Word Choices Matter: FactsOnIsrael.com

Who is the Occupier?

Who is the Occupier?

The right of the Jewish people to their homeland of Israel is greatly misunderstood. This is partly because the mainstream media has adopted the delegitimizing language of Israel’s foes, but also in part because we who are well-meaning supporters of Israel ourselves unthinkingly use these terms. Both of these practices contribute greatly to the widespread bias against Israel.

FactsOnIsrael.com, Inc., was incorporated in 2016 as a Pennsylvania non-profit entity, with a website, Facebook page, mobile app, and other activities to make clear to Jewish homeland supporters the connotations and nuances of words used in Israel-related discussion, and to encourage Israel supporters’ own use of historically-grounded terms, which reflect the Jewish people’s three-millennia connection to the land of Israel, and not Jewish-homeland delegitimizing pejoratives.

FactsOnIsrael.com website.

FactsOnIsrael.com website.

For example, “West Bank” is not a synonym for Judea and Samaria, but an antonym. The biblical names Judæa and Samaria (יְהוּדָה וְשׁוֹמְרוֹן) remained in use all through the 1800 years of continuous foreign rule between Romans’ destruction of the Jewish kingdom Judaea in CE 135 and the State of Israel’s attainment of independence in 1948 as the land of Israel’s next native state. The United Nations referred to “the hill country of Samaria and Judea,” not to “the West Bank,” in its partition resolution of 1947. “West Bank” was coined in 1950 by the invader Jordan, for the same reason the Romans renamed Judæa as “Palestine” in 135 – to disassociate the Jewish homeland from Jews.

There are a host of other historically incorrect misleading terms – e .g., misstatement of the 1949 Israel-Jordan military ceasefire lines, expressly declared in the Armistice Agreement not to be political borders as “Israel’s 1967 borders,” reference to “East” Jerusalem, which existed only during the Jordanian seizure of 1948-67, as though it had always been a separate city, not part of a single city, Jerusalem, that’s been the capital of three states, all Jewish, and has had a renewed Jewish majority since 1800’s Ottoman rule. Calling contested territories “occupied,” and Jewish communities “settlements” but Arab communities “towns and villages,” and labeling Israel “apartheid” likewise one-sidedly denigrates Israel.

The UNESCO resolution that disassociates Jerusalem from the Jewish People and calls the Temple Mount only by its Islamic name is blatantly contrary to historical evidence and is an insult to Jews and Christians. Even Islamic texts and 20th century guidebooks attest to the Jewish connection with King Solomon’s Temple.

Through explanations of toxic terms on our website; our book, “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-to-Z,” PowerPoint presentations to groups (some on our website), published articles, instructive videos in TED-talk fashion, and other means, we work to make clear to our own camp the critical importance of word choices, which everyone – Israel’s foes, the media, anti-Israel Jews – seems to grasp except us. We invite those seeking unfiltered facts on Israel to visit www.factsonisrael.com.

Contact: Lee S. Bender, President: 610-804-7882, lsb23@cornell.edu

Forget About Media Bias: How We Can Really Support Israel


“Judea and Samaria” or “West Bank”?

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

In their article, “‘Occupied’ Territories? Anti-Israel Media Bias Starts With Language,” two stalwart supporters of Israel, Jerry Verlin and Lee Bender, attack the press for bias against the Jewish State in the words that are used to report on the Middle East.

But the authors then go on to build to a conclusion well beyond either the press or linguistics: They argue that “there is a deeper psychosis,” which views Israel as “ethnic cleansing Nazis.”

We are reassured, however, that “since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been trying to trade land for peace, only to have each offer of statehood for the Palestinian Arabs spurned.”

Comforting it may be to recite that we Jews are (still) victims, and that the Palestinians are a hateful bunch who are at fault for the situation.

But sixty-five years of retelling the same tale has not resolved the problem of achieving Middle East peace. At best, the repetition provides the appearance of a reason not to even try.

More after the jump.
We need to remind ourselves instead that in the world today, ruling over a subjugated multimillion-person population is an unstable and unsustainable situation.

We ought not to waste time decrying the press for use of the words “occupied” or “Palestinians.”  The authors propose substituting “Judea and Samaria” for the term “West Bank” — a facially neutral term (it is, after all, the west bank of the Jordan River) — but those names are taken from our Hebrew Bible.

