Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation line
Demarcation line
A demarcation line means simply a boundary around a specific area, but is commonly used to denote a temporary geopolitical border, often agreed upon as part of an armistice or ceasefire.See the following examples:...

s set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

 between Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and its neighbours (Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

) after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. The Green Line is also used to mark the line between Israel and the territories captured in the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, including the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 (the latter has since been successfully retrieved by Egypt). The name derives from the green ink used to draw the line on the map while the talks were going on.


The Green Line is not an international or permanent border. Judge Stephen M. Schwebel
Stephen M. Schwebel
Stephen Myron Schwebel is an American jurist and expert on international law. He is well known for his separate and dissenting opinions as a Judge of the International Court of Justice 1981-2000 and for his involvement in many cases of the ICSID and Permanent Court of Arbitration.-Biography:Judge...

, at the time a deputy legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State, Legal Adviser Office (1961–1981), wrote in the American Journal of International Law (1970) that "...modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful (if not necessarily desirable), whether those modifications are...'insubstantial alterations required for mutual security' or more substantial alterations - such as recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem." In a footnote, he wrote: "It should be added that the armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and did not purport to establish definitive boundaries between them."

While the line is a temporary border, in practice it is used to differentiate between those areas which are administered as part of the State of Israel, and the areas outside it, which are administered by the Israeli military
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 or the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

. The extended municipality of Jerusalem constitutes one exception to this: although the parts ruled by Jordan until 1967
Rule of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan
The West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan for a period of nearly two decades starting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1950, the British extended formal recognition to the union between the Hashemite Kingdom and of that part of Palestine under Jordanian occupation and control -...

 fall outside the Green Line, Israel has informally annexed them according to the Basic
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

 Jerusalem Law
Jerusalem Law
The Jerusalem Law is a common name of Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel passed by the Knesset on July 30, 1980 .It began as a private member's bill proposed by Geula Cohen, whose original text stated that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem in its boundaries after the Six-Day War...

 (1980). Other nations' positions on Jerusalem
Positions on Jerusalem
There are differing legal and diplomatic positions on Jerusalem held within the international community. Governments and scholars alike are divided over the legal status of Jerusalem under international law. Most countries of the world do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Many do not...


The Golan Heights are another exception, having been informally annexed with the Golan Heights Law
Golan Heights Law
The Golan Heights Law is the Israeli law which applies Israel's government and laws to the Golan Heights. It was ratified by the Knesset on December 14, 1981. The law was condemned internationally and determined null and void by United Nations Security Council Resolution 497.The law was passed...

 (1981). Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

s are also essentially subject to the laws of the State of Israel rather than the PNA's laws. As of December 2005, the Line formally divided the areas of operation of the Israeli Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Star of David"...

 and the Palestine Red Crescent Society
Palestine Red Crescent Society
The Palestine Red Crescent Society was founded in 1968, by Fathi Arafat, Yassar Arafat's brother. It is a humanitarian organization that part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It provides hospitals, emergency medicine and ambulance services, and primary health care centers...

, although the former is still responsible for care in Israeli settlements.


The sections of the Line that delineate the boundaries between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza run through heavily populated regions. The line corresponds to the military front of the 1948 War, and while the considerations dictating its placement were primarily military, it soon became clear that in many places it divided towns and villages, and separated farmers from their fields. Consequently, the Green Line underwent various slight adjustments, and special arrangements were made for limited movement in certain areas.

Jerusalem was divided in half, into East
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 and West Jerusalem
West Jerusalem
West Jerusalem refers to:*The section of Jerusalem captured by Israel following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.*The western neighborhoods of Jerusalem today.-Division in 1948:...

 and the village of Barta'a
Barta'a is a town that straddles both sides of the Green Line and the Wadi Ara region.Western Barta'a is in the Haifa District of Israel, and forms part of the Basma local council...

, which, partially due to errors on the map, was left with one third of its area on the Israeli side and two thirds outside of it. Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 Ramat Rachel
Ramat Rachel
Ramat Rachel is a kibbutz located south of Jerusalem in Israel, as an enclave within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. Overlooking Bethlehem and Rachel's Tomb and situated within the Green Line, it falls under the jurisdiction of Mateh Yehuda Regional Council...

 was left almost entirely outside the Israeli side of the Green Line.

