the crux of the conflict

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    The Crux of the Conflict
    Ryan Jones
    18 July 2003

    On Tuesday, July 15, Israel’s Knesset voted 26-8 in favor of a resolution that declared Judea, Samaria and Gaza in fact were not “occupied” territories, and that, according to historical evidence and international law, Israel has a right to control these areas.

    "The territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are not occupied territories neither from a historic standpoint, nor from that of international law, and not according to the agreements signed by the State of Israel... The Knesset strengthens the hands of the residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and calls upon the government to continue to develop the communities,” read part of the resolution.

    Predictably, the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday strongly condemned the “provocative” resolution as a violation of international law and UN resolutions.

    This under-reported event highlights an issue that is typically overlooked by the region’s Western “benefactors,” but in reality is the crux of the conflict and the reason why every attempted “peace” initiative has failed.

    Israel has traditionally entered peace negotiations with the underlying understanding that it has a right to control Judea, Samaria and Gaza - both from a historical perspective and according to international law - and yet is willing to give up sovereignty over those areas as a gesture of goodwill and out of a desire to live in peaceful coexistence.

    The Palestinians, on the other hand, have entered negotiations on the basis that their country was “stolen” from them by Israel, and that the Jewish state is an usurping occupier who has no right to exist in the region. Nonetheless, they are ostensibly willing to recognize Israel on part of the land as a “peace” concession.

    Before going any further it is important to note we are not talking about the right of individual people to live on the land, but rather about national sovereignty.

    Israel draws legitimacy for its claim to the land from both history - ensconced in archeological evidence and written record - and recognized, but largely forgotten, international law.

    The San Remo Conference of 1920 provides the last lawfully implementable international dictate to be issued on the Israeli-Arab conflict, and that document bestows eventual national sovereignty over the entire Palestine Mandate on the Jews. A UN attempt to legally divide the land in 1947 was rejected by the Arabs, thus making the San Remo Conference the only legally binding document of record regarding this conflict.

    Subsequent UN resolutions dealing with Israel’s takeover of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were all passed under Chapter VI of that body’s charter, meaning they are suggestions and starting points for negotiations, not international law. At best - as far as the Palestinians are concerned - Judea, Samaria and Gaza are disputed territories that legally belong to neither side; territories which have not had an internationally recognized sovereign since the Ottoman Empire, and never a Palestinian Arab one.

    What the West fails to understand, however, is that the Palestinians are not truly driven by the letter of international law, but rather by another force - Islam. The tenets of Islam will never allow the Arabs to view Israel as an entity that may actually have a legitimate claim to the land, but is nonetheless willing to trade that claim for peaceful coexistence. Israel must, according to Islam, be viewed as the conqueror of a land that once was, and therefore must always be, under the Dar el-Islam - the House of Islam. This is the starting point, in the Arabs’ minds, of any negotiations with Israel, irrespective of historical right or the letter of international law.

    With this in mind, it is little wonder that the Palestinians - ten years into the “peace” process - continue to view Israel as an enemy and teach their children to do the same. Nor should it be surprising that the Palestinians view violent acts of brutality against the Israeli “conqueror” as a perfectly legitimate means of regaining a land that - while it was never a sovereign Palestinian Arab entity - was once firmly in the grasp of Islam.
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    Ryan Jones is News Editor of Jerusalem Newswire, where this article first
 
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