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Where Is the Knesset?

6:50 AM, May 21, 2011 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
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The second reason is legal. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 did not require that Israel withdraw, after the 1967 war of aggression against it, from every inch it had captured, but rather from some of it. The resolution said Israel should have “secure and recognized boundaries” and obviously contemplated changes in the 1949 armistice lines that had existed until the 1967 war broke out. Put another way, Resolution 242 can be said to have viewed the 1949 armistice lines—which President Obama called “the 1967 lines”—as delineating a minimum Israeli territory, to which more would now be added.

The third reason is security, for the reasons Presidents Johnson and Reagan, as well as George W. Bush and Secretary of State Shultz, well understood.  We should not be asking an ally to begin the negotiation from the assumption that every deviation from the 1949 armistice lines is wrong, is a problem, is a virtual act of aggression, when we know full well that the 1949 armistice lines are simply not the secure and defensible borders we have long said we support.

The fourth reason is what might be called logic, or common sense, or realism. While Deputy Secretary Steinberg and Secretary Clinton’s State Department may believe that the Western Wall of the ancient Temple is actually not in Israel, and are apparently unwilling to confirm that the Knesset and prime minister’s office are in Israel, it’s an unsustainable position. It is a ludicrous, insulting, morally untenable position. I urge some member of Congress to put this to the Secretary Clinton at her next appearance, or some journalist to ask it of her at her next press conference: “In what country is the Knesset? And in what country is the Western Wall of the Temple?” 

What is striking about all four reasons that the “1967 lines” cannot be the basis for negotiations is that they have nothing to do with settlements. All existed before there was one single settlement. It would be wrong to ask Israel to negotiate from the 1949 armistice lines even if not one settlement had been built.

We should not be asking Israel to negotiate for the Knesset or the Western Wall, nor treating the 1949 armistice lines as if they were holy ordinances laid down in the Bible. Those lines were the product of war. And Israel’s control of Sinai and Gaza, which it has given up, and of the West Bank, which it still controls, are and were equally the products of aggressive war aimed at eliminating the Jewish State. To call for negotiations is fair. To burden an ally by weakening its negotiating position is not. The Knesset is in Israel, and the Western Wall is in Israel, and the sooner the Obama administration realizes this, the closer it will be to a Middle East policy worthy of our country and its long alliance with our ally in Jerusalem—which is, actually, the capital of the state of Israel.

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