Then the LORD will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people. Joel 2 v18

Who's Land is it Anyway?

Tel Aviv and the Mediteranean seen from Alfe Menasheh - across the

Israel's coastal plain (the Sharon) seen from behind the "Green Line."

70% of Israel's population and industry is here. Within line of sight for firing rockets from a "Palestinian state."

The ownership of territory usually appears to follow the rule that "Possession is nine tenths of the law, but historical ownership could be taken into account.   The nation of Israel appears to hold its territory by both criteria.   (see below, re Judea and Samaria)    However, the ownership of Israel is a special case as it is the only territory which has been specially allocated by God to a people.

However, scriptural claims will cut no ice with the Nations of the world, But it can be shown that the Israel legally holds title to the land and the claims that Israel holds territory in defiance of "International Law" are invalid. Israel is often wrongly called a recently created interloper in an ancient neighbourhood - compare the age of the neighbouring states - Modern States.

Not only was the land handed over to the Jews by the nations in the same way as the Arab nations were, but the Zionist Jews purchased the land bit by bit.

(Everything one can say about the battle over "the Land" can also be said about the fighting over Jerusalem.)


If you read your Bible from the beginning, you will find the three first Jewish land purchases; Hebron (Genesis 23), Shechem (Genesis 33) and Jerusalem (2 Samuel 24). This prompted sages in the Middle Ages to be confident that the world would understand Jewish ownership of the Promised Land. This confidence proved misplaced. Where is the pressure for Jewish expulsion centred today? Judea (Hebron), Samaria (Shechem) and Jerusalem (Old city & Temple Mount)!

See also Biblical Christian Zionism for a balancing view of God's purposes for the Land and a Biblical viewpoint for the Christian Zionist.  Avoid running ahead of God and becoming political.

"In Genesis ch15 v9,10,17-21 we read how God made a covenant with Abram-Avram to give his descendants the land from "the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates".  This was for his descendents through Isaac, not Ishmael with whom God made a separate covenant (Gen 17 v19-21) and who he gave other lands.

We should also notice in Genesis 15, that the covenant God cut with Abram-Avram was one sided.

Gen 15:17 After the sun had set and there was thick darkness, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared, which passed between these animal parts. That day YHVH made a covenant with Avram: "I have given this land to your descendants — from the Vadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River —

God committed himself to keeping this covenant (it was only God who made a commitment by passing between the halves of the animals - Abraham merely observed) So the covenant promise of the land depends solely upon God and can not be negated by any failures on the part of Abraham and his descendents. (as is suggested by replacement theologians)

David's kingdom extended from the Wadi of Egypt (present South Western border) up to Euphrates in  present day Syria.   Israel captured the Sinai peninsula in 1967 but gave it back since it was not theirs by God's covenant.   David's kingdom also included a strip of present day Jordan up the East bank of the Jordan  (ancient Edom, Moav and Amon).

The Arab nations deny the right of Israel to exist, and have three times attempted to destroy it.   They refused to absorb the Arab refugees from the wars they started, while Israel absorbed a similar number of Jewish refugees.   

 Try this simple exercise with a map and a pair of scissors.   Cut out Israel and  all the Arab lands and then compare the area.  You could also consider where oil wealth is located.   
















The little gulf states do not show up very well. 

Iran is not included, not being Arab; just Islamic.   You could do the same exercise comparing the Islamic nations with Israel.   The Arab nations have 672 times as much land as the Jews have, but they will not accept a Jewish state in their neighbourhood.

Even the tiny yellow piece of land that is Israel is claimed by the Arabs, but that is not the ultimate goal.

The Palestinians have this map of the area, showing that their aim is the total removal of Israel, and the Jews, from the world map.

This is nothing to do with the proposed Palestine state which would be the so called West Bank and Gaza.   This is only the latest step.   See  Quotes page for policy statements from Palestinian spokesmen.



