Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Obama greet each other as they make a statement on Middle East Peace talks at the White House
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama greet each other as they make a statement on Middle East Peace talks in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010.

The 1967 proposal has frequently been used in the last few years by the American diplomatic corps when referring to a potential solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was first publicly suggested in 2010, during a visit in Bahrain when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let slip that "we believe that the 1967 borders, with swaps, should be the focus of the negotiations over borders."

At that time however the Obama administration believed that it was possible to reconcile the Palestinian position demanding the 1967 lines with the Israeli position calling for secure boundaries and Mrs Clinton was swiftly corrected by her husband. However, yesterday Obama's propos acted as a confirmation that the proposal is now formally considered as a final potential solution by the United States. Israel was today quick in voicing its discontentment and dismissed the proposal. So what exactly is the 1967 proposal and why is it so vehemently refused by Israel?

The 1967 borders facts:

It is increasingly assumed that there was a recognised international border between the West Bank and Israel in 1967. The 1967 borders proposal aims at the restoration of these borders, which will then lead to an end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet the problem is that many affirm the 1967 line in the West Bank was never recognised as an international border at all.

Formally, the 1967 line in the West Bank should properly be called the 1949 Armistice Line. While around that time the Egyptian and Syrian borders were defined by acknowledged, but not necessarily respected international boundaries, on the Jordanian front at the end of the War of Independence, what created the armistice line was solely the place where Israeli and Arab forces stopped fighting. As a result, the 1949 line, that came to be known also as the 1967 border, was really only a military line.

The debate surrounding the 1967 line is conflict over whether or not those lines should be recognized as international boundaries. While Palestinians leaders call for the return to the 1967 borders, Israeli officials refuse it. Observers that are against the proposal usually cite the Article II of the Armistice in which the Jordanians indicate that the line was "dictated exclusively by military considerations" and as such detractors affirm that the Jordanian authorities never recognised this border as fully legitimate. Others insist that Jordan reserved the right after 1949 to demand territories inside Israel, for the Arab side. On May 31, 1967, the Jordanian ambassador to the UN made this very point to the UN Security Council just days before the Six-Day War, by stressing that the old armistice agreement "did not fix boundaries".

Ever since, the legitimacy of those lines has been disputed and have divided public opinion with states siding either with Israel or Palestine. After the Six-Day War, the architects of UN Security Council Resolution 242 insisted that the old armistice line had to be replaced with a new border. However UN officials admitted that "historically, there have never been secure or recognised boundaries in the area".

Resolution 242, first involved creating a completely new boundary that could be described as "secure and recognised," instead of going back to the lines from which the conflict erupted. President Lyndon Johnson made this very point in September 1968: "It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognised borders." It is for this reason that Resolution 242 did not call for a full withdrawal from all the territories that Israel captured in the Six Day War; the 1949 Armistice lines were no longer to be a reference point for a future peace process.

Yet in recent years a reverse process has been underway to re-establish the 1949 Armistice line, calling it the 1967 border and portraying it as a legitimate international boundary. The Road Map peace plan, launched in 2002 and proposed by the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations calls for the creation of a peace settlement that would "end the occupation that began in 1967"

Why is Israel so against it?

In response to President Barack Obama's statements concerning American strategy and outlook in Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected his stance on the conflict and his proposal to restore the 1967 borders. He was quoted to say that Israel would object to any withdrawal to "indefensible" borders, adding he expected Washington to allow it to keep major settlement blocs in any peace deal. The Netanyahu government do not officially recognize the 1967 borders as being legitimate or internationally agreed and thus do not see the need for the line to be restored.

While Netanyahu said he "appreciates President Obama's commitment to peace," he added that he "expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress" with the first of these commitments being that "Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines."

The prime minister added that Obama needs to assert that "Palestinian refugees will settle in a future Palestinian state rather than in Israel," and state explicitly that Palestinians must "recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people."