The US has been Committed to Land for Peace since 1948

The USA has been trying to force territorial concessions since the War of Independence.

Ted Belman

OpEds Ted Belman
Ted Belman

1948 Declaration of Independence

In the lead up to Israel's Declaration of Independence, the State Department put enormous pressure on Ben-Gurion to postpone the declaration and warned him that the Arabs would attack and that Israel would be destroyed in three months and that the United States would not come to his aid.

In fact the State Department threatened to stoke anti-Semitism by publishing documents that would “do great harm to the Jews” as retribution for the establishment of an independent State of Israel, according to newly unearthed diplomatic cables.

The State Department argued “There are 30 million Arabs on the one side and about 600,000 Jews on the other side. .. Why don’t you face up to reality?”

Truman ignored them (the reasons are history) and recognized Israel as soon as it was declared.

As a result of the war, 550,000 Arabs fled the land between the river and the sea. The US and the Arabs were determined to reverse this exodus.

GA Res 194 was passed in Dec ’48. It is today quoted as the basis for the “right of return”.

Israel has usually contested this reading, pointing out that the text merely states that the refugees “should be permitted” to return to their homes at the “earliest practicable date” and this recommendation applies only to those “wishing to… live at peace with their neighbors”. Besides it was a General Assembly resolution and they aren’t binding.

The Arab League has instructed its members to deny citizenship to Palestinian Arab refugees (or their descendants) “to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.”

The Arab League forbade any Arab country from accepting these refugees or settling them in normal housing, preferring to leave them in squalid camps.

Even after the Oslo Accords, in the 'West Bank' and Gaza under full jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, the refugees continued to be confined to camps — despite the millions of UNWRA and international relief dollars which poured into PA coffers specifically for this purpose.

Two years after UNGA Res. 194, the GA passed Resolution 393 (Dec. 1950). Article 4 states that “the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near east, either by repatriation or resettlement, is essential in preparation for the time when international assistance is no longer available, and for the realization of conditions of peace and stability in the region.” It also called for the creation of a “reintegration fund” in Article 5.

But this resolution would undermine the “right of return” so no one talks about it.

Ceasefire Agreement in the making.

In May 29, 1949, toward the end of Israel’s War of Independence, which consumed 6,000 Israeli lives (1% of the population!), the US Ambassador to Israel, James McDonald, delivered a scolding message from President Truman to Prime Minister Ben Gurion.

According to McDonald, (James McDonald, the US Ambassador to Israel at the time, “My Mission in Israel 1948-1951”,  Simon and Schuster, 1951, p 181)  Truman “interpreted Israel’s attitude [rejecting the land-for-peace principle; annexing West Jerusalem; refusing to absorb Arab refugees; pro-actively soliciting a massive Jewish ingathering] as dangerous to peace and as indicating disregard of the UN General Assembly resolutions of November 29, 1947 [the partition plan] and December 11, 1948 [refugees and internationalization of Jerusalem], reaffirming insistence that territorial compensation should be made [by Israel] for territory taken in excess of November 29 [40% beyond the partition plan!], and that tangible refugee concessions should be made [by Israel] now as essential, preliminary to any prospect for general settlement.  The operative part of the note was the implied threat that the US would reconsider its attitude toward Israel.”

Ben Gurion adamantly refused to retreat. The newly acquired land automatically became part of Israel pursuant to Ben Gurion’s Law.
The Armistice Agreement of ’49 provided at Jordan’s insistence that agreeing to them, would in no way prejudice future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto. In other words they were temporary in nature.

To achieve this goal the US has maintained the special refugee status of the Arab refugees and UNRWA, ignored Res 393 and inserted this clause in Res 242, “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,”

This was in fact not in accordance with international law that permitted the acquisition of territory in a defensive war.

Nothing has changed. The US has always been determined to force Israel to surrender to her demands as a penalty for defying the US in the first place.