The Green Line, May Its Name Be Erased

The Green Line is a fact that cannot be erased. It exists in every dimension of life in Israel - even if MK Zevulun Orlev rather not see it that way.

In Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood one occasionally sees an ultra-Orthodox man covering his face with his black fedora when a woman passes by. So jealous is the man of his modesty that he acts as if the woman crossing his path does not exists. MK Zevulun Orlev does not want to see the Green Line on the maps of Israel printed in Israeli textbooks, so much so that he has declared: The Green Line is dead - as if by saying so this reality could be driven from the world.

It is amazing to watch Orlev, a former Education Ministry director general whose highest aim in public life is to be minister of education, behave in such a simplistic manner. Only a year and a half ago he championed the moderate position within the National Religious Party that argued against leaving the Sharon government over the Gaza disengagement plan. On what did that argument turn if not on returning Jewish settlers to within the boundaries of the Green Line? How can Orlev now claim that the Green Line is dead? What happened to the line over the last 18 months for its name to be obliterated? The line remains a solid political, military, geographic fact. What has changed is Orlev's political positioning: Today he belongs to the National Union and he follows the rule according to which one's position dictates one's positions.

The Green Line is a fact that cannot be erased. It exists in every dimension of life here: Israel has not extended its laws over the territories beyond the Green Line (with the exception of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights); in all deliberations on the international stage, the government of Israel has always treated the territories beyond the Green Line as areas whose status is completely different from that of the land within the Green Line; UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the keystones to every diplomatic prescription Israel has considered since 1967 are based on making a distinction between the territories beyond the Green Line and those within it; diplomatic measures in which Israeli governments have been involved, including those headed by the Likud and those to which the National Religious Party was a partner, recognized the existence of the Green Line; the course of the separation fence was determined in relationship to the Green Line; the starting point of the convergence plan, on the basis of which Ehud Olmert won the election, was the Green Line; the prime minister's current positions express a willingness for generous concessions, for which the Green Line is the ruler for measuring the proffered withdrawals.

If Orlev were to examine the infrastructure projects built by the state in the past 40 years and the 2020 National Master Plan, he would find explicit reference to the Green Line. The plans for roads, railways and land use end at the Green Line; they do not take it for granted that the West Bank (and the Gaza Strip) will be Israeli territory in the future; they treat them as territories that will be in the hands of a neighbor whose development plans (and geographic data) must be coordinated with the Israeli master plan.

As a person with educational pretensions, Orlev must respect the significance of historical information. When he was a schoolboy, his geography books contained contemporaneous maps of Israel. No one ever thought to erase the map showing the borders during Roman times or the Crusader period or the Partition Plan. The Green Line is a chapter of the state's history that began in 1949 and continues until today. In the name of what historic truth does Orlev declare that it has disappeared and should not be mentioned?

There is a story about S.Y. Agnon taking his young daughter into a shtiebel (storefront synagogue) to pray the afternoon Minha service. One of the worshippers complained loudly about the presence of a female among the men. Agnon took his daughter by the hand and said, "Let's go, if the yetzer hara (evil inclination) here is so strong that it cannot stand up to a 5-year-old girl, then our place is not with them." Nota bene, Zevulun Orlev.