By Efraim Karsh for the Jerusalem Post (June 21):
- 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 and Gaza Strip.
- On September 28, 1995, despite the PA’s abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories under its control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank’s populated areas with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997).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.
- Israel relinquished control over virtually all of the West Bank’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 where the PA exercises civil authority but Israel has “overriding responsibility for security” (Area B). Some 2% of Palestinians continue to live in areas where Israel has complete control, but even there the PA maintains “functional jurisdiction”(Area C).
- In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the redeployment from Hebron in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has not lived under Israeli occupation. As the virulent anti-Israel and anti-Jewish media, school system and religious incitement can attest to, during these years, any presence of a foreign occupation has been virtually non-existent.
- This means that the presentation of terrorism as a natural response to the “occupation” is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.
The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at Kings College London, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University.