Why did Israel begin to move Jewish people into areas captured in the Six Day War?
As a result of the Six Day War, Israel gained all of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Sinai, the Gaza Strip, and Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank since its capture by Jordan in 1948.Almost immediately, Jews began to return to those areas to re-settleterritories commonly referred to as areas “outside the Green Line” (the pre-1967 border).The motivations of the inhabitants, or settlers, of these areas ranges from political, ideological or religious goals to financial considerations as they seek cheaper, more spacious living quarters commonly available outside the Green Line. [All settlements in theSinai were dismantled as part of the Israel-Egypt 1979 peace treaty.]
Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza Strip throughout recorded history, until the 1948 War of Independence, when they were forced to flee the invading Arab armies. Indeed, some of the current Jewish settlement communities existed prior to 1948, when they where overrun by invading Arab armies and destroyed. Kfar Etzion and other villages in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem corridor fell to Arab forces in May 1948 and those captured were massacred. Sons and daughters of Jews who lived there until 1948 were the first to return after the 1967 war.
In Hebron, the Jewish community existed throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule, until the massacre during the Arab rioting of 1929. Such settlements as Neve Ya’acov and the Gush Etsion block were established under the British Mandatory Administration, which allowed Jewish settlement in these areas.Even though British Mandate Authorities, particularly in the latter period of the Mandate, were not sympathetic to the Zionist cause, they nevertheless permitted the establishment of Jewish settlements in all areas west of the Jordan River, implementing the League of Nations Mandate. In fact,the Mandate called for Jewish settlement in all of the areas under British control including the almost 80% of the Mandate land that the British gave to create Trans-Jordan and prohibited Jewish settlement there.
Israel’s administration of the territory in 1967 replaced Jordan’s control of the West Bank and Egypt’s of the Gaza Strip. Egypt and Jordan gained control of these areas during the 1948 War with the newly established Israel, which according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, were to be part of the independent Arab state to be established alongside an independent Jewish state. Neither Jordan nor Egypt had legal sovereignty over these areas. Israel maintains that these areas can thus not be considered “occupied territories” under international law, since Israel did not “occupy” them from another sovereign nation, but are “disputed territories” over which there are competing claims, and whose future must be determined through negotiations. Since 1967, Israeli governments have maintained a willingness to withdraw from areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a peace agreement with the Arabs.
Under the Allon Plan, a proposal drawn up shortly after the 1967 war by Yigal Allon under which Israel would retain that section of the West Bank which would allow it to maintain defensible borders, the Labor government created some 21 settlements along the Jordan Valley and Eastern slopes of Samaria during that period, and avoided construction on the mountain ridge from Nablus to Jerusalem to Hebron.
None of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians restrict the building or expansion of settlements. Indeed, the issue of settlements is specifically noted as an issue that will only be discussed during final status negotiations, the final stage of the peace process. The only prohibition in these agreements is that neither side take steps to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as unilateral declarations of statehood or annexation, prior to final status negotiations. The Israeli Government has voluntarily frozen the building of new settlements, but recognizes the needs of existing settlements to meet the changing needs of their residents, such as the expansion of existing homes to accommodate growing families.
Since 1967, Israeli governments have maintained a willingness to withdraw from areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a peace agreement with the Arabs. In such a case, it was commonly expected that at least some of the settlements would have to be uprooted, just as the Israeli town of Yamit was dismantled following Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt. At Camp David in July 2000, Ehud Barak reportedly offered to uproot all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and the isolated settlements on up to 95 percent of the territory of the West Bank, as part of a final status agreement. The Palestinians rejected this offer.