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.
It included the following 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Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national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 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 an Arab homeland alongside 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 formally 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 of 1967. An armistice line was agreed upon in ‘48, which left much more land to Israel than in the Partition Plan. It is this line that is called the “Green Line” or the ‘67 lines.
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-Six Day War line? 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 Palestinian Authority 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”.
The Left say they are only being realistic in agreeing to the ‘48 lines. Nothing else they say will get the agreement from the Arabs and it is necessary to avoid the demographic time bomb. That is probably so, but they are not being realistic in thinking it will bring peace or security for Israel.
The Right, on the other hand, say they are being realistic in arguing that peace and security are not achievable for generations and that the best policy is not to make any concessions until then.
The ultra-Right is being even more realistic in saying that the only way to bring peace and security to Israel for generations is to remove the Arabs from the territories, because there is not enough room for two states between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, to make certain that Israel remain a Jewish State, and not a state like any other, and to promote Arab emigration and resist Arab immigration.
In other words, a two-state or bi-national state solution is no solution. It is a prescription for war and endless conflict.
So, who’s being realistic? (Arutz Sheva/Ted Belman)
Thanks to RadioRote.
Rote Note: Mr. Belman’s articles can be read on israpundit.com.