This week in Israeli history, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett reports to the Knesset on the status of Israel’s frontiers and President Lyndon Johnson outlines five principles for peace in the Middle East.
June 15, 1949 – Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett Reports to the Knesset on the Status of Israel’s Frontiers
After the adoption of the UN Partition Plan and the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the State of Israel proclaimed its status as an independent nation. During the war which ensued immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel, thousands of Arabs fled the country; some were urged by their leaders to leave for a short time until the new Jewish state would be destroyed. During that same period over 800,000 Jews were expelled from the surrounding Arab lands.
In December 1948, the UN established the Conciliation Commission for Palestine, which resulted in the eventual signing of armistice agreements between Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. On May 11, 1949, during the Lausanne Conference, the main purpose of which was to resolve disputes resulting from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Israel was admitted as a member of the UN.
Among the issues addressed during the conference, were territorial questions and the establishment of recognized borders, the status of Jerusalem, the repatriation of Arab refugees and Israeli counter-claims for war damages. On May 12,1949, the parties signed the Lausanne Protocol, which provided a map proposing the boundaries for Israel. Israel signed the protocol, but did not commit itself to the lines drawn on the map.
Following the conference, the US Department of State issued a report indicating its disapproval of Israeli positions regarding territory and its perceived unwillingness to respond to US pressure. The report recommended that the US take measures and reconsider relations with Israel if Israel did not respond favorably.
Israel’s response was a statement that the establishment of the state of Israel was not based on a UN resolution, but rather, on the successful war of defense. Because the Arab states refused to make peace, Arab refugees were to be regarded as potential enemies of Israel.
On 8 June, Israel officially replied to the US, stating that the willingness of Israel to negotiate and its full cooperation with the Conciliation Commission proved that she did not reject the basic principles of UN Resolution 194, and that the stalemate was entirely due to the attitude of the Arab states.
On June 15, 1949, Foreign minister Moshe Sharett addressed the Knesset. In the second part of his speech on Israel’s position on its frontiers, Minister Sharett addressed the position taken by Israel at the Lausanne conference on the territorial issue. In it he reconfirmed Israel’s willingness to negotiate agreeable and sustainable terms of peace with its neighbors. He also pointed out that any agreement must be realistic, and that until this point the Arabs have refused to come to the table and were the true cause of the lack of progress.
June 19, 1967 – US President Lyndon Johnson Outlines Five Principles for Peace in the Middle East
Just nine days after the Six Day War, US President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered an important foreign policy address to a group of 800 educators at the US State Department. In it, President Johnson laid out five principles for peace in the Middle East. These five principles were:
- All nations in the region have a right to live in peace
- Justice for Arab refugees
- Preservation of maritime rights
- An end to the Middle East arms race
- The need for recognizable borders
While President Johnson did address the need for recognizable borders, he did not go so far as to proclaim what those borders should be, leaving it up to the “parties to the conflict” to determine those borders and to work together to establish peace.
Johnson also emphasized justice for Arab refugees, but completely ignored equal justice for Jewish refugees, of which there was a greater number.
Under President Johnson, American economic aid to Israel increased to its highest levels since the establishment of the state. Military aid increased as well, and President Johnson would be remembered as a friend of Israel.