Israel And The 1967 Borders

Our President has advised Israel and the Palestinians to go back to the 1967 borders between the territories where Jews and Arabs dwelt. Don’t plan on it!

What is in those territories now is not what was there before 1967. An example of this is the Golan Heights in Northeast Israel. Before 1967 it was a vast undeveloped area other than as a military buffer. When I went to Israel first in 1969 at night the lights of one small settlement could be seen at night from Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. Now the entire range is aglow with villages.

The vast expanse of the Heights was basically a mine field left over from Syrian occupation. Sitting in those fields were rusty burned out Syrian vehicles all facing toward Damascus to which they were retreating when destroyed. Today they are lush orchards, vineyards, and highly productive agricultural land. Recently developed Israeli villages dot the area.

Before 1967 Jerusalem was a divided city. An idea of how developed the two sections were is illustrated by traffic lights. The Arab section was so lacking in modernization they had no traffic lights. When the border went down young Arab boys would stand on the street corner in the Jewish section and applaud the traffic lights when they would change.

Last week while there I marveled that a rapid commuter rail line was being tested along much of the route of the former border.

Modern Israel is very modern; highly progressive. The bordering Palestinian territory is not. Cities like Jericho and Bethany are filthy with little development since 1967. Bethlehem is more advanced. Tourism has made it more viable.

The vacant hillsides that existed between Jerusalem and Bethlehem before 1967 and the present are now one vast city uniting the two towns. The occupants are Jews.

To expect Israel to vacate these newly developed areas is unrealistic.

These two nationalities have contested each other from the time of Abraham. Regrettably they are likely to continue to forever. There is enough wrong on both sides to go around.

Driving through part of the Gaza area one side of the road is Israeli occupied. The other Palestinian. The same type soil is on both sides of the road. The Jewish side is green and highly productive. The Arab side is dry and barren. The Israeli government says the water rights between the two is equally divided 50-50, and it is. The challenge arises from the fact there are more than ten times as many Arabs living on their side that there are Jews on their side. The Arabs have to use so much of their water for human consumption there isn’t enough for irrigation.

A cartoon in the Jerusalem Post illustrates the challenge. It depicts an old Native American chief talking with the Prime Minister of Israel saying, “Let me tell you about swapping land for peace.”

The Psalmist said it well: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”