Let’s talk about borders


Any discussion of borders should start with the Torah wherein the land, including, what is now Jordan, was promised by God, to the Israelites.


What’s that you say? Such arguments don’t resonate with the secular. But it is the Torah that gave a history to these lands and reflects the Jewish presence there for over one thousand years. It is also why the Arabs are fighting for these lands so vehemently. Okay, okay, let’s forget about the God arguments.


How about the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which stipulated that Britain, the leading power of the day, favoured the establishment of a Jewish “Homeland” in Palestine. What, you say, it didn’t say a “state” or it was only intended to get the Jews in Russia and Europe to support Britain in the war against Germany. Nevertheless the Jews gave valid consideration to Britain binding this commitment.


Oh, you want something more international and more binding. No problem.


In accordance with the principles of the Balfour Declaration and Article 22 of the League Covenant, the League of Nations drew up the Mandate for Palestine. It included this in the preamble,



Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and


And it included these two provisions.


ART. 2. The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion

ART. 6. The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.



The purpose of the mandate was to establish a Jewish homeland (and not a Arab homeland along side of it) in the total land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. The Arabs were only entitled to the protection of ”their civil and religious rights”.


Furthermore, Britain was to encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land including State land.”. There you have it. The Jews are entitled to settle anywhere in the mandate. No such right was given to the Arabs. What flows from this is that all Jewish settlements in the territories are legal and remain so. But you say that a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. So it has.


In 1947 Britain formerly asked the UN to take over the Mandate and the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181 in response. This provided inter alia, that the Mandate would end on or before August 1, 1948, that a “Arab and Jewish State” be created and that



If by 1 April 1948 a Provisional Council of Government cannot be selected for either of the States, or, if selected, cannot carry out its functions, the Commission shall communicate that fact to the Security Council for such action with respect to that State as the Security Council may deem proper, and to the Secretary-General for communication to the Members of the United Nations.

As you know the State of Israel was declared on May 1st 1948 pursuant to this Resolution but the Arabs rejected the Resolution and went to war against Israel. Thus the Mandate ended and the Security Council did not act under the last provision until it passed Resolution 242 after the Six Day War.


An armistice line was agreed upon in ‘48, which left much more property to Israel than in the Partition Plan. It is this line, which is called the Green Line or the ’67 lines. (Prior to Six Day War)


Now the Arabs are calling for a two state solution centred on the ’48 armistice line, though amongst themselves, they argue for the Partition line, and rightly so. What is the difference between the pre Six Day War armistice line and the post one? My point being, there may be magic in the ’47 line which was passed by the General Assembly but there is no legal reason to choose the ’48 line rather than the post ’67 line.


Resolution 242 provided that Israel could remain in occupation until an agreement was reached with the surrounding states for “secure and recognized borders”. The Oslo accords provided for the PA to replace the surrounding states as the negotiating partner. In this formula either party has a veto by simply not agreeing to the borders. The PA is hoping to remove Israel’s veto and to have the international community force the 48 borders on Israel. Israel on the other hand wants to maintain its veto to ensure it gets borders to its liking. With the War of Attrition going on now, both sides are hoping to get the other to say “uncle”.


When Israel proposes to build a fence beyond the Green Line, it is acused not only of a "land grab" which, in itself, presupposses that the land is Palestinian, which it demonstrably isn't, but it is also accused of attempting to pre-determine the future borders as if something were wrong with that. (The world has already pre-determined that the Green line should be the borders.)


Israel has every right to settle these lands and to protect its citizens living on them by building the fence. If the Arabs feel that works to their disadvantage let them enter into serious negotions and arrive at a deal before even more facts are put on the ground.



Posted by Ted Belman at November 3, 2003 08:45 AM | TrackBack

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