13:29 GMT21 January 2021
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    Israel is set to vote on a sovereignty bill on 1 July and while most of the world has slammed the move, some say the disputed areas of the West Bank have always belonged to the Jewish people, promised to them by the same global community that's now questioning Tel Aviv's actions.

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to drop its intention to annex parts of the West Bank, a move that's planned for early July. 
    The UN chief made the comments to the Security Council on Wednesday, stressing that the move would be devastating for the two-state solution and "a most serious violation of international law". 
    But for Professor Abraham Sion, a former chair of the Centre for Law and Mass Media at Ariel University, Guterres' comments don't make any sense, simply because it was the international community that authorised the Jewish state's control over the currently disputed territories. 

    Promises Given 

    It all started in 1917, the year when the Balfour declaration was pronounced. Given by the British government that announced the establishment of "a national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, it was the first official document that cemented the Jewish people's connection to what is now known as Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

    Soon after Britain won the First World War, defeating the Ottoman Empire and splitting the territories it controlled between itself and its allies, in the 1920s the new rulers established their mandates over Syria, Mesopotamia [current Iraq - ed.], and Palestine with the aim to give the people inhabiting them independence within several years.

    "It was then that the powers decided to give Palestine to the Jews, whereas Arabs would receive the rest of the Middle East", said Sion.

    However, there was a catch. While the Arabs made up the majority of the population in Palestine, it was the Jewish minority that was supposed to get the future independent state. The Arabs, "who considered themselves as Syrians rather than Palestinians", were only given "religious and civilian rights" in the area that they considered theirs.

    To overcome this contradiction, London started encouraging the Jewish population to immigrate to Palestine. By 1935, their numbers had already reached 27 percent, something that infuriated the Arabs.

    In an attempt to halt the waves of immigration, Arabs organised rallies and clashed with the British authorities as well as the Jewish population, efforts that eventually bore fruit.

    In 1939, after realising that their military presence was too heavy on their pocket, London, which wanted to calm down the Arabs, introduced the so-called White Paper that limited the Jewish immigration to the area. However, it failed to block it completely.

    By 1947, their numbers already stood at 32 percent and that growing trend was reflected in a decision by the United Nations, which voted on the partition of Palestine that same year, splitting it into more or less two equal parts: Israeli and Palestinian.

    Although the West Bank was not included in the territories designated for the Jewish state, and neither was Jerusalem, the struggle of the Jews to control what was promised to them by the Balfour declaration has never ceased.

    "That's why it is wrong to say that Israel occupied this land [when it conquered it from Jordan [in 1967 - ed.]. We only claimed back what originally belonged to the Jewish people", explained Sion.

    Ignoring Basic Facts

    The problem is that now the international community dismisses these historic facts, believes the expert. "Some people are hypocritical. They know the facts but choose to ignore them; others - and this is the bigger camp - are simply ignorant", he said, suggesting that the Arabs are using this to distort history, pumping billions of dollars into their propaganda. 

    Israel, on the other hand, exerts minimum effort to change the axiom coined by the Arabs, investing very little in public diplomacy and propaganda that would "unveil the truth that's been swept under the carpet".

    In 2019, for example, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs that's responsible for pro-Israel advocacy, invested some $27 million dollars.

    A year later, the ministry's budget was significantly reduced and it now stands at $11 million, half of which goes into paying the salaries of the governmental body's employees

    For Sion, this policy is a strategic mistake. "Israel invests less than a medium size company [into its PR], so unless it changes, the world will continue to regard Judea and Samaria as Palestinian areas; and some Israelis will do too".

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    West Bank, Palestine, Israel
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