Occupied Territories???

-         The Land of Israel is not “occupied” –

By Dr. Asher Eder

Co-founder Islam-Israel Fellowship


Using common Arab parlance, many people refer to the so-called West Bank as "occupied territories." Both these terms --West Bank and occupied territories-- were invented for purposes of Arab propaganda.


The term West Bank describes a certain geographic entity, a small strip of land west of the Jordan River, roughly the area known as Judea and Samaria. In contrast, the term occupied territory (or territories) is generally applied to the occupied part, or the whole of, another nation.  Since 1967, Arab propaganda, and in its wake the media of the world, have applied it to the West Bank, without justification.


The Turkish (Ottoman) Empire collapsed in 1917, and its former territory became independent nations: Turkey proper, Egypt, Trans-Jordan, etc, --with one exception: the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In 1922 the League of Nations granted Great Britain a "Mandate" to pursue the "Balfour Declaration" of l917 and to administer that land accordingly. The British named it Palestine, taking this name from the Romans. (In the 2nd c. C.E., the Emperor Hadrian wished to erase the term "Land of Israel" – cf. Matt. 2:20 - and renamed the country after Israel's arch-enemy, the Philistines.)


Interestingly enough, "Palestine" was legally never part of the British Empire (although the British treated it as if it were, particularly Haifa). It remained administered territory, but legally ownerless.


When Arab hostilities against Jewish immigration reached new peaks after WWII, the United Nations came forward with their "Partition Plan" of Nov.29, 1947. In the ensuing civil war, England gave up its "Mandate" and withdrew its last soldiers on May 14,1948. The following day Israel declared its independence, and 24 hours later the armies of seven Arab nations attacked the newly born state.


These nations did not declare war, as that would have implied a recognition of Israel's existence as a state.  They saw --and still see-- the whole land (of Palestine) as part of the Dar-es-Salam (the "Residence of Peace/Islam") which the PLO (=Palestine Liberation Organization) has vowed to restore to the rule of Islam. The concept of Dar-es-Salam, however, is an internal theological concept of Islam which may entail political consequences for its adherents, but there is no political entity, not even the Arab League, which would or could represent it in an international forum.x)


Israel emerged from this war with its neighbors as independent state, with cease fire lines determined by the armistice agreements of 1948/9. Later, these lines became known as the "1967 borders," a term which outlines Israel's territory before the Six Days War.


In the War of 1948, the Emirate of Trans-Jordan conquered the greater portion of the area which the UNO's Partition Plan of 1947 had designated to become an Arab Palestinian state. Trans-Jordan then annexed this territory, including East Jerusalem, and re-named itself The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As Jordan had previously existed for several decades on the East bank of the Jordan River, it coined the term, "West Bank" to lend legitimacy to this land grab.


While the majority of the United Nations recognized the State of Israel officially and accepted her as a member state, no nation of the world, not even Arab nations, officially recognized Jordan's annexation of the "West Bank." The sole exceptions were England and Pakistan, and the legality of the recognition by the latter seems to have some serious question marks.


In other words, the so-called West Bank is still ownerless from the legal point of view (I do not talk here about privately owned buildings and plots). Israel's military operation in 1967 against Jordan was triggered by the latter's hostilities (shelling of West Jerusalem, etc), and as self-defense, and was legal within the frame of international law. The new cease fire lines brought Judea and Samaria --the so-called West Bank-- under Israel's military and later civil administration.


If the West Bank was ever occupied illegally, it was done so by Trans-Jordan in 1948, as pointed out above. In contrast, the people of Israel returned to the “Land of the Fathers” in accordance with the Divine Prophecies – without any violation of international law.


We should not senselessly repeat Arab propaganda slogans. Under the prevailing circumstances, we should refer to these territories by their Biblical names: Judea and Samaria; or in legal terms, should at present speak of them as administered territories.

Dr. Asher Eder




x) In my article "Peace is possible between Ishmael and Israel according to Tanakh and Koran", I showed that the term and idea Dar-el-Hareb (as part of the countries outside the realm of the Dar-es-Salam), is not applicable to the State of Israel, not even from the point of view of the Koran. The Land of Israel could be rated as Dar-el-Hareb while under foreign (Crusader; British; or other) occupation.


The above article, with a supportive foreword by Sheikh Prof Abdul Hadi Palazzi, is available from:

ROOT & BRANCH ASSOC, Jerusalem, Fax 02-6719012,

e-mail rb@rb.org.il or from its web site: www.rb.org.il