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'Land for Peace? Peace for Peace'

What are the real borders of Israel and how should we relate to land give-aways? Author Howard Grief answers.
By Tamar Yonah
First Publish: 11/27/2008, 4:08 PM

What are the real borders of Israel and how should we relate to land give-aways? Howard Grief, author of the book, "The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law" was interviewed on Israel National Radio's Weekend Edition and stated that Israel's borders should legally be larger than they are at present.

Grief is the originator of the thesis that de jure sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel and Palestine was vested in the Jewish People as a result of the San Remo Resolution adopted at the San Remo Peace Conference on April 24, 1920.

"The Land has been partitioned more than once and we're not living in the complete lines of Israel, because we never asserted our rights to the entire land," Grief stated. He explained that in 1967, instead of incorporating Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Sinai into Israel's borders, Israeli governments traded them away, giving the Sinai to Egypt and parts of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza to a foreign entity - the Palestine Liberation Organization.

After most of the Jewish People were exiled by the Roman Empire, and the name of the Land of Israel was changed to "Palestina", the region passed under the occupation and mandate of different empires, including the Byzantine and then the Ottoman Empires. The Ottoman occupation of Israel ended after World War I, with France and Britain each taking over parts of the Middle East and establishing control of the respective regions they conquered from the Ottoman Empire.

The Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917, and was a formal statement of policy by the British government stating that the British government "view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."  However, after World War I, Britain and France both drove out the Ottoman rule and in its stead occupied the Middle East.  New lines were drawn, and both France and Britain retained control of the region, moving borders and creating new Arab entities.

It was at this time during WW1 that many Jews in Israel saw a hope for independence. "The Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time, David Lloyd George, spoke about the historical or biblical formula, borders, for the State of Israel," Grief said.  "And that included certain regions. It included the lands east and west of the Jordan river, north and south of the Yarmouk river and all of upper Galilee that extended to the bend of the Litani river. These were the regions that were included, plus at least half of Sinai."

Grief explained that Chaim Weizman, later to be the first president of Israel, and all the British statesmen at the time, including David Lloyd George and Lord Balfour, tried to draw maps in which the land would extend as far north as the Litani River in present-day Lebanon. "They needed the water sources, and the territory would have included parts of southern Syria, southern Lebanon, (Trans-)Jordan and part of the Sinai."

However, that agreement was voided and abandoned in 1939 with Britain's White Paper.

The UN's Partition Plan of 1947 was supported by Britain, but was not liked by the Arabs or the Jews. Nonetheless, while the Jews grudgingly accepted it, the Arabs declared war on the Jews in what was to become the State of Israel. The result of the war was new borders that looked completely different from the Partition they could have accepted. Through successive aggressive wars against Israel, Israel's borders have expanded, and many say that these liberated Jewish lands should have been incorporated or annexed to the State, as was planned in the original recognized international agreements.

In the interview, Grief said that the formula of land for peace goes against international agreements and should not be pursued by Israel. "Land is more important than peace," he said.

"Israel has lived without peace from 1948 until today. …No country in the world gives up land for peace. It's a ridiculous formula. It was a formula formulated by the Israel Labor party. …It's a policy of treason."

"You don't give up land for peace; you get peace for peace. The Arabs have 21 states, why should they get a 22nd state?"

To hear the full interview, click here.