18

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 asks for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" (meaning the 1967 war).

Many international organizations and independent observers have condemned Israeli occupation of the territories in West Bank and its blockade of the Gaza strip.

According to Noam Chomsky, "Israel decided in the 1970s, it made a fateful decision to choose expansion over security."

But this has had consequences for Israel and the region. For example, the accumulated anger it generated in Palestinians' minds was one of the causes of the October 7 attack.

I would like to know how people in Israel see all these. I'm quite sure many/most of them are kind and decent people in their normal relationships and they don't enjoy inflicting suffering on other groups of people. Why don't they put pressure on the government to show some respect to Palestinians and their right to their homeland? As far as I know, Israel has a democracy, and if the people of Israel demand a change, it will happen.

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    Does this answer your question? What is Israel's long-term plan in the West Bank? Apr 17 at 12:03
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    Re duplicate: What is Israel's long-term plan in the West Bank? does even mention resolution 242. Nor does it address the situation in Gaza in the least. Apr 17 at 16:57
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    I'd vote to close this question as it only quotes part of the resolution while the rest of the resolution would answer the question already. peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/…
    – kruemi
    Apr 19 at 9:41
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    @kruemi Meh, meeting the resolution's bit about recognition has come much closer from the PLO than has the part about withdrawal ever did from Israel, so there's no automatic lets-close-this-question to be gotten out of it. Plus, post-10/7 there are certainly some solid reasons, from the Israeli perspective, as is asked here, why this option is met with skepticism. And there are some good answers from that perspective. Apr 19 at 19:48
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica this is not about the PLO. Read the text. IT's about all the countries in that region. So "not even close" ist probably the nicest descriiption I can find for fulfilling the rest of the text.
    – kruemi
    Apr 22 at 4:41

10 Answers 10

41

Many Israelis believe that "less" control over the West Bank and Gaza, leads to "more" terrorism, rather than the opposite.

Let's look at the facts;

  1. Since they refuse to receive Israeli citizenship, Eastern Jerusalem Arabs are mostly non-citizen permanent residents - meaning that Eastern-Jerusalem-Palestinians have the least "national" rights of all Palestinians (can't vote for the government that fully controls their place of residence). Eastern Jerusalem is largely pretty safe for Jewish Israelis to stroll around.

  2. Major Arab cities in the West Bank, are under the full control of the Palestinian Authority. So Palestinians there certainly have more "national" rights, as they can vote for their government - whenever the government allows elections, and their government is officially Palestinian. However, every now and then, the Israeli military conducts raids arresting and killing some terrorists and confiscating weapons. For a Jew who openly strolls into Nablus, Ramallah or Jenin, death is almost guaranteed. However, there are no missiles flying in from there into neighboring Jewish settlements. As of 6th of October 2023, it was certainly safer to live in the "occupied" West Bank, than in "sovereign" border towns close to Gaza.

  3. Gaza; When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, they wished that Gaza would develop into Bahrain on the Mediterranean. Israel didn't prevent anything that could have helped them achieve that. Not long after, Israel was forced to close its borders with Gaza, after the people of Gaza utilized their freedom to elect an official terror organization to lead the place - do I have to continue telling the story from here?

Besides this, ever since the Islamic conquest of the Land of Israel (or even before), there was never a period when there was no "accumulated anger" of Muslims living in the holy land, against Jews. Therefore, many Jews tend to believe that since the Jews are the target of Islamic terrorism regardless of the political circumstances. The only option for the Jew is to practically ensure his survival rather than dreaming of how to appease his enemies.

