Gold argues in Congress against imposing 1967 lines

Former UN envoy tells US House Foreign Affairs C'tee that dictating to Israel 1967 lines serves Palestinian interest, but doesn't serve peace.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
April 7, 2011 05:32
4 minute read.
Dore Gold

Dore Gold 98x98. (photo credit: The Israel Factor)

 
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Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold argued in front of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that pressure mounted by countries like France, Britain and Germany for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines poses unacceptable risks and contradicts international commitments given Israel in the past.

“The idea that the Quartet would dictate to Israel the 1967 lines and set the stage for an imposed solution serves this Palestinian interest, but not the interest of achieving real peace,” Gold said, in a statement prepared for the committee.

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“European support for such initiatives would contravene the very peace agreements they signed in the past as witnesses,” he said. “It would set the stage for further Palestinian unilateralist initiatives at the UN in September and deal a virtually fatal blow to any negotiations.”

Gold, along with Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan and Brig.-Gen (res.) Udi Dekel, was invited by committee chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to testify before the committee. The hearing came about a week before the Quartet – made up of the US, EU, Russia and the UN – is expected to meet.

Britain, France, Germany and the UN secretariat have been lobbying the Quartet to call for a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, with agreed-upon land swaps. Israel is lobbying against the move, which is expected to be one of the topics of discussion when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.

Gold told The Jerusalem Post that although he updated the Prime Minister’s Office on the content of what he would say, he was not representing the government or Netanyahu.

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The institute that Gold heads, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, put out a monograph last year titled “Israel’s critical security needs for a viable peace.” It spelled out why the 1967 lines did not provide Israel with secure and defensible borders.

Both Dekel and Dayan wrote articles in that publication.

Dayan, a former IDF deputy chief of General Staff and national security adviser, spoke to the committee about the need to keep the Jordan Valley under Israeli control. Dekel, who is a former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division and was a key negotiator with the Palestinians when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, spoke of how a return to the 1967 lines would deprive Israel of the depth necessary for air defense.

With Israel in control of the West Bank, Dekel said, the country is only 40 nautical miles wide, which means a combat aircraft can fly across in four minutes.

Gold, in his statements, said that traditional US policy – dating back to UN Security Council Resolution 242 and reaffirmed in George W. Bush’s letter to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 – recognized that Israel was not expected to withdraw from all the territories captured in the Six Day War.

Gold said these demands on Israel, “problematic in any event,” were being proposed “at the worst possible time – that is, precisely when the entire Middle East looks like it is engulfed in flames.”

He said the “degree of strategic uncertainty for Israel, given current political trends around it, has increased sharply.”

Demanding that Israel withdraw to the 1967 lines, Gold said, contravened the 1993 Oslo Agreements that envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Borders were to be decided by the parties themselves and not be imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts,” he said.

This commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict, he added, appeared explicitly in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, which included the signatures of then-president Bill Clinton and officials from the European Union and Russia, who served as witnesses.

Gold said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “has no interest in a negotiated solution,” and instead “prefers to see the international community impose territorial terms that are to its advantage without having to formally declare an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and without having to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to a nation-state of their own.”

Speaking the day before his congressional testimony at an event sponsored by the Emergency Campaign for Israel in Washington, Gold called for changing the paradigm through which negotiations are approached.

“We have to have a security-first paradigm,” he argued, characterizing the approach until now as one that has put diplomacy first. “Use diplomacy to protect security – that’s the approach we have to take.”

He described current efforts to carve out boundaries according to settlement population centers rather than security considerations as misguided.

“The whole question of Arab-Israeli peacemaking has become: How many settlers can I fit on the head of a pin?” he charged. “That is simply an inaccurate misrepresentation of the nature of the problem. The question of Israel’s future borders is directly tied to Israel’s security.”

Ros-Lehtinen underscored the need to consider Israel’s security requirements in opening Wednesday’s hearing.

“We must make clear that with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America’s top priority remains ensuring Israel’s continued security. Israel cannot rely on the Palestinians for its security,” she declared. “America and Israel love and seek peace, but peace without security is no peace at all.”

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