The Green line is a Red Line: The 1967 Border and the Two-State

June 27, 2011

What is the 1967 border?

The June 4, 1967 border, also known as green line, is the internationally recognized border between the occupied Palestinian territory (i.e. West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) and the State of Israel. The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) represents an area equivalent to 22 percent of historic Palestine. The boundaries of the oPt were established through the signing of armistice agreements between Egypt and Jordan on the one hand, and Israel, on the other, following the war of 1948, and the subsequent creation of the State of Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine.

What does United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 say about the 1967 border?

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 242 emphasized the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied during the June 1967 War.  Israel has argued that UNSC Resolution 242 does not require it to withdraw from all the territories it occupied in 1967. However, such an interpretation is inconsistent with principles of customary international law and the Resolution’s own provision that no state may acquire territory by force.

Isn’t the West Bank a territory that Israel conquered and therefore should be allowed to retain?

No. The experience of World War II confirmed a fundamental principle of international law that no state may acquire territory by force. This principle was reiterated in various United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, including UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Court declared that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.1 By “occupied Palestinian territory” the Court referred to the territory occupied by Israel in June 1967.

Does the recognition of the State of Palestine in the 1967 border represent an attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel?

No. Recognition of the State of Palestine along the 1967 border represents a re-affirmation of the two-state solution. Recognition of Palestine at the UN is about legitimizing Palestine rather than delegitimizing Israel. Such recognition would reinforce the standing of the 1967 border as the basis of a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace. By colonizing Palestinian land and attempting to erode the standing of the 1967 border, Israel has undermined its own standing in the global community and nearly destroyed the two-state solution as a means for achieving Palestinian-Israeli peace.

Is recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 border an alternative to Israeli – Palestinian negotiations?

No. Recognition of the 1967 border is simply accepting the historical international consensus and the principles of international law, which are the basis for a solution between Palestinians and Israelis. However, recognition alone will not lead to an end of conflict. To end the conflict, the parties will still need to discuss how to resolve all the core issues, including Jerusalem, refugees, security, territory, natural resources, and so on.

Is Israel entitled to build settlements in the territory it occupies until a final status agreement is reached?

No. Israeli settlement policies in the oPt are illegal under international law.  The Israeli settlement enterprise violates the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49, paragraph 6); the Hague Convention (article 46); and UNSC 465 (1980 – unanimously); to say the least.

Successive Israeli governments have invested many resources to change the status quo of the occupied Palestinian territory in order to erode the standing of the 1967 border. A study released by the Israeli Macro Center for Political Economics, formerly funded by the State of Israel, says that Israel has spent almost $19 billion US dollars on its settlements over the last 44 years2.

Is the recognition of the 1967 border as a basis for the two state solution a Palestinian “precondition” for negotiations?

This is not a Palestinian 'precondition,’ but rather has been the foundation and a term of reference for the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks since the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, and the entire land for peace formula. It has also formed the basis of UNSC resolutions 242 and 338.

The June 4, 1967 borders represent the internationally recognized boundary between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.  It also represents the historic Palestinian compromise of 1988 when the PLO limited its claim to 22 percent of historic Palestine. 

What does an independent and sovereign Palestinian State based in the 1967 border require?

The borders of the Palestinian state, based on the 1967 lines, incorporate the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza as per the 1949 armistice agreements. In the interest of peace, Palestinians may agree to changes to the 1967 based on mutually-agreed, minor territorial exchanges of equal size and value. In order to be viable, Palestine needs to be an independent and sovereign state with unhindered access to the global community. Palestine also needs to have control over its resources, borders, electromagnetic sphere, and airspace. Palestine’s maritime borders must be equitably delimited with Israel and with its other maritime neighbors.

Does the 1967 border imply that East Jerusalem will remain under Palestinian sovereignty? 

Yes. East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory. It is part and parcel of the West Bank, no different from Hebron or Nablus.

For centuries, Jerusalem has been the political, administrative, cultural and religious center of Palestine.  Metropolitan East Jerusalem – an area extending from Ramallah to Bethlehem – has for long been the driving force of the Palestinian economy.  Without East Jerusalem, there can be no economically and politically viable Palestinian state.

Access to religious sites within Jerusalem will be respected for people of all faiths.  All possible measures will be taken to protect and preserve such sites.

What is the alternative to an agreement based on the 1967 border?

The PLO seeks a sovereign and independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders as per UN resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, and other clearly-defined and internationally accepted terms of reference.

However, Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in and around East Jerusalem, are severely jeopardizing the viability of the two-state solution as a means to achieve comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace. As a result of Israel’s policies,  a growing number of Palestinians, as well as members of the international community, now question the practicality of a two-state solution.

There are two main alternatives to a two-state solution. The first is a continuation of the status quo. This may be acceptable to Israelis. But for Palestinians, who suffer daily the consequences of Israelis discriminatory and illegal policies, this is not an option. The second alternative is for Palestinian Muslims and Christians to seek the same rights as Jews and live as equal citizens in a single democratic state.

Back to top