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September 25, 2015 4:33 am

Israel’s Occupation Ended 20 Years Ago This Week

avatar by Benyamin Korn

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Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yassir Arafat at the Oslo Signing Ceremony, September 13, 1993. Photo: Wikipedia.

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the Oslo I signing ceremony, September 13, 1993. Photo: Wikipedia.

Twenty years ago this week, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians came to an end. So why do Israel’s critics keep claiming that Israel is still occupying the Palestinians?

On September 28, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo II accord, also known as the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. It provided for Israel’s withdrawal from the cities in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) where 98% of Palestinian Arabs reside.

And in the weeks that followed, Israel did just that.

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Israel’s forces retreated from the cities of Nablus (Shechem), Jenin, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Jericho and almost all of Hebron. Later, they withdrew from all of Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority took over all those areas. For the past 20 years, the PA has policed the streets, collected the garbage, issued the building permits, and administered the elections — that is, when the PA deigned to have elections at all. In Gaza, the PA ruled at first; today, Hamas is in charge there.

The portion of Judea-Samaria that is completely ruled by the PA is called Area A. The PA also has civilian control over another portion of the territories, where Israel is still in charge of security. That’s called Area B. Altogether, the PA has full or partial control of 39% of the territories, and 98% of the Palestinian population, and Hamas rules 100% of the Gazans. The occupation of the Palestinians ended.

The only debate now is over issues such as whether the PA should be given additional portions of the Israeli-controlled section of Judea-Samaria, and whether the PA should become a sovereign, independent state.

These are legitimate issues for debate. But it’s not the kind of debate that Israel’s critics want to have — because their arguments are so weak.

They would have to argue that the PA can be trusted to use additional territories exclusively for peaceful purposes. That’s laughable.

Israel’s critics would have to argue that the Palestinians have more of a right to the territories than the Jews. That argument flies in the face of history, international law and the Bible. They would also have to explain why “West Bank” is a more accurate term than “Judea-Samaria” — something that every legitimate historian, geographer and archaeologist knows is nonsense.

Israel’s critics also would have to argue that the Palestinians are somehow being deprived because they do not have a sovereign, independent state. The problem with that claim is that the only thing the PA as been “deprived” of is the ability to import tanks and planes.

Yet, incredibly, you can open almost any major U.S. newspaper, almost any day, and still find matter-of-fact references to Israel’s supposed “occupation” of the Palestinians. To pick just one example at random, a Reuters dispatch in the Washington Post on September 19 referred to Palestinian protests in “cities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus” — even though Israel stopped occupying 100% of Ramallah and Nablus, and 80% of Hebron, 20 years ago.

Once in a while, some in the media slip. In a September 15 report, The New York Times‘s Gaza correspondent, Majd Al-Waheidi, tripped himself up when trying to explain why Palestinian protesters in Gaza “have no clear target for their ire.” The problem, Al-Waheidi wrote, is that Hamas “is in rivalry with the government of President Mahmoud Abbas, which presides over the Palestinian communities in the West Bank.” One can imagine Al-Waheidi biting his lip in frustration as he was forced to back-handedly acknowledge that it is the PA, not Israel, which “presides” over the Palestinians.

The problem for Israel’s critics is that they need “the Israeli occupation” as a club with which to bludgeon the Jewish state. They can’t turn public opinion against Israel if they can’t portray Israel as a cruel and illegitimate occupier. Acknowledging what Prime Minister Rabin did on September 28, 1995, deprives them of their most effective propaganda weapon.

And so Israel’s critics refuse to lay down that weapon. They ignore reality. They continue pretending that there is an occupation — even though it ended 20 years ago this week.

Mr. Korn, chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists, is former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the Miami Jewish Tribune.

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  • Ken Kelso

    Palestine (Roman name) is already free and it took back its original name – ISRAEL.

  • Yale

    The alternative to accusing Israel of occupation is to admit that the PA and Hamas are responsible for Palestinian suffering. Once that link is made, it is all too easy to recognize that decisions made by the Palestinian leadership over the years have been the reason for ALL Palestinian suffering. But that violates the presumption that Third World peoples cannot be responsible for anything that goes wrong anywhere, especially for them. In the end, the allegation of an ongoing Israeli occupation is the only alternative to admitting that the Left’s understanding of how the world works is simply wrong.