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    @apadana, Impossible to go through all of history, esp. in a comment. Persecution and pogroms against Jews in Muslim countries were quite common. You mentioned Iran and Palestine, so as a starter, I'll recommend you to study the persecution against Jews in Mashhad (Iran) 1839, and the pogroms against the Jews of Hebron and Sefad 1836 (Palestine).
    – Jacob3
    Apr 17 at 13:13
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    Can you please add sources to back your facts? Some are pretty strong claims, and I think the answer would be improved with reputable sources.
    – njzk2
    Apr 17 at 19:58
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    @apadana History is written by the victors. There's no getting around the fact that today there is no implicitly or explicitly Arab/Muslim political entity that provides -- or even commits to provide -- full rights, services & equality to Jews as Israel does for its Arab citizens. The UAE perhaps comes closest, but that's a recent phenomenon.
    – Zev Spitz
    Apr 20 at 18:57
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    @njzk2, I'll try to find some to-the-point sources, when I'll have a lot of extra time. Sometimes it's quite difficult to prove with sources something which is well known to all people who know the facts-on-the-ground firsthand. Unless I provide 100s of sources, people will always be able to say that the examples I gave don't represent the facts on the ground. Do you have sources to prove that Florida is safe for Koreans?
    – Jacob3
    Apr 20 at 19:01
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    @Jacob3 this one for example: "For a Jew who openly strolls into Nablus, Ramallah or Jenin, death is almost guaranteed.", or this "in 2005, [Israel] wished that Gaza would develop"
    – njzk2
    Apr 21 at 9:25
35

Israeli leaders see the entire land consisting of current Gaza, Israel and West Bank, which they refer to as Judea and Samaria, as theirs based largely on religious interpretation of scripture. See for example, remarks by Netanyahu in 2017 as reported by a pro-Israeli source.

Addressing a crowd of several thousand, Netanyahu vowed that Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of the Jewish People that was liberated during the Six Day War, will forever belong to the State of Israel.

Israel will never withdraw from any Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday night at a ceremony marking 50 years of Jewish settlement in Samaria.

“This is the land of our fathers, this is our land. We are here to stay, forever,” Netanyahu said at the event held at the Barkan Industrial Park. “There will be no uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel.”

More recently Netanyahu displayed a map at the UN with the entire area shown as Israel.

enter image description here

Netanyahu is far from being alone in making such claims. Israel's deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely denied that Palestinians live under occupation saying 'This is Judea and Samaria'. She went on to say:

Israel could not "be an occupier in a land that the Jewish people belonged to for thousands of years."

"Even Lord Balfour, the reason he recognised this connection, was because he was Christian, he knew the bible, he knew the thousands of years of connection of the Jewish people to these places."

And

Asked if she could see Israel incorporating the occupied West Bank, she said: "I think Judea and Sumeria are definitely going to be under Israeli control. The Palestinians should decide whether they want to live peacefully with us.

This article goes so far as to claim that this is the position of the entire Likud party.

The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable… therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty. —Likud Party Platform, 1977

So undoubtedly, Israeli leaders harbour an ambition to control the entire land. Thus, withdrawing to 1967 borders would be a step back backwards in their view. With regards to the population more broadly, without reliable polling it is impossible to know their views. Of course, they have repeatedly voted in governments which are clear and explicit in their ambitions to take control of the entire land.

To summarise a group of Jewish extremists such as Ben-Gvir, a protege of the convicted terrorist rabbi Meir Kahane, and Bezalal Smotrich who has said "We want the justice portfolio because we want to restore the Torah justice system", and that the country should aspire to run itself as "in the days of King David", are applying their fundamentalist interpretation of the Jewish religion to justify grabbing the entire land. They are backed by one of the most sophisticated armies in the world, which is nuclear capable. So it is no surprise that the slow but remorseless process of settlement and land grab continues.

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    The question is not about Netanyahu and Likud, and not about the last few years. Also * With regards to the population more broadly, without reliable polling it is impossible to know their views.* - there are plenty of polls available, even if the author of the answer is not aware of them. Some of them are cited in the relevant Wikipedia article. Apr 17 at 13:54
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    That's factually incorrect, Israel has explicitly extended its sovereignty to some areas (Jerusalem, Golan), but not others.
    – littleadv
    Apr 18 at 21:10
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    The first paragraph of this answer says the reason is "based largely on religious interpretation of scripture"; but none of the quotations seems to support that? Rather, the quotations speak of Jews' historical connection to the land, which is known not just from scripture but also archaeology and secular history. (Try substituting "American Indians" for "Jews", "American continent" for "land of Israel", etc.; you'll see that no religious/scriptural invocation is needed.)
    – ruakh
    Apr 19 at 19:55
  • For the sake of argument, let's grant your implicit assumption that Jews have no demonstrable historical or emotional connection to the land, only a religiously-inspired delusion ("based largely on religious interpretation of scripture"). If Palestinians could and would credibly commit to Jews' safety, security & rights under Palestinian control (as Israel does today for its Arab citizens), why do you think Israeli leaders are incapable of making a rational tradeoff to save Israeli and Palestinian lives?
    – Zev Spitz
    Apr 25 at 7:56
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There are two main reasons: history and security.

