Israel’s decision to disengage from the Gaza Strip has placed the future of the disputed West Bank at the top of the international agenda. Prominent voices have called on Israel to withdraw fully from the West Bank and return to the 1949 Armistice Lines (1967 borders) – a move that would undermine Israel’s security and even pose an existential threat. It is therefore a matter of urgency that while the debate over the future of the Middle East addresses Palestinian claims for an independent state, Israel’s rights and requirements for defensible borders, as proposed by President George W. Bush, are now placed squarely on the global diplomatic agenda.
“The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders.”
– U.S. President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004
Revised and Updated – 2008
Introduction – Dr. Dore Gold
Defensible Borders for Peace – Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Chairman, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
The Military-Strategic Perspective:
Israel’s Requirement for Defensible Borders – Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former Head of Assessment, Israeli Military Intelligence
The Legal Perspective:
Understanding UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967, on the Middle East – Dr. Meir Rosenne, former Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. and France
The Diplomatic Perspective:
The U.S. and “Defensible Borders”: How Washington Has Understood UN Security Council Resolution 242 and Israel’s Requirements for Withdrawal – Dr. Dore Gold, former Ambassador of Israel to the UN
Appendix 2 – Letter from U.S. President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004
Appendix 3 – U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Approve Commitments to Israel in President Bush’s Letter of April 14, 2004
Appendix 4 – Statement of U.S. President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 11, 2005, in Crawford, Texas
About the Defensible Borders Initiative – Dan Diker
See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland – Download the PDF here
About the Authors
Dr. Yuval Steinitz is Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as well as its Subcommittee on Intelligence and the Secret Services. A Knesset member since 1999, Dr. Steinitz previously taught metaphysics and the philosophy of science at the University of Haifa, during which time he published four books on philosophy and numerous articles in professional journals.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, commanded Israel’s National Defense College and headed the research and assessment division of Israeli military intelligence. He also served as the military secretary to Israel’s Minister of Defense and was involved in preparing for Israel’s negotiations with its Arab neighbors. He was the Ira Weiner Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Since his retirement from the IDF, Gen. Amidror has served as an advisor on military and security matters to various government agencies.
Dr. Meir Rosenne has served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and to France. He was one of the principal framers of the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, and served as legal advisor to the Israel Foreign Ministry and to various Israel-U.S. and Israel-Syrian negotiations. He served as CEO of State of Israel Bonds, and is a senior partner at Balter Guth Aloni & Co. Dr. Rosenne received his B.A. in international relations from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1953, followed by his LL.M. and Ph.D. (with honors) in international law from the Sorbonne in 1957.
Dr. Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1999). Previously he served as foreign policy advisor to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at which time he served as an envoy to Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the Gulf States. He was involved in the negotiations over the 1998 Wye Agreement, the 1997 Hebron Protocol, and in 1996 concluded the negotiations with the U.S., Lebanon, Syria, and France for the creation of the Monitoring Group for Southern Lebanon. In 1991, he served as an advisor to the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference. Dr. Gold completed his B.A. (1975), M.A. (1976), and Ph.D. (1984) at Columbia University. In 1978 he earned the certificate of Columbia University’s Middle East Institute.
Dr. Gold is the author of Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery, 2003); and Tower of Babble: How the United Nations Has Fueled Global Chaos (Crown Forum, 2004).
The idea of defensible borders has been at the heart of the Israeli national consensus for years. In fact, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin laid this out in his last Knesset address in October 1995 – just one month before he was assassinated. Rabin insisted that: “The border of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War.” He emphasized: “We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.” Specifically, he noted “the security border of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.” He concluded that Israel must retain “a united Jerusalem” and the settlement blocs of the West Bank. Rabin reflected the views of most Israeli leaders that defensible borders are the key to a durable peace in a volatile Middle East.