The Case for Judea and Samaria

When regarding Judea and Samaria, the common use of the term “settlements” has long irked me. I haven’t taken a liking to the term “West Bank” either. No country has ever had to call the land captured in a defensive war a “settlement.” It was universally accepted as their land that they won fair and square.

This worldwide double standard when it comes to Israel comes as no surprise. However, when Israel’s recent action to expand the so-called “settlements” of E-1after the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN was condemned worldwide, I felt that this situation was turning into something unsustainable. The land expansion was a unilateral decision, yes. But not one that was any different from the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral decision to approach the UN for a state. Nor was it any different from Hamas unilaterally deciding to kick the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza back in 2007. Or when Israel unilaterally pulled out from Gaza in 2005. It just seemed that whenever an action was in favor of the Palestinian “underdog,” the world stayed silent. However, once the tiny Jewish state tried to respond to unilateral Palestinian actions, even the allies were opposed to, the worlds’ voices rose up to condemn.

However, there is a solution to avoid such condemnation in the future: a total and full annexation of the territories that are inhabited by Israelis, Jewish and Arab citizens alike. I am not suggesting Ehud Barak’s offer from Camp David in 2000, where we offered the Palestinians all but 2-percent of the land of the 1967 borders. I am not suggesting that Israel give up the territories at all. Rather, I am saying that Israel should keep some of the land under the status of “territory” and some should be annexed into the current borders of Israel.

That select land would be the places the Jewish people have lived for years already. It would also encompass those places that wish to be under Israeli control permanently. This may not account for much, but it will ensure that Israel will not have another Gush Katif situation. Once the land will be considered Israel’s, it’ll be Israel’s for good.

We have already seen that land for peace initiatives don’t work. The giving back of Gaza proved that. However, Israel needs some leverage to bring the Palestinians to the negotiation table, even if all efforts have proved fruitless as of yet. Therefore, the land on the negotiation table should not be Jewish land. It should not be land that has been inhabited and worked for countless generations. It should not include Jewish holy sites, like the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Tomb of Rachel and Eastern Jerusalem. But it can include the land already under Palestinian Authority control, called Area A. I just don’t see why Israel has to continuously be criticized for building on land they are never willing to give up. If it were annexed, Israel would stop getting criticized, once the world forgot it hadn’t initially been part of the borders of Israel.

I’m not saying all this so that Israel will be considered the bully of the Middle East. Rather, it’s just the opposite. I like to believe that no person likes violence. No Palestinian wakes up craving to shoot rockets at Israelis and no IDF soldier wakes up running to shoot a missile at a terrorist hideout. That’s not how the human psyche works. However, the Palestinians have settled with Hamas to represent them militarily, and the Palestinian Authority, diplomatically. They have not expressed their frustrations within their own governing parties, as Israelis have quite vocally. Nor have they gotten very far with the peace process they claim to strive for. Countless times, Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for Abbas to return to the negotiation table. Countless times, he’s been snubbed, so much so that that table is just a speck in the distance.

Unilateral, means independent. Israel is an independent state as of 1948. Therefore, it, above any other entity in the region is allowed to make independent decisions without the rest of the worlds’ opinions taken into account. Sure, Israel can hear them out and take suggestions. But the country has the final say on the decisions made. At first, the annexation may come with much criticism, but give it twenty or thirty years; people forget. And Israel will be left with bigger, more defensible borders than before.

About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.