The EU, the UN, the PA and the Invented “4 June 1967 Borders”

Published on 2 November, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

George Orwell’s 1949 novel, “1984.”: “Who controls the past, controls the future”.

With regard to the Israel – Palestinian Authority (PA) dispute, it is doubtful whether a day passes without someone, somewhere,  referring to the “pre-1967 borders” or “the borders of June 4, 1967” or similar as if these borders actually existed in June 1967. Here are some examples:

Prime Minister Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Authority: “The territory of our Palestinian state is one contiguous unit on the entire borders of June 4, 1967,”.

Josep Borrell of the European Union (EU): “The EU and its member states recall that they will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders…”

United Nation (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres: “The goal is achieving the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security within secure and recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders,”.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi: “The stance that I have carried today is the Kingdom’s historical position: Attaining the rights of our brothers in Palestine to freedom and a full Palestinian state with occupied Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 lines…”.

Question: In light of “the Kingdom’s historical position”, why did the Jordanians not grant their brothers in Palestine a state at any time between 1948 and 1967 during which period Jordan claimed sovereignty but “forgot” to designate Jerusalem as its capital? For the record, Jordan continued to claim sovereignty over the West Bank until 1988.

At least Jordan recognized that in June 1967 existed lines, not borders. Of course, he did not mention that the 1967 lines were armistice lines between Jordan and Israel and nothing whatsoever to do with a Palestinian entity nor did Jordan create or recognize a Palestinian entity. The Arabs in the West Bank became Jordanian citizens.

The EU, the UN and the PA appear to have decided that “the 4 June 1967 border” story must control the future. Let`s review whether this claim has legal validity or has been invented by the EU and the UN with the intent to impose on Israel their parameters governing negotiations for a settlement.

The legal narrative is actually quite simple. The Balfour Declaration, issued by Great Britain during World War One, with the agreement of its allies, the Americans, the French and the Italians, promised a Jewish Homeland to the Jews. Date: November 2, 1917.  “We were not consulted,” shout opponents. Big problem, not for those issuing the Balfour Declaration but for its opponents. On that date, Palestine, including Jerusalem, was still held by what was on that date the World War One enemy, namely the Ottomans   under Turkish sovereignty. Jerusalem was captured five weeks later, December 9, 1917. It is not customary to consult with an enemy (which on November 2, 1917 included the Arabs of Palestine) before victory. At no time before December 9, 1917, did the Arabs of Palestine have sovereignty over Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem nor, for the record, until very recently, did they even claim sovereignty.

Following World War One, the Covenant of the League of Nations was signed on 19 June 1919. Article 22 established the mandate system for areas previously controlled by Turkey, which areas included Palestine, with the intent that “their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.”

The San Remo resolution of 25 April 1920 transformed the Balfour Declaration and the provisions of Article 22 above into a binding legal agreement under international law for the creation of a Jewish Homeland. Under Article 22 above, the Jewish Homeland was eventually intended to become independent. It also created independent Arab States for the first time: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and later Jordan. In short, the borders of the Jewish Homeland have the same legal legitimacy under international law as the borders of the several Arab States created under the San Remo Resolution. Under international law, there were and are no other legal claimants to these borders, as described below.

The process continued under the Treaty of Sevres of August 10, 1920 which created the British Mandates for Palestine and Iraq and the French Mandates for Syria and Lebanon. The Mandates were legally binding under international law and their borders, as described below, clearly established.

In the 1924 Anglo-American Convention, the U.S. consented to Great Britain as the Mandatory for Palestine so long as the Mandatory abided by the San Remo Resolution.

Following the termination of the British mandate in May 1948, under the legal doctrine of Uti Possidetis Juris, territorial sovereignty over the territory of Palestine previously administered under the British Mandate vested and continues to vest in Israel. Uti Possidetis Juris is a principle of international law which provides that newly-formed sovereign states inherit and retain the borders that their preceding administrative area had before their independence.

In none of the many legal international treaties and charters referenced above was there any reference to the creation of an Arab State in Palestine or any part thereof west of the Jordan river. There is nothing in international law supporting the EU`s, UN`s and PA`s claim to a Palestinian state within 1967 borders or any other borders whatsoever, whether before 1967, on 4 June 1967 or since 1967. Nothing.

Rights granted to parties under the Covenant of the League of Nations were confirmed by and continued to be in full force and effect under Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

International law thus recognizes the borders of the Jewish Homeland, Israel, as established under the several international treaties and covenants as equally legal and legitimate as the borders of all the other Arab States established under the same treaties. There were and are no other legal claimants to these borders.

Leading international law judges and scholars, including Schewebel, Stone, Rostow, Gauthier, Wallace, Rose, Kontorovich and Bell, recognize Israel`s better or even sole claim to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, including the whole of Jerusalem.

What boundaries were established for the Jewish Homeland? Under the Mandate for Palestine, Britain was entrusted to fix the boundary. The exact borders of the territory administered under the British Mandate were set out in United Kingdom government documents. The description is lengthy but may accurately be said to be bounded in the North by Lebanon and Syria (and initially the mandated territory included the Golan), in the East by Syria and Trans-Jordan, in the south by Egypt and in the west by the Mediterranean. [Reminder: Trans-Jordan changed its name to Jordan in 1948 after its capture and illegal occupation of Judea and Samaria (whose name was changed to the West Bank) during Israel`s War of Independence].

