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Security Council Resolution 242:
A Violation of Law and
a Pathway to Disaster

Howard Grief
ACPR Policy Paper No, 173, 2008


Ever since its adoption by the United Nations on November 22, 1967, Resolution 242 has been and still is the basis for all peace negotiations to end the conflict not only between Israel and the Arab States but also with the Palestine Liberation Organization, even though the resolution does not apply to non-state entities.

The Government of Israel originally accepted Resolution 242 because it is premised on the idea that every state in the Middle East has the right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. This meant that all the Arab states that accepted this resolution thereby recognized Israel’s existence and political independence and also required them to terminate their state of belligerency towards the Jewish state.

The Arab states of Jordan and Egypt originally accepted Resolution 242 as the best means in their eyes to compel Israel to withdraw to the armistice borders that existed prior to the Six Day War. The American position as enunciated by successive administrations has always been much closer to the Arab view, for the United States has said time and again that to achieve peace, Israel must withdraw from all territories “occupied” in the Six Day War with only insubstantial alterations, a prescription that was followed to the letter in the case of Sinai, but there even without any territorial adjustments as envisaged for the region of Judea and Samaria.

Israel’s expected withdrawal under Resolution 242 is based on the premise found in the preamble of the resolution that the acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible. Aside from the fact that the United States and many other states have expanded their own borders through the process of war, an idea they now hypocritically invoke against Israel, the latter’s rights to Judea, Samaria and Gaza pre-dated the Six Day War and were derived, not from war, but from several acts of international law whose provenance is to be found in the decisions taken by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in 1919 and 1920 at the Paris Peace Conference and San Remo Peace Conference. It is an undeniable fact that the whole of Palestine was created and allocated to the Jewish people by the Allied Powers for the exclusive purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home and State that included all of the so-called “occupied territories” that Resolution 242 speaks about. By accepting this resolution, Israel negated the national and political rights to Palestine and the Land of Israel it inherited from the Jewish people, as set out in the San Remo Resolution, the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920 and the Mandate for Palestine. Resolution 242 violates the aforementioned rights that still exist in international law and are protected from alteration under Article 80 of the UN Charter.

In addition, Israel violated its own constitutional law when it accepted the stipulation of Resolution 242 that its armed forces must withdraw “from territories occupied in the recent conflict” even though the resolution did not require a complete withdrawal from all the territories allegedly “occupied” by it during the Six Day War. The twin concepts of “occupation” and “withdrawal” which are firmly embedded in Resolution 242 mean in effect that so long as Israel continues to abide by this resolution it forfeits its legal rights to its own national patrimony. This can only result in a future disaster for Israel unless it categorically renounces the deleterious “land for peace” formula as embodied in Resolution 242 that in essence is an updated UN Partition Plan contrary to Israel’s best interests.

For the complete text of this paper in English, click here.