When Joshua and the children of Israel entered the promised land they were to destroy the pagan people who lived there; a task in which they were only partly successful.  The land was allocated on God's instructions, not to be owned or traded, but to be held in trust.  The Law contained provisions to ensure land remained in the families and any land which had been sold reverted in each Jubilee year.  When the people turned away from God he removed them from the land but brought later generations back.  The land remained God's property for the homeland of his chosen people.  The twentieth century saw God's chosen nation returning to this Promised Land from their longest and most painful exile.

When the Jews returned to the Holy Land it was not inhabited by "the Palestinian nation",  it was desolate and empty.  An eighteenth century French author called it a

"ruined and desolate land"  .  . . . "nothing but houses in ruins". 
A British archaeologist said Palestine was
"lacking people to till its fertile soil"
.  A 19th century poet said,
"Outside the gates of Jerusalem, we saw, indeed, no living object, heard no living sound."
In 1897 Mark Twain wrote, 
"Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes . . . desolate and unlovely . . . it is a dreamland."

( It is said that the seasonal rains ceased in 70CE, as the Exile commenced, and did not recommence until the return started during the British Mandate. )

The Jews bought their land from absentee landlords, in many cases.  The Jews did not dispossess an Arab nation of their flourishing homeland - they rejuvenated their Promised Land which had lain waste during their exile.   Most of the "Palestinians" moved in later to share the prosperity created by the returning Jews.  Palestinians who speak frankly will tell you that it is better to work for Jews than for Arabs.

The wrangles about territory and borders are very complex. The Israel Insider Story in Maps might help.


Israel's territory according to Scripture

If we are trying to get to grips with the question of what territory does God have in mind for Israel to comprise it is interesting to look at Bible descriptions on a map. Check out this page on Wildolive does not endorse the whole site but the maps are very interesting.

Israel's territory according to International Law

See International Law

New moves 2015

According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2, Israel is preparing a document providing the legal justification for Israeli settlements, which spells out why settlement construction in the West Bank is completely legitimate and does not violate international law. It will be translated into multiple languages and distributed to all Israeli embassies in the world. The document is part of an initiative spearheaded by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is guiding the Ministry’s legal team.

Channel 2 highlighted certain clauses of the document, among them passages stating that Israel’s property claims to Judea and Samaria are valid, as the land “was never under the legitimate sovereignty of any country,” and  because the “Jewish affinity to Judea and Samaria is thousands of years old.” The settlements, according to the document, are not new; nor do they constitute “colonization.”

According to Channel 2, the document also says that the settlements were established under the supervision of the Supreme Court, and that the Disengagement – Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 – was a unilateral political move, not the fulfillment of any kind of legal obligation.

Hotovely is going to convene legal minds from across the world to examine the document, which is being undertaken with the knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The document is based almost entirely on the Levy Report of 2012, the “Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria,” authored by a three-member judicial committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, which concluded that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an “occupation,” and that settlements are legal under international law.

Israel's Land - Put very simply......

From the time that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jews the area including the Bible lands was known as Palestina (a reference to Israel's long term foes). This area changed hands between empires, but was never a nation. The last empire to control this territory was the British Empire, and from this position Britain was mandated to sort out the territory. All the nations in the Middle East area are modern creations, carved up by Britain and other colonial powers, many as gifts to desert rulers.

On November 2nd 1917 Britain promised to favour "the creation of a national home for the Jews in Palestine" This document is known as the "Balfour Declaration

People hostile towards Israel have argued that the Balfour Declaration only spoke of a state for the Jewish people "in Palestine" - not all of Palestine.

This is true but, as the maps show, Israel was not given all of Mandated Palestine. But Israel was allocated all the territory west of the Jordan. This is the plan approved by the San Remo conference, and became International Law.


(See maps below)

British Mandated Palestine included Israel and Jordan.

The British mandate also included land that became Iraq and the Gulf States.


The British Mandate of Palestine

This is the area that Britain was responsible for after as the League of Nations had to apportion it after the destruction of the (Turkish - Muslim) Ottoman Empire in World War 1.

The Mandate was placed upon Britain by the League of Nations.

It is easy to see that present day Israel (even including Gaza, Judea and Samaria is only a part of mandated Palestine.