And they signal to readers the concept of a Greater Israel, a one-state solution that does not help to resolve the situation of the Palestinians. Unless the unspoken goal is that Palestinians (pardon me, I meant non-Jewish Palestinians) will conveniently arrange to disappear.  

We U.S. Jews, having full regard for Israel’s long term security, need to take every opportunity to exercise all our influence with the Government of Israel, with Israelis, with our government, and to the extent we have any influence, with Palestinians, to move matters beyond this unstable status quo.  

The design of the solution is not our choice to make, and arguing about it needlessly divides us and wastes our effort. But we should be true to our own beliefs that we are all the Lord’s children, all equal, all deserving of peace and security, and all deserving of self-determination.

2013 in Review: U.S.-Israel Relationship Stronger Than Ever

— by Steve Sheffey

The U.S.-Israel relationship emerged stronger than ever in 2013.

  • Remember the right-wing hysterics about the nominations of Chuck Hagel and Samantha Power?
    Both have proven in word and deed to be solidly pro-Israel.
  • Remember the right-wing claims that once re-elected, President Obama would turn against Israel?
    Instead, shortly after his re-election, he unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself in Operation Pillar of Defense.
  • Remember what our Republican friends told us about Obama when he ran for president in 2008?
    Here is what they did not tell us:
    • that Obama would always back Israel at the U.N.,
    • that he would never cut aid to Israel, and
    • that regardless of any disagreement with Israel, he would never even threaten retaliatory action against Israel.

    This is a far cry from the George W. Bush days, when loan guarantees were cut in response to settlement activity and when the U.S. stood idly by as the U.N. condemned Israel.

More after the jump including The Cartoon Kronicles’ review of 2013.
In March, Obama became the fifth sitting president to visit Israel. While in Israel, Obama received Israel’s Medal of Distinction.

Obama also worked hard in 2013 to find diplomatic solutions to Israel’s two existential threats: a nuclear-armed Iran and a permanent occupation of the West Bank. We will have a much better sense in 2014 of whether his efforts were successful.

No matter how good the U.S.-Israel relationship is, we always want more. That is why historical perspective matters.

Last week, Haim Saban wrote:

Observers may bemoan the lack of personal chemistry between Obama and Netanyahu, but international relationships needn’t be love affairs between leaders. They rest on common interests, common values and reciprocity.

This foundation is what has sustained an exceptional U.S.-Israel partnership through 65 years, 12 U.S. administrations and plenty of rocky news cycles.

2013 reviewed by The Cartoon Kronicles:

Cartoons Courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com/ and The Cartoon Kronicles @ http://cartoonkronicles.com

“Occupied” Territories? Anti-Israel Media Bias Starts With Language

Former Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict. The video explains where the terms “West Bank,” “occupied territories” and “67 Borders” originated from, and how they are incorrectly used and applied.

— by Lee Bender and Jerry Verlin

Israel’s supporters concerned about anti-Israel media bias need to understand why decades of “letters to the editor” protesting inaccuracies in particular news articles have not made a dent.  

Anti-Israel media bias is not a succession of random misstatements. It resides in the very language: the consistently imbalanced terminology in which Arab-Israeli conflict news stories are told.

Unfortunately, we Israel supporters ourselves acquiesce, by using and accepting these terms unchallenged.  

Those terms for the land’s peoples, places, and historical and current events poison public perceptions of Jewish and Palestinian-Arab equities, and must be countered if we have any fair chance to stand up for our rights.  

Top 10 terms which mislead the public about Israel, and what the media fails to report, follow the jump.
Here are ten frequently used but highly misleading terms. All of them are individually inaccurate, and in combination paint a grossly prejudicial and unfair portrait of Israel.

  1. “West Bank”

    “Judea and Samaria” is not “the biblical name of the West Bank.” When the United Nations drafted its Palestine partition resolution in 1947, it did not use the term “West Bank.” It called it “the hill country of Samaria and Judea.”  

    As the former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Yoram Ettinger, wrote:  

    In April 1950, the Jordanian occupation renamed Judea/Samaria as “the West Bank” to assert Jordanian rule and to expunge Jewish connection to the cradle of Jewish history. Until 1950, all official Ottoman, British and prior records referred to “Judea and Samaria” and not to the “West Bank.”

    They did it for the same reason that in 135 C.E. the conquering Romans renamed Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” and Judæa “Palestina.”

