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Monday, August 16, 2010

The myth of the 1967 borders

Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold explodes some of the myths surrounding the '1967 borders.'
Unfortunately, it is increasingly assumed that there once was a recognized international border between the West Bank and Israel in 1967 and what is necessary now is to restore it.

Yet this entire discussion is based on a completely mistaken understanding of the 1967 line, given the fact that in the West Bank, it was not an international border at all.

Formally, the 1967 line in the West Bank should properly be called the 1949 Armistice Line. Looking back to that period, on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts there had been a history of international boundaries between British Mandate and its neighbors.

But along the Jordanian front, what created the armistice line was solely where Israeli and Arab forces stopped at the end of the War of Independence, with some added adjustments in certain sectors. As a result, the 1949 line, that came to be known also as the 1967 border, was really only a military line.

In fact, Article II of the Armistice Agreement with the Jordanians explicitly specified that the line that was designated did not compromise any future territorial claims of the two parties, since it had been "dictated by exclusively by military considerations."

In other words, the old Armistice Line was not a recognized international border. It had no finality. As a result, the Jordanians reserved the right after 1949 to demand territories inside Israel, for the Arab side.

On the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, it was noteworthy that the Jordanian ambassador to the UN made this very point to the UN Security Council, by stressing that the old armistice agreement "did not fix boundaries".

After the Six-Day War, the architects of UN Security Council Resolution 242 insisted that the old armistice line had to be replaced with a new border. This was significant since Resolution 242 became the sole agreed basis of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

It provided the foundation for Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, years after. Back in 1967, Lord Caradon, the British ambassador to the UN admitted at the time: "I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where the troops had to stop." He concluded: "It is not a permanent border."

Caradon’s U.S. counterpart, Ambassador Arthur Goldberg, added that "historically, there have never been secure or recognized boundaries in the area," and he added that the armistice lines did not answer that description.

For the British and American ambassadors, at the time, the Resolution 242 that they drafted involved creating a completely new boundary that could be described as "secure and recognized," instead of going back to the lines from which the conflict erupted.

President Lyndon Johnson made this very point in September 1968: "It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders."

It is for this reason that Resolution 242 did not call for a full withdrawal from all the territories that Israel captured in the Six Day War; the 1949 Armistice lines were no longer to be a reference point for a future peace process.
That's why on this blog, you will ordinarily see references to the 1949 armistice lines (or to the 'green line' - the color those lines had on the 1949 armistice map) and not to the '1967 borders.'

Read the whole thing.


At 2:28 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Green Line makes no demographic or strategic sense. No one in Israel in their right mind would go back to a waist ten miles wide and a redivided Jerusalem. Such a proposal is properly speaking, a non-starter. And that is why a contiguous Palestinian state assumes an insecure and truncated Israel. There is no way to square that circle into a solution both sides could live with.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger mrzee said...

For most of 1967, the border was the Jordan River. I'm okay with that.


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