The Balfour Declaration - reneged upon

Britain reneged on the Balfour Declaration in the "White Paper" calling for an Arab state in the British mandate territory of  Palestine. 

Although there were twice as many Jews as Arabs,      The Arabs were to get 77%  and the Jews 23% .

This 77% was given to the Arab, Hashemite dynasty and became Transjordan

( since named Jordan).






Did the Ottoman Empire call the land Palestine while they ruled it ?

Apprently not

So, the Romans coined the term, then the area just lay neglected, then the Ottoman Empire took over and referred to the Middle East as "the Vilayet of Beirut".

But when the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War 1, the League of Nations split up the previously Ottoman territory into Mandates (see above) and named the one that included Biblical Israel, using the Roman name. Why they did this is not clear; it was not with reference to a Palestinian people.


"The West Bank"  / "Occupied Palestinian Territories" / Judea and Samaria


On November 29th in 1947, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II), which resolved that a Jewish state and another Arab state would be created out of what was left of Palestine Mandate territory. This map looked similar to the map below.

The Jewish inhabitants accepted their tiny state.   The Arabs did not accept the UN resolution and the existence of a Jewish state.   Thus began the Arab obsession to "push the Jews into the sea." And so, while Israel remembers November 29 for the UN's recognition of the legitimacy of a Jewish state - however tiny - the Arab world has memorialized it as "Al-Nakba," the Disaster.

Each year the UN hosts a formal event and commiserates with the "Palestinians" over their misfortune from the UN's passage of resolution 181!   At its 27th "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" meeting in 2005, a map of the Middle East was presented at the event attended by Kofi Annan and the presidents of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, but the state of Israel was nowhere to be seen on the map!

It should be remembered that because the U.N. adopts a resolution, it is not necessarily, right or just or legal; it is just the will of the majority and their self interests.   The UN is not a righteous arbitrator!

1948 War

As soon as the State of Israel came into being on 14th May 1948 the (British trained and equipped) armies seven Arab nations  invaded the new and reduced Israel in order to destroy it.     Israel faced them with 18,000 men armed with 10,000 rifles.   Even so the Lord God of Israel gave the Israelis victory.   However, Jordan occupied the Mountains of Judea and Samaria.

Only Britain and Saudi Arabia recognised this Jordanian occupation at the time.

When next Israel fought for its survival, in the six day war of 1967, it regained the mountains, Jerusalem and won the Sinai peninsula.

The cease fire line of 1948 became the line between Israel and its own "West Bank".  (the much misquoted "Green Line" ) In spite of Jordan having occupied the territory by force in 1948, and its occupation having never been recognized internationally, Israel is now said to be "occupying the West Bank".   It is all a matter of playing with words and dates.

The corridor between the "West Bank" and the sea is only 14km wide at its narrowest point.  Thus, if the Palestinians gained control of the West Bank, they could easily choke  Israel's North-South routes up the coastal plains by attacking from the high ground. Even Tel Aviv and its international airport would be in range of Surface to Air missiles and rockets like those rained down on Northern Israel from Lebanon by Hizballah, and those still falling on Southern Israel from Gaza.

The Green Line

The Green Line is spoken of as if it is a legal boundary that Israel is violating. Prof. Moshe Sharon explains the important truth thus, in his excellent "JIHAD, ISLAM AGAINST ISRAEL AND THE WEST"

The 1967 war created a new situation in the field: The armistice line from 1948-49, which had been drawn in green (not blue nor mauve) on the maps, was moved as an outcome of this war further east to the River Jordan, and in 1994 was ratified as international border by the peace agreement with Jordan. In the south, the Green Line was moved as a result of Israel's victory over the Egyptians, and in 1979 was recognized as an international border in the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. There is no Green Line any more! It was abrogated by a new war, and ultimately was turned into a "mauve line" by the peace agreements.

This is important, because "the Green Line" is starting to creep into discussions again and is being used in a dishonest manner.

Israel's need for "Defensible Borders"

UN Resolution 242

UN Resolution 242 is regularly misused against Israel but its suggestions include this recognition....

