The Defensible Borders Initiative of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is the culmination of efforts by some of Israel’s leading military strategists, diplomats, international jurists, and parliamentarians to raise the international profile of Israel’s longstanding and internationally-sanctioned rights and requirements for secure and recognized boundaries. This monograph is the first step in a much broader international effort that was launched on October 19, 2004, with a conference on Defensible Borders held jointly by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
The participants in the Defensible Borders Initiative have long recognized that the far-reaching concessions Israel has been prepared to make for peace have resulted in an unfortunate irony. The majority of the international community has forgotten what had been axiomatic after Israel vanquished six attacking armies in the Six-Day War of 1967. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, granted Israel an international legal and moral mandate to retain territory in the disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to establish defensible borders that could protect the country’s citizens and vital interests from further external attacks.
Ironically, this consensus was undermined by a sustained campaign of delegitimization of Israel’s international rights by the Palestinian leadership and Arab countries during and after the Oslo peace process. The Defensible Borders Initiative is a response to this campaign that led to highly politicized analyses of Israel’s international legal rights in many foreign government circles and the mass media. A central aim of this report is to restore more intellectually rigorous analysis to the ongoing discussion over Israel’s future borders.
The broader Defensible Borders Initiative will involve briefings, seminars, and additional published reports that will expand upon Israel’s defense needs, national security requirements, and legal rights in the ongoing debate over the future of the Arab-Israeli peace process.
While it is still uncertain whether terrorism and tyranny will continue to prevail in the Middle East or whether freedom and democracy will take root, defensible borders will remain a vital safeguard for Israel’s future survival.
Senior Policy Analyst, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs