Is the Green Line the Palestinian Border?

There is a great deal of misunderstanding of the legal ramifications of the Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank. It is often mistakenly referred to as a border, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The term “Green Line” simply refers to the demarcation line set our in the Armistice Agreement that was concluded between Israel and Jordan on 3 April 1949.

As the Agreement specifically states: “The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Lines is to delineate the lines beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move” (Article IV paragraph 2).

Article VI goes even further by affirming: “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” (paragraph 9).

It is, therefore, grossly misleading to refer to the Green Line as though it were the internationally recognized border between Israel and any future Palestinian state. Such a border can only be arrived at following negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Were the Palestinians to declare an independent state unilaterally, basing themselves upon the Demarcation Lines of 1949, such an act would be in direct violation of the understandings arrived at in the Armistice Agreement.

Furthermore, when the Palestinians quote UN Security Council Resolution 242 as requiring Israel to evacuate all territories conquered during the 6 Day War, they purposely misinterpret its wording.

The Resolution specifically refers to the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The term “all territories” is missing, because it was recognized even at that time that any final border agreement could only be arrived at following negotiations between the parties.

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2 Responses to Is the Green Line the Palestinian Border?

  1. Ytzen Lont says:

    It is true that the 1949 green line is no recognized international border, but an armistice demarcation line that according to the armistice treaty should not be crossed. Yet, one cannot argue that recognizing the line is a violation and at the same time that crossing the line is not.

    Resolution 242 gives room for interpretation whether or not Israel should (according to that resolution) withdraw fully behind the green line or not. Legally the English and French version of resolution 242 are equal.

    “Recognizing” the 1967 borders (which legally doesnot make much sence as long as there is no agreement) also recognizes the territorial gains made by Israel during the War of Independence, that have been accepted now by many states, including Arab.
    More relevant is the fact that the counterpart involved in 1967, the Kingdom of Jordan, has given up its claims to the Westbank and came to recognize the State of Israel. This (and many other factors in a world that has dramatically changed since 1967) has increased the chances for an international agreement, but made it even more important as well as complex to come to peace and good relations with and between the inhabitants of the land.

    (*) “Retrait des forces armées israéliennes des territoires occupés lors du récent conflit.“, which can be understood with or without “from [all] the“.

  2. Rabbi Michael (Micky) Boyden says:

    You make a number of good points. Thanks for writing in. I don’t think I argued that crossing the Green Line was not a violation of the Armistice Agreement. As is generally recognized, Israel ended up on the West Bank because of a war not of her making. Indeed, she pleaded with the late King Hussein not to get involved, but he did not acceed to her request.

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