1. HISTORY

The "West Bank" was Jewish for hundreds of years, long before it became Arab. In fact, the Jewish people is named after Judea - the southern part of what is now called the "West Bank" (the term "West Bank" is modern and originates at the Jordan occupation of this region in 1948). Many of the most important events in Jewish history happened in Hebron BethLehem, Shekhem (Nablus) and of course Jerusalem. Asking Jews to give away Judea is like asking Muslims to give away Mekka, or asking Catholics to give away the Vatican, or asking Turks to give away Istanbul.

This, of course, does not preclude the option of peaceful coexistence. One of the most important and influential Zionist texts, The Old New Land (1902) envisions a peaceful Jewish society in Israel, that gives full equal rights to all minorities, and believes in the slogan "Let the stranger be at home among us!". This vision was held by most if not all early Zionists.

But this vision started to break down at the 1929 Hebron Massacre. Notably, the Jewish community in Hebron was 'pacifist': they even refused to hold weapons or let Jewish defense forces enter their quarters, as they were sure that they have good relations with their Arab neighbors. This turned out to be false: their neighbors murdered over 60 of them in a single day. The survivors were evacuated shortly afterwards, as the police could not protect them. This was essentially an ethnic cleansing of Hebron's Jews. Personal note: my grandfather's sister lived in Hebron at that time. She and another sister visiting her were saved from the massacre by her Arab landlord, who refused to let the Arab rioters in. He was wounded by the rioters while protecting them. Since that massacre, it became clear that Jews must be strong in order to protect themselves from Arab rioting; they cannot trust the good will of their neighbors. This conclusion was enforced by many later incidents. Which brings us to the second point.

2. SECURITY

If you look at a map of Israel, you will see that the distance between the "West Bank" and Israel's shore cities, where most Israelis live, is about 15 km. Here is an illustration using Google Maps (the dashed line is the "green line"):

enter image description here

During the October 7 invasion of Hamas into Israel, Hamas militants arrived at an even larger distance from Gaza. This means that, if the same attack had been conducted from the West Bank rather than from Gaza, Hamas militants could split Israel into two, capture and destroy cities settled by tens or even hundreds of thousands of citizens, and cause unimaginable destruction. Agreeing to a Palestinian state in these borders means national suicide.

CONCLUSION

You asked for the point of view of Israelis. As an Israeli, I thank you for asking. I can only speak for myself: I personally still believe in the vision of The Old New Land. Considering specifically the Gaza strip, I will be very happy to see there a peaceful Arab state, who puts all its efforts in economic and spiritual development, like Singapore or Bahrain. Unfortunately, it seems that the vision of the Gazan leaders is very different: they want to capture the entire state of Israel from the river to the sea, and make it an Islamic "Shariaa" state. Ever since Israel has pulled its forces out of Gaza, they put most of their efforts in accumulating weapons for that purpose. So right now, this vision remains a fable.

But the text on the covering of "The Old New Land" says: "If you wish, it will not be a fable".

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  • The security argument is valid, but the security problem remains even if Israel annexes Gaza and the West Bank and kicks out the people there. It's going to have (hostile) neighbourbours in any case, due to the location, and the more it commits human rights violations against Palestinians, the more its enemies can recruit militants and terrorists.
    – gerrit
    Apr 18 at 6:53
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    Just as a note... as most people do, the quesation only quotes a tiny part of Resolution 242. Part of the anwer lies in the (much less quoted) part of the resolution that that requires mutual respect for the borders of every country in the region... peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/…
    – kruemi
    Apr 19 at 9:47
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"Israelis want the two-state solution but they don't trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than the Palestinians." - Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator in 1995-2003

The question makes some assumptions that are not universally accepted - notably relying on specific interpretation of the UN resolution 242 and assuming that a state based on 1967 lines is what the Palestinians want. Note also that Noam Chomsky is definitely not a representative of the mainstream public/political/legal opinions.