    Judæa’s Jews (who, by the way, were not “exiled” by Rome) refused to use the conqueror’s names for the land and its places. And, especially given that the Jordanian conquest lasted 19 years, not 1,900, we should not either.

  2. “Jewish and Palestinian States”

    The U.N. did not seek to partition Palestine into “Palestinian and Jewish states,” as the Western media has put it. The U.N. used “the Arab State” and “the Jewish State” terms over and over again. Nor did the U.N. call Palestine’s Arabs “the Palestinians,” but referred to Palestine’s Jews and Arabs as “the two Palestinian peoples.”

    The under-populated Palestine of 1948 had a population of perhaps a little more than a million Arabs, and well more than a half-million Jews. To speak of partitioning a place between a people bearing the name of that place and anyone else portrays one side as natives and the other as outsiders.

  3. “The Palestinians”  

    In renaming Judæa as “Palestine” in 135 C.E., the Romans were not referencing Yasser Arafat’s ancestors (Editor’s note: Unless the rumors about his Jewish ancestry are true.), but the by-then long-gone Aegean “Sea People” Philistines, who in Israelite times had invaded the eastern Mediterranean coast from the west, fought with the Israelites of Saul and David, and had been ultimately destroyed by the same Babylonians who had ended the kingdom of Judæa.

    Jews were the original “Palestinians”; today’s “Palestinians” should more accurately be referred to as “Palestinian Arabs.”

  4. Israel’s “1967 Borders”

    Formally recognized international borders have the permanence and gravitas that military ceasefire lines do not.

    The 1949 Israel-Jordan armistice agreement expressly delineated its “green line” as “dictated exclusively by military considerations” without prejudice to either side’s political claims.  

    The media habitually calls it “the 1967 line,” and even “Israel’s 1967 border,” to discredit any Israeli claims beyond what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz lines,” that are 9-miles-wide at critical points.

    The historically correct term remains “the 1949 ceasefire line.” Even as such, it lost such significance when fighting resumed between Jordan and Israel in 1967.

    Israel captured (not “seized,” as the Western media often puts it) all of Palestine west of the Jordan River in 1967, and the post-war U.N.S.C. resolution #242 intentionally did not call for full Israeli return to the 1949 lines.  

  5. Israel’s “Creation” and “Founding”

    Israel was not “created” or “founded” in 1948, artificially and out of the blue. It was in fact re-established.

    The Jewish homeland is the one with the deepest of roots in the Milled East. The Jewish connection to the land of Israel, including continuous physical presence, remained unbroken from Rome’s destruction of Jewish Judæa in 135 through Jewish Israel’s independence in 1948, as the land’s next native state.  

    Every rulers in between: Romans-Byzantines, Persians, Muslim dynasties, Christian Crusaders, non-Arab Mamluks and finally non-Arab Turks, had been foreign invaders.  

    British historian James Parkes rightly wrote (Whose land? p. 266) that “those who had maintained a Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries” wrote the Zionists’ “real title deeds.”

  6. “East Jerusalem, Traditionally Arab East Jerusalem”

    Over the course of the past 3,000 years, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of three native states — Judah, Judæa and Israel — all Jewish. A majority of Jerusalem’s residents have again been Jewish since the pre-Zionist 19th century Ottoman-rule times.

    Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem for one day in history. Foreign Arab dynasties ruled it, much of the time under the thumb of the Turks, between 638 and 1099, and invading Trans-Jordan ruled part of the city between 1948 and 1967.  

    The media and much of the world seeks to restore and perpetuate that fleeting 19-year illegal Jordanian seizure, which ended almost half a century ago, as a separate “East Jerusalem,” as though it existed today.  

    The term “East Jerusalem” disregards over 3000 years of Jewish history and the unbroken Jewish connections to all of Jerusalem, especially where the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest sites reside, along with the historic Jewish, Christian and Armenian, as well as Muslim, Quarters.

  7. “Jewish Settlements” versus “Palestinian Villages”

    The Western media misleadingly contrasts “Jewish settlements” in the “Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank” with nearby Palestinian “neighborhoods,” “villages,” and “towns.”  

    As documented in the recent Levy Commission report, Jewish communities beyond the 1949 ceasefire line are not “occupation” or “illegal.” Jews and Arabs have contesting claims to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Moreover, Jordan has since renounced any claim to the “West Bank.”  

