City of Ariel

Archive for September, 1997|Monthly archive page

The Occupied Territories

In Ariel City, Letters, National on September 18, 1997 at 11:24 am

Dear Friends,

In the wake of the New Year, I want to share some thoughts with you regarding my vision for Israel’s future and the challenges we will continue to face in the cominOccupied Territoriesg year.

Since 1967, news coverage of events in Judea and Samaria, both in Israel and abroad, have been inherently biased. A prime example is the use of the term “Occupied Territories” to refer to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

From 1949 until 1967, the Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt, while Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria, referring to the area as the West Bank of Jordan. Although nearly every nation refuses to recognize this one-sided act, journalists never referred to the area as the Jordanian Occupied West Bank.

In June of 1967, Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors. In a defensive move, Israel liberated the territories which for thousands of years had been central to Eretz Israel, the very source of the term Judaism – the area of Judea and Samaria. Suddenly, journalists began referring to these areas as occupied territories, a classic case of the double standard that journalists and politicians find so convenient when applied to Israel.

In contrast to the harsh occupation by Jordan, the administration of the area by Israel brought running water and electricity to Arab towns and villages, supported the creation of five universities for Arabs and guaranteed basic human rights to all residents of the area. The use of the word occupation with regard to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is a cynical manipulation of international law. Israel acquired these areas in a defensive war, holding on to the territories in order to prevent recurrent attacks from these areas against Israeli civilians. It is our legitimate right to hold on to this territory. The press and the international community have used the word “occupied territory” to deprive Israel of her most basic legitimate rights.

The media continues to characterize Israel as the wrong-doer, by calling settlements “obstacles to peace.” This too, has been used repeatedly to demonstrate Israel’s aggressiveness. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From 1948 to 1967, when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, there were no “settlements’ and Jews were prohibited from even visiting these areas. Yet, our Arab neighbors refused to live in peace with us. If settlements are such an obstacle to peace, when there are no settlements, there should be peace. However, that has never been the case.

In fact, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country – Egypt – was only signed in 1977, after the first Jewish communities were created in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Today, with 144 Jewish communities spread throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Israel has signed two peace treaties and is negotiating a third with our Arab neighbors. Clearly, the settlements are not obstacles to peace. If anything, they are catalysts for peace.

My friends, this proves only one thing: Oil talks. Its influence reaches as far ad the Unites States in the West and Japan in the East.

I once met a fellow in Germany and we started talking about Israel and the Middle East politics. At one point, his tongue loosened from imbibing alcohol, the fellow commented: ”Ron, I don’t care about Israel or about the Jews. I only care about oil to heat our homes in the winter.”

The world is hypocritical, applying one standard for Israel, and another for everyone else. Jordan and Egypt were cruel occupiers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Palestinian Authority today is no less cruel, depriving their own people of basic human rights. But the world says nothing. When Israel liberates her own homeland, careful to protect basic human rights of the Palestinian Arabs, we are the occupiers.

Israel has already given up 30% of its territory with full autonomy for Palestinian Arabs. No Arab nation has ever given the Palestinian Arabs nearly as much. And yet, Israel is constantly criticized for not having done enough.

The current government of Israel has no choice but to adopt the Oslo Accords which had been signed by the previous government. However, it insists of modifying the Accords for they threaten the very existence of Israel.

A true and lasting peace is a peace with security. And Israel can only guarantee her security where there is an Israeli presence. The people of Judea and Samaria are the true guarantors of peace for Israel for they are present in the area – just as the U.S. maintains NATO forces around the world to defend itself. Moreover, Judea and Samaria are located just 15 miles from Israel’s population centers, while NATO forces serve thousands of miles away from the U.S.

Ariel and the communities of Judea and Samaria are vital to the security of the State of Israel. By strengthening Ariel, the Capital of Samaria, you contribute directly to the continued stability of Israel. Only a strong Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria will force the Palestinian Arabs to seek peaceful co-existence with us. As Ariel continues to grow and develop, the chances for a real and secure peace in the area become stronger.


Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel