Analysis of the "Israeli Population Centers... 1949 Armistice Lines" Clause

, | updated: 16:34

The DEBKAfile website ( raises the question why Bush used the phrase "1949 armistice lines" and departed from the usual phraseology of the "pre-June 1967 Green Line." Debka writes that the 1949 agreements - a temporary settlement meant to stand only until a final-status arrangement - "left open, or as demilitarized zones, large and highly strategic areas of pre-1967 Israel, including the Hamma intersection of the Israeli, Jordanian and Syrian borders; the Nitzana region south of the Gaza Strip and abutting on Sinai in the Israeli Negev; and the eastern half of the Israeli Aravah from Tsofar south of the Dead Sea up to Eilat at its southernmost tip." Debka continued,
"Putting these large chunks of Israel back on the negotiating table would provide a pretext for Egypt and Jordan to re-open its peace treaties with Israel and lay fresh claims to more territory. An even more dangerous twist could come about if the leaders of Israel's two peace partners decided to renounce their claims in favor of enlarging a Palestinian state.
"Therefore, whereas Sharon may have gained partial endorsement from Bush of some of the larger West Bank Jewish settlement blocs - 'existing major Israeli population centers'" - it came with a price tag that is far too steep for Israel to safely countenance: payment for those settlements by turning the clock back to a time when large tracts of territory in pre-1967 Little Israel were claimed and fought over by its Arab neighbors."

Haaretz military commentator Ze'ev Schiff made a parallel point, saying that Israel's achievement on the territorial front is "only partial, and Israel would do well not to ignore Bush's words. The American leader again promised the Palestinians a viable state, and a state cannot be viable when it is made up of patches of territory...
"Bush did not mention settlement blocs, but Sharon will want to latch onto the president's comment that 'new realities on the ground' will have to be taken into account. The settlement blocs are part of the new reality, but we must not forget that this reality has another side to it: the growth of Palestinian Jerusalem and the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have settled in the Jerusalem area and neighborhoods... One can't expect that Maaleh Adumim will be recognized as part of Israel because there has been a change in the reality on the ground, while the Palestinian neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area that have expanded will be part of the state of Israel. The meaning of the 'new reality on the ground' in the area of Jerusalem cannot be that the whole of the city will be Israeli."