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

The UN Resolution 242 of 22nd November 1967, is regularly misquoted as pressing Israel to give up "all territories".   

Resolution 242 actually calls for . . . . 

Resolution 242 says every state should have defensible boundaries, free from threats.   Barak offered that but Arafat responded with the "Intifada".

The wording of Resolution 242

Attorney Gilead Sher explained the importance of minor wording issues in Resolution 242 in a Jerusalem Report article. (part of reproduced here)

When US PRESIDENT Barack Obama declared that the 1967 borders should serve as the basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, he deliberately undermined a 44-year-long international adherence to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.
Although the phrase he used, "1967 lines plus land swaps," may indeed reflect an eventual delineation of boundaries between Israel and a Palestinian state, it is a false starting point, which, from the outset, puts the onus on Israel and constrains the range of negotiation.
Resolution 242 was passed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter directly after the 1967 Six
Day War, and it set out principles for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from "territories occupied in the recent conflict."
Importantly. the resolution refers to territories, not "the" territories. The omission of the definite article was intentional, and has played a significant role in framing the assumptions and expectations of all parties involved since 1967.
Resolution 242 was drawn up by the British government. Lord Caradon, UK ambassador to the UN at the time, stated the following:
"We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the `the' in. We did not say all the territories, deliberately. We knew that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers; they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier. We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever: it would be insanity."
Then-British foreign secretary George Brown added: "I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to the Arab leaders. The proposal said 'Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied,' and not from 'the' territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all territories."
The American position was identical. Arthur Goldberg, then-US ambassador to the UN declared:
"Does Resolution 242 as unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council require the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from all the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 war? The answer is no. In the resolution, the words "the" and "all" are omitted. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict, without specifying the extent of the withdrawal. The resolution, therefore, neither commands nor prohibits total withdrawal..."

Gilead Sher, a practicing lawyer, who also teaches conflict management at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Tel Aviv, was prime minister Ehud Barak's chief of staff and Israel's co-chief negotiator with the Palestinians at the Camp David summit in 2000 and the Taba talks in 2001.

The above obviously assumes that a UN Resolution is valid and binding - which it is not under International Law.

It is unfortunate that such fine points of wording were intended to ensure an honourable solution but have become so widely overlooked with the passage of time. However, since the Israel haters happily swallow so many monstrous untruths, wilfully misunderstanding the omission of one word presents no difficulty; but this assumption should be understood and challenged.

Land for Peace -

see also Oslo

Many, in Israel and in the international community, believe the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is purely territorial and therefore negotiable. However, as itamar Marcus pointed out, The Islamic Movement (Hamas) according to its Charter believes that “the Land of Palestine is Islamic Waqf.” By saying this they have changed a potentially solvable territorial conflict into an insoluble conflict for God.

Just a day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis peace conference of 27th November 2007 pledged to negotiate a peace treaty by the end of 2008, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority continues to paint a picture for its people of a world without Israel.

An information clip produced by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics and rebroadcast 28th November 2007 on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television, shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state.

For a good review of how History of the region has been altered, read , History Upside Down, by David Meir Levi.

International Law concerning the disputed territory.

"Where the holder of territory has seized that territory in the lawful exercise of self defence it has, against the prior holder, better title.  As between Israel , acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbours, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."   (Stephen Schwebel,  American Journal of International Law,  May 1970.

Under the Mandate agreed to by the allied powers at the Treaty of San Remo, in 1920, the "Jewish National Home" was to include Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Israel and the Golan Heights.   This was approved by the League of Nations and was thus a matter of international law.   This has never been revoked!    Although Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria in 1950 after invading Israel in 1948, the annexation was never internationally recognized and even the British did not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem.   Since these territories were never legally Jordanian (Palestinian), Israel can not be said to be an "occupier" since international law holds that an occupying power is one that has taken land from its legitimate sovereign in an act of aggression.   The recapture of this territory thus returned to compliance with international law.   (Professor Talia Einhorn, a teacher of international law, quoted in "israel today, August 2003)

See article by Professor Talia Einhorn

The Status of Palestine/Land of and its Settlement Under Public International Law

Settlement Land

A popular accusation against Israel is that it has stolen Palestinian land to built its cities. This needs to be addressed. Happily, CAMERA (Committee for Acurate Middle East Reporting in America) has produced a thorough analysis. It starts....

