How many times have you heard people evoking Israel’s right to defend its borders? How many times have you heard Israelis say that the Oslo 1967 borders are not defensible?
Borders, borders, borders.
As much as Israel and its lobby love to talk about borders, you’d think that there would be a clear definition of what these borders are. This might surprise a lot of you, but Israel has no official borders. Let me explain.
Every state needs to declare its borders. This is usually written in the constitution. Thing is, Israel has no constitution (which is why if anybody says Israel is a constitutional democracy, it’s a sign to stop listening to them). There is no definition of its borders, in fact, the only time there was any solid definition of Israel’s borders was back in 1948, because the UN could not recognize Israel as a state without it having defined clear borders. According to this document, Israel has declared its borders according to the 1947 partition plan. [X]
Israel confirms these borders once again in 1948 in a response to the UNSC , even though at the time it controlled much more than that, but assured the UNSC that it was temporary. [X]
These are the only declaration of borders Israel has ever made.
Meaning, that everything outside of the proposed Jewish state in 1947 is not technically part of Israel, as Israel has never declared it officially as part of its borders. All of its territory gains are due to de facto changes on the ground.
It goes even deeper. Israel has avoided drafting a written constitution because it would necessitate that they clearly define their borders (and citizens, but that’s a different story).
Naeim Giladi writes:
“We were told not to try to speak to Ben Gurion, but when I saw him, I asked why, since Israel is a democracy with a parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben Gurion said, “Look, boy”-I was 24 at the time-“if we have a constitution, we have to write in it the border of our country. And this is not our border, my dear.” I asked, “Then where is the border?” He said, “Wherever the Sahal will come, this is the border.” Sahal is the Israeli army.
Ben Gurion told the world that Israel accepted the partition and the Arabs rejected it. Then Israel took half of the land that was promised to the Arab state. And still he was saying it was not enough. Israel needed more land. How can a country make peace with its neighbors if it wants to take their land? How can a country demand to be secure if it won’t say what borders it will be satisfied with? For such a country, peace would be an inconvenience.”