“Occupation” and Oslo

The declaration of principles (DOP, or Oslo I) signed on the White House lawn in September 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the entire West Bank/Judea-Samaria and Gaza Strip for a transitional period not to exceed five years, during which Israel and the Palestinian Arabs would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (apart from a small stretch of territory containing a small number of Israeli settlements that “occupied” not a single Palestinian and were subsequently evacuated in 2005) and the Jericho area of the West Bank/Judea-Samaria. On July 1, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat made his triumphant entry into Gaza, and shortly afterward a newly- established Palestinian Authority (PA ) under his leadership took control of this territory.

On September 28, 1995, despite the PA ’s abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories under its control, Israel and the PA signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank/Judea-Samaria’s populated areas with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997). On January 20, 1996, elections to the Palestinian Council were held, and shortly afterward both the Israeli Civil Administration and military government were dissolved.

In effect, a Palestinian state had been established. In one fell swoop, Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank/Judea-Samaria’s 1.4 million residents. Since that time, nearly 60% of them have lived entirely under Palestinian jurisdiction (Area A). Another 40% live in towns, villages, refugee camps and hamlets where the PA exercises civil authority but, in line with the Oslo accords, Israel has maintained “overriding responsibility for security” (Area B). Some 2% of the W.Bank/J-S’s population – tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs – continue to live in areas where Israel has complete control, but even there the PA maintains “functional jurisdiction” (Area C).  This is NOT OCCUPATION.

In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian Arab population of the W.Bank/J-S and the Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli “occupation.” As the Palestinian Arab’s virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish media, school system and Islamic religious incitement can attest to, any “presence” of a foreign “occupation” has been virtually non-existent.

This in turn means that the presentation of terrorism as a natural response to the so-called “occupation” is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.