NYT is back to its old tricks

By Ted Belman

The NYT has an op-ed by Professor Newman of Ben Gurion University entitled A Green Line in the Sand.

Starting with the order of Israel’s education minister, Yuli Tamir, to have the Green Line border, which separates Israel from the West Bank, reintroduced in all texts and maps used in the Israeli school system, he correctly notes

    The border (Green Line) , hastily drawn at the Rhodes armistice talks after Israel’s war of Independence in 1948, had always been regarded as nothing more than an artificial line of separation eventually to be reworked.

In fact, the Jordanian-Israeli agreement specifically stated:

    “… no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations” (Art. II.2),

    “The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of 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.” (Art. VI.9) [3]

JPOST noted MKs try to prevent Tamir’s Green Line proposal. One MK, Orlov, based his argument against the inclusion of the Green Line in textbooks on a document issued by a ministerial body that convened following the Six-Day War.

The document, which is dated November 1967, stipulates that

    “from here forth, the map of Israel will be demarcated according to the cease-fire lines without the armistice lines and the borders of the British Mandate.”

Newman makes no mention of this opposition or document and merely states that the Green Line was removed from textbooks at this time. He claims that

    But in the past decade, for most Israelis, the Green Line has once again become the line separating the relatively safe roads of Israel from the danger of the West Bank. Few Israelis, other than the settlers, venture beyond it, even when doing so would make their route shorter.

This is so but only as a result of the Oslo Accords which brought terrorism in their wake. So the Israeli reaction is not because of their new found love of the Green Line as a potential border but because of the danger in proceeding beyond it.

Newman then notes

    The international legal status of the Green Line is not clear. On the one hand, it is no more than an armistice line — it is not a recognized boundary, unlike the borders separating Israel from both Egypt and Jordan, which were drawn up and ratified as part of peace agreements. Yet the Oslo accords make mention of the West Bank as constituting the future Palestinian state.

The last sentence is more than problematic, it is incorrect. The Oslo accords did not in any way reference a future Palestinian state. Furthermore the Oslo Accords referenced Res 242 of the Security Council which allowed Israel to remain in occupation until there were “secure and recognized boundaries”.

Palestine Facts in What was United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and what does it say? advises on this understanding,

How do we know this is what was intended by the resolution? There is a long record of public statements about how the resolution was negotiated and what was intended for it to accomplish.

In an article, referenced among the Sources at the bottom of the page, by Eugene V. Rostow (Distinguished Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and former US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs), the intent is explained in considerable detail. Rostow was one of the US officials involved in drafting 242 so he knows first hand what was and was not intended. He states:

    * Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved.

It was widely recognized that the balancing of the ideas of a territorial return with “secure and recognized boundaries” for Israel would mean that Israel would not be forced to withdraw from 100% of the land captured in the June 1967 war. There is a dispute between the British-American understanding of the wording of the resolution and the French understanding of the wording, but in the United Nations the binding version of any resolution is the version that is submitted to the voting body. In this case, the English version takes precedence over the French version.

Various other officials have commented on the negotiation of UNSCR 242 and how it relates to Israel’s position. The British UN Ambassador at the time, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, has stated that:

    * It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them.

The United States’ UN Ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, has stated that:

    * The notable omissions – which were not accidental – in regard to withdrawal are the words “the” or “all” and the “June 5, 1967 lines” … the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. [This would encompass] less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably Insecure.

A detailed description by Goldberg of the negotiating process behind UNSCR 242 appears in “U.N. RESOLUTION 242: ORIGIN, MEANING, AND SIGNIFICANCE” in the Sources at the bottom of the page.

Max M. Kampelman, former counselor of the US State Department, said in a letter to The New York Times on April 8, 2002, referring to “territories recaptured from Jordan in 1967, territories that Jordan captured in its war against Israel in 1948-49”:

    * The United States voted in favor of Resolution 242 only after insisting that “all” had no place in it. The United Nations instead referred to the need to arrive at “secure and recognized” boundaries.

No one realistically expects Israel to withdraw before its security is assured. UNSCR 242 emphatically does not put any preconditions on Israel (or the Palestinian Arabs for that matter). Israel is perfectly within its rights to remain in place until there is a negotiated peace agreement acceptable to Israel as well as to the Palestinian Arabs. Israel moved into the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas as part of a defensive war started by the Arab enemies of Israel. Israel does not have to move out of those areas unless and until there is a negotiated peace that offers Israel security guarantees that make it unnecessary to keep control of the areas. Every terrorist incident proves that the time to trust the Palestinian Arabs has not yet arrived.

Despite the very clear record on the purpose and meaning of UNSCR 242, misconceptions continue. For example, on January 23, 2001 the New York Times was forced to print this correction:

    * An article yesterday about peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians referred incorrectly to United Nations resolutions on the conflict. While Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 Middle East War, calls for Israel to withdraw its armed forces “from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” no resolution calls for Israel to withdraw “to its pre-1967 borders.”

Newman totally ignores all this and the NYT once again is back to their old tricks.

January 9, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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