    The media actually says that the Arab presence in those areas is more valid than the Jewish one, despite that under international law, the Jewish claim is stronger.  

  8. “The Palestinian Refugee Issue”

    The media’s “Palestinian refugee issue” is a one-sided statement of a two-sided issue.

    In 1948 and years that followed, more indigenous Middle Eastern Jews were expelled from vast Muslim lands, where they had lived for thousands of years, and were forced to abandon their homes and businesses — mostly to Israel — than Arabs fled tiny Israel.  

    Israel absorbed the bulk of these Jews, while to this day “host” Arab countries, and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Palestine itself, isolate Arab refugees’ descendants in “refugee camps.” (This is what “apartheid” really is.)

    And these Jews do more than that.  Together with the land of Israel’s ever-present homeland Jewish Yishuv, these Middle Eastern Jews, with roots going back to pre-Islamic biblical times, establish the bona fides of Israel as an indigenous Middle Eastern state, not the “European colonial Zionist entity” that Arabs and the “Islamic Middle East,” referencing Western media, would have Westerners believe.

    That does not remove these Israel-absorbed Middle Eastern Jews from the Arab-Israeli conflict’s refugee issue.  

  9. “Millions of Palestinian Refugees and Their Descendants” from “The War that Followed Israel’s Creation”

    A few years ago, the Western media repeatedly told the Western public about “millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants” from “the war that followed Israel’s creation,” or simply from “Israel’s creation.” This “millions” misstatement has resurfaced again this year.

    Given that:

    • Palestine’s entire partition-time population was well less than two million;
    • a good third of it were Jews;  
    • not all of Palestine’s Arabs lived in the part that became Israel; and
    • not all of them left,  

    this is a monstrously inaccurate claim mathematically.

    Those who did leave, exceeded in number by the Jews who left Arab lands, did so not in the context of Israel’s “creation” and “founding,” but of a partition-rejecting multi-nation Arab invasion for Israel’s destruction.    

  10. Recognition of Jewish State as a “New Stumbling Block”

    The media has characterized Israel’s insistence on being recognized as the Jewish state as a newly imposed peace process stumbling block, to divert attention from its building of “settlements.”  

    Demand for recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is not a new Jewish position: The U.S., as well as Israel, defines “the two state solution” as “two states for two peoples,” including a Jewish state. In 1947, British Foreign Secretary Bevin told the British parliament that for the Jews, “the essential point principle” was the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state.  

    The land of Israel as the Jewish homeland has been at the core of the Jewish people’s aspirations and Judaism, going back to Moses’ time.

What the Media Fails To Report

Unfortunately, the distorted media coverage is not confined to ignoring and mischaracterizing these historical facts.  

The media consistently fails to report, and deliberately suppresses, Israel’s many positive traits: things it has been doing for decades to help, assist and contribute to the betterment of the entire world (tikkun olam, “repairing the world,” including engaging in tzedakah, charity) with its high technological skills, agricultural knowledge, and humanitarianism.  

Under this envy of Israel’s success and miraculous survival in a sea of hostile Arab anti-democratic states, there is a deeper psychosis:

For now to expiate their guilt for the treatment and murder of one-third of world Jewry during the Holocaust, Israel can be viewed as the vicious ethnic-cleansing Nazis while the poor, “innocent” Palestinian Arabs, are the new Jews, who must be saved and defended.  

The besieged tiny Israel is a cultural oasis in its region: An open democracy that respects human rights, minority rights, women rights, gay rights, freedom of religion, press, education, and opportunity.  

Ignored by the media is its contrast to the culture of hatred and incitement inculcated by Palestinian-Arab society and officialdom, in children’s textbooks, schools, mosques and media, including “Temple denial” and denigration of the historic Jewish connection to Israel.  

The very charters of Palestinian Arabs’ structural institutions — the PLO and Hamas — are laced with Jewish homeland denial and bloody calls for Israel’s destruction.  

The Palestinian Arabs have always been “rejectionists”: They could have been given their own state, side-by-side next to Israel, in 1937, between 1948-1967, in 2000 or in 2008. Instead, they kept pursuing their real goal: Israel’s extermination.

The real debate about the Middle East is between anyone who recognizes that Jews have a right to a state, and those who wish to see this state destroyed. For 20 years, since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been trying to trade land for peace, only to have each offer of statehood for the Palestinian Arabs spurned.

