Following the Six Day War, UN Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw ”from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” while affirming Israel’s ”right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.” The principal authors of 242 were Eugene Rostow of the State
Department, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, and Lord Caradon of Britain.

Lord Caradon explained that ”It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948.”

Rostow wrote in The New Republic that Resolution 242 ”allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six Day War — not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories.”

Goldberg concurred, saying ”the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.”

Unfortunately, in the last few years the intent and meaning of 242 have been ignored, resulting in unfair demands on Israel to withdraw from all or nearly all of Judea and Samaria (the ”West Bank”) and to redivide Jerusalem. The Sharon government’s plan to include several large towns within the security fence has been sharply criticized by the Bush administration, even though those areas were slated for annexation under the peace plans of Prime Ministers Rabin and Barak.

Colin Powell has praised the Geneva Accord, which calls for Israel to withdraw from 98 percent of Judea and Samaria, with almost all settlements to be surrendered intact after a detailed inventory is taken, so that Palestinians could move right in and turn the synagogues
into mosques. Geneva would divide Jerusalem, give Palestinians control over Jaffa Gate, the primary route to the Western Wall, relinquish control over the Temple Mount, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb, and make international parties such as the UN and the EU the
arbiters of any disputes. Israel would take in an undetermined number of refugees (there is no ceiling), and pay compensation to all refugees.

These concessions go far beyond what the drafters of Resolution 242 contemplated.

The prevailing trends are disturbing, but not necessarily irreversible. A determined media and public relations effort must be made to explain that withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would leave Israel with indefensible borders; that Israel has strong legal and historical rights to Judea and Samaria; that those territories were captured in a defensive war in which Arabs attempted
to annihilate Israel; that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not located on Arab land; and that annexation of those communities would not displace Arab residents.

An end to the demonizing of residents of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria must also be demanded. Whatever one’s political position, the routine comparisons of ”settlers” with Hamas terrorists is no less a Big Lie than were the blood libels in Christian Europe. The result has been a legitimization of the murder of Jewish civilians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Until 2000, there was a bipartisan recognition in both Israel and the United States — shared by Likud and Labor, Republicans and Democrats — that Israel would not return to the 1967 borders, and would retain permanent control of a significant portion of Judea and Samaria.

In 1968, President Johnson said that ”a return to the situation of June 4, 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders.” In 1982, President Reagan noted that ”In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies.” Reagan promised, ”I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.” In 1991, the Bush
administration assured Prime Minister Shamir that the ”United States does not intend to issue a call for a return to the 1967 borders or for only cosmetic changes in these borders.”

Secretary of State Powell’s four most recent predecessors all expressed similar sentiments. George Shultz said, ”Israel will never negotiate from, or return to, the lines of partition or to the 1967 borders.” When James Baker was asked whether Judea, Samaria and Gaza are
”occupied Arab territories” or disputed territories, he responded, ”They’re clearly disputed territories. That’s what resolutions 242 and 338 are all about.” Warren Christopher assured Prime Minister Netanyahu, ”Israel is entitled to secure and defensible borders.” Madeleine Albright stated: ”We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 as occupied Palestinian territory.”

In contrast, Powell recently called the Green Line ”a recognized border” and territories beyond it ”Palestinian areas.”

Among Israelis, there was almost unanimous agreement that secure borders require a united Jerusalem and annexation of the Jordan Valley along with a number of settlement blocs. Labor initiated settlement of the Jordan Valley and Gush Etzion, and the Allon Plan, under which
Israel would keep about one-third of Judea and Samaria, guided its peace plans. In the early 1980’s Yitzhak Rabin visited Lincoln Square Synagogue and urged congregants to move to the new community of Efrat that their rabbi, Shlomo Riskin, was founding.

Even the Oslo Accords did not shatter this consensus. In October 1995, one month before he was murdered, Prime Minister Rabin told the Knesset that Israel’s permanent borders ”will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 borders.” Rabin called for a ”united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Zeev,” and the annexation of the entire Jordan Valley, Gush Etzion (including Efrat)
and of settlement blocs. Rabin opposed the formation of a Palestinian state, preferring a limited ”entity which is less than a state.”

