The United States, the 1967 border and the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict

After holding three elections in less than a year, the Israelis finally seemed to have taken a break from having to take a poll. On April 20, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Linjad Party) agreed to form a unified government with the leader of the opposition blue and white party, Benny Gantz. As part of the agreement negotiated by both parties, Netanyahu will be allowed to let the Israeli Parliament (Israeli Parliament) vote on whether Israel should unilaterally annex about 30% of the land in the West Bank. To date, the West Bank is considered The main land in the West Bank

has every reason to believe that President Donald Trump will support Israel ’s decision to annex. Although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ’s recent visit to Jerusalem prompted speculation that Washington might be uneasy about the move, Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for Israel ’s territorial aspirations. For example, the Bush administration has recognized Israel ’s power over the Golan Heights, and has retained its promise of a presidential campaign to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. More importantly, during Trump ’s administration, the United States announced a merger with Israel, indicating that Israeli settlements in the West Bank did not violate international law, thereby expressing its recognition of annexation. The US government ’s peace plan released in January clearly outlined a territorial solution that would involve Israel ’s reservation of about 30% of the West Bank ’s land, including its existing settlements and the Jordan Valley, as well as the power of Jerusalem as a whole. Indeed, the Netanyahu-Gants agreement clearly mentioned Trump's proposal.

In other words, the situation now seems to have been at any time since the Arab-Israeli War in June 1967, when Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and East in just six days Jerusalem. Therefore, from a historical perspective, as important as ever, Trump ’s decision to recognize Israel ’s annexation of about a third of the West Bank will affect Washington ’s traditional policies in this area. In fact, this move will constitute a major shift in the way the United States treats peace-building in the Middle East. Although some important details of the US government are different, since Lyndon Johnson, every president has visualized Arab-Israeli settlements based on the Israeli withdrawal close to the 1967 line.

The Stakes [19659002] It is particularly important to understand how US approval of annexation will change the traditional American-Arab-Israeli peace-building method because it may harm Washington ’s interests. To be sure, neither the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem nor Trump ’s recognition of Israel ’s control of the Golan Heights caused strong opposition in any form. However, the embassy ’s move does not necessarily eliminate the possibility that the future State of Palestine may use East Jerusalem as its capital, and it has been believed for many years that as part of the settlement, the United States will eventually recognize at least the rest of Jerusalem as Israeli capital. As for the Golan Heights, it no longer resonates in the Arab world as it used to. In contrast, the question of Palestine remains the core of the Arab-Israeli dispute.

In a purely strategic sense, Americans ’interests in peace in the Middle East are different from those of the past few decades. In short, the Arab-Israeli dispute may not have the same impact on Washington's position in the Arab world as it used to be. After all, when Netanyahu first announced his annexation plan last September, the Arab world barely responded. In addition, there is some evidence that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, young Arabs are no longer connected to the Palestinians like the older generation.

The United States claims that Trump only acknowledged the fact that the concept of a two-state solution is now a dead letter. Moreover, the interests of the Arab world can be said to be less important than ten years ago. Although the United States has never achieved "energy independence," the "shale revolution" gave Washington greater flexibility and made the country more vulnerable than during, for example, the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. Compared with the Cold War period, the Arab-Israeli dispute often led to large-scale wars (one of which took place after Israel acquired nuclear weapons), and it is possible to drag the United States and the Soviet Union into it

Nevertheless, there are still good reasons to question The United States can actively support the idea of ​​Israel ’s annexation and not paying any price at the political cost of power. This direct conflict greatly reduces the risk that the conflict poses to international security.

First of all, Jordan is the main partner of the United States (and Israel) in the Middle East and may be volatile because of its large Palestinian population. In addition, violence may erupt in the West Bank (in fact, there are already some signs that the tension in the area is increasing), which may threaten the stability of the Palestinian Authority (Palestinian Authority). In addition, the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently announced that he will end security cooperation with Israel.

