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United Nations Security Council Resolution 242
Fri Jul 21, 2006 22:09

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242
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United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (S/RES/242) was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967 in the aftermath of the Six Day War. It was adopted under Chapter VI [1] of the United Nations Charter.

It calls for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" (see semantic dispute) and the "[t]ermination of all claims or states of belligerency".

It also calls for the recognition of all established states by belligerent parties (Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan) of each other and calls for the establishment of defensible boundaries for all parties.

It is one of the most commonly referenced UN resolutions in Middle Eastern politics. It was reaffirmed and made binding by UN Security Council Resolution 338, adopted after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The Security Council,

Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

Affirms further the necessity

For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

Requests the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.


Arguments in favor of "all territories" reading

Supporters of the "all territories" reading claim that the principle usually applied in international law is to adopt the interpretation which best harmonizes the meaning of the differing language texts. Applying this principle to this resolution, one would come to the interpretation that the resolution requires a full withdrawal is compatible with the English text, and is implied by the French text. By contrast, even if an interpretation requiring only a partial withdrawal is compatible with the English text, it contradicts the French text.

Other supporters of a full withdrawal argue that the absence of the words "all" or "the" before territories does not mean that Israel can retain some of the territories it captured in 1967. Advocates of this view point to a presumption in International Law that a document should be interpreted in order to make its meaning clear, and interpretations that lead to uncertainty should be avoided. The Israeli claim that resolution 242 requires only a partial withdrawal from territories creates uncertainty as to which territories it could retain and which it could withdraw from, and so cannot have been the intention of the Security Council, according to advocates of a full withdrawal.[citation needed]

Some claim that Preambulatory Clause 2, "Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" would imply a total withdrawal; this is based on a principle under international law on how to interpret treaties (see art. 31 in the Vienna Convention, entered into force on January 27, 1980), but although preambulatory clauses never include specific directives, they can be used to interpret the operative paragraphs. Under such a view, a withdrawal would include "all territories". The representative for India stated to the Security Council:

"It is our understanding that the draft resolution, if approved by the Council, will commit it to the application of the principle of total withdrawal of Israel forces from all the territories—I repeat, all the territories occupied by Israel as a result of the conflict which began on 5 June 1967."

The representatives from Nigeria, France, USSR, Bulgaria, United Arab Republic, Jordan, Argentina and Mali supported this view, and as worded by the representative from Mali: "wishes its vote today to be interpreted in the light of the clear and unequivocal interpretation which the representative of India gave of the provisions of the United Kingdom text".

In light of the continuing controversy over the meaning of the resolution, a symposium was held in 1980, with many of the major actors in the drama attending. At the symposium Lord Caradon sought to make clear the meaning of the resolution as he, its primary author, intended:

"Knowing as I did the unsatisfactory nature of the 1967 line, I wasn’t prepared to use wording in the Resolution that would have made that line permanent. Nonetheless, it is necessary to say again that the overwhelming principle was the ‘inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war’ and that meant that there could be no justification for the annexation of territory on the Arab side of the 1967 line merely because it had been conquered in the 1967 war. The sensible way to decide permanent ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries would be to set up a Boundary Commission and hear both sides and then to make impartial recommendations for a new frontier line, bearing in mind, of course, the ‘inadmissibility’ principle”. – (‘UN Security Council Resolution 242 -A Case Study in Diplomatic Ambuguity’, Caradon et al, 1981.)


Arguments against "all territories" reading

Opponents of the "all territories" reading remind that the UN Security Council declined to adopt a draft resolution worded in this way prior to the adoption of Resolution 242.

They claim that in interpreting a resolution of an international organization, one must look to the process of the negotiation and adoption of the text. This would make the text in English, the language of the discussion, take precedence.

Moreover, according to them the nature of the French language requires the use of an article in places where English does not, so the inclusion of a definite article in the French text does not imply what the inclusion of the definite article in the English text would. However, this view is contradicted by numerous publicly available French texts which use the expression "retrait de territoires" without an article.

