Last updated on: 6/25/2008 2:11:00 PM PST
What Were the 1949 Armistice Agreements?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Avi Shlaim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford, in his 2001 book Iron Wall, wrote:

"The postwar territorial status quo was established by the armistice agreements that Israel signed with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria in the first half of 1949...

Israel and the Arabs interpreted the armistice agreements very differently. Israel maintained that the agreements gave Israel three indisputable rights. The first right was to an absolute cease-fire, which would be binding not only on regular armies but also on irregular forces and civilians. The second was to have the cease-fire lines treated as international borders for all intents and purposes, pending the conclusion of final peace agreements. This meant full sovereignty over Israeli territory, the only limitation being on the introduction of armed forces into the demilitarized zones. The third right was to settle Jews on all the land within its domain and to develop the economy without taking into account the rights of the previous owners who had become refugees.

The Arabs, on the other hand, claimed three rights under the armistice agreements. First, they held that the agreements did not terminate the state of war with Israel and that they were therefore not precluded by international law from denying Israel freedom of navigation, imposing an economic boycott on it, and waging a propaganda campaign against it. Second, they insisted that the armistice lines were only cease-fire lines and not international borders and that Israel was therefore subject to restrictions on its rights to develop the demilitarized zones and to exploit their water resources. Third, they argued that the armistice agreements did not cancel the rights of the displaced Palestinians to return to their lands and that Israel's use of that land was therefore not legitimate. Moreover, they claimed, the Palestinians were entitled to struggle against the occupation of their land, and the Arab states were under no obligation to curb this struggle."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD 

The Jewish Virtual Library described activities and events surrounding the "Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement of February 24, 1949," on its website (accessed Apr. 19, 2007) in the following posting:

"On 6 January 1949, Dr. Bunche [UN mediator Ralph Bunche] announced that Egypt had finally, consented to start talks with Israel on an armistice. The talks began on the island of Rhodes on 12 January, and, shortly after their commencement, Israel agreed to the release of a besieged Egyptian brigade in Faluja. At the end of the month, the talks foundered.

Israel demanded that Egypt withdraw all its forces from the former area of Palestine, Egypt insisted that Arab forces withdraw to the positions which they held on 14 October 1948, as under Security Council Resolution S/1070 of 4 November 1948. One reason for the deadlock was the mounting tension in Egypt, which culminated on 12 February 1949 in the murder of Hassan el-Banah, leader of` the ultra-nationalist Moslem Brotherhood. In early February, Israel threatened to abandon the talks, where upon the United States appealed to the parties to bring them to a successful conclusion, and on 24 February the Israel-Egypt armistice agreement was signed in Rhodes."

Apr. 19, 2007 - Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, Feb. 24, 1949 (47 KB)  
Jewish Virtual Library  

MidEast Web for Coexistence described activities and events surrounding the "Lebanese-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, March 23, 1949," on its website (accessed Apr. 19, 2007) in the following posting:

"The Lebanon-Israeli Armistice agreement was one of a series of agreements concluded under the aegis of UN mediator Ralph Bunche, as empowered by UN Security Council Resolution 62. The agreements were supposed to lead to a final peace, but did not. The agreements were concluded in a series of meetings between representatives of Israel and representatives of each of each of the Arab states at Rhodes. Arab states that did not border on Israel, including Iraq, and Saudi Arabia that had sent troops to fight Israel never concluded armistice agreements. The agreement was signed at Ras an Naqurah on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

The armistice with Lebanon reestablished the international border as the cease fire line. Israel withdrew from the portion of southern Lebanon that it had captured during the war."

Apr. 19, 2007 - Lebanese-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, Mar. 23, 1949 (32 KB)  
MidEast Web for Coexistence 

The Jewish Virtual Library described activities and events surrounding the "Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, April 3, 1949," on its website (accessed Apr. 19, 2007) in the following posting:

"At the beginning of March 1949, talks began on the island of Rhodes between Israeli and Jordanian representatives under the chairmanship of Dr. Bunche. The major issues raised by Israel were free access to Jewish Holy Places in Jerusalem, border rectification, and the presence of Iraqi forces in the West Bank. Jordan sought to raise the Arab refugee question and the question of passage from the Old City of Jerusalem to Bethlehem. On 3 April, the agreement was signed, fixing the armistice line of the West Bank, transferring to Israel a number of Arab villages in the central part of the country and providing for a mixed committee to work out arrangements in Jerusalem."

Apr. 19, 2007 - Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, Apr. 3, 1949 (44 KB)  
Jewish Virtual Library  

MidEast Web for Coexistence described activities and events surrounding the "Israeli-Syrian General Armistice Agreement, July 20, 1949," on its website (accessed Apr. 19, 2007) in the following posting:

"The Syrian-Israeli Armistice agreement was the last and most difficult of the agreements concluded under the aegis of UN mediator Ralph Bunche, as empowered by UN Security Council Resolution 62. The agreements were supposed to lead to a final peace, but did not. The agreements were concluded in a series of meetings between representatives of Israel and representatives of each of each of the Arab states at Rhodes. Arab states that did not border on Israel, including Iraq, and Saudi Arabia that had sent troops to fight Israel never concluded armistice agreements. The agreement was signed at Rhodes.

The armistice with Syria established several demilitarized zones. Syria agreed to withdraw its troops from Mishmar Hayarden, but not from other areas that they had acquired by force. Several demilitarized zones were set up. The sides could not agree on sovereignty in these zones, so the question of sovereignty was left unsettled. Subsequently both sides claimed sovereignty of these areas. In theory, both sides were free to cultivate portions of the DMZs that were allotted to them, regardless of sovereignty. In practice, Israeli attempts to cultivate the DMZ resulted in Syrian shelling of the Israeli farm equipment and of villages and kibbutzim inside the Green Line. For its part, Israel attempted to implement an irrigation scheme that required work in the DMZs and displaced Arabs who were living there, and prior to the 6-day war, as Moshe Dayan later confessed, Israel deliberately initiated incidents by cultivating the DMZs. The purpose was to get the Syrians to respond and give Israel an excuse for attacking Syria, in order to retaliate for raids launched from Syria by the Palestinian Fatah guerillas, with Syrian encouragement."

Apr. 19, 2007 - Israeli-Syrian General Armistice Agreement, July 20, 1949 (36 KB)  
MidEast Web for Coexistence