Opinion: Most commented: Israel’s borders

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In Sunday’s pages, Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, argued that in the interest of security, Israel needs to expand beyond its 1967 borders:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement that Israel can’t defend itself with borders drawn along pre-1967 lines has been questioned in certain foreign policy circles. These critics have noted that Israel successfully fought two wars, in 1956 and in 1967, while based within those borders. And they have claimed that borders don’t matter as much in modern warfare. But Netanyahu is right. […] It is always possible to find Israelis who will say the 1967 line is just fine. But Israel’s greatest strategic minds since the Six-Day War have disagreed. They overwhelmingly have concluded that Israel can safeguard its future only if it retains defensible borders, which means redrawing the 1967 line to include parts of the West Bank crucial to the country’s survival.

Sunday was also the 44th anniversary of Israel’s capture of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Middle East War, which prompted an onrush of pro-Palestinian protesters at the Israel-Syria border, some of whom were victims of Israeli security officers who opened fire. “[It] was the latest sign that regional unrest in the Arab world is beginning to affect Israel,” wrote Edmund Sanders in a news story detailing the clash. It also makes the issue of Israel’s borders a hotter topic than it already was.

Here’s what a few of our readers are saying, weighing in on all sides of the debate.


Having been to Israel and the Golan, it is easy for me to understand Gold’s argument. Israel is about the size of L.A. County and San Diego County combined. Given the size of the USA, it is hard to appreciate the difficulties in planning for defense of such a tiny country. Imagine how difficult it would be for Israel to defend that area from a mechanized army. Hizbollah/Iran has been smuggling thousands of rockets to Hamas for years, and this shows no signs of abating. Israel’s nuclear weapons may provide SOME deterrence, but are not of much tactical use in such a small country. --stephesthe

There’s nothing wrong with using the 1967 lines as a starting point for negotiations, which is all Obama called for. A starting point is necessary so the sides can negotiate. The problem is that neither side is talking because nobody wants to go first. It is reasonable for the USA to attach our financial support (we give billions a year to Israel and more billions to the Palestinians) with obligations for both sides to negotiate peace in good faith. The other option is for Israel to annex all of the occupied territories and make its residents citizens of Israel. -- d_f_b_ The so-called 1967 borders are actually the cease-fire borders of 1948 independence war. Cease-fire borders as signed in Rhodes agreements with Arab countries in 1949 after Israel’s independence war are legally not permanent borders as written in the Rhodes agreements. Permanent borders between Israel and Arab countries must be fixed according to Intl law by agreements between two sides or more, based on security resource sharing needs. Borders are fixed by treaties like Israeli Jordanian and Israeli Egyptian. Syria Lebanon and the Palestinians are to be next on agreements. Until this happens we have a state of war with those Arab countries and with that security considerations would have preference on other. -- barryel

There will be no peace until Israel returns the West Bank. Returning the West Bank does not guarantee peace, but its continued occupation guarantees forever war. Nobody in the world except nationalistic Jews and ignorant fundamentalist Christians believe the proffered excuses for the continuing occupation, regardless of which flavor is currently on display (god gave it to us, we won it during a war, we need it to have enough room for our people, we need it for defensible borders). All of these excuses border on the absurd. -- slipslapsloppy Israel, with more nuclear weapons than Great Britain and France combined, will never feel safe until it has destroyed Iran’s attempt to create a nuclear deterrent. In view that the just retired head of Mossad has said publicly in recent days that that war on Iran could lead to a general Mid-East War that strikes me as one of the great threats to world peace today. If that happens Saudi oil wells will be the prime targets of an Iran unable to punish Israel successfully. That will indirectly bring Israel and much of the world to its knees. Every week without the largess of Arabian oil is a week deeper in the direction of the world shown in Road Warrior. Little peoples like the Serbs in 1914 with their powerful friends in Russia and France and Israel today with its ally the USA, are sometimes able to precipitate unwanted perfect storms that kill 10 to 30 times the population of the little countries that start them. The USA has forgotten Tuchman’s book the Guns of August that JFK later said guided him during the Cuban crisis and our Congress is itching to follow Israel into a war, any war. -- last standing rebel soldier This problem will never be solved. Time to move on to other things. -- tomdavis

*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.


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--Alexandra Le Tellier

Graphic: Mark Hafer, Los Angeles Times / June 5, 2011