First, whether the administration of President George W. Bush put verbal U.S. understandings of Israel’s final borders in writing - and regardless of President Obama’s position on the matter - the United States previously confirmed that Israel need not withdraw to the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice line regarding the West Bank.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, the United States and Britain co-authored U.N. Security Council Resolution 242. It was adopted after Israel, acting in self-defense, gained the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, among other territories. As explained by U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, “Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation lines.” British Ambassador Lord Caradon added that 242’s call for Israeli withdrawal “from territories occupied in the recent conflict” did not mean all territories.
So, regardless of whether the Obama administration concurs with Mr. Bush’s 2004 letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” Israel was never obligated to make such a return.
Security Council Resolution 338, adopted after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, requires adoption of a cease-fire and immediate negotiations to implement Resolution 242. Subsequent diplomatic initiatives, including the 2003 “road map,” incorporate resolutions 242 and 338.
Withdrawal from some of the territories won in 1967 (also including the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem) was linked to a negotiated settlement in which all states of belligerence ended and the right of each state in the region to live in peace “within secure and recognized boundaries” was acknowledged. The article states that Israel’s Cabinet “also has sought to establish the principle that Israel’s final borders be ‘defensible’.” It should have read “the Cabinet has sought to re-establish the principle laid down in Resolution 242 that Israel’s final borders be ‘secure.’”
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)