Finally, as they claim that the only reason for the re-appearance of this reading was translator error, which obviously does not justify the change in the document's meaning. According to the legal principle "expressio unis et exclusio alterus" (which states that the terms excluded from a law are excluded intentionally, and the interpretation of that law should be accordingly altered) it could be argued against the "all territoires" reading.

Opponents of the "all territories" reading also point to statements made by American and British officials involved in the drafting of UN Resolution 242. These officials rejected Arab states' request that the word "all" be placed before "territories" and have since stated the following about UN Res 242:

* Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1965-1967):

"It calls for respect and acknowledgment of the sovereignty of every state in the area. Since Israel never denied the sovereignty of its neighbouring countries, this language obviously requires those countries to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty."
"The notable omissions in regard to withdrawal are the word 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines' the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal." ("The Meaning of 242", June 10, 1977)

* Lord Caradon, author of the draft resolution that was adopted as U.N. Resolution 242, UK Ambassador to the United Nations (1964-1970):

"We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately.. We all knew - that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever." (MacNeil/Lehrer Report - March 30, 1978)*:"We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say all the territories, deliberately.. We all knew - that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever." (MacNeil/Lehrer Report - March 30, 1978)

However, in 1981, he gave a slightly different view: "It was from occupied territories that the Resolution called for withdrawal. The test was which territories were occupied. That was a test not possibly subject to any doubt as a matter of fact...East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai were occupied in the 1967 conflict. I[t] was on withdrawal from occupied territories that the Resolution insisted." (Caradon, [Lord] Hugh, et al. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242: A Case Study in Diplomatic Ambiguity. Washington, D.C., Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 1981)

* Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1966-1969):

" ... paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces 'from territories occupied in the recent conflict', and not 'from the territories occupied in the recent conflict'. Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word 'the' failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines." (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
"UN SC 242 calls on Israel to withdraw only from territories occupied in the course of the Six Day War - that is, not from 'all' the territories or even from 'the' territories... Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawal from 'all' the territory were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly one after another. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the 'fragile and vulnerable' 1949/1967 Armistice Demarcation Lines..." (UNSC Resolution 242, 1993, p. 17). The USSR and the Arabs supported a draft demanding a withdrawal to the 1967 Lines. The US, Canada and most of West Europe and Latin America supported the draft which was eventually approved by the UN Security Council." (American Society of International Law - 1970)
"Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to 'secure and recognized borders', which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949." ("The Truth About 242" - November 5, 1990)

* The Russian delegate Vasily Kuznetsov acknowledged before the adoption of Resolution 242:

" ... phrases such as 'secure and recognized boundaries'. ... there is certainly much leeway for different interpretations which retain for Israel the right to establish new boundaries and to withdraw its troops only as far as the lines which it judges convenient."

* The Brazilian delegate Geraldo de Carvalho Silos, told the Security Council after 242's adoption:

"We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure, permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiated by the neighbouring States."

* George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967 commented:

"I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said 'Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied', and not from 'the' territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories." (The Jerusalem Post, 23.1.70)

* Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President (1963-1968):

"We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967 will not bring peace." (September 10, 1968)



On November 23, 1967, The Secretary General appointed Gunnar Jarring as Special Envoy to negotiate the implementation of the resolution with the parties, the so-called Jarring Mission. The governments of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon recognized Jarring's appointment and agreed to participate in his shuttle diplomacy, although they differed on key points of interpretation of the resolution. The government of Syria rejected Jarring's mission on grounds that total Israeli withdrawal was a prerequisite for further negotiations. The talks under Jarring's auspices lasted until 1973, but bore no results. In the meantime, the United States proposed the so-called Rogers plan, which was also rejected by all parties. After 1973, the Jarring mission was replaced by bilateral and multilateral peace conferences.

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