Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria believe that they live under the “oppressive Israeli regime” when, in reality, it is the Palestinian Authority that governs them. A brief review of the history shows how this misconception came about, and why the “two-state” solution has been ongoing – and failing – for the past 20 years.

As evidenced by the video “Palestinian Perception of ‘Suffering’ Under Israel” by Corey Gil-Shuster, Palestinians living on the West Bank of the Jordan River are fully convinced that they live, and suffer greatly, under the oppressive regime of the conqueror, Israel. How did such a conviction come about, and is it true?

When in the course of the 1967 war the entire West Bank of Jordan fell into Israel’s hands, it was expected that the majority of this land would be promptly given to Jordan once the war was over in exchange for a peace treaty. For this reason Israel refrained from officially annexing this land, except for the regained portions of her capital city, Jerusalem, and some land immediately surrounding it. Israel did, however, undertake to supply the “conquered” area with essential resources such as water and electricity since these could no longer be obtained from Jordan.

Map of JordanBut Jordan, along with the rest of the Arab world, refused peace with Israel, negotiation with Israel, recognition of Israel (the “infamous three nos”). So Israel hung on to the land, never officially claiming it, always hopeful that the desire to regain it would move Jordan to recognition, negotiation and peace. It is the first irony, in a situation replete with irony, that when Jordan was finally ready, in October 1994, to make peace with Israel, this land was no longer Israel’s to give back. For in May 1994, following the first Oslo Accord, Israel ceded control of much of the land to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has reigned there ever since.

Initially, when control of the region first passed to Israel, life under Israeli “rule” continued much as it had under Jordanian rule. Prepared and expecting to return the region to Jordan, Israel made every effort not to interfere in or change the existing institutions. But in 1986, Arafat of the PLO ordered all local leaders and all those who worked in public services to resign their positions. Those who refused the order were killed; as for example the police chief of Ramallah, who was knifed while returning home from work one evening. Deprived of local authorities and civil services, Israel was forced to take over these functions in the West Bank, leading to charges of “oppression” and, of course, affording an excuse to begin the first “intifada.” Here then is the second irony: the lack of autonomy, one of the Palestinians’ most constant and bitter complaints, was in fact their own doing, not Israel’s. Yet once the land was ceded to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority instituted, did this not re-establish Palestinian autonomy? For if the PA is not, as its name implies, a legitimate Palestinian government, what is it?

So the greatest irony of the video “Palestinian Perception of ‘Suffering’ Under Israel” is that, in actual fact, these Palestinians are not under Israeli rule, but rather under the rule of the PA – and have been for over 20 years. In fact, this video might have been a tribute to all the PA had accomplished, if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that Israel is still the one supplying electricity, water and other necessary resources – as well as many business opportunities. And that is because, although they have territory and a local authority and potential resources of their own, the Palestinians have never tried to create an independent working state: never established a working civilian infrastructure, never cultivated their national resources, never tried to build an internal economy.

And the final irony of the situation today? It’s the issue most complained about in the video – the issue of checkpoints. Security checkpoints are common between any two independent countries, as for example between USA and Canada – two neighbors on very good terms. But just try passing from the US side of Niagara Falls to Canadian side without your passport handy! So security checkpoints between Israel and “Palestine” are, ironically, proof of nonoccupation by Israel. Objectively, the “two-state solution” has been in existence for the last 20 years – the Palestinians just don’t seem to realize it!

By: Dvirah Talbi