Who has treated the Arabs in Judea and Samaria better? The Jews or the Arabs. Take a poll. Bassam Eid claims that the Arabs will tell you that it is the Jews who treat them better – not the Arabs. This is a bold statement – one that puts him in harm’s way. But he stands up proudly and says it.
Let’s discuss the origin of where he comes up with his opinion. First off, note that he is clearly old enough to remember life before the Oslo accords. He is doing a simple A/B test. Life before Oslo vs. life after. In his opinion it’s crystal clear – things were much better before. Why is that? What changed with the Oslo accords?
The area that is referred to as Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank of the Jordan, has been an area of dispute for many decades. Following the end of the British Mandate and the formation of the State of Israel, Jordan occupied the area during the War of Independence of 1948-1949. Israel won the war, but did not liberate all of the areas of the Land of Israel. Even the Holy City of Jerusalem was split into two. Jordan won the battle for the Old City, and the Jewish people were cut off from the Holiest Jewish place – the Temple Mount. For 19 years, the Arabs who lived under Jordanian domination lived in squalor. The Hashemite Kingdom basically didn’t care much about their welfare, and they were happy to leave the Arabs there as poor refugees that would one day rise up and give trouble to the Jewish State.
But in 1967, Israel won a massive victory in the Six Day War and liberated not only Jerusalem, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights. But it also liberated the entire area of Judea and Samaria. What differentiated it from the Sinai or the Golan Heights is that there was a significant Arab population that was living there that had to be dealt with. For around 20 years, Israel was basically in charge of all matters of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. However, in the late 80’s, Arabs in Judea and Samaria began to protest violently with stones, slingshots, and worse. Within Israel, there were various opinions on how to deal with this. But in the early 90’s, under the leadership of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel decided in the Oslo accords to give the Arabs enough autonomy in these areas to even bear arms and run their own lives.
These arms would then be turned around and used against the Jewish State. It was probably one of the worst blunders of any Prime Minister of Israel. Once the Arabs had weapons and freedom to run their own security, they basically created a corrupt leadership which smuggled as much money as possible from the world under the guise of helping poor refugees. A small fraction of the money from the international community reached the pockets of Arabs in Judea and Samaria. The Arabs then took that money and purchased weapons and bombs and attacked Israel. This was a failed policy that we are still paying the price for till today. But it is not just the Israelis who are paying the price. It is the Arabs who are not led by an honorable leadership. They don’t have true self-determination. Instead, they are run by a corrupt leadership that is more focused on staying in power and fighting Israel then on bettering the lives of the Arab people in Judea and Samaria. Yes, we need to turn the clock back. It is possible.