Similarly, in a visit to Beit El, Ehud Barak promised that ”Israelis will remain here in Beit El forever,” and that ”a united Jerusalem must remain under full and unequivocal Israeli sovereignty… under no circumstances will we return to the 1967 lines.” After he was elected prime minister in 1999, Barak insisted that Israel could make peace while annexing towns such as Beit El, Ofra and Ariel. A June 4, 1999 Jerusalem Post editorial stated what then
seemed obvious: ”No mainstream Israeli leader, and certainly not Ehud Barak, can imagine Israel leaving the towns of Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim, or Efrat.”

On June 1, 2000, in a ceremony marking Jerusalem Day, Barak vowed: ”Never again will Jerusalem be under foreign sovereignty. Only someone who has no sense of reality, who does not understand anything about Israel’s yearning and longing and the Jewish people’s historical
connection for over 3,000 years would even consider making any concessions over the city.”

Barak quickly broke his vow, first at Camp David and again at Taba. In accepting the Clinton Plan, he agreed to divide Jerusalem and withdraw from the Jordan Valley and most of the communities in Judea and Samaria, including Beit El and Ofra. The IDF’s chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz (the current defense minister), blasted the Clinton Plan, telling Barak’s cabinet that it would expose Israel to ”great danger,” would ”threaten the security of the state,” was
”almost out of the question from a security standpoint,” and would leave Jews remaining in Judea and Samaria in an ”unbearable situation vis-a-vis the Palestinians.”

Unfortunately, despite more than three years of terror, Israel’s right to secure borders has been mostly forgotten, proposals offering territorial concessions even more extreme than the Clinton Plan are gaining legitimacy, and the Sharon government’s attempts to include within the security fence areas that would have been annexed to Israel under the Clinton Plan have been strongly condemned.

Worse, the Labor party has completely abandoned Rabin’s red lines and set forth principles calling for a return to the 1967 borders, including dividing Jerusalem. In doing so, Labor is undermining implementation of a plan based upon Barak’s concessions, by opposing the inclusion within the fence of towns that Barak would have annexed.

Tellingly, Barak rejects the Geneva Accord and has disavowed the Clinton Plan and Israel’s Taba concessions in favor of his less egregious Camp David proposals. Under Barak’s Camp David offer, Israel would have kept 8-10 percent of Judea and Samaria, and its concessions in Jerusalem applied to outlying Arab villages, but not to the Old City.

During his short tenure as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen told Newsweek that President Bush ”told us that he will stick to his vision of a Palestinian independent state and Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 borders.” Abu Mazen’s statement obviously cannot be verified, but the Bush administration has endorsed the road map, which says nothing about secure borders and references the Saudi plan, which calls for a full Israeli
withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

Bush has opposed Israel’s desire to include the Western Samaria settlements (including Ariel) within the security fence, even though those settlements would have been annexed even under the Clinton Plan. The Clinton Plan called for settlements containing 80 percent of Judea and
Samaria’s Jewish residents to be annexed, but without Ariel’s 18,000 residents, it would be impossible for that percentage of settlers to remain. As a recent Jerusalem Post editorial stated, ”Bush should … be categorical that terrorism will not succeed in moving him to the left of Clinton, that is, by undermining the settlement blocs that even Clinton recognized must be annexed to Israel.”

Powell’s support for the Geneva Accord, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s lauding of a similar plan, are causes for serious concern. Also disappointing is that when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to Judea, Samaria and Gaza as ”the so-called occupied territories,” the Bush administration quickly clarified that Rumsfeld was speaking only for himself and that ”occupied” is the administration’s term for the territories.

Despite the negative trends, some assume that Israel would never leave Ariel and Efrat, and give up Rachel’s Tomb and all of Hebron. This view is naive; it is very possible that Yossi Beilin, the architect of Oslo, will persuade a future government to implement his Geneva

Israel’s right to secure borders has especially been undermined by the media’s acceptance of the Palestinian narrative, according to which all of the territory captured in 1967 is occupied Arab land. By never formally claiming any part of Judea or Samaria, Israel has contributed to this presumption. The ”settlers” are continually and falsely labeled as colonialists who ”unmistakably squat on land that was once Palestinian,” as Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post, and, particularly in Europe, as violent fanatics who scuttle prospects for peace. Little is being done in support of an accurate portrayal of settlements and their residents’ right to live peacefully within them.