The Palestinian-Arab culture of hatred for Israel and the Jews has made it impossible for even their most “moderate” leaders to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.  

The onus for true peace should be on the Palestinian Arabs.

Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin are the authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A To Z

The Territory: A Russian Documentary About West Bank Settlements

— by Ronit Treatman

The Territory explores the experience of settling in the West Bank from the perspective of Russian immigrants to Israel. This film is the creation of Dmitry Khavin. A native of Ukraine, he debuted his cinematographic work in the Odessa Film Studios. Mr. Khavin is an independent film maker, who now lives in New York. His work focuses on the Jewish Russian experience. You can watch the trailer here.

This film will be screened on Tuesday, Jan 15th at 7:30 PM at JCC of Manhattan. Participants will have an opportunity to meet Khavin and the actors who made this film.

The Territory (Trailer) from dmitriy khavin on Vimeo.

UN Security Council Frustrated at Obama Admin. for Backing Israel

— David Streeter

The AP reported that 14 members of the United Nations Security Council expressed frustration at the Obama Administration for defending Israel by blocking the effort to condemn Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank. According to the AP:

Fourteen frustrated members of the U.N. Security Council pointed a finger at the United States Tuesday for blocking any condemnation of Israel’s accelerated settlement construction in Palestinian territory….

While the United States was not mentioned by name, the diplomats anger was clearly directed at Washington which vetoed a resolution in February backed by the 14 other council members that would have demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building. The Obama administration has also promised to veto any Security Council resolution supporting Palestine’s bid to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

The U.S. has said repeatedly it does not support settlement building. But Payton Knopf, the U.S. Mission’s deputy spokesman, told AP “the only way to resolve the outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians is through serious and substantive direct negotiations.”

The United States also opposes Security Council action on “final status issues” because this “would only harden the positions of both sides and make the resumption of negotiations more difficult,” Knopf said.

President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has been working intensely to ensure that Israel receives fair treatment in UN bodies and is not singled out for criticism. Rice was recently honored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and spoke about her work to defend Israel in UN bodies.  

The Fallacy of the 1967 “Borders”

— Alan Baker, Former Ambassador of Israel to Canada

  • The Palestinian leadership is fixated on attempting to press foreign governments and the UN to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the “1967 borders.” Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the “1967 borders.”
  • But such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 acknowledged the need for negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries. Prominent jurists and UN delegates, including from Brazil and Jordan, acknowledged that the previous lines cannot be considered as international boundaries.
  • The series of agreements between the PLO and Israel (1993-1999) reaffirm the intention and commitment of the parties to negotiate permanent borders. During all phases of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, there was never any determination as to a border based on the 1967 lines.
  • The PLO leadership solemnly undertook that all issues of permanent status would be resolved only through negotiations between the parties. The 2003 “Road Map” further reiterated the need for negotiations on final borders.

Full article after the jump.
With ongoing and increasing intensity, the Palestinian leadership is fixated on advancing a concerted policy vis-à-vis the international community and public opinion, demanding recognition of what they claim to be the “1967 borders,” and acceptance of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within those borders. Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the “1967 borders.”1

In actual fact, the Palestinian leadership, as well as members of the international community, are well aware that such borders do not exist, nor have they ever existed. They have never figured in any of the international, agreed-upon documentation concerning the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian issues, and have no basis whatsoever, neither in law nor in fact.

There are no provisions in any of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians that require withdrawal to the “1967 borders.” There were never any geographic imperatives that sanctify the 1967 lines. Clearly, there could be no legal or political logic to enshrining as an international boundary an inadvertent and coincidental set of ceasefire lines that existed for less than 19 years

While the above is fully evident to the Palestinian leaders who are actively and daily advancing this policy – principally the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the head of the Negotiations Department of the Authority, Sa’eb Erekat, both of whom were themselves actively involved in all the stages of negotiation – they nevertheless continue with their fixation to present the concept of the “1967 borders” as an accepted international term-of-art and as an Israeli commitment.

The following is a summary of the background to the 1967 lines as described in the international documentation:

UN Security Council Defines Initial Ceasefire Lines

The term “1967 lines” refers to the line from which Israel military forces moved into the territories at the start of hostilities on June 4, 1967 (“The Six-Day War”).

