Photo Credit:
Borders approved in UN resolution 181 November 29, 1947

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

The argument that using the “1967 lines” as the basis for the borders of Israel and Palestine in a two-state solution is flawed at the outset.  “Land swaps” simply underscore that absurdity of the argument.


Obama on Israel-Palestine Borders

In May 2011, US President Barack Obama shared his thoughts on the contours of the ultimate borders of Israel and Palestine in a two-state solution: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.

The comment infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel advocates. Obama clarified his comments before a pro-Israel group a few days later: “By definition, it means that the parties themselves, Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967… it allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years…. Including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”

Obama’s second statement moved away from his comments about “1967 lines.” By stating that the border would be arrived at through mutual negotiations and look “different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama made the comment about the 1967 lines moot.  If the parties agree to an entirely new construct for borders, than that would be acceptable too.  There is no reason to even mention the “1967 lines” or land swaps.

But the left-wing group J Street was much more aggressive than Obama on the contours of Israel, and lobbied the US government about the 1967 lines and land swaps.

J Street on Israel-Palestine Borders

J Street clearly calls for a two-state solution to be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps as detailed on its site: “This border will be based on the pre-1967 Green Line, with equivalent swaps of land…  land of equivalent quantity and quality will be swapped from within the pre-1967 Green Line.

The group also urged the US government and Jewish groups to strongly condemn any Jews living east of the Green Line (EGL/West Bank).  More specificaly, J Street stated:

J Street is deeply concerned that the pre-1967 Green Line separating Israel and the occupied territory is being effectively erased both on the ground and in the consciousness of Israelis, Jews and others around the world.

The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require establishing a border through negotiations between Israel and the new state of Palestine – based, as noted previously, on the pre-1967 Green Line with adjustments. Until that border is negotiated, the Green Line remains the internationally-recognized separation between the state of Israel and the territory won in the Six Day War in 1967.

A disturbing and growing lack of awareness of the Green Line is partially responsible for the 47-year occupation fading from the consciousness of the Israeli and international Jewish publics. Efforts to erase the Green Line from maps and from public awareness serve the interests only of those who seek to establish control over all the territory to the Jordan River.

One step American community groups, businesses, schools and governments could take to foster memory of the distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the subsequently occupied territory would be to use only maps that include the pre-1967 Green Line – a visual reminder of the Green Line and its significance.”

All of J Street’s arguments: negotiations based on 1967 lines; equivalent swaps of land; and using equivalent “quality” are all illogical.  The desire to push the US government to punish Israel was demonic.

The Illogic of “Land Swaps”

There are a number of issues regarding using the 1967 lines and subsequent land swaps as envisioned by J Street.

The 1967 Lines Rewards Aggression.  Using the 1967 lines as a starting point for negotiations rewards aggression.  When Israel declared itself as an independent state in 1948, it was immediately attacked by five Arab armies from Egypt; Jordan; Syria; Lebanon; and Iraq.  The 1967 lines were the Armistice Lines where the warring parties stopped fighting in 1949.

Imagine that Egypt conquered the entire southern part of Israel, all of the way up until Bethlehem, and Jordan conquered the entire eastern part of the country, leaving Israel as a narrow sliver of coastline from Tel Aviv to Rosh Hanikra. Consequently, imagine that it is this small state becomes recognized by the United Nations in 1949, within Armistice Lines with Egypt and Jordan.

Further consider that history played out precisely as it did: in 1967 the Arab armies once again threatened to destroy Israel, so Israel pre-emptively attacked Egypt and Syria and then Jordan attacked Israel. Egypt and Jordan lost all of the territory that it took from the 1922 Palestine Mandate for a Jewish homeland in the war.

How would the world react?  Would the world demand that Israel needs to return to a stub of a state and give Egypt and Jordan all of the land past the 1949 Armistice Lines? Even if Egypt and Jordan ultimately relinquished their claims to the land in favor of Palestinian Arabs, would those borders somehow be considered the appropriate borders for Israel and Palestine?

Of course not.

Pushing Israel to accept the borders that the UN endorsed in 1949 would be rewarding the five Arab armies assault on Israel. The areas within the Jewish homeland mandate that are someone ensconsed as “Arab land,” are simply lands that were seized by Arab aggression.  Using such 1967 lines/ the 1949 Armistice Lines, is a direct reward to an aggressive war to destroy the Jewish State.

Land Swaps Acknowledges that 1967 Lines are not Borders.  Those parties that suggest that land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state should take place inherently admit that the 1967 lines have no merit.  How could anyone suggest that a sovereign nation (Israel) give up some of its own land?  How could a country annex land of another country (Palestine)?  It can do so, if the two parties both acknowledge that the lines are not borders.

This was clearly spelled out in the Armistice Agreement with Egypt that stated “[t]he Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary.” Similarly, the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan which stated “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.

While J Street urges Israel and Jewish groups to “know its boundaries,” the actual suggestion to engage in land swaps undermines the J Street argument that the 1967 lines have any real significance.  If there is any doubt, the Armistice Agreements that created those specific Armistice Lines stated those lines were not borders.

Land Swaps Undermine a call to limit Jewish “Settlements.” J Street and other groups that suggest that no Jewish Israelis should be allowed to live east of the Green Line (EGL/ West Bank), undermine their own argument when they suggest that there should be land swaps.  If Israel should give over some of its land west of the Green Line to a future Palestinian State, that would mean that Jews should also be prohibited from living in those border areas in Israel too.  Swapping land means that those Jewish communities in Israel would be considered a similar threat towards peace as the “settlements” in EGL/West Bank.

