Israeli occupation of the West Bank
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank began on 7 June 1967 during the Six-Day War when Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and continues to the present day. The status of the West Bank as an occupied territory has been affirmed by the International Court of Justice and, with the exception of East Jerusalem, by the Israeli Supreme Court. The official Israeli government view is that the law of occupation does not apply and it claims the territories are "disputed". Considered to be a classic example of an "intractable" conflict, the length of Israel's occupation was already regarded as exceptional after two decades and is now the longest in modern history. Israel has cited several reasons for retaining the West Bank within its ambit: a claim based on the notion of historic rights to this as a homeland as affirmed in the Balfour Declaration; security grounds, internal and external; and the deep symbolic value for Jews of the area occupied.
Perhaps the most closely researched modern conflict, controversies abound even as to what terminology is the most appropriate, with pro-Israeli sources favouring one set of terms and the Palestinian Authority advocating a different nomenclature. Disputes arise over the bias of keywords, and whether the Israeli or Palestinian viewpoint dominates media representations. Public discussion of the occupation is also contested, especially on university campuses. Pro-Israeli Jewish students complain that they have been vilified or harassed; some proposed talks on Palestinian perspectives have been cancelled on the grounds that audiences might not be able to objectively evaluate the material. In response to attempts to silence several high-profile critics of Israeli territorial policies concerns have been expressed that the topic itself is at risk, and that the political pressures restricting research and discussion undermine academic freedom.
Israel has controversially, and in contravention of international law, established numerous settlements throughout the West Bank. The United Nations Security Council has consistently reaffirmed that settlements in that territory are a "flagrant violation of international law", most recently with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The creation and ongoing expansion of the settlements have led to Israel's policies being criticized as an example of colonialism.
Israel has been accused of exercising methods of control, including collective punishment, in its administration of the occupation that constitute major violations of International human rights law. Israeli settlers and civilians living or traveling through the West Bank are subject to Israeli law, and are represented in the Knesset; in contrast, Palestinian civilians – mostly confined to scattered enclaves, – are subject to martial law and are not permitted to vote in Israeli national elections. This two tiered system has inspired comparisons to apartheid, with many likening the dense disconnected pockets Palestinians are relegated to with the segregated Bantustans that previously existed in South Africa when the country was still under all white rule. The occupation has numerous critics in Israel itself, with some Israel Defense Forces draftees refusing to serve due to their objections to the occupation.