These lines were not based on historical fact, natural geographic formations, demographic considerations, or international agreement. In fact, they had served as the agreed-upon armistice demarcation lines from the termination of the 1948 War of Independence, pursuant to the armistice agreements signed between Israel and its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in 1949. These lines remained valid until the outbreak of the 1967 hostilities.

The armistice demarcation line represented nothing more than the forward lines of deployment of the forces on the day a ceasefire was declared, as set out in Security Council Resolution 62 of November 16, 1948, which called for the delineation of permanent armistice demarcation lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective parties will not move. The line was demarcated on the map attached to the armistice agreement with a green marker pen and hence received the name “Green Line.”

The Security Council in its resolution stressed the temporary nature of the armistice lines that were to be maintained “during the transition to permanent peace in Palestine,” intimating that permanent peace would involve negotiating permanent bilateral borders that would be different from the armistice demarcation lines.2

1949 Armistice Agreements

In fact, the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement signed on April 13, 1949, as well as all the other armistice agreements, emphasized the transitional nature of the armistice as “an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine.” The language of the agreement went to great pains to stress that the armistice lines were of a provisional and non-political nature and were not intended to, and did not constitute international boundaries, and as such do not prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of the parties in the ultimate peace settlement:

“No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”3

“The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Lines is to delineate the lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move.”4

“The provisions of this article shall not be interpreted as prejudicing, in any sense, an ultimate political settlement between the Parties to this Agreement.”5

“The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in…this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”6

Subsequent Views on the Transitional Nature of the Lines

Statements from Arab and other sources between 1949 and 1967 confirm the common understanding as to the transitional nature of the lines. During the debate in the Security Council before the outbreak of hostilities in 1967, the Jordanian ambassador stated:

“There is an Armistice Agreement. The Agreement did not fix boundaries; it fixed a demarcation line. The Agreement did not pass judgment on rights political, military or otherwise. Thus I know of no territory; I know of no boundary; I know of a situation frozen by an Armistice Agreement.”7

Prof. Mughraby wrote in the Beirut Daily Star:

“Israel is the only State in the world which has no legal boundaries except the natural one the Mediterranean provides. The rest are nothing more than armistice lines, can never be considered political or territorial boundaries.”8

President Lyndon Johnson is on record stating:

“The nations of the region have had only fragile and violated truce lines for 20 years. What they now need are recognized boundaries and other arrangements that will give them security against terror, destruction and war.”9

In this context, international jurists have also acknowledged the limited effect of the armistice lines:
Elihu Lauterpacht, in his booklet, Jerusalem and the Holy Places, states:

“Each of these agreements…contains a provision that the armistice lines therein laid down shall not prejudice the future political settlement. It would not therefore be accurate to contend that questions of title…depend on the Armistice Agreements. Questions of sovereignty are quite independent of the Armistice Agreements.”10

Judge Steven Schwebel, former President of the International Court of Justice, stated in 1994:

“The armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and did not purport to establish definitive boundaries between them.”11

Security Council Resolution 242, 1967

The transitory nature of the 1949 armistice demarcation lines was clearly acknowledged by the Security Council in Resolution 242 of 1967, after the “Six-Day War,” which affirmed, in its first paragraph:

“…respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”12

There is no call in this resolution for a return to the armistice demarcation lines or to any other line or border. The Security Council specifically dismissed the Arab demand for a text that required Israel to completely return all the territory it occupied during the 1967 conflict. Israel was called upon to withdraw from “territories occupied in the recent conflict,” not from “all the territories” or even from “the territories.” At the same time, the Council called upon the parties to work together to promote agreement on a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles of the resolution. Clearly this settlement was intended to include the negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries that would replace the armistice demarcation lines, pursuant to the above references in the armistice agreements to the same “ultimate peaceful settlement.”
During the Security Council debate on the acceptance of Resolution 242, the representative of Brazil, in accepting the resolution, declared:    

 
“Its acceptance does not imply that borderlines cannot be rectified as a result of an agreement freely concluded among the interested States. 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.”13

Israel-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, 1993

While this fact has been widely acknowledged in both legal and political literature throughout the years,14 the basic reciprocal undertaking by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to negotiate borders between their respective territories was given formal confirmation by Yasser Arafat, his deputy and later replacement Mahmoud Abbas, and Sa’eb Erekat during the groundbreaking “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements” (signed inter alia by Abbas) of September 13, 1993, in which the PLO and the Government of Israel acknowledged that the negotiations on the permanent status of the relationship between them would cover:

“…remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.”

