The word is that Palestinian President Abbas is refusing to have face to face talks with Israel unless those talks are based on Israel returning to the pre-1967 borders. What Abbas knows but won’t admit is that there is no such thing as pre-1967 borders. That “green line” running through the West Bank is the 1949 Armistice Line. The armistice line was created solely because that’s Israeli and Arab forces stopped fighting at the end of the War of Independence (with some added adjustments in certain sectors).
Therefore that 1949 line, that people call 1967 border is 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.” Of course the Jordanian rationale for that clause is to allow them to claim territory inside the armistice line for their very own.
You also hear politicians and diplomats claim that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Anti-Israel forces changed the meaning of 242 by adding one simple article to the resolution “the.” They claim that 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from “the” territories taken during the Six Day War. The resolution actually says that ‘Israel should withdraw from territories’ taken during the war (no article). Adding the article changes the meaning from withdrawing from some territories to all territories.
It was no accident “the” was left out. Diplomats are very exact in their language. During the negotiations to create resolution 242, Arab governments tried three times to have “the” inserted in the resolution and their request was rejected. But, by repeating what they wanted the resolution to say all these years, the Arabs succeed in convincing many people to accept their distorted interpretation of 242.
Statements made by the drafters of 242 prove there is no ambiguity about what they meant.
- Lord Caradon, sponsor of the draft that was about to be adopted, stated, before the vote in the Security Council on Resolution 242:
“… the draft Resolution is a balanced whole. To add to it or to detract from it would destroy the balance and also destroy the wide measure of agreement we have achieved together. It must be considered as a whole as it stands. I suggest that we have reached the stage when most, if not all, of us want the draft Resolution, the whole draft Resolution and nothing but the draft Resolution.” (S/PV 1382, p. 31, of 22.11.67)
- Mr. Michael Stewart, (Great Britain) Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in reply to a question in Parliament, 17 November 1969:
“Question: “What is the British interpretation of the wording of the 1967 Resolution? Does the Right Honourable Gentleman understand it to mean that the Israelis should withdraw from all territories taken in the late war?”
Mr. Stewart: “No, Sir. That is not the phrase used in the Resolution. The Resolution speaks of secure and recognized boundaries. These words must be read concurrently with the statement on withdrawal.”
- Mr. George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967, on 19 January 1970:
“I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. “I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said ‘Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied’, and not from ‘the’ territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.” (The Jerusalem Post, January 3 1970)
- Mr. Arthur Goldberg, US representative, in the Security Council in the course of the discussions which preceded the adoption of Resolution 242:
“To seek withdrawal without secure and recognized boundaries … would be just as fruitless as to seek secure and recognized boundaries without withdrawal. Historically, there have never been secure or recognized boundaries in the area. Neither the armistice lines of 1949 nor the cease-fire lines of 1967 have answered that description… such boundaries have yet to be agreed upon. An agreement on that point is an absolute essential to a just and lasting peace just as withdrawal is… S/PV. 1377, p. 37, of 15. 11.67
- Mr. Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State, 12 July 1970 (NBC “Meet the Press”):
“That Resolution did not say ‘withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines’. The Resolution said that the parties must negotiate to achieve agreement on the so-called final secure and recognized borders. In other words, the question of the final borders is a matter of negotiations between the parties.”
- Eugene V. Rostow, Professor of Law and Public Affairs, Yale University, who, in 1967, was US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs:
“… Paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces ‘from territories occupied in the recent conflict’, and not ‘from the territories occupied in the recent conflict’. Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word ‘the’ failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines.” (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
- Mr. Geraldo de Carvalho Silos, Brazilian UN representative, speaking in the Security Council after the adoption of Resolution 242:
“We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure, permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighboring States.” (S/PV. 1382, p. 66,22.11.67 ).
Not only was there no 1967 borders but it was never the intention for Israel to move back to the 1949 Armistice lines. The Palestinians are simply using the possibility of restarting direct talks to lure the United States into accepting preconditions that would be unacceptable to Israel, using the 1949 armistice line as the starting point for talks.
Based on his history as President, the Obama administration will probably ignore the documented truth and accept Abbas’ precondition (remember how he vilified Honduras for following its constitution). Obama will end up trying to force them upon the Jewish State just as he did last year when he broke the US/Israel agreement regarding the natural growth of settlements leading to another rift in US/Israel relations. This is the result that the Palestinian leadership is looking for, they continue to delay talks but Israel gets the blame.