Facts on the Occupation Myth
Misconception: Israel is occupying Palestinian territory. If Israel would simply leave these territories there would be peace.
Fact: Israel is not occupying any nation's sovereign territory. The status of the territories is uncertain as both sides have strong claims to the land. Israel remains there as a result of Palestinian refusal to accept a peace agreement and end terrorist activity.
A. Self-Rule of Palestinians
97% of all Palestinians in the disputed territories have under Palestinian Authority rule since the last of the land concessions during Oslo. Due to Israeli concessions, the Palestinian Authority has its own police force and controls municipal affairs for almost the entire Palestinian population. This number would have increased had it not been for the outbreak of violence.
At Camp David, in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered (among other unprecedented offers) almost the entire territory that the Palestinians demanded plus land transfers of land universally recognized as a part of Israel. This would have given the Palestinians complete autonomy. Instead of accepting this offer, the Palestinians leadership responded by turning to terrorism.
Incursions by the Israeli army into Palestinian areas are limited to necessary actions in order to root out terrorists who have attacked Israeli civilians and prevent further attacks. This type of military action was deemed acceptable by the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords.
B. Disputed Territories, Not Occupied Territories
The disputed territories were never part of a sovereign Palestinian nation. These lands were conquered by Jordan and Egypt in 1948 after the British vacated the area. Before this time the area was regarded as Greater Syria, a part of the Ottoman Empire. Both Jordan and Egypt have rescinded their claim to these lands. Even if the West Bank and Gaza are to be the site of an eventual Palestinian State, Jewish historical claims in the West Bank must not be ignored. Historical claims aside, these two nations must coexist.
These lands were gained by Israel in 1967, in a defensive war. It is misleading to refer to these disputed areas as "occupied." Just is it is unfair to assert Jewish claims to the land while ignoring Palestinian claims, it is wrong to forget the Jewish ties to the West Bank no matter who is to have possession of the land in a final peace agreement. Israel's concessions are in the hope of peace, not a renouncement of Jewish claims to the land.
C. Jewish Presence on Land
The Jewish people came to the Land of Israel over 3000 years ago. They have had a continual presence on the land since that time. Most Jews were forced to flee this land by invaders, but throughout history in Jewish liturgy and prayer the hope to return has remained alive. To consider the Jewish people outsiders in this land is a travesty which denies historical fact.