Calls for a freeze on Jewish construction in disputed Territories - while Arab construction, which far exceeds Jewish development, continues unfettered - are clearly biased.
Arabs claim that Jewish settlements "change the status" of the Territories and represent a distortion of the Oslo Accords. The phrase applies to acts that change the political status of the disputed territory - such as outright Israeli annexation or a Palestinian declaration of statehood. Since Jewish settlements are legal, any halt in construction should be reciprocated.
The Oslo Accords do not forbid Israeli or Arab settlement activity. Charges that further Jewish settlement activity preempts final negotiations by establishing realities, requires reciprocity. If the West Bank and Gaza were de jure part of the British Mandate, and if the Mandate borders are the last legal document concerning this territory; and if Jews were forcibly expelled from the West Bank and Gaza in 1948 during a war of aggression aimed at themthen these Territories must be considered disputed Territories, at the least.
The Israeli-Palestinian border dispute is like every other major and minor boundary dispute around the globe. Since the West Bank and Gaza were redeemed in 1967 in a defensive war and are not "Occupied Territories" gained illegally by a bellicose power; and since this fact is recognized in the wording of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 that call for a settlement to institute "secure and recognized borders," calling for a construction freeze on Jewish settlements should, logically, be paralleled by a freeze on Arab construction in the West Bank.
According to a former policy planning official, the tempo of Arab construction is "more than 10 times the number of buildings under construction [in the Territories] than those approved [by the Israeli government] for the [Jewish] settlers."
The Oslo II Agreement recognizes de facto the special status and security needs of Jewish communities in the West Bank.
The agreement regulates the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis by establishing three types of administration: full Palestinian self-rule in totally Arab areas (Area A); Israeli civil and military control in totally Jewish areas (Area C); and civil Palestinian self-rule and Israeli military control in intermediate areas (Area B). The final status remains to be established, which is why "Legally Held Disputed Territories" represents the appropriate and accurate term.
Rather than negotiate a settlement, as agreed to in September 1993, Palestinians elect to break their commitment and to intensify the use of terrorism as a political vehicle in a low-tech war of aggression.
The status issue has been co-opted and warped by the Palestinians in an attempt to curtail Jewish settlement. Neither the 1993 "Oslo I" (the Declaration of Principles) nor the 1995 Oslo II (Interim Agreement) stipulate that the construction of settlements, neighborhoods, houses, roads or other building projects cease - pending a peacefully negotiated final settlement between the parties. According to a former policy planning official, the pace of Arab construction is "more than 10 times the number of buildings under construction [in the Territories] than those approved [by the Israeli government] for the [Jewish] settlers." Calls for a freeze on Jewish construction in the Territories - while Arab construction continues unfettered, are unfair - all the more so, in light of the fact that Jews were forcibly expelled from these Territories in 1948.
Legalities aside, before 1967 there were no Jewish settlements in the West Bank and for the first ten years of so-called "occupation" there were almost no Jewish settlers in the West Bank. And still there was no peace with the Palestinian Arabs. The notion that Jewish communities pose an obstacle to peace is a red herring designed to blame Israel for lack of progress in the Peace Process and enable Palestinian leadership to continue to reject any form of compromise and reconciliation.
Because the Arabs were clearly the aggressors, nowhere in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 or 338 - the cornerstones of a peace settlement - is Israel branded as an invader or occupier of the Territories and there is no call for Israel to withdraw from all the Territories. Palestinians allegations that the wording of 242 was "deliberately ambiguous" or misconstrued are unfounded.
Professor, Judge Schwebel, a former president of the International Court of Justice, wrote in What Weight to Conquest:
"Where the prior holder of territory [Jordan] had seized that territory unlawfully; the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has against that prior holder [a] better title.
"As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem."
The world should take notice: Arab illegal aggression against the territorial integrity and political independence of Israel cannot and should not be rewarded.