  • Rebecca Newman

    Do you really only publish comments whose writers agree with yours?

  • Rebecca Newman

    The Algemeiner has just completely lost its credibility with me as a source of information having anything to do with reality. Mr. Korn’s factually inaccurate, imaginary, wishful thinking fails to account for daily life and administration in the West Bank so fully that this is much more a thought exercise than an opinion based in fact and experience, as if he’s taken all his information from propaganda vehicles and has never even been actoss the green line himself. If he has, he makes it quite clear he has been only to Jewish settlements in Area C, which he doesn’t even acknowledge exists, for it so utterly refutes his hallucinatory premise. Area C, which is under complete israeli military AND civil control, accounts for approximately 70% of the West Bank. Area A, which he confusingly seems to hold up as a good example, accounts for 3%. Not even the IDF would recognize itself in this picture. The Algemeiner should issue an apology for printing this wishful-thinking manifesto and return to its supposed mission of providing quality journalism and reality-based opinions to people who trust it.

  • Rebecca Newman

    The Algemeiner has just completely lost its credibility with me as a source of information having anything to do with reality. Mr. Korn’s factually inaccurate, imaginary, wishful thinking fails to account for daily life and administration in the West Bank so fully that this is much more a though exercise than an opinion based in fact and experience, as if he’s taken all his information from propaganda vehicles and has never even been actoss the green line himself. If he has, he makes it quite clear he has been only to Jewish settlements in Area C, which he doesn’t even acknowledge exists, for it so utterly refutes his hallucinatory premise. Area C, which is under complete israeli military AND civil control, accounts for approximately 70% of the West Bank. Area A, which he confusingly seems to hold up as a good example, accounts for 3%. Not even the IDF would recognize itself in this picture. The Algemeiner should issue an apology for printing this wishful-thinking manifesto and return to its supposed mission of providing quality journalism and reality-based opinions to people who trust it.

  • The biggest historical mistake ever made by modern Israel.

  • I don’t understand why people speak ONLY about the year 1948 when the State of Israel was Reborn. Because, whoever wants to really understand what happens in Israel must look “a bit” backwards and see when and why the Jewish People were banished from their country.

    So, to put it very briefly: In the year 70 A.D. (1944 years ago!) the mighty Roman Empire defeated little Israel, and Titus – the conqueror of Jerusalem – destroyed the Capital. If anyone wishes to examine this important point in the history of Israel, he need only write in Google two words: ‘Titus’ ‘Menorah’.
    After this information, all is very simple to understand.

    Also, it goes without saying, that from the year 70 to 1948, there were in this country very many foreign people and administrations which OCCUPIED the land of Israel.
    After the declaration of the Jewish State (May 14, 1948) each of the two sides – Arab and Israeli- offered their historical version.
    It’s not simple, but everyone who wants to look for events in history can feel the comfortable sentiment of ‘equilibrium’ and ‘objectivity’.

    Joseph Rosen
    Author of ‘Why a Jew’
    [ISBN: 9781616672300]

  • Mr. Korn is absolutely correct. The myth of “occupation” is at the heart of Israel’s predicaments.

    To understand the origin of this myth, its spreading, its nefarious effects, and the means to demolish it, please see the transcript of a presentation here:

    http://www.cilr.org/presentations/focus-on-occupation

  • enufizenuf

    A 60 minute film explaining all the salient details of this issue should be released in the major languages of the world.

  • The question “occupy” is a bit misleading – Control is a better term – for example, when the PA and Hamas wanted to form a joint government, Israel refused to allow members of the West Bank to travel to Gaza, cutting of any possibility to continue. Or the control that Israel holds over fishing rights, travel into and out of Palestinian territories – control over taxes that belong to the Palestinians, but are held up by Israel – and last year refused to turn them over, but finally did. There are many more, including allowing Palestinians, esp. Gazans, to conduct commerce with other countries. This was most notable when the last Jews were removed from Gaza – there were greenhouses that were to be turned over, but half were destroyed then Palestinians destroyed more – but the Palestinian economic entity put in $20 million to get them ready, then Israel wouldn’t allow trucks to deliver goods for shipment to other countries, only one or two so the venture went bust.

    If these are not indications of occupation, for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine what else to call it.