On the eve of the signature of the above declaration, Arafat made the solemn commitment in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin:

“The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”15

Clearly, the present, ongoing fixation by Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, and his chief negotiator, Sa’eb Erekat, in attempting to bypass the agreed-upon negotiating process and achieve unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within the “1967 borders” runs squarely against Arafat’s solemn undertaking in the name of the Palestinian people in 1993.

Israeli-Palestinian Agreements, 1993-1999

The above references to permanent status negotiations on borders and to achieving the aims of Security Council Resolution 242 were repeated in a series of mutually agreed documents entered into between the PLO and the Israel Government.16 Furthermore, with a view to strengthening this commitment, they undertook in the 1995 Interim Agreement not to act unilaterally to change the status of the territories pending outcome of those permanent status negotiations:

“…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 the permanent status negotiations.”17

This undertaking was reiterated by the parties in Article 9 of the 1999 Sharm el Shiekh Memorandum:

“Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment for the negotiations, neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.”

Throughout all the phases of the negotiations on these various agreements and memoranda between Israel and the Palestinians, and in the texts of these documents, there was never any reference to the 1967 lines as a potential border between the two neighbors, nor was there any reference to any commitment or obligation by Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines.

Road Map, 2003

Further indication of the non-existence of “1967 borders” and the rejection of any unilateral act by the Palestinians is evident from the terms of the Quartet-initiated “Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” of April 30, 2003.18 In this document the parties were expected, in the second and third phases of implementation of the “Road Map” and after election of a responsible Palestinian leadership, to engage in negotiation focusing on the option of creating an independent, viable Palestinian state, initially with “provisional borders.” This was intended to serve as a way-station to the permanent settlement that was scheduled for the third stage, where final status borders would be recognized by an international conference convened for that purpose.

Clearly, if and when the parties return to a modus of bona fide negotiation and reach the issue of defining their mutual border, the 1967 line could indeed figure as a point of reference in the negotiations between them, assuming that it answers the criteria set out by the Security Council for a border that will avoid situations of threats of force and violence.

But this can only emanate from a reciprocal and good faith attempt by the parties to act together, and not unilaterally, in determining their own borders, based on their mutual interests as neighbors. Such issues cannot and must not be dictated from outside, whether by the UN or by individual states.

Thus, in light of all the above, the question arises if and when the Palestinian leadership will come to admit the absurdity in attempting to invent “1967 borders” that obviously lack any historical, legal, or factual basis?

Similarly, one may ask when they will see the utter lack of pragmatism and realism in their attempt to dictate to the international community a unilateral Palestinian state in violation of their own commitments, undermining the internationally accepted Middle East peace process as well as internationally recognized and witnessed documents.


1. For the text of the Argentinean declaration, see http://www.mrecic.gov.ar/. The text of the Brazilian declaration may be found at http://www.itamaraty.gov.br/sa…

2. S/RES/62 (1948)S/1080, 16 November 1948.

3. Article II(2), http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Fore…

4. Article IV(2).

5. Article VI(8).

6. Article VI(9).

7. 1345th meeting of the Security Council, May 31, 1967.

8. Beirut Daily Star, May 28, 1967.

9. Department of State Bulletin 33, June 19, 1967.

10. Elihu Lauterpacht, Jerusalem and the Holy Places (London, 1968), p. 45.

11. Justice in International Law, Selected Writings of Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

12. UN Security Council Resolution 242, November 22, 1967, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…

13. S/PV.1382(OR), 22 November 1967. See also Alan Baker, “Recognition of a Palestinian State – Premature,

Legally Invalid, and Undermining any Bona Fide Negotiation Process,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, December 9, 2010, http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templ…

14. For example, see Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, “Security Council Resolution 242 at Twenty Five,” Israel Law Review, vol. 26, 1992, pp. 295-318. Ministry for Foreign Affairs: The First Fifty Years (Jerusalem, Keter), vol. 4, pp. 840-853 (Hebrew).

15. Exchange of letters between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, July 9, 1993, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…

16. See, for example, the “Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Washington, D.C., September 28, 1995, Preamble, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac… and see the “1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum on Implementation Timeline of Outstanding Commitments of Agreements Signed and the Resumption of Permanent Status Negotiations,” 4 September 1999, Article 1.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAA…

17. Article XXXI (7).

18. See http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peac…