Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, on May 21, 2011 in Wall Street Journal (“Israel’s 1967 Borders Aren’t Defensible”) warned that the old armistice line is impossible as a non-negotiable starting point for peace talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he said, plans to lobby the U.N. General Assembly in September 2011 for a resolution that will predetermine the results of any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on borders. He will insist that member states recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 lines, meaning Israel’s boundaries before the Six Day War.
Unfortunately, even President Barack Obama appears to have been influenced by this thinking.
The pre-1967 demarcation is an armistice line, not a recognized international border. No Palestinian state ever existed that could have claimed these prewar lines.
The cornerstone of all postwar diplomacy was U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed in November 1967. It did not demand that Israel pull back completely to the pre-1967 lines.
As America’s ambassador to the U.N., Arthur Goldberg, would explain, Resolution 242 did not preclude Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem. In fact, Resolution 242 became the only agreed basis of all Arab-Israeli peace agreements, from the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace to the 1993 Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
How were Israel’s legal rights to new boundaries justified? A good explanation came from Judge Stephen Schwebel, who would later be an adviser to the State Department and then president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Mr. Gold points out that Schwebel wrote in the American Journal:
It should be noted that Israel’s title to West Bank territory—in the event that it sought alterations in the pre-Six Day War lines—emanated from the fact that it had acted in lawful exercise of its right to self-defense. It was not the aggressor.
In 2004 U.S. stipulated that Israel was entiled to “defensible borders”.
Mr. Gold rightly concludes that Mr. Abbas’s unilateral move at the U.N. represents a massive violation of a core commitment in the Oslo Agreements in which both Israelis and Palestinians undertook that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of Permanent Status negotiations.”
By turning to the U.N., Mr. Abbas wants to use the international community to change the legal status of the territories. Why should Israel rely on Mr. Abbas in the future after what is plainly a material breach of this core obligation?
Abbas has chosen to cooperate with Hamas, the radical organization that is the antithesis of peace. Its infamous 1988 Charter calls for Israel’s complete destruction and sees Islam in an historic battle with the Jewish people.
Mr. Abbas clearly is not prepared to make a historic compromise and the U.S. administration seems to share the view of the Palestinian leader.