September 30, 2022

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The 1994 Israel-Jordan peace agreement shows that the UN resolution is based on fantasy, not law

The anti-Israel UN resolution passed on Friday refers to the “1967 lines” a number of times:

Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem,…

Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines…

Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity

Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines.  including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;

Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;

Clearly the UN is putting legal weight on the so-called “1967 lines.” It is basing its entire criticism of Israel on Israel’s actions in “Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.”

But what is the actual legal status of those lines in international law?

There are two issues here.

-Is there any legal validity to the “1967 lines” today?

– Is there any legal basis to refer to the lands captured by Israel in 1967 as “Palestinian territory”?

If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then the resolution itself is literally based on nonsense.

What is the legal status of the so-called “1967 lines”?

Those lines are defined in the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan, UN document S/1302/Rev.1 3 April 1949. The agreement includes these provisions:

It is also recognized that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.

No warlike act or act of hostility shall be conducted from territory controlled by one of the Parties to this Agreement against the other Party.

The provisions of this article shall not be interpreted as prejudicing, in any sense, an ultimate political settlement between the Parties to this Agreement.

The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.

The lines were never meant to be political boundaries, they were meant to be temporary until a final peace agreement, and anyone who violated the cease fire would be violating and possibly abrogating this armistice agreement.

In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel across these armistice lines, and therefore abrogated the armistice agreement.

Thereafter, the border between Israel and Jordan was legally unclear. Israel didn’t annex the territory, but it did control it. Jordan still claimed it (until 1988, as will be seen.)

The only legally binding definition of the border – not “lines,” but border – between Israel and Jordan came in 1994 with the Israel -Jordan peace agreement.

Here’s what it says:

The international boundary between Jordan and Israel is delimited with reference to the boundary definition under the Mandate as is shown in Annex I (a), on the mapping materials attached thereto and coordinates specified therein.
The boundary, as set out in Annex I (a), is the permanent, secure and recognized international boundary between Jordan and Israel, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.

While the agreement leaves open the possibility of a Palestinian state or entity on the Israeli side of the border, it says explicitly that the border between Israel and Jordan is essentially the border between the areas Israel controls in Judea and Samaria and Jordan – the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and so on. It is not the border between “Palestine” and Jordan.

In fact, the agreement between Israel and Jordan doesn’t mention “Palestinian territory” at all.

Even if you believe that the 1949 armistice agreement was not abrogated by Jordan in 1967, this 1994 agreement completely supersedes the 1949 armistice agreement (and the concept of “1967 lines”) in every legal sense. It is exactly what the 1949 agreement means when it refers to the “ultimate political settlement between the Parties.”

So by any definition, the “1967 lines” has no legal validity.

What about the legal issues behind calling the territories “Palestinian territories”?

There is no legal basis for that as well, except for the areas that Israel agreed to cede as part of the Oslo process.

While Jordan claimed the territory of the west bank of the river for itself until 1988, it was basing that claim on territory that was never accepted by the world as Jordanian to begin with. The 1988 decision to eliminate all legal ties from those territories was ostensibly “to enhance Palestinian national orientation and highlight Palestinian identity” but it did not transfer any legal rights whatsoever to the Palestinians.  In no way could these areas be considered “Palestinian territory” since that was a legally meaningless term in 1988 – there was no “Palestine” and the area called “Palestine” before 1948 was completely superseded by the legal claims of Israel and Jordan (and Egypt.) The PLO had no legal validity as a state in 1988 as well; even though it declared “independence” that year, it was simply an organization, not a state in any legal sense.

Israel, by signing the Oslo accords, gave the Palestinians their first legal standing in international law, and the subsequent agreements giving territory to the PLO are the only legal instruments that can give a portion of the area – specifically, Area A and to an extent, Area B – to the Palestinians.

The phrase “1967 lines” has zero legal validity. The phrase “Palestinian territories” only has validity in the portions of Judea and Samaria that Israel gave away for peace.

This UN resolution, like many others, is based on terms that are literally nonsense from a legal and semantic perspective.

Referring to “1967 lines” in this resolution holds as much legal meaning as referring to the route that Santa Claus flies.

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