More importantly, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, the general reaction to Israel ’s annexation may complicate the government ’s work. An attempt was made to establish a strategy of a regional group consisting of Israeli and Sunni Arab allies in Washington, aimed at containing Iran ’s influence on the region. Many influential analysts in Israel believe that "the best way to effectively counter Iran is through a regional alliance of relatively moderate Sunni regimes … Israel ’s default participation. However, unless ongoing efforts are being made to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Believe in the political process, otherwise it is impossible to form such an alliance. Without it, the Arab people will not tolerate cooperation with Israel. "Daniel Pipes agrees that the relationship established between Israel and Sunni Arab states" establishes On the premise that the Arab government no longer emphasizes the question of Palestine; there is nothing better than provoking Israel ’s unilateral annexation to revive the issue. ”After all, Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, was almost ten years old Previously, he was "the most respected leader in the Arab world". Similarly, even if countries like Saudi Arabia have now opened Hamas, there is evidence that they have financially supported the organization in the past, and it is conceivable that they might do so again in the future. And according to the consequences of Israel ’s annexation, even if the United States does not pay a significant price in the near future, its interests in the Middle East may be greatly damaged in the long run.

Resolution 242 and US policy since 1967

With this in mind, how has the United States traditionally viewed the territorial scope of Arab-Israeli settlements? Some analysts believe that as part of the Arab-Israeli settlement, Washington has been willing to allow major changes to the 1967 borders for many years, and it has been traced back to the Johnson administration. For example, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren strongly opposed President Barack Obama ’s May 2011 statement that “the border between Israel and Palestine should be based on a mutually agreed exchange Based on the 1967 border ". Oren asserted that Obama ’s reference to the 1967 route was "to break away from [ed] the long-term US policy until 1967." In the President ’s speech, Neill Lochery agreed, representing “a major shift in American policy.”

These claims depend largely on how the Johnson administration interprets UN Security Council Resolution 242 (the The document is a resolution adopted in November 1967 establishing the principle that Arab-Israeli settlements should be based on land exchange for peace. Resolution 242 ’s territorial issues are very ambiguous in design. Specifically, the document only calls for Israel “withdrew from the territories occupied in recent conflicts”, not from “these territories” or “all territories”, and its reference to “no territory allowed through war” is

. Support does not mean that it envisages large-scale border changes as part of the solution. To be sure, Arthur Goldberg, Johnson ’s ambassador to the United Nations, insists that the resolution ’s provisions on President Arthur Goldberg (Responsible for establishing peace between Arab and Israel after the June 1967 conflict, and the United States voted in favor of Resolution 242).

Nonetheless, the Johnson administration began after the 1967 conflict It took the position that the settlement basically required Israel to withdraw its troops completely, and the changes to the pre-war route were relatively minor. In fact, Goldberg voted in July to pass a draft resolution, which called for “due to In the recent conflict, Israel withdrew all its troops from all the territories it occupied. ”Later that same month, the United Nations ambassador reached an agreement with representatives of the Soviet Union to accept the principle of“ not allowing war to conquer territories under the Charter of the United Nations, therefore, The parties to the conflict withdrew their position they occupied before June.

Goldberg later changed the position of the United States on this issue by supporting the ambiguous language used in the territorial issue of Resolution 242. To a large extent, he took this step out of domestic political considerations, because the Arab countries adopted the infamous "three vetoes" at the September Khartoum Arab Summit, that is, not peace with Israel, Not acknowledging and not negotiating with Israel. However, Goldberg also hopes to allow the possibility of changing the 1967 borders, which needs to be resolved in the negotiations.

But Johnson government officials only remember to make minor changes to the pre-war route For example, Goldberg foresaw a solution that involved “returning all [Egyptian] territories occupied during the June war [Egypt]”, although he did not rule out the possibility of Israel retaining the Gaza Strip What is certain is that since Damascus took an impossible position after the war, there were no negotiations in the Golan Heights, but the Israelis initially informed US officials that they were willing to provide "Egypt and Syria to both Withdraw completely ". Therefore, There is reason to conclude that the United States conceived an agreement to reach the above agreement with Syria. Similarly, under Goldberg ’s instructions, King Hussein of Jordan also assured the United States that the United States “has prepared to support the West Bank ’s return to Jordan through small-scale border remediation.” In other words, except for the smallest changes (and Jerusalem ’s Special circumstances), senior officials of the Johnson administration believe that the West Bank must also return to Jordan.

