Israel Rejects pre-1967 Borders, Sees it as Surrender

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 21st, 2011

Empires Come and Empires Go

As empires go, few were as great and long lasting as the Roman Empire.  At the height of empire, the Romans ruled most of Briton, Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.  The empire was so vast that the Romans split it in half.  The Western Empire survived about 500 Years.  The Eastern Empire survived about 1,500 years.  The last thousand years of the Eastern Empire, the Byzantine Empire, ruled North Africa and the Middle East.  Including the ancient Jewish homeland.

The Byzantine Empire eventually fell to Muslim invaders.  And the Christian lands of the Roman Empire became Muslim.  Including the Jewish homeland.  The Muslims conquered the previous conquerors.  And to the victors went the spoils.  Parts of the Roman Empire in Spain, North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe became part of a new Muslim Empire (caliphate).  There were about 1,000 years of war that expanded and contracted the empire.  At the tail end of this empire was the Ottoman Empire.  Which World War I ended.  The Ottomans were on the losing side of that war.  The British were on the winning side.  And to the victors went the spoils.  They administered the land called Palestine.  And in exchange for Jewish and Arab support in the war against the Ottomans, the British promised both land carved out of the defeated Ottoman Empire.  In the British Mandate for Palestine, the Jews would get back their Jewish homeland.

It was easier on paper, though.  There were a lot of issues to resolve.  And many of those the Arabs felt were resolved not in their best interests.  And, well, there hasn’t been peace in the Middle East since.

A Peace Settlement or a Surrender Settlement?

The Jews created their Jewish state in 1948.  Covering less than half of the ancient Jewish homeland.  The Kingdom of Israel.  The Six-Day War (1967) pushed those borders further out.  The surrounding Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) were massing to invade Israel.  But Israel struck first.  Took out the Egyptian Air Force.  Which gave them air superiority.  That allowed them to push the Arabs back.  And take the Golan Heights from Syria.  The West Bank from Jordan.  And the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.  They still have the Golan Heights and the West Bank.  Which serves as strategic ground against further invasions.  And they’re reluctant to give them up.  For if they do, they will become as vulnerable to attack as they were in 1967. 

In a recent speech, U.S. President Obama called for the Israelis to do just that.  To restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by first going back to the pre-1967 boundaries.  And that the issue of Palestinian refugees (rather, the descendants of the original refugees) will have to be negotiated.   The Israelis do not see this as negotiation.  They see it as surrender.  For the Palestinian refugees want to return to Jewish land.  So the two-state solution will have a Palestinian state and a Jewish/Palestinian state.  Surrounded by enemies that will now be closer.  And with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which has as its primary goal the destruction of Israel, now forming a unity government with Fatah.  The only thing missing from this proposal is a blindfold and cigarette for Israel.

And yet there are those who speak with indignation about the Israelis refusing to negotiate for peace (see Palestinians to proceed with U.N. recognition bid by the Associated Press posted 5/21/2011 on CBS News).

Senior Palestinian officials say that negotiations with Israel have become pointless after Israel’s prime minister rejected President Barack Obama’s call to base Mideast border talks on the pre-1967 war lines…

[Israeli Prime Minster] Netanyahu laid out hardline positions after his meeting with resident Obama at the White House on Friday. He said the 1967 borders were “indefensible,” that the Palestinians could forget about resettling Palestinian refugees in Israel and that [Palestinian President] Abbas would have to choose between peace with Israel and reconciliation with Hamas…

[Aide to Abbas] Erekat said late Friday that Netanyahu’s statements make it clear the Israeli leader is not a partner for peace, suggesting there is no point in returning to negotiations.

“I don’t think we can talk about a peace process with a man who says the 1967 lines are an illusion, that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel, undivided, and he does not want a single (Palestinian) refugee to go back,” Erekat said. “What is left to negotiate about?”

This from a government pursuing a unity agreement with Hamas who still fires missiles into Israel.  They must know what they are asking for.  And no doubt do.  Repositioning for the final assault on Israel.  At least that’s what it must look like from the Jewish side.

To the Victors go the Spoils

Just about everyone has fought for the ancient lands of the Kingdom of Israel.  Even before King David‘s time.  Military conquest has been the diplomacy tool of choice forever.  The Jews weren’t happy to see the land wrested from them by the Romans (or the numerous conquerors before the Romans came).  The Romans weren’t happy to see the land taken by the Muslims.  And the Muslims weren’t happy to see that land taken away by the Allies with the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. 

There was a lot of map redrawing after World War I.  Including in the Middle East.  Map redrawing often results in civil wars.  And the result of one of these wars was the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.  Which resulted in a refugee problem.  The Jews accepted the displaced Jews into the new Jewish state.  No Arab state wanted the displaced Arabs.  They became a people without a country.  But with a cause.

All these years later there is still no peace.  And people want to right wrongs.  To give land back to the rightful owners.  But their history suffers from tunnel vision.  They see only what they want.  The Arabs want to go back to the height of their military conquest.  Their caliphate.  For that military conquest was good.  But not the ones before.  Or the ones after.  For they agree to the victors go the spoils.  But only when they are the victors.

The problem with going back in time to correct wrongs is that history is full of past wrongs.  So how far back should we go correcting past wrongs?  Back to the original wrong?  To the first time someone took another’s land?  To undo what the Persian Empire did?  Undo what the Egyptians did?  Undo what the Sumerians did?  Undo what Homo sapiens did to the Neanderthals

You can go back forever and find a people that wronged another.  It is our history.  And a violent history at that.  But as we became more civilized we became less violent.  More of us are able to live together.  Peacefully.  And that is the direction we should continue to progress.  We need to stop living in the past.  To stop using that diplomacy tool we call military conquest.  The days of military expansionism are over.  Or should be over.  And you shouldn’t use diplomatic negotiation as a ruse to prepare for a military conquest.  Which it looks like the Palestinian side is doing in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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