Disputed or Occupied Territories –
Who Knows Best?
BBC or James Baker,
Former Secretary Of State?

November 13, 2005

The BBC is right to use the Palestinian term “occupied lands” if it is sure the lands in question belonged to the Palestinian nation. And that the Palestinian nation were the legal owners of these lands in international law.

But how can this be if Arab Palestinian nationhood never existed until very recently? I can recall when Golda Meir protested in the Knesset that she too was a Palestinian. And showed her passport, issued by the Mandatory Authority, to prove it.

In fact, Arab Palestinian nationhood only coalesced some time after the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Army) was created in 1964, during a meeting known as the Palestinian Congress which took place in Lebanon.

The Ottomans ruled Palestine from 1517 to 1917. The British took over till 1948 when Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq attacked the newborn State of Israel, determined to obliterate it.

Israel expelled all the Arab armies in its War of Independence. Except Jordan which conquered the “West Bank”, and Egypt which conquered the Gaza Strip. That situation continued until 1967 when Israel defeated Jordan and Egypt in the Six Days War. They withdrew, leaving Israel in charge.

Why did Jordan not empower the so called “Palestinian nation” to create their own sovereignty during the 19 years it ruled the West Bank? After all Jordan went to war to aid the Arabs living here, not to increase its own territory?

Because a Palestinian nation never existed during those 19 years or before. Ergo it did not and could not have claimed “rights” to that land, since it had none

The same logic applied to Egypt’s Gaza Strip. It never occurred to the indigenous Arabs living there to demand Palestinian sovereignty because the idea of Palestinian nationhood did not exist until later.

And how come when Jordan and Egypt ruled these lands no one referred to them as occupied territories? Or to Egypt and Jordan as occupiers?

But after Israel’s victory, the territories were magically transformed by the Arabs (by an obvious but very successful public relations ploy!) into “occupied” lands. And Israel into “occupiers”.

The BBC, among others, decided to accept this ploy. But that’s all it was – a clever PR ploy. A stratagem, not international law.

The Palestinians will continue to refer to the areas as “occupied” for it has served them well. But the BBC and other media have no right to use ‘occupied’ as God’s truth. It was never more than a claim. It was wishfuil thinking, not historical fact.

If it is also the BBC’s intention to relay Israel’s truth, it must, correctly, use the term disputed territory. It certainly must not imply, as it has deliberately done, that “occupied” is Israel’s truth.

It will interest you to know that James Baker, former US Secretary of State, who was not the best friend of the Jewish state, supported the disputed territories position.

I quote the following from THE MYTH OF “OCCUPIED” TERRITORIES by Boris Shusteff, courtesy of Google:

“Mr. Baker categorically rejected the mislabeling of these lands. This happened at the Middle East Insight Symposium in Washington on May 4, 1998.”

“Hoda Tawfik, from the newspaper Al Ahram asked him, “What do you think is right? That these are occupied Arab territories and not disputed territories?”

“Baker replied, “They´re clearly disputed territories. That´s what Resolutions 242 and 338 are all about. They are clearly disputed territories.”

“Disputed” territories cannot become “occupied” territories with the wave of a hand.

Final disposition of these disputed lands will be settled, as required by the relevant United Nations’ Resolutions, in the peace plan to be agreed between the two disputants.

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