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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why the Pre 1967 Borders Are a Non Starter

The media is abuzz with news floating from the Obama campaign that his administration will attempt to try peace negotiations that include having Israel go back to the 1967 borders.

Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect.

Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party.

The proposal gives Israel an effective veto on the return of Arab refugees expelled in 1948 while requiring it to restore the Golan Heights to Syria and allow the Palestinians to establish a state capital in east Jerusalem.

On a visit to the Middle East last July, the president-elect said privately it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse a deal that could “give them peace with the Muslim world”, according to a senior Obama adviser.

In the summer of 1967, upon being surprised with an attack, Israel had one of the most stunning victories in military history..

The Six-Day War (Arabic: حرب الأيام الستة‎, Ḥarb al‑Ayyam as‑Sitta or more commonly Arabic: حرب 1967‎, Ḥarb 1967; Hebrew: מלחמת ששת הימים‎, Milhemet Sheshet Ha‑Yamim), also known as the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Third Arab-Israeli War, Six Days' War, an‑Naksah (The Setback), or the June War, was fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi
, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces.[4]

In May 1967, Egypt's president Nasser requested the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from the Sinai Peninsula, while calling for a return to the conditions prevailing prior to the 1956 Suez Crisis, and to full observance by both parties of the provisions of the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel.[5] The peacekeeping force had been stationed there since 1957, following a British-French-Israeli invasion which was launched during the Suez Crisis. Egypt amassed 1,000 tanks and nearly 100,000 soldiers on the border[6] and closed the Straits of Tiran to all ships flying Israeli flags or carrying strategic materials,receiving strong support from other Arab countries. [7] On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack[8] against Egypt's airforce, while the Israeli Defense Forces drove through the remnants of the UNEF peacekeeping force.[9] Jordan, which had signed a mutual defence treaty with Egypt on May 30, then attacked western Jerusalem and Netanya.[10][11][12] At the war's end, Israel had gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day

The land annexed by Israel: the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, were all annexed as a result of this victory. Most of the rest of the Middle East has been attempting to get this land back since.

If Israel were to accept such a "peace plan", they would in fact be inviting further wars. That's because the results of prior wars would no longer have any relevance. Israel annexed this land as a result of their victory in 1967. If this land is given back for some piece of paper, it makes the results of that war moot.

More than this, a "peace plan" is not worth the paper its written on if Israel must give up the Golan Heights. There's a reason why Israel's enemies have floated the Golan Heights in exchange for "peace" for years. The Golan Heights carries enormous strategic value in any future military operation. The Golan Heights gives Israel the most important strategic advantage in warfare, the high ground. In fact, the Golan Heights, in and of itself, is an effective peace plan against many of Israel's enemies. Because the Golan Heights gives Israel the high ground it effectively deters attacks from anyone in the area. Certainly, the high ground is not an end all, but it is an effective deterrent to attack.

I hope that these reports are wrong. I hope that Barack Obama is not so consumed with his own sense of legacy that he would be willing to sell out Israel's long term security in the process. Without the high ground there is no peace. Without the Golan Heights there is no high ground. Returning to the pre 1967 borders is a non starter.

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