MYTH: Israel Must Return to the 1949 Armistice Lines (“1967 Borders”)

IDF Soldiers look out over the Syrian border (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Israel Defense Forces).

***The term “1967 Borders” is misleading, seeing as the lines in question are not from 1967 and they are no borders. The term refers to the cease-fire lines drawn in 1949 by Israeli, Jordanian, and Syrian generals to end the 1948-49 War of Independence. All sides agreed the lines were temporary and did not represent borders. Because of this, the term “1949 Armistice Lines” is more accurate. 

FACT: Asking Israel to return to the 1949 Armistice Lines means calling for the end of the Jewish state. The 1949 lines – nicknamed “The Green Line” – would reduce Israel to indefensible territory. At its narrowest, Israel would only be nine miles wide. To put this in perspective, that is smaller than the length of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. These lines remained in place until four Arab countries, including Syria and Jordan, invaded Israel in 1967 with the goal of wiping it off the map. Israel defended itself, won the war, and expanded its territory to create more defensible borders.

The 1949 lines are indefensible for many reasons:

  1. These lines already proved to be indefensible when they acted as Israel’s temporary “borders” between 1949 and 1967. Syria used the high ground of the Golan Heights in the North to attack Israeli civilians in the valleys below on a regular basis for 18 years. Moreover, Jordan used its control of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) to attack Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and on the roads in the valleys leading up to the city. During Jordan’s control of the areas, it divided Jerusalem and put snipers in buildings on the Jordanian side. These snipers used the condensed landscape of Jerusalem to shoot civilians on the Israeli side of the city. Jordan also maintained control of the Jordan Valley (on the Eastern edge of the “West Bank”) and allowed weapons to flow freely from the Arab World to the hills overlooking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
  1. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which would take control of Judea and Samaria if Israel withdraws from the land, has a stated goal of Israel’s annihilation and its leaders have pledged to do everything they can to destroy Israel if given the chance. Moreover, the PA currently funds and promotes terrorism on a daily basis. Please see “MYTH: The Palestinian Authority is Moderate and Seeks Peace to learn more about the dangers of the PA controlling the area.
  1. Last time Israel gave land to the Palestinian-Arabs in hopes for peace, Hamas took over (in Gaza) and has since fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and has waged three wars on the Jewish state. Given the fact that the PA is weak and unpopular among Palestinian-Arabs, it is likely Hamas would take over Judea and Samaria. If history is any indicator, Hamas would fire rockets from the hills overlooking Israel’s major cities, economy, and international airport.
  1. Giving the Golan Heights to Syria would devastate Israel’s security. As a result of Syria’s civil war, one of three parties could gain control of the land (the same land that overlooks Israeli cities). Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could gain control of the area; Assad calls for the annihilation of Israel and is a descendant of the same regime that fired on Israeli civilians between 1949 and 1967. The other two options are al-Qaeda and ISIS, both of which are terrorist organizations that call for the genocide of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

Returning to the 1949 Armistice Lines would also mean giving up control of the two holiest sites in Judaism. The Jews’ holiest sites all lie in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), and until Israel gained control of Judea and Samaria in 1967, Jordan controlled the areas and denied Jewish access to the sites. The Jewish people’s holy sites in these areas include the Temple Mount/Western Wall in eastern Jerusalem (the holiest site in Judaism), the Tomb of the Patriarch and Matriarchs in Hebron, the site of the ancient tabernacle in Shiloh, and more.

If Israel gives these areas to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Jews would lose all rights to these holy sites, seeing as PA leaders have bragged about not allowing Jews into a future “Palestine.”

To learn more about the dangers of Israel returning to the 1949 Armistice Lines, please view ZOA Campus’s fact sheet on the topic.