GADI ADELMAN

COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT & ADVISOR

Israeli Borders: Where 1967 Really Means 1949

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Israeli Borders: Where 1967 Really Means 1949Obama’s speech this past Thursday has created rifts. Much of what he spoke about was unintelligible while some of it wasn’t even accurate. Let’s set the record straight…

Obama’s speech on Thursday came as no surprise to me. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be meeting President Obama at the White House on Friday and would speak to a joint session of Congress on Monday, May 23.

It was obvious that Obama would have to lay out his administration’s view and plans for the Israeli/Palestinian issue prior to Netanyahu’s speech. Netanyahu is known for being direct and with all that has happened over the past few months in the region Netanyahu was bound to make Israel’s position clear.

I have written a lot over the past year on the Obama administration’s position on Israel. Last March the title of my article alone said it all; “Israel no longer an ally of the U.S.”.  As I said, this speech was no surprise to me.

As usual, there was plenty of word games and political correctness in the 45 minute speech. The portion that most people have been concentrating on was Obama’s statement of Israel’s borders and 1967. Obama stated,

“The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

This statement is misleading on two counts to say the least.  First, what Obama was referring to were not borders, they are lines and they are not of 1967; they are the Armistice lines of 1949.

A quick history lesson: Palestine was never a country, it was a territory.  As explained by Mideast.org,

In November 1917, before Britain had conquered Jerusalem and the area to be known as Palestine, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration.

At the Paris peace conference in 1919, Zionist and Arab representatives pleaded their case, and met each other. The Zionists presented a map of the area they wanted for the Jewish national home. Remarkably, Dr. Weizmann and the Emir Feisal reached a signed agreement regarding Arab support for a Jewish national home.

At the Paris peace conference and through the League of Nations, much of the Ottoman Empire was divided into mandated territories assigned to the victors of the war (WWI).The British were anxious to keep Palestine away from the French, and decided to ask for a mandate that would implement the Jewish national home of the Balfour declaration, a project that would be supported by the Americans.

In 1920, Britain received a provisional mandate over Palestine, which would extend west and east of the River Jordan. In 1922, the British declared that the boundary of Palestine would be limited to the area west of the river. The area east of the river, called Transjordan (now Jordan), was made a separate British mandate and eventually given independence.

After WWII and the Holocaust,

The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The commission called for Jerusalem to be put under international administration The UN General Assembly adopted this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN Resolution (GA 181).

On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed the independent State of Israel, and the British withdrew from Palestine. In the following days and weeks, neighboring Arab nations invaded Palestine and Israel.

When the fighting ended in 1949, Israel held territories beyond the boundaries set by the UN plan - a total of 78% of the area west of the Jordan River. The UN made no serious attempt to enforce the internationalization of Jerusalem, which was now divided between Jordan and Israel, and separated by barbed wire fences and no man's land areas.

The borders of Israel were established along the "green line" of the armistice agreements of 1949. These borders were not recognized by Arab states, which continued to refuse to recognize Israel.

These “green lines” of 1949 stood until the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel took control of Jerusalem and the West Bank in the east, Gaza in the south and the Golan Heights in the north. These are the current lines or borders that Israel currently maintains. When Obama speaks of the 1967 lines he is referring to the “pre” 1967 lines which are the 1949 Armistice Lines.

So let us stop playing word games. This is not about the 1967 lines or borders, it is telling Israel that it should return to the 1949 lines. The same lines that the Arab states refused to recognize in 1949.

The distance from Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv, which is on the on the shore of the Mediterranean ocean, to its border on the east would be only 9 miles wide according to the 1949 lines. Nine miles is less than most people commute to work every day.

Having to explain the difference between the weapons used in 1949 and today I am sure is a moot point. Needless to say, even homemade rockets such as those that Hamas builds and fires indiscriminately into Israel on a regular basis would reach from the 1949 lines to Tel Aviv.

It would be impossible for any country to defend an area only 9 miles wide, let alone Israel who is surrounded by enemies and constantly shelled by Hezbollah in the north and Gaza in the south.

Judge Stephen Schwebel wrote on the subject of Israel and its borders in 1994 according to International law. Schwebel is a Judge in the International Court of Justice who has served in the Court since January 1981. He was Vice-President from 1994 to 1997 and has been President since February 1997. A former Deputy Legal Adviser of the United States Department of State and Burling Professor of International Law at the School of Advanced International Studies of The John Hopkins University (Washington), Judge Schwebel is the author of three books and some 150 articles on problems of international law and organization.

Judge Schwebel wrote in “What Weight to Conquest”,

(a) a state [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense;

(b) as a condition of its withdrawal from such territory, that State may require the institution of security measures reasonably designed to ensure that that territory shall not again be used to mount a threat or use of force against it of such a nature as to justify exercise of self-defense;

(c) Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully [Jordan], the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.

