Many official Israeli maps fail to show Occupied Territories

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 7 Comments

Bruce Wolman has long been interested in the issue we raised earlier today on this site, Israeli maps that fail to show the Occupied Territories as Palestinian lands. He writes:

I was quite amused at the furor Hillary Clinton made a few years ago about Palestinians not showing Israel on the maps in their schoolbooks. When I was in Israel from 1999-2000, none of the tourist maps indicated the territories.

After Hillary’s tirade, I did a search of official Israeli maps and tourist guidebooks, and lo and behold, what did I find – the same maps as the Palestinians used, except the area was called Israel rather than Palestine. No occupied territories, no disputed territories, just Greater Israel including Judea and Samaria. How did Hillary expect the Palestinians to draw Israel’s borders when neither she nor Israel would officially state what Israel’s borders are?

I hadn’t checked for awhile, so here is some research I just did: a sampling of Israeli maps on the Web.

Modern Israel according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of Jan 1, 2004:  


The territories are now defined and denoted as “under Israeli control” with final status pending. Note Jerusalem is not included.

However, the Israeli Ministry of Tourism provides a map of Israel on its web site that makes no such distinction. Map The screen shot is at right, small. You can take another look by uploading it here. Next, below to the right, outlined in red, is a map  from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (or CBS) web site (in Hebrew).


And what about Diaspora youth? In the map from Taglit-Birthright Israel, the territories are avoided. Their map is at left, all in white, a little cartoonish.
White On the virtual tour there is no mention of touring the Occupied Territories.

Now here’s the map from the Israel Science and Technology Directory:  

It’s at right, very high school geography book like. Science You’ll see: no occupied territories.  

The Jewish Agency for Israel has a whole web page linking to various maps that relate to the History of Israel and Zionism, but no map of Israel today. This page is frequently referred to by other “educational” web sites.

The JAFI also has a web page for Hasbara and maps.

It appears that the Palestinians are not the only ones with map issues in their schools. Israel has its own problems as revealed in this report from Australian Broadcasting:

Green line turns Israel’s schools into political battleground.”

And here’s another story from an Israeli publication: “Education Committee rejects adding Green Line to school maps.”

Here are Israeli children working on a Green Map for an international Children’s Environmental Conference in 2006. At that link, you can see that the Occupied Territories are not marked as such. 

And the situation has not changed since then.

In March, 2009 a BBC reporter interviewed three Israeli settler youths:

The boys show me their school map, used in schools across Israel. The West Bank is not marked as a separate territory.
Ari, Matan and Yadin say Israel still views the land as its own. Except for the Palestinian towns there.

In February, the Knesset Education Committee decided by a majority vote that the pre-Six-Day-War border, or the Green Line, no longer exists, at least that is what they want to insure is taught in the Israeli schools.

As Yehuda Ben Meir, an Israeli who actually opposes returning to the Green line as the international border, complained in Ha’aretz:

Is it possible to ignore the fact that no government in Israel, including those headed by Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, ever even proposed annexing Judea and Samaria or imposing Israeli law there? Is it the role of the education system to teach things as they are or to engage in political indoctrination? The youth must not be presented with an imaginary map divorced from legal, diplomatic and physical reality.

7 Responses

  1. syvanen
    April 16, 2009, 7:15 pm

    What makes Clinton's comment is so perplexing is that it has been generally known for years that routine Israeli road maps always include the Westbank as being part of Israel. It is so extreme that the word hypocrisy fails in this context.

  2. D.
    April 16, 2009, 8:28 pm

    According to Jonathan Cook, it was Golda Meir who ordered that the Green Line be erased from Israeli maps. "Israel's borders are determined by where Jews live, not where there is a line on a map," she claimed.

  3. Slaney Black
    April 16, 2009, 11:11 pm

    Isn't that a more honest map though? I think we should encourage it.

    After all, if those areas are part of Israeli sovereignty (which they absolutely are) and we all just break down and acknowledge that in the West…then! Well, we've already arrived at a one-state solution by fait accompli. Which in fact we have. Only one state there, folks.

    So, let's dispense with all this pie in the sky two-state talk and have an honest and forthright chat about what kind of state this one state should be.

    Is that really a discussion Israel wants to have? Otherwise they should use the phony maps like we use.

  4. Eurosabra
    April 16, 2009, 11:28 pm

    Unfortunately the Israeli government refuses to play along with the "Death by One State" solution, having only applied civil law to 1949-Israel, the Golan, and Jerusalem. PA law and international law of belligerent occupation apply in the OPT/West Bank, which is not part of Israel. There is probably some legal black magic involved in Ghajjar, which is split by the Blue Line, with one-half being Lebanese and one-half Israeli. Sheba'a Farms are part of the Golan, and are under Israeli civil law AND military occupation, which is probably irrelevant as there is no civilian population. The Latrun Salient, also, is in the same situation, with the caveat that its population of 3 villages should probably never have been removed.

  5. tree
    April 17, 2009, 6:59 pm

    Unfortunately the Israeli government refuses to play along with the "Death by One State" solution, having only applied civil law to 1949-Israel, the Golan, and Jerusalem.

    Yes, it has opted for Apartheid instead. And of course it only applied civil law to 1949-Israel in 1966, after 17 years of ruling over the Arab non-Jews in its state by military means. Again, it was apartheid for those who were not ethnically cleansed.

  6. Eurosabra
    April 18, 2009, 5:58 pm


    Can't win for losing, eh? International law of belligerent occupation, including Israeli military law, is the ONLY legal regime in the West Bank that is consonant with international law, and that is not annexation by Israel or Jordan, and Jordan's annexation was unrecognized by everyone except Britain and Pakistan. I am sorry about the Military Government, but Israeli Arabs overwhelmingly inhabited border regions with continual terrorist infiltration, many of them actually living by special permit in closed military zones, which would have otherwise been cleared of inhabitants.

    Doesn't matter a whit to you that Jordan's citizenship law read "except for Jews", that the West Bank and Gaza were comprehensively cleansed of Jews, that Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq were governed by ethnic-minority regimes. Just ONE state bothers you. Good thing you can't bother it.

  7. Sheldon
    April 19, 2009, 3:04 pm

    Why do we give so much of our foreign aid to Israel? And, with no strings attached compared to other states we give aid to? Is it unAmerican to ask that question?

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