According to Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim FBA is a British/Israeli historian. He is a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a fellow of the British Academy.Shlaim is especially well known as a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict...

, in March 1949 as the Iraqi forces withdrew and handed over their positions to the Jordanian legion, Israel carried out Operation Shin-Tav-Shin which allowed Israel to renegotiate the cease fire line in the Wadi Ara
Wadi Ara
Wadi Ara or Nahal Iron , refers to an area within Israel that is mostly populated by Arabs. It is located northwest of the Green Line and is mostly within Israel's Haifa District. Today, Highway 65 runs through the wadi.-Geography:...

 area of the northern West Bank in a secret agreement that was incorporated into the General Armistice Agreement. The green line was redrawn in blue ink on the southern map to give the impression that a movement into green line had been made.

Jewish population

During the war, Jews residing east of the Line, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, were taken prisoner by the Jordanians. All but a few of the Gush Etzion defenders were massacred
Kfar Etzion massacre
The Kfar Etzion massacre was an act committed by Arab armed forces on May 13, 1948, the day before the Declaration of Independence of the state of Israel.-Background:...

. The prisoners were returned to Israel after the war. On July 8, 1948, the Jewish inhabitants of Kfar Darom
Kfar Darom
Kfar Darom was a kibbutz and an Israeli settlement within the Gush Katif bloc in the Gaza Strip.-Original kibbutz:Kfar Darom was founded on 250 dunams of land purchased in 1930 by Tuvia Miller for a fruit orchard on the site of an ancient Jewish settlement of the same name mentioned in the Talmud...

 and Naharayim
Naharayim is a site on the border between Israel and Jordan where an hydroelectric power-plant was established in 1930. The Yarmuk River flows into the Jordan River at Naharayim. The plant, established by Pinchas Rutenberg, produced much of the energy consumed in the British Mandate of Palestine...

 were evacuated by Israel due to military pressure by Egypt and Jordan. Israel also withdrew from villages in the Lebanese Upper Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, whereas Syria withdrew from Mishmar HaYarden
Mishmar HaYarden
Mishmar HaYarden is a moshav in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel. It belongs to the Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council. It is located on Highway 91 between Mahanayim and Gadot.It was founded in the 1950s...


Since Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

s have been established south and east of the Line. From August to September 2005, Israel implemented a unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
Israel's unilateral disengagement plan , also known as the "Disengagement plan", "Gaza expulsion plan", and "Hitnatkut", was a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and enacted in August 2005, to evict all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from...

 in which the entire Jewish population of the Gaza Strip was evacuated. In 2006, Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 proposed a convergence plan that called for Israel to disengage, unilaterally, if necessary, from much of the West Bank (east of the Line). This plan was disrupted by the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict
2006 Israel-Gaza conflict
The 2006 Israel–Gaza conflict refers to the series of battles between Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces . Large-scale conventional warfare beyond the peripheries of the Gaza Strip began when Israel launched Operation Summer Rains , the codename for an IDF military operation in the...

 and the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War #Other uses|Tammūz]]) and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War , was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. The principal parties were Hezbollah...


Arab population

The majority of Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s on the Israeli side of the Line fled or were expelled during the war. Those who remained became Israeli citizens and now comprise approximately 20% of Israel's total citizenry. The Umm al-Fahm
Umm al-Fahm
Umm al-Fahm is a city in the Haifa District of Israel with a population of 43,300, nearly all of whom are Arab citizens of Israel. The city is situated on the Umm al-Fahm mountain ridge, the highest point of which is Mt. Iskander , overlooking Wadi Ara...

-Baqa al-Gharbiyye
Baqa al-Gharbiyye
Baqa al-Gharbiyye is a predominantly Arab city in the Haifa District in Israel, located near the Green Line. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2001 the city had a total population of 19,200...

-Tira area, known as "the Triangle
Triangle (Israel)
The Triangle , formerly referred to as the Little Triangle, is a concentration of Israeli Arab towns and villages adjacent to the Green Line, located in the eastern Sharon plain among the Samarian foothills; this area is located within the easternmost boundaries of both the Center District and...