Proudly proclaiming that Barak offered almost all of the territories, as Israelis and their supporters often do, is the wrong approach. Alan Dershowitz tried it recently on CNN, telling Lou Dobbs that Barak offered 97 percent of the West Bank. Dobbs asked what right Israel has to the other three percent, and compared Israeli retention of even a tiny portion to rat poison, because ”it’s that two percent that gets you.”

Netanyahu applied a better approach in a recent Washington Post column, explaining, ”most of Judea and Samaria is barren and empty. The combined Palestinian and Jewish populations live on less than one-third of this territory. But the empty swaths of disputed land, comprising
the heart of the Jewish ancestral homeland, are vital for Israel’s security.”

Joshua Schwartz recently wrote in The Jerusalem Post that Swiss reporters came to his town of Efrat, the largest community in Gush Etzion, and asked his daughter, a Bar-Ilan student, how she feels living on ”Arab land.” The young woman responded by informing the reporters of the history of Gush Etzion, where Jews lived from biblical times until 1948, when Arabs looted and then completely destroyed all four settlements, massacring 240 men and women. On June 7, 1967, hours after the liberation of Jerusalem, Gush Etzion was liberated. ”Thanks to my daughter,” Schwartz wrote, ”what they did not know before — they know now.”

Many dismiss the media as inherently hostile, and some of the media are. But in December 2001, MSNBC’s Gregg Jarrett (now of Fox) hosted a program live from Efrat. Jarrett’s tone was favorable toward the town and its residents. He quipped that Efrat looked like Palm Beach, and described the community as a ”resettlement,” explaining to viewers that Jews lived in the area until 1948 and had returned to reestablish their presence.

When the spotlight is not on ”the occupation” but on the universal right to live in one’s home, the results are favorable. For example, in a poll commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America asking whether Jews should be permitted to live and build homes in Judea and Samaria, more than 60 percent of Americans answered in the affirmative.

The goal must therefore be to shift the focus from Arab claims of ”occupation.” As a result of these claims, many people are under the erroneous impression that prior to Israel’s formation a Palestinian state existed. This myth must be destroyed. Contrary to what Richard Cohen wrote, Israelis do not ”unmistakably squat on land that was once Palestinian.” Palestinians never had a state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

It must be reiterated that Israel captured the disputed territories in a defensive war; that the PLO was founded for the purpose of destroying Israel in 1964, prior to that war; that Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzook boasted on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ that Hamas’ s Qassam rockets are able to hit Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem; that Israel must therefore maintain its presence in areas north of Jerusalem such as Beit El and Ofra and areas south of Jerusalem such as Efrat; that if Israel withdraws from Western Samaria, Qassams or shoulder-fired missiles could shoot down planes taking off or landing at Ben Gurion airport; that Israeli
control of the Jordan Valley is vital, because if the Jordanian border is controlled by Palestinians, smuggling of weapons from Jordan will occur, just as massive smuggling has taken place at the Gaza-Egypt border; that there is a long Jewish history in Judea and Samaria; that Judea and Samaria are mostly empty; that Arab towns and people have not been displaced as a result of settlements; and that annexation of 30 percent of Judea and Samaria would leave only a small percentage of its Arab residents under Israeli rule.

This is not a ”right-wing” issue. Support for territorial compromise is consistent with Israel’s right to secure borders, beyond the indefensible ones it held in 1967. That right is under severe threat. It must be asserted.

Joseph Schick is an attorney. His blog, The Zionist Conspiracy, is located at, and his e-mail address is Links and/or references to material cited in this column will be posted on the blog.

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Joseph Schick is a writer, lawyer, and indie film producer. He is producing “Jerusalem ’67,” an upcoming feature film about the Six-Day War, and co-produced “Sun Belt Express,” which recently premiered on Netflix. The views expressed here are his own. He can be contacted at