Israel, a Zionist Occupation State?
Written by: Ben Hilton
I’m sure many of you saw the Twitter video going around this week where iPhone’s Siri called Israel the “Zionist Occupation State”!
I don’t know about you, but I found this very disturbing and here’s why.
Ever since Israel’s founding in 1948, Israel has been plagued by misinformation and lies concerning its right and legitimacy to the land. We hear constant claims about Israel illegally occupying the land of Palestine or the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
But is there any truth to these claims?
Let’s take a brief journey through the history of the land of Israel, paying particular attention to its legal status.
The first place we should look regarding the land of Israel’s legal status is Genesis 1:1.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
God is the owner of everything He created, meaning the legal status is ultimately determined by Him. This is important when we examine chapter 15 of Genesis when God comes to Abraham and says:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…”
This verse is telling us something really significant: the land Israel belongs to Israel, simply because God said so. No matter what international courts or politicians might decide, mandate or decree, the land of Israel will always belong to the descendants of Abraham by God-given right.
God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, giving Israel a kingdom in their land for nearly 1,000 years before they were exiled by Rome shortly after the turn of the millennium. Since then, country after country has tried to occupy or settle the land of Israel, but with little success. The latest attempt was made by the Ottoman Empire. They held the land until they were defeated by the Allies in World War One.
Shortly afterward, in 1917, Great Britain recognized the need for a Jewish state in Israel once again and released what became known as the Balfour declaration, affirming Israel’s right to the land of Palestine. Palestine was a name given to the land of Israel after their expulsion by Rome. Great Britain then began a mandate over the area.
Unfortunately, due to a variety of developments and politics, Great Britain divided the land intended for Israel into half, giving the land east of the Jordan river to the Jordanians to create their own state, which is today’s country of Jordan. The Jewish people would have to wait.
In 1922, the League of Nations officially recognized Israel’s right to a homeland in the remaining tract of land under British Mandate, which is the entire land of Israel today, including Judea and Samaria (West Bank.)
They said in their official statement,
“Recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
Eventually, after failing to follow through on their promise of assisting the creation of a Jewish State, Great Britain pulled out of Palestine, advising the United Nations to implement a partition plan. This plan would split the remaining land of Palestine in half once again, creating separate Jewish and Arab States. In 1947 the United Nations followed through on the advice, voting to partition Palestine. The Jewish people accepted the vote and declared statehood in their now tiny tract of land; the Arabs rejected it and attacked Israel.
When the war ended, and the ceasefire lines were drawn, Israel occupied the land commonly called “Israel proper” today, while Jordan occupied the remaining territory of Judea and Samaria. It is at this point that this land got the name we so commonly hear, the West Bank, as Judea and Samaria is west of the Jordan river and, therefore, the west bank of Jordan.
Soon after, Israel was officially recognized as a country once again, joining the family of nations. With this in perspective, there is no possible way “Israel proper” could be Zionist occupied or occupied at all for that matter.
But what about Judea and Samaria?
It was intended to be a part of the Jewish state, as detailed in the 1922 resolution by the League of Nations.
It was then offered to the Arabs for the creation of a state for them in 1947, an offer they rejected.
When the British ended their mandate in 1947, the land officially became unoccupied or contested until Jordan occupied it at the end of the war with Israel. But just because Jordan occupied it, doesn’t mean it was legally theirs. In fact, Jordan attempted to annex it to their kingdom in 1950, something that was only officially recognized by two other nations.
The West Bank remained in Jordanian hands for 19 years before being conquered by Israel in yet another war of self-defense in 1967. Once again, after the fighting ended, ceasefire lines were drawn. Israel ended up in possession of Judea and Samaria, along with East Jerusalem, the Gaza strip, and the Sinai.
Does this then make Israel the occupier and Judea and Samaria illegal occupied territory?
To this effect, many will cite the 4th Geneva convention, which says,
“[the occupying power] shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
To understand this clause from the Geneva convention, we have to first look at what it means by “occupying power.”
Article 43 of the Hague convention from 1907 describes how we determine an occupying power:
“…the authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant…”
Here the Hague convention is telling us that for a country to be occupying land, they must have had to have conquered that land from a legitimate power.
This would mean that since the British relinquished power of Judea and Samaria in 1947, and Jordan wasn’t a recognized or legitimate power there, then Israel is in perfect right to hold it today, freely and legally according to the Geneva convention.
But what about the United Nations resolution 242, many ask?
Passed by the UN’s Security Council in the November following the 1967 war, there is a clause that says,
“Requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East: withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
The answer is simple. The clause says explicitly “territories” not “the territories” or “all territories.” And, it was supposed to be in exchange for a lasting and just peace.
This is something Israel has done, relinquishing the Sinai to Egypt in a peace agreement in 1979, and also giving up the Gaza strip to the Palestinians in 2005. As far as Israel is concerned legally, resolution 242 has been fulfilled to the best of their ability. There was no call for Israel to unconditionally give up all territory conquered in 1967; therefore, this is not something Israel has done.
So, as we have seen, Israel is in perfect legal right to their land. Calling them “Zionist Occupiers” by Siri or anyone else would be a grossly misstated lie.
But we also must remember. No matter what international law might ever say regarding Israel’s legal status in Judea and Samaria or any other parts of their land, the land was initially given to them by God, period.
And if you ask me, that is the best legal standing you can get!