Question: "Should Israel be building settlements in the occupied territories, i.e., the West Bank and East Jerusalem?"
Answer: In December 2016 the Security Council of the United Nations passed a resolution that condemns Israel for its building of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. However, the resolution was nothing but a formal statement of what most nations in the world already believed about the settlements. The United Nations has passed similar resolutions against Israel as far back as 1979. The difference is that these resolutions did not carry the authority of the Security Council. Prior to 2016, the United States had always vetoed any Security Council resolutions against Israel. Israel and its relationship to its neighbors and the West Bank (and Gaza) is a complicated issue. Here is a brief history:
Israel became a sovereign nation in 1948 when the United Nations officially recognized its existence. Immediately, Israel’s neighbors attacked the new nation, seeking to destroy it before it could be established. This conflict became known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, and Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. After fighting ended, the nation of Israel stayed within the borders designated for it by the United Nations in 1948. Nineteen years later, in 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq attacked again, with additional help from other Arab nations. In what became known as the Six-Day War, Israel again defeated the attackers. After this conflict, however, Israel seized control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (from Jordan), the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza (from Egypt), and the Golan Heights (from Syria). Ever since, Israel’s occupation of those territories has been a matter of international debate. Israel gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt in 1979 as part of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. In 1994, Israel turned local control of the cities of Gaza and Jericho to the Palestinian Authority. In 2005, Israel withdrew all settlements from the Gaza Strip as well as four settlements in the West Bank. The following year, the terrorist group Hamas took political control of the Gaza Strip and has militantly opposed the State of Israel ever since. In October 2023, Hamas conducted the deadliest terror attack on Israel since Israel gained its independence.
Israel has been building settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1972, although the building of settlements has been greatly expanded in recent years. The Palestinians in the West Bank have protested loudly, claiming those lands belong to them. However, Israel was attacked by its neighboring countries at the behest of the Palestinians. There is a universally understood concept that, if you attack a nation and lose, there are consequences. The attacks on Israel in 1948 and 1967, the countless intifadas, the acts of terrorism, the kidnappings, etc., have all been unprovoked. Israel has never been the military aggressor against its neighbors. When a nation seizes territory from the nations that attacked it, the action is normally seen as a justifiable way for that nation to solidify its defense. In any situation not involving Israel, there would be universal recognition of the nation’s right to control the seized territories.
For some reason, when the situation involves Israel, the international community has always been on the side of the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbors. Why is this? Latent and overt anti-Semitism? The tremendous influence of the Arab nations due to their control of the oil market? Compassion for the Palestinians? It is likely a combination of those and other factors. But none of those factors change the history. Israel suffered an unprovoked attack and occupied those territories in order to better defend itself from future attacks.
Biblically speaking, Israel has every right to possess, occupy, and build homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and far more. All of those territories are well within the borders of the land that God promised to the nation of Israel. Israel currently possesses a fraction of the land the Word of God declares belongs to it (see Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4). Unless the Palestinians are descendants of the tribes of Israel (which is possible), they have absolutely no biblical claim to live on those lands. Whatever the case, they have no biblical basis for preventing the nation of Israel from occupying and building homes in those territories.
GotQuestions.org is decidedly and unashamedly pro-Israel. We do not claim Israel is entirely guiltless in the conflict with the Palestinians. However, whatever crimes Israel has committed are outweighed by the terrorism, crimes, and military attacks perpetuated against it by the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors. The failure or refusal of the United Nations to recognize this is amazing and distressing. There is no adequate explanation for the sheer blindness of the United Nations toward the reality of the Israel-Palestinian conflict other than satanic deception.