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Should Jews Live in the West Bank? By High School Fellow, Lily Schmutter

In 1947, the United Nations presented the Partition Plan to divide what was referred to then as Palestine, between the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews accepted this proposal, but the Arabs rejected it and attacked the newly established Jewish State of Israel. A result of this war was an illegal annexation by Jordan of Judea and Samaria, geographically known as the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem. Under Jordanian occupation, Jews were not allowed to enter these areas.

In 1967, Israel was attacked again by surrounding Arab countries and was victorious on every front. As a result of this war, Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, in addition to land in the north and south. UN Resolution 242 ordered Israel to relinquish territory obtained during this war, but it didn’t state “all” territory and it didn’t specify which territory. The goal was for this to be determined through peace negotiations (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-meaning-of-un-security-council-resolution-242). Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan, however such attempts with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) concerning Judea and Samaria have failed since the PLO has rejected every offer that’s been presented. Meanwhile, Jews have developed communities in Judea and Samaria and in my opinion, Jews should continue to live there.

One right the Jews have to live in Judea and Samaria is the biblical right. According to the Torah, G-d gave the whole land of Israel to the Jewish nation alone. Jews also have a legal right to live in Judea and Samaria because according to international law, a sovereign state does not have to give up land seized in a war until a peace deal has formally been signed with the opposing country or countries. Because there has been no peace deal signed since the Six-Day War regarding the acquisition of the territory of Judea and Samaria, Jewish people have every right to keep that land as their own and maintain control over it.

Another argument in favor of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is the principle of national security. Israel held this territory because if it didn’t, the citizens of Israel could be gravely endangered by close-range enemy attacks. This land could be used to fire rockets into Israel like what terrorists do in Gaza. The decision to maintain control of Judea and Samaria by the Israeli government was strategic from a security standpoint. Giving up Judea and Samaria would leave a mere 9 mile stretch between Israel’s borders across its most narrow middle and giving over the hills of Judea and Samaria would give Israel’s enemies a direct vantage point for attacking Israel’s highly populated cities like Tel Aviv (http://www.myesha.org.il/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/hoveretweb.pdf – pg. 13). Jews living in Judea and Samaria actually make the rest of the country safer.  

Finally, many people make the false assertion that if the Israelis leave Judea and Samaria, there would be peace with the Palestinian Arabs. However, there wasn’t peace before the Six Day War and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected every proposal presented since then and refused to negotiate even when Israel followed through with the Obama administration’s proposed ten-month moratorium on building in Judea and Samaria. The PA demonizes the Jewish nation and teaches its children to hate Jews, encouraging martyrdom. It will take many generations to rid the Palestinian Arab culture of such an ideology if such an effort even exists.  

Jews should live in Judea and Samaria because of their biblical right, their legal rights, and for national security reasons, and should not be condemned for doing so.