1949 Armistice Agreements

From Academic Kids

The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and its neighbors Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The agreements ended the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established the armistice lines between Israel and the West Bank, also known as the Green Line, until the 1967 Six-Day War.

Contents

Agreements

With Egypt

The agreement with Egypt was signed on February 24. The main points were:

  • The armistice line was drawn along the international border (dating back to 1906) for the most part, except near the Mediterranean Sea, where Egypt remained in control of a strip of land along the coast, which became known as the Gaza Strip.
  • The Egyptian forces besieged in the Faluja Pocket were allowed to return to Egypt with their weapons, and the area was handed over to Israel.
  • A zone on both sides of the border around 'Uja al-Hafeer (Nitzana) was to be demilitarized, and became the seat of the bilateral armistice committee.

With Lebanon

The agreement with Lebanon was signed on March 23. The main points were:

  • The armistice line ('the Blue line') was drawn along the international border.
  • Unlike the other agreements, there was no clause disclaiming this line as an international border, which was thereafter treated as it had been previously, as a de jure international border.
  • Israel withdrew its forces from 13 villages in Lebanese territory, which were occupied during the war.

With Jordan

The agreement with Jordan was signed on April 3. The main points:

  • Jordanian forces remained in most positions held by them in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Old City.
  • Jordan withdrew its forces from their front posts overlooking the Plain of Sharon. In return, Israel agreed to allow Jordanian forces to take over positions in the West Bank previously held by Iraqi forces.
  • A Special Committee was to be formed to make arrangements for safe movement of traffic between Jerusalem and Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University, along the Latrun-Jerusalem Highway, free access to the Holy Places, and other matters.

With Syria

The agreement with Syria was signed on July 20. Syria withdrew its forces from most of the territories it had control of west of the international border. Those areas were then to be demilitarized zones.

Others

Iraq, whose forces took an active part in the war (although it has no common border with Israel), withdrew its forces from the region in March 1949. The front occupied by Iraqi forces was covered by the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan and there was no separate agreement with Iraq.

Cease-fire line vs. permanent border

Template:Israelis

The agreements left about 78% of 1948 mandatory Palestine in Israeli hands. The rest of the area (the Gaza Strip and West Bank) was occupied by Egypt and Jordan respectively until 1967. See the related articles Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt and Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan.

The armistice agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements, until they would be replaced by permanent peace treaties. However, no peace treaties were actually signed until decades later.

Excepting the agreement with Lebanon, the armistice agreements were clear (at Arab insistence) that they were not creating permanent or de jure borders. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement stated "The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question." [1] (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/arm01.htm)

The Jordanian-Israeli agreement stated: "... no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations" (Art. II.2), "The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto." (Art. VI.9) [2] (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/arm03.htm)

In the Knesset then Foreign Minister and future Prime Minister Moshe Sharett called the armistice lines "provisional boundaries" and the old international borders which the armistice lines, except with Jordan, were based on, "natural boundaries". [3] (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1947-1974/2%20Israel-s%20position%20on%20its%20frontiers). Israel did not lay claim to territory beyond them and proposed them, with minor modifications except at Gaza, as the basis of permanent political frontiers at the Lausanne Conference.[4] (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1947-1974/3%20Attitude%20of%20the%20parties%20on%20the%20territorial%20issue)

After the 1967 Six Day War Israeli leaders warned against turning the armistice lines into permanent borders on the grounds of Israeli security:

  • Prime Minister Golda Meir noted the pre-1967 borders were so dangerous that it "would be treasonable" for an Israeli leader to accept them (New York Times, December 23, 1969).
  • The Foreign Minister Abba Eban said the pre-1967 borders have "a memory of Auschwitz" (Der Spiegel, November 5, 1969).
  • Prime Minister Menachem Begin described a proposal for a retreat to the pre-1967 borders as "national suicide for Israel."

Violations

In each case a Mixed Armistice Commission was formed, which investigated complaints by either party and made regular reports to the UN Security Council. In the years following the signing of the agreements, all of the parties were condemned many times for violations. Egypt kept large military forces in the demilitarized 'Uja al-Hafeer area. Israel, on its side, reinforced the Mt. Scopus enclave (which was supposed to be demilitarized) with armed soldiers, disguised as policemen. Israel also sent soldiers into Jordanian territory on many occasions to conduct raids in retaliation for incursions by armed persons into Israel. Syrian forces launced numerous artillery attacks against Israeli forces and settlements in the demilitarized zone adjacent to the Golan Heights.

Related articles

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties

Texts

The complete texts of the Armistice Agreements can be found at The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/)

A search (http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/Web%20Search%20Simple2!OpenForm) at the United Nations web site for "Mixed Armistice Commission" will reveal many of the reports made to the UN by those commissions.

See also

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