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U.N. Resolution 242

By Charles A. Morse
web posted April 15, 2002

A chorus of nations, including the US, is presently calling for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank so that another Palestinian state can be created. This in spite of ongoing attacks against Israeli men, women and children. The Palestinian Authority asks the world to recognize its sovereignty while, in violation of the Oslo Accords, they offer safe haven to militias who arm themselves and carry out offensive military operations against Israel. Besides offering sanctuary to Hamas, Hizbollah, and Islamic Jihad, who openly declare their intention to destroy Israel, the Tanzim, Force 17, and the al Asqa Brigades, wings of the PA itself, have also committed acts of aggression. By well-established standards of international law and custom, such acts constitute a military invasion of a sovereign nation. Israel has a moral right to protect the lives and property of its citizens from such attacks. This is exactly what U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 provides for.

Yaffah Batya DeCosta, guest columnist on Chuckmorse.com, shrewdly analyses this U.N. resolution, passed November 22, 1967, which calls for the following:

a. Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

b. Termination of all claims or states of belligerence 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."

DeCosta notes that Resolution 242 does not specifically call for Israel to withdraw to the 1949-1967 Armistice lines that were cease-fire borders that were never recognized by any Arab or Islamic State. The resolution only calls for Israel to withdraw "from territories" but not all territories. The word "all" does not appear in the resolution. Clearly the resolution does not consider the 1949-1967 armistice lines to constitute "secure and recognized boundaries." In fact, these boundaries were considered to be, and remain, invitations to war.

Resolution 242 does not call for the creation of another Palestinian state, only the "political independence of every state in the area." In 1967, there was no talk of creating another Palestinian state in land previously controlled by Jordan/Palestine. Resolution 242 also does not ban Jews from living in this region and does not suggest that Jews be evacuated. Perhaps, at the time, it was considered unfashionable to put such a racist and apartheid agenda into words.

On April 4, 2000, in a full page ad in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, the Ariel Center for Policy Research published some interesting background information on UN Resolution 242 under the headline "The Golan Heights and the Facts - UN Security Council Resolution 242 - A withdrawal to the 1949/1967 Lines?" President Lyndon B. Johnson is quoted in the ad, regarding a withdrawal to the armistice lines, as saying that "This is not a proscription for peace, but for a renewal of hostilities" in an address he delivered June 19, 1967. Johnson stated, "It is clear however, that a return to the situation of June 4, 1967, will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders..." in an address he delivered Sept. 10, 1968.

Regarding UN Resolution 242, President Ronald Reagan stated, "In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again" in an address he delivered Sept. 1, 1982. Secretary of State George Schultz stated, "Israel will never negotiate from, or return to, the lines of partition or the 1967 borders" in an address he delivered Sept. 16, 1988.

According to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Lord Caradon, British Ambassador to the UN and author of 242, resisted a suggestion from Soviet UN Ambassador Kuznetsov to specify the word "all" before the word "territories" and to drop the word "recognized." With Lord Caradon's refusal, the Soviets presented their own draft calling for total withdrawal to the armistice lines. The British version of the Resolution would go on to be adopted by a unanimous vote of the Security Council.

Arthur Goldberg, American Ambassador to the UN and contributor to 242 stated "...The notable omissions in regard to withdrawal...are the words "all," "the," and "the June 5, 1967 lines"...There is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from all of the territories occupied by it on, and after, June 5, 1967" President Johnson's Undersecretary of State Eugene Debs Rostow, a contributor to 242 states "UN 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..."

President Johnson, a few days before the UN vote on Resolution 242, according to Professor Ezra Zohar in A Concubine in the Middle East (Geffen Publishing, p. 39) summoned UN Ambassador Goldberg and Undersecretary Rostow to formulate the US position on the issue of "secure boundaries" for Israel. They were presented with a map, devised by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, which included the "minimum territory needed by Israel for defensive purposes." The map included the entire Golan Heights and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. The participants of this meeting agreed that the Pentagon map fulfilled the requirements of 242 concerning "secure borders."

Chuck Morse is a talk show host on WROL 950 AM in Boston.

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