The armistice agreement of 3 April 1949 between Jordan and Israel, established armistice lines between Israeli and Jordanian armed forces at the positions where fighting stopped. Article VI(9) clearly stated that the armistice lines did not constitute boundary lines. Under international law, there were and still are no other legal claimants or parties to these armistice lines.

During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel recovered Judea and Samaria from Jordan (renamed the West Bank by the illegally occupying Jordanians). The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) did not insist that Israel retreat to the 1967 armistice lines. On the contrary, Lord Caradon, the chief architect of the final draft of UNSC Resolution 242 said about the issue of Israel being forced back into the 4 June 1967 lines:

It would have been wrong to demand Israel return to positions of June 4, 1967. Those positions were artificial, just places where soldiers of each side happened to be on the day fighting stopped in 1948–just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand Israelis return to them.”

Lord Caradon did not even refer to “lines” but to the “positions of June 4, 1967”. Again, there were no other legal claimants or parties to these armistice lines, and specifically, in 1967, no Palestinian claim to these lines as their border.

As such, it is concluded the frequent reference by the EU, UN and the PA to the “4 June 1967 borders” and Jordan`s reference to “the 4 June 1967 lines” as the basis of a present settlement of the Israel-Palestinian dispute is not just incorrect but is an invention, intended to enable the Eu and UN to change and control the past to force Israel into future agreements based on an invented past.

The Palestinians recently submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) the following: “The State of Palestine affirms that it has sole sovereignty over the territory of the State of Palestine, occupied in 1967, which comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and which is also recognized by the international community.”

As has been shown, the Palestinian submission to the ICC that in 1967 it had sole sovereignty in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has no basis in fact, in history or in international law. There was no State of Palestine in 1967. The Palestinians did not control any territory so borders could not and did not exist. This submission is pure fiction. The exact opposite is correct. As will be shown below, the Palestinians had explicitly waived sovereignty.

Paradoxically, the above conclusion, that the PA has no claim to the West Bank within the pre-4 June 1967 borders, is supported by no less than the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) itself, the signatory to the OSLO Accords which established the PA.

Fact: Between 1948 and 1967 no Arab/Palestinian State was established in the territories renamed by Jordan as the West Bank nor did any group of Arabs, whether living in the West Bank or Jerusalem or elsewhere ever claim the areas illegally occupied by Trans-Jordan in 1948 for the establishment of a Palestinian state between 1948 and June 1967.

On the contrary, in its first charter of June 1964, the PLO specifically stated that it had no claim to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank. In Article 24 of the PLO charter adopted at its first conference in June 1964, the Palestinians explicitly waived all rights to the West Bank and Gaza which included Jerusalem:

“Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.”

In short, the Palestinians now claim they had sovereignty on 4 June 1967 to the West Bank which on the actual date of 4 June 1967 under their charter they had specifically waived sovereignty. Go figure! Perhaps the EU and the UN can explain this conundrum.

A correction is required. Under its charter, in 1967 PLO did have a claim to establish a Palestinian State – not alongside Israel but specifically in place of Israel.

In summary, under international law, Israel has the valid legal right to Judea and Samaria (West Bank), including the whole of Jerusalem. Nowhere in international law or signed treaties whether between the victorious parties of the First World War or between Arabs and Jews or between any other party and Israel have legal rights establishing a sovereign state with the “4 June 1967 borders/lines” or any later date or any part thereof been granted to the Arabs of Palestine. Without a sovereign state, borders cannot exist!

Accordingly, the PA has no legal right under international law or even a historical basis to claim “4 June 1967 borders” or “lines” for a Palestinian State. In its 1964 charter the PA itself rejected the “4 June 1967 borders” as borders or lines for a Palestinian state in the West Bank. This rejection of any claim to the West Bank including Jerusalem by the PA (PLO) was in full force and effect on 4 June 1967.

The EU`s, the UN`s and the PA`s attempted denial of Israel`s legal right to Samaria and Judea, including the whole of Jerusalem and their unashamed insistence upon “4 June 1967 borders/lines” for the PA, which never existed and which were never claimed by the PA (PLO) before 4 June 1967 or for many years thereafter, is a transparent attempt to invent, change and reconfigure, and thereby control, the past with the intent of the EU, the UN and the PA to determine the parameters of any future settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

All countries comprising the EU are members of the UN which under Article 80 of the UN Charter accepted and confirmed Israel`s unaltered legal rights to the borders as established under the Mandate and the Covenant of the League of Nations. The current position of the EU and UN is in direct contradiction with their acceptance of Israel`s rights under Article 80 of the Charter.

Israel needs to respond loudly and clearly every time the EU, UN or PA refer to the imaginary “4 June 1967 borders”. The time has come to vigorously challenge and reject the EU, UN and PA demand for the newly minted “4 June 1967 borders”.

About the Author
Charles Abelsohn, a co-founder of Truth be Told, retired several years ago as the legal manager of one of the most well–known entities in Israel. He is a graduate of three universities (Cape Town, Stellenbosch and U. of South Africa) in South Africa in Law, Transportation Economics and Finance. His interests, even as a young student, were Judaism, Israel, Economics and Finance.