Palestinian leaders have called for the State of Israel to stop constructing settlements in the West Bank, saying that, without a stop to settlements, they will walk away from negotiations with Israeli leaders. Some may think Palestinians are being unreasonable in their demands. The truth is that Palestinians have been conceding to Israeli wishes for decades. In fact, Israel controls over 40 percent of the West Bank, which is illegal under international law. It is time for Israel to accept a peace plan, something that they used to support as early as 1948.
The State of Israel was created in 1948 and was then recognized as a member of the United Nations in 1949. The creation of Israel resulted from a U.N. plan to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into two distinct states. One state would be Arab and one would be Jewish, with Jerusalem being an international city administered by the U.N.
The Arab states rejected the plan to divide Palestine into two different states. They thought Palestine should be one democratic state, not two different distinct states. Israel accepted the two-state solution proposed by the U.N. The Arab states refused to recognize Israel as a state and the result was the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The result of this war was that Palestine was not recognized as its own state, but Israel was. The state of Jordan annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip.
In 1967, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. Israel disliked this and thought this was a clear violation of international law. This, along with Egypt stationing troops in the Sinai Peninsula, caused an Israeli pre-emptive attack. This attack was the official start of the Six-Day War. The result of this war was Israel controlling much more geographical land mass than before the war. Israel annexed the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
On Nov. 22, 1967 the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed U.N. Security Council Resolution 242. This resolution called for the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The resolution simply reinforced the idea that no country can legally take or conquer territory from other countries under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter.
Israel’s response to Resolution 242 in 1967 contrasts contemporary Israeli political responses concerning current Israeli-occupied territories. Their response stated that “The Government of Israel … assures you of its full co-operation in your efforts with the States concerned to promote agreement and to achieve an accepted settlement for the establishment of a just and lasting peace, in accordance with your mandate under the resolution.”
One thing is simple. Israel was agreeing to leave to areas they annexed during the Six Day War. As soon as Israel would have withdrawn, Syria, Egypt and Jordan would have decided which territories they would keep and which they would give to a future Palestinian state.
We now fast-forward to the present. Israel is still continuing to construct settlements in the West Bank, all of which are considered to be occupied by the U.N. and International Court of Justice. Israel stated they were committed to Resolution 242 in 1967, but building more and more settlements in the West Bank violates the main intent of Resolution 242. Why do they build settlements then?
The sad truth is that the current parliamentary coalition is one of multiple center-right and Orthodox religious parties. Many of these Orthodox parties believe that the border for the state of Israel should be the Jordan River, as implied in their interpretation of the Old Testament. This interpretation is the one that is forced upon the Palestinians, instead of what Israel should be basing their interpretations off of, which is international law.
Israel tries to make it seem that they are a weak country in the Middle East that needs the constant assistance of the U.S to fend off enemies pursing nuclear weapons like Iran. Why should Israel be afraid? Israel has nuclear weapons, although they have never admitted this publicly. In 1975, the Israeli defense minister Shimon Peres was asked by South Africa defense minister PW Botha if Israel would sell the apartheid country nuclear weapons. Peres responded by offering the weapons in three different sizes.
Israel is not a weak country. They have the full backing of the strongest military power in world history with the U.S. behind them. Israel also has high-tech military weapons, including nuclear weapons. The Palestinians deserve a country to call their own. Israel supported a two-state solution over sixty years ago. It is time for Israel to support a two-state solution once again.