1. Summary

The delineation and demarcation of agreed upon borders are central to reaching an end of conflict on the basis of the two-state solution. Our position on borders has undergone a significant transformation since 1948. Our national movement once laid claim to its rights over all of historic Palestine, an area that includes modern day Israel. Since 1988, however, in the interest of achieving peace and ending the conflict, we limited our national aspirations to statehood to 22 percent of historic Palestine, seeking a state of our own in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital (that is, all of the territory occupied by Israel in 1967). Despite this, Israel continues to create “facts on the ground,” building its Wall and more settlements amongst other things, grabbing more Palestinian land in violation of international law.

The Borders of Palestine: A Brief Background

  • Historic Palestine (pre-1948) encompasses all of Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem. In 1922, historic Palestine was placed under a British Mandate by the League of Nations.
  • In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the partitioning of Palestine, against the wishes of the majority of our inhabitants. The Partition Plan allocated 55 percent of Palestine to a Jewish state. At the time, the Jewish population living in Palestine represented only one third of the total population and owned less than seven percent of the land.
  • Almost immediately after the Partition Plan vote, organized Jewish militias began military campaigns to seize control over even more of historic Palestine’s territory than the UN partition plan had proposed. On May 14, 1948, after months of military expansion, Zionist forces declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The next day, neighboring Arab armies attacked Israel in reaction to the eruption . However, Israeli forces defeated Arab forces and by the end of the war in 1949, Israel controlled 78 percent of historic Palestine.
  • During the June 1967 war, Israel militarily occupied the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine, comprising the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Only two weeks after the war’s end, Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem, applying Israeli law to the Palestinian half of the city. Within one month, Israel began building illegal settlements in the oPt, in direct violation of international law. The international community immediately rejected Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory and continues to do so today.
  • Since 2002, Israel has been constructing its Wall in the oPt, grabbing more Palestinian land in an attempt to unilaterally set its borders. Israel has de-facto annexed land that falls on the western side of the Wall by severely restricting Palestinian access to these areas while at the same time facilitating Israeli access to them. In October 2003, Israel declared as “closed zones” all of the land that falls between the 1967 border and the Wall in the northern West Bank, requiring that Palestinian obtain hard-to-come-by Israeli permits to continue to live on, or otherwise access, their land in these areas.

2. Key Facts

  • The 1967 border is the internationally-recognized border between Israel and the oPt.
  • A basic principle of international law is that no state may acquire territory by force. Israel has no valid claim to any part of the territory it occupied in 1967.
  • The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the oPt, including East Jerusalem.

3. International Law

  • Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations (1945), requires that “[a]ll Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) emphasizes “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for the “[w]ithdrawal of
    Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
  • The International Court of Justice, in its July 9, 2004 Advisory Opinion, concluded that Israel in breach of international law as an occupying power by building its Wall and settlements inside the oPt.

4. Our Position

A number of border-related issues will need to be addressed during final status talks to achieve an end in conflict on the basis of the two-state solution, including:


Israel has no valid claim to any part of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. However, in the interest of peace, we have been willing to discuss minor, equitable, and mutually-agreed territorial exchanges should we decide that it is in our interest to do so.

Territorial Link:

In order that the West Bank and Gaza Strip function as a single territorial unit, a territorial link connecting the two parts of Palestine is crucial. The link must provide for permanent and unrestricted movement of people, goods and vehicles between the two geographic areas. It should also be able to accommodate the transfer of various resources throughout Palestine (e.g. gas, water, electricity, etc.). A safe passage or transit arrangements allowing such movement under an agreed regime will be necessary until a permanent territorial link is fully operational. Such arrangements also should remain in effect after the territorial link becomes operational as an alternative means of connection between the West Bank and Gaza Strip should the operation of the territorial link be disrupted.

Maritime Boundary Issues:

Maritime issues pertain both to the coastal areas off the Gaza Strip and to the Dead Sea. Our maritime boundaries would have to be negotiated not only with Israel, but also with other nearby coastal states (notably, Egypt and Cyprus). These talks would have to address issues pertaining to shared resources in various maritime zones. We seek the full array of maritime rights under international as a coastal state.


Source: Negotiations Affairs Department - PLO