Importantly, Johnson ’s point of view is the same. In a speech delivered in September 1968, the President said: "Israel must convince its Arab neighbors and the international community that Israel has no expansionist design on its territory." He believes that the final boundary of the settlement is "cannot and should not be Reflect the burden of conquest. "

Johnson ’s immediate successor will make insignificant changes to the policy, but the basic position of the United States is that Israel must return to the 1967 route in exchange for peace, with only minor changes. Until Trump basically remained intact. For example, President Richard Nixon sometimes expressed support for major border changes, especially in the Golan Heights, but after the Middle East war in October 1973, he stated that settlements must Israel is based almost entirely on the withdrawal of troops. Indeed, Nixon even told Syrian President Hafez Assad that he supported the restoration of the 1967 defense. Similarly, President Gerald Ford ’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in April 1975 that a comprehensive solution may require Israel to “essentially restore the 1967 borders and thus openly agree The possibility of making small changes. "He believes that the possibility of major border adjustments as part of the peace agreement is" based on unfeasible premises. "

As far as President Jimmy Carter is concerned, here The position on the issue is more firm. He wrote a settlement agreement shortly after taking office, which involved "[19] minor adjustments to 67 borders [with]." He believed that the West Bank and Gaza should establish a loose alliance with Jordan to establish Palestine land.

What is certain is that since Egypt and Israel achieved peace in 1979, US policy has evolved, but until Trump insisted that reconciliation is more or less based on 1967. President Reagan declared in September 1982 when formulating his Middle East peace plan: "On the border before 1967, Israel was only 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. Most of Israel ’s population lives within the artillery range of the hostile Arab army. I will not want Israel to live like this again. "Even so, Reagan still believes that" based on Israel's sovereignty or control over the West Bank and Gaza, peace cannot be achieved. … [W] e will not support Israeli annexation or Permanent control. "" For Israel, "President George W. Bush's Secretary of State James Baker also stated in May 1989," It is time to abandon the unrealistic vision of Greater Israel once and for all. Similarly, the "parameters" proposed by President Bill Clinton at the end of his term called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank. In a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in April 2004, President Bush assured the United States that it could accept "mutually agreed changes" to the West Bank borders, but in his mind there were only changes that allowed Israel to retain.

Therefore, Obama was extremely frustrated by his strong opposition to the 1967 defense line published in May 2011. According to reports, he said: "This is as annoying as when I was president." He believes that the whole response "has not yet reached the level". Given that what he said is consistent with the long-term policy of the United States, one can understand his troubles.


In short, the Trump administration decided to recognize that Israel annexed most Israelis. The West Bank will be a major breakthrough in the way that Washington has traditionally established peace with the Middle East. Therefore, before the United States takes such an important step, American officials should consider the possible impact very carefully. Indeed, even if the response of the Arab world is relatively limited, if the United States supports annexation, the United States will take some practical risks. After all, American officials have long believed that reaching a settlement with their Arab neighbors is in Israel ’s own interest.

With this in mind, Israel ’s annexation may bring to the United States the greatest traditional challenge. The definition may be for Israel ’s own security and identity. As David Makovsky put it: "If [Netanyahu] annexed what he was talking about, it would be over." Because such a move would make it impossible to establish a Palestinian state, it will " Weakening Israel ’s mission to establish it as a Jewish democratic country with equal rights for all. " Well, it is not surprising that many Israeli national security officials opposed annexation. In other words, the result is likely to be some single-state solution. Of course, this is neither in Israel nor in the interests of the United States.

Galen Jackson is an assistant professor of political science at Williams College. He is currently writing a book on the diplomacy of great powers in the Arab-Israeli conflict between the June 1967 war and the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty He is also the associate editor of the Texas National Security Review .

Picture: Government Information Office (Israel)


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