by Ram ben Ze'ev (Conservative Values)
In the complex tapestry of Middle Eastern geopolitics, the status of Judea and Samaria, incorrectly * referred to by many people as the 'West Bank', remains a contentious issue. With a history rich in Jewish cultural and religious significance, these areas currently exist under a hybrid legal system that separates Israeli and Arab communities. What follows is my proposal for the application of Israeli law uniformly across all areas of Judea and Samaria.
Judea and Samaria have been central to Jewish history for millennia, intertwined with the narrative of the Israeli people. In 1948, following the the establishment of the modern State of Israel, several Arab states launched a military offensive against Israel. These countries were:
Egypt: Egyptian forces entered the territory of what had until recently been the British Mandate for Palestine (in which Great Britain had a legal obligation to form a Jewish homeland under International law, which it failed to do), moving towards Tel Aviv.
Transjordan (now Jordan): The Arab Legion of Transjordan, considered the most effective Arab force at the time, attacked Israel. They primarily focused on the Jerusalem area and later Judea and Samaria. As a result, they * begin referring to the area as the 'West Bank' a reference to the west bank of the Jordan river.
Syria: Syrian troops invaded the northern part of Israel.
Lebanon: Lebanese forces attacked from the north, focusing on areas in the Galilee.
Iraq: Iraqi forces entered the region from the east, joining forces with the Transjordan Arab Legion and engaging in combat in multiple locations.
These attacks marked the beginning of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the War of Independence for Israelis or the Nakba ("catastrophe") by Arabs. This war had significant and lasting impacts on the region, including the establishment of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, the displacement of a substantial number of Arabs, and the establishment of the State of Israel within new borders that differed significantly from those outlined in the UN Partition Plan.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Judea and Samaria came under Israeli control. However, the legal framework governing them has been a patchwork of military and local laws, leading to a complex and often inefficient system of governance.
Applying Israeli law uniformly across all areas of Judea and Samaria would yield a number of benefits including:
Security: One of the most compelling arguments for this proposal is security. By extending Israeli law, Israel could ensure more effective control and quick response to security threats, essential for the safety of its citizens.
Legal Uniformity: The application of a single legal system would eliminate the current legal disparities and ambiguities, ensuring equal treatment under the law for all residents. This uniformity could foster a more cohesive societal structure and better integration of services.
Economic Development: Israeli law could open avenues for economic development in Judea and Samaria. With improved legal frameworks, these areas could attract more investments, benefiting both Israeli and Arab communities.
This proposal is not without international ramifications. While it could be seen as a unilateral move by Israel, it’s essential to engage in diplomatic dialogues with neighbouring countries and international bodies to mitigate tensions. Explaining the security and economic benefits could be vital in gaining broader understanding, if not support.
Critics argue that this move could further complicate the Israeli-Arab conflict, impacting the lives of Arab residents. These concerns are valid and warrant serious consideration. Ensuring that the rights of all residents are respected and upheld will be crucial in the implementation of this proposal.
Looking at similar scenarios, such as Israel’s integration of East Jerusalem, provides insight into both the challenges and successes of such policies. Internationally, there have been instances where countries have successfully integrated disputed territories, providing valuable lessons on integration and governance.
The proposal to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria is not just about legal reform; it's about taking a step towards a more secure, economically stable, and legally uniform future. While challenges exist, the potential benefits for all residents, Israeli and Arabs alike, are significant. This move requires careful planning, international dialogue, and a commitment to upholding the rights and freedoms of all people in the region. As we move forward, let us do so with a sense of hope and a vision for a better future for all.
* Those people who use this incorrect term today are demonstrating their support for the unlawful attack against Israel in 1948 and the continued attacks that have been ongoing since then and which culminated with the 7 October 2023 atrocities against Israel; including the murder of innocent Israelis, the rape of women and girls, the beheading of children and their burning of their bodies and the taking of over 240 hostages, many of whom are now presumed dead, murdered by Arab terrorists.