According to Wikipedia:

No Israeli legislation has defined the territory of Israel and no act specifically included East Jerusalem therein.

Israel has territorial disputes, in particular on the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Its controversial settlement policy may be considered as a de facto claim of those territories where settlements are approved, whereas the Gaza withdrawal might be considered de facto as not claiming Gaza. Israel claims the Golan heights by law. In the absence of a law defining the territory of Israel, is there any official Israel government position on the claimed boundaries of the entire state?

  • 1
    At the risk of sounding cynical, "whatever gets a specific coalition elected and into majority at the time" seems like an actual answer.
    – user4012
    Dec 13, 2017 at 20:18
  • I'll plug my answer to a similar question here: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/2736/…
    – Publius
    Jan 28, 2018 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Governments generally do not have official positions on what borders are. Borders are assumed to exist, but governments can have official positions on what those borders should be. For example, the 1999 Likud election platform read:

Israel will not allow the establishment of an Arab Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. ... The Jordan River *will be* the State of Israel's permanent border.

There is also the question of what "official position" really mean. As you write, the settlement policy could entail a de facto claim of sovereignty over the West Bank. But is that an official position? I don't think so.

But one can also ask the related question whether the State of Israel has an official position regarding its own boundaries. The answer to that question is yes, but it is incomplete.

International Borders

First, let's discuss international borders. They roughly come in two types:

  • Those established by treaties.
  • Those established by custom.

Borders Established by Treaties

An example of the first border is the border between Sweden and Finland. In 1809, after the Kingdom of Sweden suffered a humiliating defeat by the hands of the Russian Empire, it had to cede Finland to it in the Treaty of Fredrikshavn.

Then in 1917, Finland became independent from Russia and, as a successor state to Russia in the Finnish territory, it inherited the obligation to uphold the Treaty of Fredikshavn. So if Sweden decided to occupy Finnish territory across the border, it would be a breach of a treaty it had signed and therefore also a breach of international law.

In this way, the State of Sweden has an official position on where the Swedish-Finnish border is. Other treaties signed by Sweden similarily determine the border with Norway and the maritime border with Denmark.

Borders Established by Custom

An example of a border established by custom is the Inner German Border, which existed from 1945 to 1990 and separated East and West Germany. Neither state recognized the border as delineating the boundaries of the states, though it clearly acted as an international border. It was established by Soviet troops occupying eastern Germany and Western troops occupying the western part.

Israel's borders

Israel's borders have both been established by treaties and by custom. Israel is a successor state to the British Mandate of Palestine, in the same way that Finland is a successor state to the Russian Empire, therefore it has a duty to uphold the same treaties that the predecessor state has signed. At least when it comes to border arrangements; its duties regarding other treaties (such as foreign debt) are not as clear cut.

The Israeli borders established by those treaties are:

  1. The Egypt-Israeli border crossing the Negev, excluding the Gaza territory. Agreed upon in 1906 by Britain and the Ottoman Empire
  2. The Lebanon-Israeli border in the Galilee. Agreed upon in 1923 in the Paulet-Newcombe Agreement signed between France and Britain.
  3. The Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights. Paulet-Newcombe Agreement
  4. The Jordan-Israeli border running along the Jordan river. Defined in 1922 when Britain separated the territory of Trans-Jordan from the Mandate of Palestine.

The border established by custom is of course the one called "the Green Line," separating Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel has not recognized that as an international border. It has recognized that the territory beyond the Green Line is under military occupation, but that does not in any way imply that the Green Line is an international border.

As you can see, the question is incredibly hard to answer. Mostly because of the Israeli state's self-imposed silence when it comes to proclamations of what its borders actually are. Note also that you asked what the Israeli official position on its borders were. If you had asked about the EU's, the UN's or the US's position, the answer would have been different.

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    Note that the borders with Jordan and Egypt were re-determined in the peace agreements with these countries, following the borders you mention, but with some modifications.
    – ugoren
    Jan 29, 2018 at 14:54
  • Your mention of the Syrian-Israeli border is somewhat misleading - you refer to the internationally acknowledged pre-1967 border, not to today's de-facto border (established by custom). The former is not in the Golan Heights, but beneath them.
    – ugoren
    Jan 29, 2018 at 14:58

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