Ambassador Regev says 'pre-1967 lines brought Israel neither peace nor security'

In a response to a letter from 43 leading members of Anglo-Jewry attacking Israel's annexation plan, the envoy says extending sovereignty is longstanding policy


Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev has claimed the need to extend sovereignty into the West Bank ahead of part of any final peace deal with Palestinians has long been the policy of “consecutive governments” in his country.

In a letter sent in response to one signed by  42 prominent members of the British Jewish community  - which suggested the annexation plan being pursued by the current coalition government would “pose an existential threat to the traditions of Zionism in Britain, and to Israel as we know it”  - Mr Regev also stressed his country’s “steadily improving relations across the Arab and Muslim world”.

Writing on June 8, Ambassador Regev said: “The policy of consecutive Israeli governments has in fact always been that Israeli law must be extended to parts of the West Bank as part of any final status reality.

“I know you understand that the pre-1967 lines brought Israel neither peace nor security, and it was for this reason that, in the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War, the Labour governments of Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir rejected returning to those frontiers. ‘’

He added: “Eshkol extended Israeli law into formerly Jordanian-controlled territory, and under Meir’s government, the Allon Plan was developed, which recognised the particular strategic significance of the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights. Menachem Begin applied Israeli sovereignty to the latter some three decades ago.

“Yitzhak Rabin, who led Israel to victory in the Six Day War and as Prime Minister signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, firmly believed that any sustainable peace would have to be built on robust security arrangements.

“In his final speech before the Knesset, barely a month before his murder by a hateful Jewish extremist, Rabin outlined his vision of a final status peace, which he said would demand Israeli control over the Jordan Valley ‘in the broadest meaning of that term’.”

In a letter published by Israeli daily Haaretz last  Thursday, signatories including former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Labour MP Luciana Berger, Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein said they were outlining concerns “shared by large numbers of the British Jewish community, including many in its current leadership, even if they choose not to express it”. 

They added that were annexation to take place it would “have grave consequences for the Palestinian people most obviously”.

But responding, Mr Regev said: “Israel’s friends in the international community have long understood secure borders to be a cornerstone of any durable peace.”

He added: “I know many friends of Israel here in the United Kingdom share that view.”

The ambassador also attempted to defend President Trump’s much criticised Middle East ‘Peace Plan’ which he said builds on the “core principles” of Israel’s security being protected by “control over the Jordan valley” region in the West Bank.

He added it was “regrettable but unsurprising that this plan was immediately rejected outright by the Palestinian leadership, who dogmatically cling to one-sided UN and EU ‘peace plans’ that consistently ignore Israel’s vital concerns.”

Rejecting suggestions outlined in last week’s letter that Israel’s "international standing’’ is undermined by the annexation plan, Mr Regev writes: "In moving forward, Israel’s new unity government will remain cognisant of our steadily improving relations across the Arab and Muslim world, and our critically important partnership with Jordan.

“We will continue to engage with Washington about how best to seize the historic opportunities inherent in the American initiative, which offers the hope of a more peaceful and secure future. It is high time for the Palestinians to come to the table and constructively do the same.’’

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive