Looking at an official map of Israel, one gets the impression that the country’s territory stretches from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Jordan River in the east. This is because Maps printed in Israel do not present the Green Line separating Israel’s sovereign territory from the territories it occupied in 1967. The disappearance of the Green Line from the map is not accidental – it is the result of secret resolutions made by the Israeli government several months after the war. Transcripts of the Security Cabinet discussions and related documents are presented here.
B/9. Depiction of borders on maps of the country
This is the first of two sessions the Ministerial Committee for Security Affairs held to discuss the erasure of the Green Line from maps. Minister Allon explained that with the occupation of the Territories in the Six Day War, the government declared that the 1949 armistice had been revoked, and that this had to be expressed in the maps. “Issuing a new map according to the  Armistice Lines”, Allon said, “would not reflect the political reality and would be taken to mean that we still consider these lines an eventual possibility”. Minister of Foreign Affairs Abba Eban asked not to emphasize the distinction between the now-annexed Jerusalem and the remaining West Bank on the map, while Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan proposed the 1949 Armistice Lines appear on the map alongside the 1967 Ceasefire Lines and the international borders. “A map isn’t a policy program”, Dayan said.
B/9. Depiction of borders on maps of the country
After a discussion held by the Ministerial Committee for Security Affairs, the ministers decided by a large majority to accept Labor Minister Yigal Allon’s proposal that Israel no longer print the Green Line in its official maps. The resolution was marked B/9. It was also noted that one of the ministers, the Minister of Health Yisrael Barzilai, voted in favor of a proposal to mark on the maps the boundaries of the Military Rule areas – apparently referring to areas where a Military Rule was applied in the newly occupied territories, and not to the areas within Israel where a Military Rule was applied until about a year earlier. Barzilai announced he would seek to appeal the decision before the government plenum.
Ahead of the 5 November 1967 government meeting, scheduled to discuss Minister Barzilai’s appeal of Resolution B/9, Minister Allon submitted a draft resolution adopting the Committee’s resolution.
We do not know if the government discussed the appeal or voted on the draft resolution. The issue was brought back to the agenda of the Ministerial Committee’s on Security a week later, on 12 November.
B/21. Depiction of borders on maps of the country
The second discussion on this issue was held on November 12, 1967, also in the security cabinet, with ministers debating the demarcation of the Green Line on future maps at length. Minister Allon suggested censoring publication of the decision to print maps that do not show the Armistice Lines and the discussion then veered toward the status of the Latrun area. The ministers ultimately reaffirmed the decision to stop marking the Green Line on government printed maps and to issue a media blackout on the decision itself.
Resolution No. B/21
The Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs ratifed the decision it had made about three weeks earlier. Sensitive to the international response to the publication a new map without the Green Line on it, the committee also decided to postpone map printing until after the end of the UN General Assembly session. The decision was marked B/21. The two decisions of the Ministerial Committee regarding the erasure of the Green Line from the map were classified as “top secret” and were not published for many years.
To: head of Surveying Department
After the first discussion in the cabinet – and before bringing the issue to the government’s decision – Minister Yigal Allon sent a letter to the head of the surveying department, in which he prepared it for the expected changes in maps. “From this day forward, maps of Israel should be printed as follows”, Allon wrote to Yosef Elster, the first director of Surveying Department of the State of Israel. Allon then detailed the main points of the resolution he sought to approve in the government:
“From this day forward, maps of Israel should be printed as follows:
- The heading will appear as “Israel” with a sub-heading “Ceasefire Lines.”
- The Mandate border and  Armistice lines will not be printed in the new ordinary use map.
- In maps displaying the administrative boundaries, united Jerusalem should be displayed in accordance with the government resolution. In the districts included in the area of the military government, the words “Military Government” should be added in parentheses below the name of the district.
The ceasefire lines should be coordinated with the appropriate IDF official.
Since I must present this decision to the cabinet this coming Sunday, it will come into effect in a telephone conversation between us – so I hope – immediately after the cabinet meeting.”
Document courtesy of Gershom Gorenberg
"in favor of ‘obscuring’ the border"
An indication of the government’s mindset at the time can be found in a handwritten comment, by Ministry of Interior Executive Director Meir Silverstone:
“The Defense Minister (and perhaps other ministers[)] are in favor of ‘obscuring’ the border between the state and the administered territory, and for this reason, prefer us not to highlight the issue with border control under the Entry into Israel Law”.