", was originally designated to fall under Jordanian jurisdiction, but Israel demanded its inclusion on the Israeli side due to military and strategic considerations. To achieve this, a territorial swap was negotiated with Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, giving the latter Israeli territory in the southern hills of Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

 in exchange for the Triangle villages in Wadi Ara. In the Six-Day War, Israel occupied
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

 territories beyond the Green Line inhabited by over a million Palestinian Arabs, including refugees from the 1947–1949 war. The Green Line remained the administrative border between these territories (with the exception of Jerusalem) and the areas inside the Israeli side of the Green Line.

In 1967, East Jerusalem was annexed into Israel, with its Arab inhabitants given permanent residency
Permanent residency
Permanent residency refers to a person's visa status: the person is allowed to reside indefinitely within a country of which he or she is not a citizen. A person with such status is known as a permanent resident....

 status. They were also entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship. Domestically, the status of East Jerusalem as part of Israel was further entrenched with the Jerusalem Law
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

 of 1980. United Nations Security Council Resolution 478
United Nations Security Council Resolution 478
United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, adopted on August 20, 1980, declared Israel's 1980 Jerusalem Law a violation of international law, and states that the Council will not recognize this law, and calls on member states to accept the decision of the council. This resolution also calls...

 , determined the law null and void. In 1981, the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

 of the State of Israel was extended to the Golan Heights with the Golan Heights Law
Golan Heights Law
The Golan Heights Law is the Israeli law which applies Israel's government and laws to the Golan Heights. It was ratified by the Knesset on December 14, 1981. The law was condemned internationally and determined null and void by United Nations Security Council Resolution 497.The law was passed...

 in what can be seen as an informal annexation.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The question of whether, or to what extent, Israel should withdraw its population and forces to its side of the Green Line remains a crucial issue in some discussions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

. The near-unanimous international consensus has been displayed in the yearly UN General Assembly vote on the Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine. Although disputed by Israel, UN resolution 242
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six Day War. It was adopted under Chapter VIof the United Nations Charter...

 has made clear the interpretation of international law regarding Palestinian Territory
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

. The Palestinians were not party to the drawing of the Green Line and rejected UN resolution 242 on the basis that it did not specifically call for an independent Palestinian state, but rather spoke of them as refugees. Since 1976, most elements in the PLO have accepted the pre-June 1967 borders as a basis for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

According to Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, claims that the Palestinian leadership reject the international consensus calling for a Palestinian state with borders along the Green Line are not consistent with the documented record. Smaller elements in the Palestinian leadership, such as Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, have called for a two state settlement based on the pre-June 1967 borders (the Green Line). However, Hamas's official policy continues to deny Israel's right to exist and is committed to its destruction.

Social perceptions of the Green Line

According to Hebrew University Geographer Ilan Salomon, the Green Line can be discerned via satellite, marked by the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

 pine forests planted to demarcate Israeli space. Salomon and Larissa Fleishman conducted a study regarding Israeli students' knowledge of the location of the Green Line and found that not much more than 1/3 could identify its placement; they furthermore found that "students who identify with left-leaning parties are more familiar with the location of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, can sketch them more accurately and are also more aware of the nature of borders."

See also

  • At the Green Line
    At the Green Line
    At the Green Line is a 2005 documentary made by Jesse Atlas that profiles several members of Courage to Refuse, a political group that refuses service in the Israeli military, as well as several Israelis serving in the military as part of their reserve duty...

  • Peace Process in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    The peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has taken shape over the years, despite the ongoing violence in the Middle East and an "all or nothing" attitude about a lasting peace, "which prevailed for most of the twentieth century"...

  • Blue Line
    Blue Line (Lebanon)
    The Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on 7 June 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon...

  • Purple Line
    Purple Line (border)
    The purple line was the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria after the 1967 Six Day War.-History:Syria gained independence from France in 1946 and on May 14, 1948 the British withdrew from Palestine as Israel declared its independence. Syrian forces participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

  • Mixed Armistice Commissions
    Mixed Armistice Commissions
    The Mixed Armistice Commissions is an organisation for monitoring the ceasefire along the lines set by the General Armistice Agreements. It was composed of United Nations Military Observers and was part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization peacekeeping force in the Middle East...

  • United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
    United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
    The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization is an organization founded on 29 May 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peace keeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peace keepers to observe and maintain the...


Further reading

External links

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