UNSC resolution 242
Much of the Wikipedia article about this resolution deals with the different interpretation of the resolution - specifically, whether it requires withdrawal from all the territories or only some of those. It has been largely agreed that the 1949 ceasefire line (also known as Green line or 1967 border) would require some adjustment, to ensure the security of the state of Israel. Indeed, border negotiations are a part of the final status negotiations as per Oslo agreements (which post-date the resolution 242.)

Note that the Green line is not a border, and does not coincide with the borders proposed by the UN partition plan of 1947.

Note also that the territories occupied by the Israeli forces in 1967 also include the Golan heights, which used to be under Syrian control, and which dominate the Palestine and notably the Sea of Galilee (the principal source of potable water) and therefore of strategic significance. It is inconceivable that Israel withdraws from the Golan heights without negotiating a peace agreement with Syria.

Oslo agreements
In 1990s majority of Israelis have clearly indicated their support for two-state solution, which would be roughly based on the Green line, as manifested by their support for the Oslo process, initiated by then prime-minister Yitzhak Rabin and foreign minister Shimon Peres (the two, together with Palestinian Leader Yasir Arafat shared the Nobel peace prize in 1994.) enter image description here

The support has diminished, but far from vanished, after the Second Intifada of 2000-2005. Even Benjamin Netanyahu, upon becoming prime minister in 2009, declared his support for the two-state solution, and continue to maintain it as the official policy until recently.

Gaza disengagement of 2005
Israel did withdraw from Gaza, essentially to 1967 lines, under prime minister Ariel Sharon, and possibly planned such withdrawal from the West Bank. That this didn't happened is explained by Sharon becoming incapacitated by a stroke, and that Gaza began to pose more danger to Israel.

Withdrawal to 1967 lines would not bring peace
There are currently many influential actors in this conflict who are not satisfied with two-state solution based on 1967 borders. Notably, the official policy of the Palestinian movement Hamas, which ruled Gaza until recently, is liberation of "all of the Palestine, from the river to the sea, which means obliterating Israel."

To summarize: while two-state solution based on 1967 lines seems like a no-brainer to somebody who encounters this conflict for the first time, the actual state of affairs is more complicated.

Update
Regarding the public support for the two state solution, one could quote the opinion polls cited in the relevant Wikipedia article:

Many Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the Arab League,[71] have stated that they would accept a two-state solution based on 1949 Armistice Agreements, more commonly referred to as the "1967 borders". In a 2002 poll conducted by PIPA, 72% of both Palestinians and Israelis supported at that time a peace settlement based on the 1967 borders so long as each group could be reassured that the other side would be cooperative in making the necessary concessions for such a settlement.[72] A 2013 Gallup poll found 70% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 48% of Palestinians in Gaza Strip, together with 52% of Israelis supporting "an independent Palestinian state together with the state of Israel".[73] [...] In December 2022, support for a two-state solution was 33% among Palestinians, 34% among Israeli Jews, and 60% among Israeli Arabs. 82% of Israeli Jews and 75% of Palestinians believed that the other side would never accept the existence of their independent state.[90]

At the end of October 2023, the two-state solution had the support of 71.9% of Israeli Arabs and 28.6% of Israeli Jews.[91] In that same month, according to Gallup, just 24% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution, a drop from 59% in 2012.[92]

(The omitted paragraphs outline graduate erosion of the public support for the two-state solution in Israel and among the Palestinians.)

The graph below is from the poll by Pew research center, published on September 26, 2023 (that is two weeks before October 7): enter image description here

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There is nothing wrong with the other answers as such. They all present at least one side's viewpoint and mostly competently so. And let's not kid ourselves, the naysayers have a powerful argument these days, at the least domestically.


But, even assuming goodwill from both sides * (hah!), one big problem remains: as the world has framed the issue it would not be enough and it would not buy them peace.

(HRW 1999) The right of return

Like all rights, the right to return binds governments. No government can violate this right. Only individuals may elect not to exercise it. The parties currently involved in negotiating a Middle East peace agreement should focus on implementing the right to return and facilitating the options of local integration and third-country resettlement. They should not waive individuals' right to return.

The Palestinians - and who can really blame them ? - insist on the right of return of descendants of the 1948 exiles to Israel proper: "If my ancestors lived in Haifa, I should be allowed to return there."

The Israelis - and who can really blame them ? - both refuse it and consider that it would be political suicide as it would hand over electoral power to Palestinians.

Last time applying 242 was within any distance of being considered, no one quite had the guts to tell the Palestinians this was unrealistic. International customs are too steeped in pretending people can always get their home back.

Now, "getting your home back" is one thing. But what about, as the HRW blurb says, "right to return to the vicinity of a former home should that be one's choice". Well, any equal voting rights arrangements would then preclude Israel remaining under its current population's control. Why would the Israelis ever agree to it? Taken to the limit that's not so much the "two state solution" as the "one state solution" where everyone is automagically expected to get along.

In practice, at least bilaterally, this right of return getting applied isn't always the case (I would even venture it is rarely the case).

  • American Cubans will not be getting their homes back.

  • Germans who fled East Germany or got expropriated did not.

  • I don't believe the displaced populations in the Yugoslav wars went back home and I doubt it would stand in the way of say Serbian accession to the EU, should be otherwise meet requirements.

  • As a citizen of Canada, I can assure you no one is promoting the idea of handing their entire land back to our Indigenous citizens.

  • The good Germans whose ancestors were living in Königsberg are not going back now that it is called Kaliningrad.

  • Millions of Vietnamese have fled South Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. Most of them will never get their home back.

  • 1947 India-Pakistan population exchange (from comment)

  • Finns kicked out the - large - bits of Karelia annexed by the Soviet Union

  • ...

But these are all internal/bilateral concerns and the international community has not had to give their imprimatur to these happenings. It would be great big bitter pill to swallow. Just as it would be a great big bitter pill for Israel's supporters to tell it that it needs to apply resolution 242 (minus that pesky right of return), whether its citizen's internal political preferences like it or not **.


* To be clear, there has been no goodwill from either sides' leaders for decades on this. The populations on both sides probably don't support a non-maximalist deal that isn't the way their side likes it. Reasonable Palestinians want the right of return and have decades of oppression to feel bitter about. Reasonable Israelis have learned not trust their safety to the goodwill of Palestinians and have decades of terrorism to feel bitter about. Both sides are rife with extremists, though nothing in Israeli policy, or deeds, has approached Hamas' demonstrated nastiness.

** Democracy and how a state's citizens decide to run its own affairs is core to Western customs and value systems. But internal political rights do not automatically translate to a free rein on how a state acts externally. Assuming Russia was a real democracy - it is not - and assuming invading Ukraine was popular - the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was very popular - that means zilch: Genuine internal democratic support to interfere with and annex Ukraine would still not give that right to a pristinely democratic Russia.

p.s. After 10/7 it is also clear that any two state solution would need an aggressive, well-armed, fully empowered, international force to police a fully demilitarized Palestinian state. Again, enforcing that, over the objections of Palestinians, would also be a departure from international customs of non-interference.

p.p.s. This answer is entirely about the Palestinian right of return. This answer is not addressing, questioning, or supporting Jewish claims to Israel.

(note: I asked what the Palestinian position was on that right of return a few years ago)

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Why doesn't Israel withdraw from the territories occupied during the Six-Day War of 1967?

It did. Twice.

In 1979 it signed a peace treaty with Egypt, and returned all the territories taken from Egypt during the Six Day War, with the exception of the Gaza strip (not for the lack of trying, Egyptians refused to take it back - their argument was that it was never a part of Egypt).

In 2005 Israel unilaterally disengaged (withdrew) from the Gaza strip and removed all of its forces beyond the 1949 armistice line.

In both cases Israel removed all the installations (military and civilian), all the Israeli population (settlers), and in the latter case left a lot of the agricultural infrastructure for the Palestinians to take over.

The first case worked (relatively) well, and there has been more or less stable peaceful co-existence between Israel and Egypt for the last 40+ years.

The second case, as we can clearly see watching the news, failed miserably.

The main difference is that in the first case there was a partnering government ready and willing to enforce the peace, while in the second case there wasn't even a government to talk to. The Palestinian Authority, which was technically the recognized representative for the Palestinians, had very little influence in Gaza, and was booted out of it altogether in 2007.

There was significant opposition in Israel to both processes, however the Gaza disengagement has shown to the Israelis that they can't expect cooperation, or at least co-existence, with the Palestinians any time soon.

So I don't anticipate any future border changes until there's a functioning Palestinian government who'd be willing not only to sign agreements with Israel, but also to implement them, and resolve conflicts peacefully.

An example for such peaceful resolution can be seen in the Taba arbitration or the Jordanian non-renewal of the land lease. See in contrast the Palestinian conflict resolution methods.

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7

They never wanted to

There is a whole book written in 2012 by journalist and Oxford historian Avi Raz devoted to answer your question. The book is "The bride and the dowry", and it explains that the 1967 was a very methodical, purposedful and precise land grab.

The West Bank is actually where the original kingdom of Judah was, and it contained Jerusalem, the jewel of the throne. When, after the succesful war of 1948, Jerusalem was (partly) conquered and David Ben-Gurion was asked about conquering the West Bank, he famously answered that what Israel needed was not more land, but more people. But since Israel managed to attract a lot of Jews from all over the world - many of them fleeing from neighbouring arab countries after the backlash of the war -, the new cabinet after Ben-Gurion started planned for conquest.

The title of the book by Avi Raz comes from a phrase often quoted by those cabinet members, saying that Israel coveted a dowry (the West Bank lands) but they loathed the bride (the arab population living there), so they prepared a strategy with three goals:

  1. Taking over the land
  2. Getting rid of the local arab population
  3. Selling the whole operation as self-defence

They managed two of the three objectives, since the Palestinians, heavily conscious about what had happened during the Nakba, where they fled from their homes only to find themselves permanently locked out, refused to flee this time. To this day, Israel still sells the 1967 war as a defensive war, and even if it was mainly the US intelligence who debunked all the Israeli alibis for the initial attack, I'd say this is what most of the population of the USA believes right now.

While David Ben-Gurion, in his last years, was favourable to exchange land for peace, this was never an option considered by any ruler of Israel. Just likes Netanyahu always boast about the IDF being "the most moral army in the world" while its snipers prey on eight year old children, bomb six year old girls (and the ambulance sent to help her), kill 14yo girls looking for water, left week or days old premature babies rot in their power-off incubators and provoke a famine or wait until military targets come back home with their families to kill as many civilians as they can, Israel also loves to claim they have tried to look for peace many times with the Palestinians, to no avail, while actually sabotaging every effort made by the Palestinians to that effect:

In the speeches of politicians and in newspaper op-eds, it’s a matter of faith that Israel has always yearned for peace but has been constantly rebuffed by the Palestinians. The Palestinians, according to this narrative, prefer holding onto a dream of destroying Israel.

This is not quite 180 degrees the opposite of reality, but close.

Israel has never wanted to give up the West Bank. It could renounce to the Golan Heights in exchange from peace with Syria, and would happily give Gaza to Egypt - these lands are not part of the biblical "promised land" - but renouncing Judea and Samaria is not in the books. You could as well ask why the USA doesn't return to being part of the UK - the whole identity of the country is founded on not being part of that kingdom.

Israelis were told fairy tales by their leaders about “generous offers” that the Palestinians routinely spurned. In the quest for normalised relations with Arab states, Israel’s leaders treated the Palestinians as a defeated people and ignored the cautions of a bevy of analysts of a ferocious explosion if Israel persisted with its occupation of the land and lives of another people. They cannot say they were not warned.

