Resolution 242 and what does it say?
Fri Jul 21, 2006 22:25

7/21/06. CNN LARRY KING:
Ambassador of Syria to the U.S.A.
"If we followed Res. 242 this thing would of never happened."

What was United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and what does it say?

Following the June 1967 Six-Day War, the situation in the Middle East was discussed by the United Nations General Assembly, which referred the issue to the Security Council. After lengthy discussion, a final draft for a Security Council resolution was presented by the British Ambassador, Lord Caradon, on November 22, 1967. It was adopted on the same day. This resolution, numbered 242, established provisions and principles which, it was hoped, would lead to a solution of the conflict. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (UNSCR 242) became the cornerstone of Middle East diplomatic efforts in the coming decades.

Pro-Arab sources often claim that UNSCR 242 requires Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, Gaza, and other areas. This is not true. In summary, here is what UNSCR 242 actually means:

1. UNSCR 242 calls on all parties to the conflict to negotiate a solution

2. It anticipates that Israel will withdraw to secure borders (not specified in the resolution) in exchange for peace guarantees from the Arab parties

The Resolution was carefully worded to require that Israel withdraw from "territories" rather than "the territories." This construction, leaving out "the," was intentional, because it was not envisioned that Israel would withdraw from all the territories, thereby returning to the vulnerable pre-war borders. And any withdrawal would be such as to create "secure and recognized boundaries."

How do we know this is what was intended by the resolution? There is a long record of public statements about how the resolution was negotiated and what was intended for it to accomplish.

In an article, referenced among the Sources at the bottom of the page, by Eugene V. Rostow (Distinguished Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and former US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs), the intent is explained in considerable detail. Rostow was one of the US officials involved in drafting 242 so he knows first hand what was and was not intended. He states:

* Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" is achieved.

It was widely recognized that the balancing of the ideas of a territorial return with "secure and recognized boundaries" for Israel would mean that Israel would not be forced to withdraw from 100% of the land captured in the June 1967 war. There is a dispute between the British-American understanding of the wording of the resolution and the French understanding of the wording, but in the United Nations the binding version of any resolution is the version that is submitted to the voting body. In this case, the English version takes precedence over the French version.

Various other officials have commented on the negotiation of UNSCR 242 and how it relates to Israel's position. The British UN Ambassador at the time, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, has stated that:

* It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them.

The United States' UN Ambassador at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, has stated that:

* The notable omissions - which were not accidental - in regard to withdrawal are the words "the" or "all" and the "June 5, 1967 lines" ... the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. [This would encompass] less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proved to be notably Insecure.

A detailed description by Goldberg of the negotiating process behind UNSCR 242 appears in "U.N. RESOLUTION 242: ORIGIN, MEANING, AND SIGNIFICANCE" in the Sources at the bottom of the page.

Max M. Kampelman, former counselor of the US State Department, said in a letter to The New York Times on April 8, 2002, referring to "territories recaptured from Jordan in 1967, territories that Jordan captured in its war against Israel in 1948-49":

* The United States voted in favor of Resolution 242 only after insisting that "all" had no place in it. The United Nations instead referred to the need to arrive at "secure and recognized" boundaries.

No one realistically expects Israel to withdraw before its security is assured. UNSCR 242 emphatically does not put any preconditions on Israel (or the Palestinian Arabs for that matter). Israel is perfectly within its rights to remain in place until there is a negotiated peace agreement acceptable to Israel as well as to the Palestinian Arabs. Israel moved into the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas as part of a defensive war started by the Arab enemies of Israel. Israel does not have to move out of those areas unless and until there is a negotiated peace that offers Israel security guarantees that make it unnecessary to keep control of the areas. Every terrorist incident proves that the time to trust the Palestinian Arabs has not yet arrived.

Despite the very clear record on the purpose and meaning of UNSCR 242, misconceptions continue. For example, on January 23, 2001 the New York Times was forced to print this correction:

* An article yesterday about peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians referred incorrectly to United Nations resolutions on the conflict. While Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 Middle East War, calls for Israel to withdraw its armed forces "from territories occupied in the recent conflict," no resolution calls for Israel to withdraw "to its pre-1967 borders."

Sources and additional reading on this topic:

* U.N. Security Council Resolution 242
* What does United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 really say?
* Eugene V. Rostow: Resolved: are the settlements legal
* Eugene V. Rostow: Bricks and stones
* The Golan Heights and The Facts
* United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1967
* UN Resolutions 194 and 242
* Camp David: Facts and Final Status Issues
* The Peace Process and United Nations Resolutions
* Between the Wars
* Stop distorting UN Resolution 242
* U.S. Gratification at Passage of UN Resolution 242
* Department of corrections


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Ambassador of Syria to the U.S.A.

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