granted them asylum. There are over 4 million Palestinians that would have to be resettled in lands that are already claimed in whatever nation did accept them.
Israel wants to have a Jewish state, and the Palestinians are unwilling to submit to their rule, or even to peacefully coexist with the Jewish Israelis. The Israeli position is that it is unreasonable to expect them to submit to terror attacks and rocket attacks on its people from the Palestinians. So coexistence, which has been attempted since the 1970's, has failed.
Since no nation seems willing to accept that Palestinians, the other option that Israel would have for removing them would be Genocide of the Palestinian people. I would hope that everyone would understand why that is not an option that Israel would realistically consider.
So for now, Israel's only real option appears to be to neutralize the Palestinians' ability to make war on Israel.
Israel does not want to be in charge of those areas, and has already given most of the area to Palestinian sovereignty.
Before 1993, Israel was in control over the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza. This was a result of the Six Day War. To summarize, Egypt blockaded the Strait of Tiran, and surrounding Arab nations prepared to invade Israel. Israel preempted, destroying Egypt's air force, and drove the Arab nations back. This resulted in the capture of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights.
There are around 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Combined with the number of Arab Israelis, this puts the Arab population west of the Jordan River approximately equal to the Jewish population. Israel wants to remain a Jewish state, but cannot do so if it annexes the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza while remaining a democratic country. This is why Israel has offered Palestinians land equivalent to the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza a number of times.
However, the annexation of all territory in the West Bank and Gaza would not just be a demographic problem, it would also require the retaking of land already given to the Palestinians. In 1993, Israel and the PLO agreed to the Oslo Accords, which granted Palestinians around half of the land in the West Bank and Gaza. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. The Oslo Accords were only intended to define interim borders until a final settlement had been negotiated, but in the mean time, Israel recognizes Palestinian sovereignty over the areas specified in the Oslo Accords.
Israel does not want to capture all territory west of the Jordan River, nor should they. Even if it is militarily feasible, it would be a political and demographic disaster.