Occupied Territories

Generally the term « Occupied Territories » were used until the implementation of the first phase of the Oslo Agreements to mean the territory under the former British Mandate over Palestine occupied by Israel during the 1967 war – the West Bank and Gaza -. In fact, other territories were occupied at the same time and remain so, such as the Syrian Golan Heights. Other areas have since been added to the list in the south of Lebanon: the Israeli « security zone » in the region.

The status of the occupied Palestinian territory changed many times over since the beginning of the century and the situation there changed depending on the region.

After 1948 and the first Arab-Israeli war, these territories were administered by two Arab states: the Gaza Strip by Egypt, the west bank of the Jordan river, today the West Bank, by the Hashemite Kingdom. Whereas Cairo only limited itself to administering Gaza, Amman integrated the West bank into the Kingdom of Jordan. Consequently, Palestinians of the west Bank received Jordanian passports and were recognized as Jordanian citizens. The integration of the West Bank into Jordan also resulted in a conflict of legitimacy between the PLO and the Hachemite Monarchy with regards to the legal representation of the Palestinian people. This conflict iwas as much as about the West Bank Palestinians as it was about the Palestinian diaspora, which in Jordan represents 60% of the total population. Dramatised during the infamous Black September, this legitimacy conflict was brought to an end in 1988 when Jordan renounced its claim the West Bank, hence opening the door to the proclamation of a Palestinian State by the PLO in November 1988.

After the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, where the inhabitants retained their Jordanian nationality, and took over the administration of the West Bank and Gaza with, however, two very different legal systems. Thus, in 1972, and again later in 1976, with the hope of seeing new and friendlier local authorities, Israel organized municipal elections (the last elections had been in 1963) in the West Bank in accordance with Jordanian law, but at the same time had to appoint mayors in the Gaza Strip. However, the mayors were gradually removed from office by the occupying authority for being too sympathetic to Palestinian resistance, with the exception of the mayors of Bethlehem and a couple of neighbouring villages in spite of their identical positionsAfter that, isrel did not try to repeat the electoral experience.

After King Hussein’s decision of August 1988 renouncing the integration of the West Bank into the Hashemite Kingdom, the West Bank and Gaza have been in practically the same legal situation, having the status of occupied territories.

Following the partial implementation of the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian Territories are referred to as « autonomous Palestinian Territories » for zones A and B (which respectively correspond to 10% and 21% of the West Bank and 70% of the Gaza strip) and as « Occupied Territories » for zone C in the West Bank, East-Jerusalem and the remaining colonised zones in the Gaza strip.
NB: Whereas international institutions and Europeans in general refer to these regions as « Occupied Territories », Israelis have called them, following party policy, « Administered Territories » (Labour), « Judea, Samaria and Gaza » (Likud), or « Territories » (Israeli journalists).