If people really believe that Jewish communities threaten the viability of a Palestinian State, the same parties that argue for banning Israelis in EGL/West Bank should argue similarly argue against Jewish communities in Israel that threaten the ability to effectively conclude land swaps.

That suggestion is clearly absurd.

Therefore if it is not a problem for Jews to move into communities that are west of the Green Line, than it is not an issue for Jews to move east of the Green Line.

Phantom Size.  The suggestion that the exact number of square kilometers of the “West Bank” and Gaza that were created by the 1949 Armistice Lines is somehow a sacred amount is ridiculuous.  As described above, the “West Bank” was an artifice created by a war of Arab aggression against Israel in 1948.  There is/was nothing inherently special about where the warring parties stopped fighting.

It is therefore non-sensical to suggest that the “equivalent quantity”of land be exchanged between the parties.

Further Absurdity of “Equivalent Quality.” J Street outdid itself in promoting a concept that went beyond the illogical suggestions of the 1967 lines land swaps.  It proposed that the land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be based on land of “equivalent quality.”  In other words, J Street did not propose that there be a swap of 50 square km on one side of the Green Line for 50km on the other side.  J Street introduced the concept of “quality.”  The far left-wing group argued that desert land would not be equivalent to an aquifer.  Holy land would not be equivalent to non-Holy land.

What is the conversion factor between the different types of land? Who knows!  Just add some subjective requirements to simplify negotiations that are already going nowhere for decades and are illogical at the start.  That should speed things up!

When people pick on Obama for being anti-Israel, they should consider his rather moderate stance compared to the advice he receives from J Street.

Related First.One.Through articles:

J Street: Going Bigger and Bolder than BDS

The Legal Israeli Settlements

The Left-Wing’s Two State Solution: 1.5 States for Arabs, 0.5 for Jews

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

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Paul Gherkin is founder of the website FirstOneThrough, which is dedicated to educating people on Israel, the United States, Judaism and science in an entertaining manner so they speak up and take action. In a connected digital world, each person can be a spokesperson by disseminating news to thousands of people by forwarding articles or videos to people, or using the information to fight on behalf of a cause because In a connected digital world. YOU are FirstOneThrough.


  1. When did J Street depart from its Upper West Side brie circuit to bloviate its views that personify it as a total "shonda?" If we looked into its membership, we will probably find how their relatives did not want to upset their blending into American social life by appealing for the Jews of Europe, as we now understand how the Jews of Hollywood and the New York Times thought. In 1956, their relatives supported Eisenhower's threats agianst Israel. In 1967, they probably supported the "peace at any price" UN's withdrawal from Sharm el Shiek. As well, how many from J Street volunteered for the IDF when it needed the help in 1967 and 1973.

    Given how so many members of J Street either inherited or married their wealth, the last thing we need is for this shonda to push its agenda against the fate and will of Israel, including its eternal capitol and Judea, and Samaria. It's bad enough we will have to deal with their pathetic legacy re the horrific deal with Iran, exposing the Middle East to Russia again, and the growith of ISIS over the past seven years.

  2. Palestine in Areas A, B, and C can only ever be a semi-autonomous State within the protected zone of Israel's defense-necessary perimeter.

    But the boundaries that matter are within the mind.

    Dual Citizenship would give to any Palestinian in Area A, B, and C the chance to hold two passports – for Palestine and for Israel – if they take courses in Israel's History and Law … and then pledge an allegiance of non-violence and respect for Israel's laws.

    Let the young Palestinians decide one person at a time to pursue their right to vote in Israel's elections, their right to study and travel and work in Israel, and their right to travel through Ben Gurion Airport.

    Israel has more to gain than it has to lose. A young generation that has never gone hungry, that has never lacked health care, that has free education can produce leaders – if some are free to travel, work, study and collaborate in Israel and back.

    The security risk is managed by the program itself. An express lane for dual citizens going through checkpoints is a risk worth taking if the Palestinians who live in Jerusalem and Ramallah see the benefits of a separate peace… without the death-trap of Bernadotte, Pectet, and the termination-conditions of UNWRA.

  3. It is evident that land swaps and other gimmicks are only a way to weaken Israel so next time arabs and neo communist lefters can demand MORE next time until Israel would be unable to defend its for lack of space and population. These are geo political demands and no concession will appease anyone.l

  4. These are typical lefter LIES: "boundaries of the mind"…go and fight by yourself and you'll see whart this balderdash looks like on the field. When a nation is weakened, it soon exists no more first because at every step it will have to make more concessions and each time it will be less respected. Look what happened to Bysance that big power ended up with 300 guys defending Constantinople in 1452 in front of a turkish army 30,000 troops strong (strong not lefters…)

  5. Robert Davis

    Please analyze the drawbacks of the Path to Dual Citizenship concept.

    At what point do you see "weakening" of Israel? This year? Next year? The PA opening the borders seems a far bigger risk to me than dealing with the people who live there.

    I see risk this year of a US vote at the UNSC that establishes irreversible escalation, full membership of Palestine, funding for UN activity to promote Israeli withdrawal, funding for a Protective Power for the occupied population, US-Russian collaberation etc. In the US the vote at the UN is determined solely by the President; this President has been laying the groundwork for vilification of the Prime Minister for many years.

    Some wars are fought in the mind before anything happens on the outside. Prevention is the most effective treatment; and that requires psychological appreciation of group dynamics and a diversion of group-think and group basic assumptions – as detailed by Wilfred Bion.

    The idea of some Palestinians and some Israelis "pairing" in an experiment to change attitudes about "oppression" and undoing that one person at a time neutralizes the weapon of perceived injustice used to rouse a "fight group."

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