1
  • It could renounce to the Golan Heights in exchange from peace with Syria - no actually, there's an explicit law requiring a significant majority to support that (2/3rd of the Parliament or an absolute majority of the voters). There's no such law about the West Bank, on the contrary - any attempts to legislate that didn't go anywhere past the news cycle spins.
    – littleadv
    Apr 18 at 21:12
6

Israel essentially considers UNSCR 242 non-binding, or that the only things that is binding therein is for them to negotiate with the Arabs. This is from an advocacy think-tank (JCPA), but it's probably close to the official [Israeli] position, or at least that of the Likud (because that think tank seems linked to it):

Resolution 242 is not self-enforcing; Israel is not expected to unilaterally withdraw from territories to fulfill its terms. It requires direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

[...] Resolution 242 did not fit into the category of a Chapter VII resolution [...] Instead, Resolution 242 was adopted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter that deals with “pacific resolution of disputes.”

[...] There is no condemnation of Israel’s occupation of the territories that the Israel Defense Forces captured in 1967, nor is Israel’s occupation of territories defined as “illegal.”

[...] The main principle inferred in the resolution is that everything is still open for negotiation between the parties.

I'm not going to delve into the ideology of the Likud here because there's another answer on that posted already. Likewise for the declared strategic importance of the Golan Heights; there was even a separate Q on that here. Also, the US, under Trump at least, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

I'm not terribly familiar with the Israel-Syria attempts at negotiation in the more distant past, but since Assad had to accept Iranian help/presence to stay in power during/since the civil war, there's not much chance of a peace settlement in the present circumstances, on that front.

The same can be said about Iran funding the military budget of Hamas, by the way. But as pointed out in Jacob's answer, and further discussed in answers to another Q many Israelis don't trust any Palestinian government can bring peace, and some see any existence of a Palestinian state as unacceptable, for one reason or another (ranging from Palestinian governments all supported/were terrorists to the land rightfully belonging to Jews).

3

Question:

Why doesn't Israel withdraw from the territories occupied during the Six-Day War of 1967?

Answer:

They can't. Israel grew 4x its size in 1967 by taking lands from Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt. They gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in the mid 1970's but that was mostly desert. The rest of it Israel has been actively settling for 50 years.

  1. Israel's Capital of Jerusalem would have to be given back. That's politically a no go domestically.

  2. The lands taken (Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights) are also the 3 most important aquifers for Israel today. Water is a big national security issue for Israel, and giving back those lands means losing control of the water Israel needs to support it's population.

  3. Israel has hundreds of thousands of settlers on those lands. It would be nearly impossible to remove them; likewise even if you could remove them Israel doesn't have the ability to resettle them inside of the 1967 borders.

  4. Why should they? Israel hasn't really been about making sacrifices for peace with the Palestinians for decades. Netanyahu's entire political career. They've been about winning the unwinnable war with the Palestinians. There really aren't any existential military threats left on their borders, and managing the Palestinians is annoying to them but significantly less painful, even with the occasional outburst, than returning to the 67 borders.

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https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/tr/pdf/ADA397154.pdf

Nasser had made himself clear. The Israelis knew there would be war, just not who would be with them. They also knew that they had the better capability and would win, and that they would have to conclude fighting quickly to prevent escalation of the conflict to beyond the Middle East powers. 21 They also saw the opportunity to correct the strategic security imbalance by seizing territory. Territory had the dual purpose of making borders more secure and potentially providing bargaining position to negotiate with Israel's neighbors. 22 Keeping seized territory would depend on the circumstances of the fighting and Israel's security interests.23

Israel considered that those territory are critical to Israel's security as it creates a buffer zone where they can protect their country instead of allowing them to go from the neighbouring country directly to Israel. The second purpose is that it increases its bargaining position with its neighbors.

1
  • This was a motivation in the past. This - defence in depth, against conventional forces - was way more applicable 30-40 years ago than it is now, when Israel is not at serious threats from conventional invasions. Now it totally dominates the neighbors (who used to be chockful of Soviet gear). In fact, there was relatively limited settlement for decades, when it would have been most useful for buffer zone purposes. And before someone goes on about 10/7 in this instance: committing too much IDF in the West Bank was one cause for that debacle. Apr 19 at 15:04

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