If a visitor from another planet with rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew or English had landed in New York or Jerusalem, he would have found that apart from Coca Cola, McDonald, Humus and Falafel, one of the staple words is occupation. After reading the New York Times and Haaretz on the web he, she or it would have come to the conclusion that there is a country called Palestine, which another country called Israel occupies.
Although facts are not necessarily the most important factor of postmodern life, and possibly lies, because of strange definition of freedom of expression, have an upper hand over truth, considering the real state of affairs may still have some value.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the WWI, the British Army occupied major parts of the Middle East. In the agreement executed before the war ended by Britain and France with assent of Imperial Russia, the Sykes-Picot agreement, the parties decided what belongs to whom. One of the regions under British control was Palestine which included initially the area of present day Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan. Those areas became the British Mandate of Palestine under a resolution of League of Nations in 1921. Shortly thereafter in 1922 the area East of the river Jordan became the Emirate of Transjordan, still under the British Mandate. Transjordan became an independent kingdom in 1946. It changed its name to Jordan.
In 1947, the UN resolution 181 called for establishment of two states on the remaining area of the British Mandate, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish state included a minority of Arabs, and the Arab state minority of Jews. Palestinians and Arab states did not accept the UN resolution 181. They waged a war at the soon be proclaimed State of Israel. The newly born Jewish state was able to defend itself against the Arab attack, and even to increase the area under its control over the one prescribed by UN 181. In 1949 after the military operations had ended Israel executed armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Following the armistice agreement with Israel, Jordan occupied the West Bank and annexed it as an integral part of the kingdom, proclaiming East Jerusalem and the Old City as its second capital. West Bank Palestinians were not allowed any political expression of their national goals.
In 1967 Egypt, Syria and Jordan waged once again a war against Israel. They lost. The West Bank came under control of Israel. If Israel indeed became an “occupier,” it occupied a part of Jordan. In fact, since annexation of West Bank to Jordan was probably illegal, and since Palestinians refused UN 181, Israel might have occupied a part of British Mandate of Palestine, an entity not existing any more.
In 1995 Israel and Palestinians executed the Oslo Interim Agreement. Strange as it seems, Israel was the first state which controls the ground that recognized the national aspirations of Palestinians. The Oslo agreement defines the relations between the parties. It could have called Israel, an elephant, a tiger, a horse, an occupier or anything else, but it did not.
As long as the parties and most of the “international community” consider the Oslo agreement as the document defining the relations between the Israel and the Palestinians, Israel is not and cannot be seen as occupier of Palestine.