The facts of the June 1967 "Six Day War" demonstrate that Israel reacted defensively against the threat and use of force against her by her Arab neighbors.

It follows that the application of the doctrine of according no weight to conquest requires modification in double measure. In the first place, having regard to the consideration that, as between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt (the UAR indeed has, unlike Jordan, not asserted sovereign title), it follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful.

Congressman Colonel Allen West put it best by saying in part,

"Today’s endorsement by President Barack Obama of the creation of a Hamas-led Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, signals the most egregious foreign policy decision his administration has made to date, and could be the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state."

He ended his statement by saying,

"President Obama has not stood for Israel or the Jewish people and has made it clear where the United States will stand when Palestine attempts to gain recognition of statehood by the United Nations.  The President should focus on the real obstacle to security- the Palestinian leadership and its ultimate goal to eliminate Israel and the Jewish people."

Perhaps Mr. President, the United States should return the over 500,000 square miles of new territory it gained in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). You know, the American states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and significant parts of Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming.

One other thing that Obama spoke about during his speech that hasn’t received much if any question was his statement on Israel’s security,

“As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat.”

Many will say I am reading into this too much, but one thing I know for sure is Obama is extremely careful and calculating when choosing his words. He has proven this time and again and what may seem small or inconsequential later proves to be of extreme importance.

“ …and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself.” Was that with the reiteration of “by itself”? Perhaps the administration plans on cutting back on Israeli aide? Maybe that’s where the 3 billion to Egypt would come from?

Now that Mubarak has been ousted as the leader of Egypt, Obama has proposed to give Egypt 3 billion dollars as reported by the Examiner,

One day after making a historic speech in calling for Israel to give up Jerusalem, President Obama is planning on providing $3 billion in cash and debt forgiveness to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

On May 19th, President Obama laid out a plan to forgive Egypt of over $1 Billion in debt.  This debt forgiveness is on top of the $2 Billion additional funds the Obama administration plans to provide in foreign aid to the Middle Eastern nation.

Another part of his speech leads the listener to assume and squarely puts the blame on Israel for the death of 3 girls in Gaza,

“We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza.  “I have the right to feel angry,” he said.  “So many people were expecting me to hate.  My answer to them is I shall not hate.  Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

As beautiful as he makes that tragedy sound, it has yet to be proven. Obama was quoting Izzedin Abuelaish who on January 16, 2009 had 3 daughters killed during the fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas.

The problem is that there is overwhelming evidence that the girls were killed by Hamas or their actions.  Some reports have stated that Hamas snipers on the roof of their building were shooting at Israeli soldiers and a tank returned fire. Also, an investigation into the incident could not rule out the possibility that the girls were killed by an explosion of ammunition that was being stored in the building by Hamas or even from gun fire from Hamas forces. According to an article in Ynet news from January, 2009,

The IDF said Sunday that the investigation into the incident has yet to be completed, adding that the building in which the Abu Al-Aish family resided housed gunmen who opened fire at IDF forces. However, the army said it was not ruling out the possibility that the apartment was hit by Palestinian fire or explosive devices planted nearby.

The word games, blaming and out right untruths must stop before any negotiations can start.

In June of 2009 when Obama gave his speech in Cairo he made it clear where he stood. He stated,

“So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

I don’t recall being asked, as an American, if I agreed with that statement. I must have missed the survey.

If Obama is going to speak for each and every American, maybe he should re-read his own words from his speech last Thursday because the only part of it I agree with was when he said,

“No peace can be imposed upon them -- not by the United States; not by anybody else.”

Comments (4)
  • Reese

    Thank you, Gadi, very informative and insightful. Now that BO is back peddling, I just don't see how he can...too much he has stated and acted upon supports his Thur. speech and our assessment. Sharing far and wide, everyone needs to know this.

  • Vito  - Great Article

    Gadi, great article! You have written what many have not or would not say. This is a terrible deal for Israel and hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu stands firm on his opposition to this "proposal".
    Obama's June 9, 2009 Cairo Speech is having more of an affect on the Middle East and Israel than anyone would admit.

  • EMA  - unrealistic

    Way to go, Congressman West - when is the U.S. going to return all the land it "took" from the Native Americans? When does ANY country, who defeats another country, asked/demands that land be returned that was gained by such a loss of people - the soldiers and the innocents?
    President Obama - I sincerely hope that "Bibi" told you to put your ideas about Israel and its borders where the sun doesn't shine!
    I am incensed and more than just angry at our leadership of this great land and I hope each and every Jew feels the same - especially when it comes to the ballot box!
    Am Yisroel Chai!!! :angry-red:

  • jack  - www.promotekey.com

    I am extremely impressed along with your writing talents and also with the structure in your blog. Is that this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

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