Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Is Israel an Occupying Entity in Its Control of the West Bank?

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Is Israel an Occupying Entity in Its Control of the West Bank?

Article excerpt

The European Union takes the position that Israel, in its control of the West Bank, is an occupying entity and, hence, that Israel has no right to change the domestic status quo that existed in 1967 when Israel seized this territory from Jordan.

I agree, if only in part, that, according to customary law, occupying entities lack a legal right to change the legal systems in conquered territories. Toward the close of World War II, Poland expelled up to 10 million Germans out of what is now Western Poland and introduced Polish law. Did it operate illegally? Poland was not an occupier of the territories from which 10 million Germans were excluded because these results were ratified by agreements. And Poland properly sets the rules for inhabitants of this territory, regardless of their ethnicity, subject to the laws of the European Union of which it (but not Israel) is a member.

With respect to the issues in dispute, and contrary to the claim of the European Union, customary law does not restrict Israeli decisions that change the status quo on the West Bank. In 1967 the West Bank and related territories were held de jure by Jordan. All the regional Arab powers, and the world at large, accepted this. In 1967, when the Egyptians began seizing goods going to and from Israel through Suez, it was universally understood that this was an act of war and that Israel would respond massively. Because Israel was already protecting Jordan from possible Iraqi attacks, it informed Jordan that it would ignore Jordanian territory, including the West Bank, if Jordan did not join in a common Arab response to Israel's measures of self defense.

However, Jordan had good reason to reject this overture. Its difficulties with the Palestinians had already led to the Black September encounter. This was a marvelous opportunity to jettison Jordanian responsibilities for the Palestinians and Jordan took it. It left Israel no choice except to de facto take the de jure rule of the West Bank and related territories.

Could one argue nonetheless that Israel was an occupying power and, therefore, subject to the cited ruler Whatever may or may not have been the case originally, this clearly was not the case after Jordan ceded in a peace treaty with Israel its rights to the Palestinian territories to which it had a de jure claim, with a partial, and poorly designed, exception with respect to Al Aksa. …

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