"The West Bank"


1. The area historically known as Judea and Samaria was named the "West Bank" during Jordan’s occupation between 1949 and 1967. Israel has valid historical claims to the territory because it was part of the Second Jewish Commonwealth. Jews lived there from biblical times through to 1948, when they expelled by the Arabs.

2. During 1948 and 1967 when Jordan and Egypt were in control of Judea and Gaza, local Arabs did not accuse them of occupation, nor did they seek to establish an independent state.

3. Jews lived in Judea and Samaria before Jordan invaded in 1948. Between 1949 and 1967, Jordan ethnically cleansed the land of the Jews, refused to let Jews pray at the Western Wall, and destroyed/profaned Jewish holy places. This was the only time in over 1,000 years that Jews were forbidden to live in the territory.

4. There has never been a Palestinian state prior to the one currently being proposed. The West Bank has never been an independent political-national entity. Israel took over the West Bank in1967 in an act of self-defence after Jordan joined Egypt and Syria in a war aimed at destroying the Jewish state. The UN agreed that the Arabs were the aggressors.

5. The proper legal definition of the status of the West Bank is "disputed," not "occupied." Nobody - not the Israelis, the Palestinians or the Jordanians - has ever had sovereign control of the territory. Only the Oslo Accords of 1993 come anywhere near to defining who controls the West Bank.

6. The so-called Green Line is not an internationally-recognised border but is actually the cease-fire line from 1949. UN Resolution 242 states that future secure borders were to be agreed upon through negotiations. Resolution 242 did NOT demand Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

7. The perimeters of the built-up Israeli settlements on the West Bank cover about 1.7% of the territory or 5-8% if we include the security fence. Some 75% to 80% of Jews who live on the West Bank live close to the Green Line.

8. During the 1993 Oslo Peace process, it was mutually agreed to divide the West Bank into regions – A, B and C. 98% of Palestinian live in Palestinian-governed areas, A and B.

9. 60% of the West Bank is virtually empty.

10. It was not until the 1960s that local Arabs started talking of a Palestinian state. They could have had an indepedent state in 1948. Many Arabs expressed a desire to be part of a 'Greater Syria'. The PLO has admitted that Palestinian nationalism is a fabrication, a ploy to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state. 

11. The Palestinians are not an ethnic sub-group but are made up of immigrants from neighouring Arab countries. Many of these immigrants came to the Holy Land in the wake of the first Zionist settlers who provided jobs and prospects. 

12.There is no archaeological or cultural evidence of any longstanding  Palestinian presence in Judea and Samaria. However, the territory is home to several Jewish holy sites, including Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Ramat Rachel near Bethlehem.The Arabic place names in Judea and Samaria are etymological renderings of biblical habitations. For example, Tequa refers Tekoa, where the prophet Amos was born. The village of Batir is a corruption of Beitar, which was the last remaining Jewish fortress in the Bar Kochba revolt, destroyed by the Roman army in 135 CE.



Q: So, if there has never been a Palestinian state in the West Bank, whose territory is it? 

A: It doesn't belong to anyone. In legal parlance, it is "disputed" territory.


Until 1917, the Ottoman Empire occupied vast swathes of the Middle East. After losing in World War 1, the Ottomans relinquished their 500-year control to the Allies, who decided to divide the Middle East into countries. 

British foreign minister, Lord Balfour, recognised the Jewish people’s historical right to their homeland. A small area, about 0.5% of the Middle East, was designated for this purpose. The original plan was for the Jews to settle what is modern-day Israel, modern-day West Bank and modern-day Jordan!

The UK received a mandate from the League of Nations to establish a Jewish homeland, but in 1923 the British partitioned the land to appease the Arabs. The east side of the Jordan River became Transjordan (i.e. an Arab homeland), while the west side (i.e. modern-day Israel, Gaza and West Bank) was reserved for a Jewish homeland.There was no mandate for the “Palestinians,” an implicit acknowledgement that they had no independent national existence.

In 1947, the United Nations voted by a two-thirds majority to divide the Holy Land even further, with the Jews losing another 50% of the land. So, in the space of nearly 30 years, the Jews lost around 85% of the land designated to them by the British.

Nonetheless, the Jews accepted this plan. The Arabs, although having sided with the Nazis, rejected the partition plan, despite having been granted Transjordan, Judea and Samaria and parts of modern-day Israel.

The pan-Arab assault on Israel failed to eradicate the survivors of the Holocaust. Israel took control of West Jerusalem, while Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria (i.e. the West Bank), and East Jerusalem. The only countries that recognized Jordan’s annexation of the territory were Britain and Iraq.

Following the Arab-Israeli War, the Arab League made it clear that it did not accept the 1949 armistice line (the Green Line) as a permanent border. This was reiterated by UN Resolution 242 in 1967 following the Six-Day War. This means there has never been a fixed boundary between Israel and the West Bank. Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from “all” of “the” territories captured in the war. It also expresses Israel's right “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

Although Resolution 242 refers to refugees, the term is an acknowledgement that both Jews and Arabs were displaced in 1948. It is not a reference to a displaced Palestinian nationality because there was no such thing. 

At the time of writing (2012), there is still no peace deal. As such, the West Bank remains unclaimed and should be referred to as “disputed” territory and not “occupied” territory. In the absence of a two-state solution, some 300,000 religious Jews have settled on the West Bank.