Spurred by Amanpour’s CNN series on religion, DQ, who is a very astute analyst and a thinker who is truly open minded to new information and ideas, wrote his impressions of the show, which led to a lively and very fact intense discussion about Amanpour’s errors, both explicit and implied, regarding Israel’s borders. Regular readers gave detailed answers better than anything I could ever have put together and I urge you to read them all. From these comments, DQ went on to write another post asking very specific questions about Gaza and the West Bank.
Ocean Guy, who has a great blog called Somewhere on A1A, took on the challenge in this second post and wrote here, as comment #4, what I think is one of the best summaries about the border dispute, including why it is reasonable for Israel to have continued to exert control over the West Bank and Gaza during the dispute. Indeed, I like his argument so much, I’m elevating parts of it here to a stand alone post. Reading it, I was struck by how lucidly it exposes the weakness of the Palestinian claims of righteousness regarding that land, as well as explaining Israel’s weak approach to territories that could rightly be seen as the spoils of an endless border war, with Israel the defender, not the aggressor. Read the whole Ocean Guy comment, but please pay specific attention to these points:
You are right, there was no claim to the territories prior to the ‘67 War… although there was a universal Jewish cry for access to Jerusalem, which the Jordanians forbade. (Which is another bone of contention.. comparing Arab administration of Jerusalem between ‘47 and ‘67 to Israeli governance since… but that’s another volume.)
So, no claim prior to ‘67… and if the Arabs had decided to accept Israel, and live in peace, there would NOT have been a “claim.” However, continued hostilities, terrorism, and ultimately another breakout of the war meant that SECURE and DEFENSIBLE borders were required. Still, even after the ‘67 war, Israel tried to give Judea and Samaria back to Jordan… despite ancient ties to the land, Israel was willing and happy to trade the land for peace… Again the Arabs rejected it.
In ‘67 the world stepped in and, once again, bailed the Arabs out by negotiating another cessation of hostilities… 242 came into the picture then and basically told the disputants that the status of the land occupied during the war (’67) needs to be settled through negotiation. The Arabs refused to negotiate… still refuse to negotiate… and have instead continued the war they started in 1947 with different tactics. The main problem throughout has been “Who does Israel negotiate with?”
Egypt took the Sinai back but didn’t want Gaza… Gaza wouldn’t/couldn’t rule itself. Jordan wouldn’t take the West Bank back, and the West Bank wouldn’t/couldn’t rule itself. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, all were happy keeping all authority from the palestinians yet steering the focus towards the wretched state of their Arab brothers. Meanwhile Arafat and the PLO terrorized their way into the international discourse.
Thrown out of Jordan, Thrown out of Lebanon… no one wanted them… they were simply corrupt terrorists and murderers with the goal of destroying Israel. The PLO/Black September, were given the recognition they had not earned. For Arafat and the PLO, ALL of Israel was illegally occupied lands. That is why so many of us put so much emphasis on the maps the PLO used to teach their children, the way Arafat war his Keffiyah, the rest of the school curricula… everything indicated they thought all the land belonged to Arabs… NOTHING they said ever gave Israel any acknowledgment, let alone official recognition.
Why did Arafat continually turn down generous peace offers??? Because he had promised his “people” ALL of Israel… the West Bank wasn’t enough… Sadly the western media kept feeding us the fantasy that Jenin and Ramallah, the West Bank and Gaza, was all they wanted, when in reality Arafat had promised the Arabs Haifa and Tel Aviv too. But the “overwhelming consensus” of western media was more in line with the fiction that Arafat fed to them in English. He was tremendously successful in getting the myth of his palestinian narrative to be accepted as truth.
So, the terror campaign and media campaign against Israel continued… it was working marvelously, giving the Arabs victories they could never win on a battlefield. But Israel just wanted peace, was/is willing to give up almost all of the gains from ‘67 in exchange for peace. And for another 20 years they absorbed the terror, endured the lies and prayed for peace. Then came Oslo.
When the Oslo process was concluded everyone was ecstatic…well the majority was… finally there would be an Arab “government” in the territories… Arafat was given the tools to set up a functioning government and the recognition as the negotiating partner… But it didn’t quite happen that way…
Arafat proved he was still a corrupt, murderous thug even as the world’s heads of State welcomed him. The trouble was, and still is, that Arafat’s and the Arabs’ idea of living in peace was completely different from everyone else’s. We thought and assumed the Arabs wanted to live in peace with Israel and we just needed to find the right price in land and concessions to buy it. But, on the other side, what Arafat wanted and the Arabs want, is to live in peace WITHOUT Israel.
So the main point is… The Disputed Territories for the Arabs include ALL of Israel. Even though so many, like you, limit the disputed/occupied territory to the ‘67 cease fire lines… The Arabs want it ALL.
If they don’t want it all… If the Arabs are really interested in peace, they would recognize Israel, set up embassies in Israel, allow Israeli embassies in their own countries… they would trade with Israel and allow free travel. They would grant citizenship to their “palestinian” brothers who want it. They would set up a viable government in a nascent Palestine who would be the negotiating partner with Israel. None of that is even close to happening.
The territories are disputed because the world and the UN kept the belligerent parties from settling it on the battlefield and demanded that they settle it peacefully. One side refuses to talk peacefully…
The Arabs have never acknowledged defeat, indeed they have never really been defeated. Hell, in Egypt they still celebrate their “victory” in the ‘73 war. At every outbreak of hostilities, the UN has stepped in to save the Arabs from the humiliation of defeat. Having never lost, the Arabs continue the war by whatever means they can get away with… and the western press and governments let them get away with a lot.
Many in Israel would like to annex the territories. Yes, there is dispute in Israel today on that matter, but virtually EVERYONE would gladly trade the land for peace… REAL peace. The fact Israel is willing to bargain much of the land away for peace does not mean the territory is not disputed.
Again… Where are the borders? Who exercises Sovereignty now? Who will have Sovereignty when the final status is negotiated? Who is the negotiating partner for ending the State of War that has been ongoing since ‘47? If Israel were to withdraw every person from territory outside the ‘67 cease fire lines, would the situation be settled? I don’t think so. That to me sounds like disputed territories…