Hidden amid the pines and the olive trees on the hills that surround the Palestinian town of Beit Sira, which lies just across the Green Line opposite the Israeli city of Modi’in, is a row of rusting iron posts jutting out of stone. The grooves in the stone gather moisture and are exploited as a habitat by moss and white-leaved savory. The rods have been here for nearly 60 years, dating from the period before Israel was trying to erase the memory of the Green Line, and the 1949 cease-fire line with Jordan was marked using the meager means available. Today, though, there is no real way to know where the route of the Green Line lies.
“After the Green Line was demarcated on the maps, the Jordanians declined to mark it on the ground,” says Gideon Biger, professor emeritus of geography from Tel Aviv University. “We marked the line in the 1950s,” he notes, “but in order not to clash with the Jordanians we used old barrels, iron rods and all kinds of other objects.” Israel placed the markers a few dozen meters inside its territory, he notes, adding, “The Jordanians observed us and watched to ensure that we didn’t place anything in a place they thought was theirs. If so, they warned us with the aid of gunfire.”
The Green Line never was recognized by the United Nations as a border. In fact the only UN resolution ever passed with regard to Israel’s eastern border is the partition agreement of November 1947. However, in a hearing about the separation barrier in 2004, the UN’s International Court of Justice hinted that it recognizes the status of the Green Line as a border line. From the “advisory opinion” issued by the court, it could even be inferred that it would not have ruled against Israel (as it did, terming the barrier illegal) if the wall had been built along the route of the Green Line.

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