Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and the 1967 Borders

(Washington Examiner) Dore Gold - PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is insisting that the only basis for any future political arrangements with Israel is "the 1967 borders." The Quartet has also been discussing the 1967 line for a joint declaration intended to pull Abbas into direct negotiations with Israel. 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 mistaken understanding of the 1967 line, which was never an international border at all but rather the 1949 Armistice line where Israeli and Arab forces stopped at the end of Israel's War of Independence. In fact, Article II of the Armistice Agreement with the Jordanians explicitly specified that the line did not compromise any future territorial claims of the two parties. Indeed, on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jordanian ambassador to the UN stressed that the old armistice agreement "did not fix boundaries." 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." For the British and American ambassadors at the time, 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. In his 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George W. Bush made clear that "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Israel's right to defensible borders, that must replace the 1967 lines, has a strong foundation in the past policies of the UN Security Council. It would be a cardinal error to allow these rights to be eroded now, especially if new peace talks begin and the Palestinians seek to win international support for a Palestinian state based on their demand to see Israel pull back to the 1967 lines. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2010-08-16 09:30:19

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