    • Steve Wenick

      You have no imagination.

  • Israel must be steadfast in protecting its people and their rights r10.
    Many nations and people continue to question Israel’s control of its Ancestral, and internationally guaranteed liberated territory. (See: the Faisal Weitzman agreement of 1919}
    It seems too convenient no one is mentioning the historical fact Arab countries had terrorized and expelled about a million Jewish families and their children from their countries. Moreover, it seems forgotten the Arabs illegally confiscated all Jewish assets, businesses, homes and over 120,000 sq. km of Real estate property. (Hitler would have been proud).
    Like the American Indian “Trail Of Tears”, many of the Jews terrorized and forcefully ejected from Arab countries died due to hardship, famine and starvation during their effort to get to Israel. More importantly, it cannot be ignored many of the expelled Jewish families had lived in the Arab countries for over 2,500 years. Longer in fact than the very Arabs who were expelling them. Most of the expelled Jewish people, their children, and families were resettled in Greater Israel and today account for over half the population of Israel.
    The Homes and Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people totaled approximately 120,440 sq. km., or 75,000 sq. miles; which is over 6 times the size of Israel. The value of the confiscated land and homes today would be worth trillions of dollars.
    During the 2,600 plus years the Jewish people and their children lived in Arab countries they suffered Pogroms, Libel claims, beatings, beheadings, false imprisonment and extreme hardship as second class citizens. Jews had their businesses, homes, and houses of worship pillaged and burned. Their wives and daughters were raped, Arabs sold them as slaves, and Jews were forced to either convert to Islam or be murdered.
    The Arabs received over 5 million square miles of territory after WWI, which contained a tremendous resource of oil reserves. History proves Israel territory extended all the way up to Iraq, which would make the land and all those oil reserves belonging to the Jewish people. Yet, Arab nations are no longer satisfied with the gift of land and oil to which they never had legal claim. Now, Arab nation are demanding more land and more compensation.
    Furthermore, the Arab countries are not satisfied with having once terrorized and chased away the million Jewish families and their children. Now, the Arab countries want to chase Jews away from their own ancestral and historical land. (You have murdered them and now you expect to inherit their assets).
    Israel must respond with extreme force to any and all violent demonstration and terror. Israel’s population is entitled to, and must have peace and tranquility without intimidation by anyone, at any cost.
    The Jewish people have suffered enough in the Diaspora for over the past 2,400 years. It is time for the Jewish people to live as free people in their own land without terror and violence.
    It is long overdue and about time to consider and realize that the only realistic solution for a peaceful coexistence in Israel is a population transfer of the Arab-Palestinians. It is time to transfer said “Palestinians” to the territories the Arab nations confiscated from the Jewish people. Also considered to receive said “Palestinians” should be Jordan which originally was Jewish territory and illegally given 78% of the 120,000 sq. km. Jewish territory to the Arabs as a new state.
    It is time, nay, past time to settle this dispute once and for all. Instead of utilizing all the financial aid and resources for conflict and terror, the financial aid and resources must be used for relocation, housing and new industry. In so doing, the “Palestinians” will realize a boost in their standard of living and be able to finally stabilize their lives, thus benefiting the host countries as well. Many Arab leaders have suggested these solutions for many years.
    YJ Draiman

  • marta mikey frid

    All this is for the converted anyhow… and not even for the Jewish Left, including the Israeli Left who are the true occupiers of the gullible ignorant minds.

  • peter welch

    westbank is occupied partially by the palestinians .. 1967 was the first attempt to free it .. later on some betraytors started throwing away the kernel of israel .. thats really idiotic .. no other nation would do this .. but THE GOD neither sleeps nor slumbers .. until now HE has prevented the birth of the 150th arab terror-state in the body of yisraela ..

  • Gnomercy9

    No. The Occupation ended in 1967.

  • RT

    The bottom line, ALL of Israel is considered “occupied territory” by the enemies of Israel,period.

  • ‘Ami Artsi

    It has never been occupations !

    Re-learn what history tells !

    • ‘Ami Artsi

      The concept of israeli occupation is an arab concept. If you follow it, you agree with the words of Arab people against Israel… That means you agree with “Israel is occupying everywhere in Palestine” !

      I prefer to fight History falsifiers who claim Israel is an occupant than to repeat their lies !

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