Peace Now, the Israel-based advocacy group, has issued a new report, Breaking the Law – One Violation Leads to Another, claiming that “a large proportion of the settlements built on the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land,” including 86.4% of Ma’ale Adumim’s land and 35.1% of Ariel’s. Overall, the report claims, “Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which settlements have been built.” This is in direct contradiction to often repeated claims by numerous Israeli governments that settlements are built only on state (that is, public) land and not on private land.

This sounds bad, but read the full article at .....

The Camera report examines these and other claims and concludes.....

The bottom line is that even if Peace Now’s very questionable leaked data is technically accurate, its other “facts,” its analysis, and its conclusions are faulty, and therefore deserve little credibility.

If Peace Now continues to stand by its report it should release all the data it claims to have, which it has so far refused to do, and it should also provide the names of all the alleged owners of the land it claims was stolen. If it can’t name names, so that its very serious charges can be checked in detail in the Tabu, or land registry, it should publicly admit error and withdraw its report. And it should ensure that all the newspapers that splashed its claims on their respective front pages, print forthright corrections on those same front pages.

See also History Upside Down, by David Meir Levi.



A Bible based understanding

(We know how Anti-Israel the UN is and how unjust even Resolution 242 is)   See also Christians against Israel for an overview of the U.N. attitude towards Israel.

For a thorough explanation of the issue of the Land, read "The Mountains of Israel" by Norma Parrish Archbold.    

This book shows with scripture and maps that the "West Bank" is the "Mountains of Israel" of God's covenant and may not  be traded for an illusion of peace.  It concludes with a salutary look at Balaam's attempts to curse the Children of Israel for the King of Moab (in present day Jordan) during their return from exile.  (Read the story in Numbers 22-24.)  We are reminded that Israel is returning from its Roman exile and that Western leaders are being pressed to curse Israel and kick him out of the Mountains of Israel.  What will God use like Balaam's donkey this time in order to make them understand?

See also Ramon Bennett's,  "When Day and Night Cease", especially to see how the land conflict is fulfilling God's purposes for establishing Israel and then His kingdom.

David Meir-Levi has written a very concise guide to the complexities of the Israel-Arab conflict, including the territorial issues as well as the history. Highly recommended - possibly first choice. History Upside Down David Meir-Levi ISBN 978-1-59403-192-2

The state of Israel  came into being on 14th April 1948 - a day in advance of the UN declared date, since that was a Shabbat.  The Haftarah reading for that day was from the end of Amos.  

"In that day I will restore David's fallen tent.  I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name," declares the LORD, who will do these things.  "The days are coming," declares the LORD,  "when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.  I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,"  says the LORD your God.

Whatever man may decide and decree, the will of the sovereign Lord of the Universe seems clear enough!

David Silver tackles another, religious, objection to Israel's ownership of the land, in his book, "A Slow Train Coming".

Yes, some may say, "But Israel broke the covenant." No she didn't. If we look at the story as it unfolds in Genesis 15 v12, the LORD put Abraham to sleep. The procedure in cutting a covenant was that the two parties would walk backwards and forwards in the body parts and the blood, speaking out their covenant promises. When God made the Abrahamic covenant Abraham was asleep. God promised Abraham the land, but Abraham promised nothing. The Jews have no covenant promise to break!


Who is entitled to the Land of Israel is a very complex and emotive subject.  

Steve Maltz has produced an excellent study of all the arguments over this land which has been called by so many different names, all of which convey somebody's point of view.

The writing style is clear, witty,  refreshing and provocative.

The Land of Many Names  by Steve Maltz   ISBN 1-86024-287-1

Legal expert Alan Baker discusses the so called "Occupation" of the land



Updated 05/11/18

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