The Corner

No, The 1967 Borders Won’t Be Enough for the Palestinians

One of the more ridiculous aspects of the decades-long Middle East “peace process” is the belief that the so-called 1967 borders between Israel and Arab-held territory represent the foundation for a lasting piece. It’s never been true, it’s not true now, and there’s no realistic indication it will ever be true. The following points are elementary, but they apparently have to be repeated again and again:

First, the 1967 borders weren’t borders at all, but instead armistice lines between warring parties. When Israel’s War of Independence ended, Egyptian (in Gaza), Jordanian (in the West Bank), and Syrian (in the Golan) military forces were entrenched along these lines. They were not designed as the foundational borders for a nation-state but were instead essentially the lines established after the retreat of multiple attacking armies all bent on destroying Israel. Moreover, the lines left Israel so vulnerable that they created instability and invited war. After all, Israel was living within these talismanic “1967 borders” . . . in 1967. Yet Egypt still amassed a staggering array of forces to strike Israel and drive its Jewish citizens into the sea.

Second, if you think that contemporary Palestinian activists would be content with the 1967 borders, you’re delusional. Let’s not forget that the Second Intifada was launched after Israel offered a peace settlement that was based on the 1967 lines and gave the Palestinians a capital in East Jerusalem. Even today, Palestinian activists reject 1967-based solutions. Here’s Ali Abunimah writing today in the Electronic Intifada:

I evaluate any steps related to Palestine through a simple and consistent lens: does this measure take us closer to the fulfillment of Palestinian rights, all Palestinian rights?

These rights are set out most succinctly in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS): an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land during and since 1967; an end to Israel’s institutionalized racism against Palestinians in present-day Israel (the areas on which Israel was established in 1948); and the return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes.

I believe in a positive vision of a Palestine whole and free, where all people live in a decolonized and reunified territory without discrimination based on religion or ethnicity and without sectarian territorial partition.

This is a recipe for the political and demographic destruction of the state of Israel, and it is not a “fringe” view amongst Palestinians and their allies. 

And that brings us to the third point. The future does not look bright for a 1967 solution. Palestinians support Hamas over the Palestinian Authority by an overwhelming 61–32 margin. Hamas has no intention of coexisting with Israel and every intention of destroying it, utterly. 

Yet despite the past, present, and foreseeable future, American officials continue to repeat the 1967 mantra as if it’s anything other than the first stage of a Palestinian territorial counteroffensive against Israel. No one should be fooled by the recent Palestinian U.N. resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. It’s not a diplomatic act, but instead a continuation of Palestinian lawfare — the abuse of international law to accomplish results that Palestinian terrorists could never hope to achieve on the battlefield.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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