June 15, 1949
In June 1949, thirteen months after Israel declared its independence, the new nation was in the midst of signing armistice agreements with its enemies. These agreements came after Israel had already made significant territorial gains due to its unexpected successes in the Independence War. In the months between winter and summer of 1949, Israel signed agreements with Egypt (February 24, 1949), Lebanon (March 23, 1949), Jordan (April 3, 1949) and Syria (July 20, 1949), effectively ending the war and establishing demarcation lines between Israeli and enemy forces. In his June 15, 1949 address to the Knesset, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett discussed the status of these armistice agreements and reconfirmed Israel’s willingness to negotiate agreeable and sustainable terms of peace with its neighbors.
In his speech, Sharett stated,
Israel is ready, as she has always been, to negotiate on the frontiers with any of the states with which she has an armistice agreement. Negotiations on this subject must, of course, form part of overall peace negotiations. If the approach is to be realistic, such negotiations must, in accordance with the Security Council Resolution of November 16, 1948, be a direct extension of the armistice agreements.
Sharett went on to explain that despite Israel’s desire to negotiate for lasting peace, Israel will not accept its Arab neighbors using political leverage to gain territorial concessions from Israel. Israel stood firm on keeping all the land gained through its victories in the Independence War, specifically retaining the newly acquired areas of the Negev Desert, the western Galilee, and along the coastal plain.. By choosing to go to war and not accepting the November 1947 Partition Plan to create Arab and Jewish states, the Palestinians and Arab leaders immediately lost large areas of land to Israel that otherwise would have been part of the proposed Arab state.
In the photo, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharrett speaks with the press after the Armistice agreement was signed with Egypt on February 24, 1949.