Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has sparked outrage after releasing a controversial video in which he refers to the West Bank as "not occupied, but disputed" territory.
In the new video, called "The Truth About The West Bank," Ayalon argues that the West Bank should not be considered occupied territory as it was seized by Israel in a war of self-defense and had no legal sovereign before that time. Ayalon also says that Israel's claim to the land was clearly recognized by the international community during the 20th century, and that borders as delineated by the 1948-partition plan currently have no political following.
"That is why the presence and construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank should not be considered illegal." the deputy minister notes.
The video, which reached over 127,000 viewers in the past few days, was fiercely criticized among Palestinian audiences. In a press release distributed through the Palestinian News Agency Wafa, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that "With this video, the Israeli government has left no doubt on its pro-conflict agenda. Now, the international community knows the Israeli government is committed to denying the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination and on continuing their illegal and colonial enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory."
Erekat went on to note, “This is not an amateur video prepared by an extremist group. An official representing the State of Israel presents a cynical and falsified account of history and international law.”
The youtube rift comes at a time when relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are extremely tense. Responding to Erekat's remarks, the Jerusalem Post quoted Ayalon saying on Monday that "for too long the Palestinian narrative of international law and rights has gone unchallenged, and this over the top reaction to a public diplomacy video proves that they are acting like spoilt children who have had their way for too long."
Watch the video below: