A declassified document reveals the Israeli plan to ensure territorial control


A declassified document after six decades reveals that the secret intentions of the Government of Israel to impose a military government on the country’s Arab citizens in 1948 was not to strengthen security, but to prepare Arab lands for a Jewish settlement.

Between the years of 1948 and 1966, the more than 150,000 Arabs who lived within Israel’s borders after their independence were ruled by a military power, under which they faced curfews, travel restrictions and threats of arbitrary arrests and expulsions.

The circumstances faced by Israeli Arabs during the period of this military government were part of a concerted plan to expel the Arab minority from the lands and clear the territory for subsequent Jewish settlement, reveals a document, partially published by the agency Haaretz.
The document that came to light recently is a supplementary part of a report by the Ratner Committee, a government committee established at the end of 1955 to examine the possibility of abolishing martial law in the Arab-majority territories of Israel. The provisions that govern the 156,000 Arabs who remained in the territories that became part of Israel after the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 are analyzed.
The secret supplement considered martial law as a tool in the fight against Arab ‘intruders’ and argued that in the long term, only the Jewish settlement – called the ‘security settlement’ document – could guarantee the security of the nation’s borders. Therefore, it was necessary to ensure the systematic Jewish settlement of the three zones of Arab majority in which the military government was applied.

The Ratner Committee further argued that only the maintenance of martial law over these areas he could discourage Israeli Arabs from returning to their former homes, which they abandoned during the war period.

The secret document recommended that until the stabilization of security settlements in Arab areas it was essential to maintain the military government in these places and strengthen its apparatus to ensure, directly and indirectly, that the lands were not lost “to the state.”

The conclusions of Ratner’s report served as government policy for years and the formal abolition of the military government over the areas of Arab majority did not take place until 1966, when martial law was lifted and the Levi Eshkol government began the process of equal rights of the Israeli Arabs with those of the Jewish citizens.

Less than a year later, in June 1967, Israel defeated an Arab coalition in the Six Day War and took control of new territories, including Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which would lead to new conflicts. territorial, some of which remain to this day.


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