United Nations Security Council Resolution 242

Interpreting its Meaning and Relevance for the State of Israel













By Jesse Rosenblit




Table of Contents

1.      Introduction………………………………………………………………………………3

2.      Israel’s Borders under International Law……………………………………………...5

3.      The United Nations……………………………………………………………………..13

4.      The Six Day War……………………………………………………………………..…16

5.      Legal Warfare…………………………………………………………………………..22

6.      Interpretation of Resolution 242……………………………………………………….28

7.      Aftermath of Resolution 242…………………………………………………………...44

8.      Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………52

9.      Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………59



Despite the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been ongoing since 1948, if not from the early 1920s, many continue to see the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War as the main source of the major issues which still prevent peace from being achieved in the Middle East.  Issues such as territorial compromise (better known as the “land for peace” formula), the “occupied” territories, and Palestinian refugees are considered by many to be the major obstacles to a comprehensive and all-encompassing peace settlement between the Jewish State and her neighbors.  As always, for a true understanding of these existential issues, history must be examined carefully.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed five months after the end of the 1967 War, touched upon all of the above-mentioned issues, among others, with its ultimate goal being “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”  It can be inferred, therefore, that the key issues mentioned in the Resolution were, according to the Security Council, both the primary problems preventing peace, and in fact, the main causes of war.  In order to analyze not only the relevance of Resolution 242, but also its practical application, it is essential to examine the following key issues: 

Firstly, what were Israel’s legal borders prior to the 1967 War?  For this, it will be necessary to analyze not only the Mandate for Palestine, but also Resolution 181 – the Palestine Partition Plan – and the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and her neighbors following the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war. 

Secondly, what is the United Nations?  What authority do United Nations Resolutions have in the international arena? 

Thirdly, what were the main events leading up to the outbreak of war on June 5, 1967?  In regards to Israel’s actions on June 5, 1967, can the war be defined as an offensive war or a defensive war?  In other words, who was the aggressor and who was the victim?

Fourthly, who authored Resolution 242?  What was their intent?  What do the different clauses of the Resolution mean and refer to, and how has the Resolution been interpreted by the different parties involved?

While all of these questions will be considered and answered, they merely provide the setting necessary to answer the central query of this investigation: have the different parties involved in Resolution 242 adhered to its principles according to international law?  Specifically, has Israel fulfilled her obligations, as required by the Resolution?

In this paper, I will posit not only that Israel has fulfilled her obligations as required by the Resolution, but also that Israel has adhered to the Resolution above and beyond what was required of her, by international law (and, indeed, by common sense).  Moreover, as a result of violations by the other parties involved, Israel has been legally and morally absolved of any further obligation to this Resolution.

To understand the present and be able to plot a course for the future, one must delve deeply into the past.  Thus, this inquiry begins in San Remo, Italy in the year 1920.

Israel’s Borders under International Law

The legal right of the Jewish People to the mandated territory of Palestine was recognized under international law on April 24, 1920, at the San Remo Peace Conference in San Remo, Italy.  Towards the end of World War I, Great Britain and France captured several territories from the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, among them the territory of Palestine, which did not exist [as a sovereign or even] as a distinct and separate territorial unit within the empire at the time.  At the end of the War, and with the establishment of the League of Nations through the Treaty of Versailles, the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan) gathered together at San Remo, Italy in order to discuss the implementation of the Treaty.[1] 

The Treaty of Versailles, signed on June 28, 1919 between the Allied Powers and Germany, was the official peace treaty to end World War I.  Articles 1-26 of the Treaty became known as the Covenant of the League of Nations, which was established to promote international security and cooperation and to maintain international peace between nations.[2]  Article 22 of the Covenant authorized the establishment of a system of Mandates for the supervision and governance of the world’s remaining non-sovereign territories.  The purpose of these Mandates was to place each territory and its population under the tutelage of an advanced nation, which would supervise the development of the territory and its population until such a time as that population could become an independent and responsible nation in its territory.[3]

At the San Remo Conference the following year, the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers, pursuant to the authority of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, granted the Mandates of Palestine and Mesopotamia to Great Britain, and the Mandate of Syria to France.  The San Remo Resolution established that Palestine would be a Jewish National Home, first as a mandatory territory, and then as an independent entity.   The Jewish People were named as the national beneficiary of the Mandate, based upon both the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 and Article 22 of the Covenant.  Thus, de jure sovereignty and legal title over the Mandatory Territory of Palestine was transferred to the Jewish People under international law.  Moreover, the British Government, as a result of the Balfour Declaration (which had been a mere statement of intent when declared in 1917, but after San Remo, had become anchored in international law) and as a result of having received the responsibility as the Mandatory Power over Palestine, was under obligation to facilitate the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine.[4]

Whereas the international trust known as the Mandate for Palestine was established on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo Conference, the international governing instrument also known as the Mandate for Palestine was officially created on July 24, 1922, by the League of Nations.  In its Preamble, the main text of the Balfour Declaration was repeated, and stressed that the purpose of the Mandate for Palestine was to facilitate “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”[5]  Thus, the goal of the Mandate was to establish a national home for the Jewish People, while the non-Jewish communities in the Mandatory territory were not to have their civil or religious rights impeded.  It can be inferred from this that while the Jewish People were endowed with political and national rights, these non-Jewish communities were only acknowledged to have civil and religious rights.

The Articles of the Mandate granted certain powers and authorities to the British Government, but also placed several restrictions and qualifications on that authority.  Article 5 forbade the ceding of any Palestine territory to the government of any foreign power.  Article 6 of the Mandate required the British Administration to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews on the land.  Article 15 forbade discrimination of any kind on the grounds of race, religion or language.  It also stated that “no person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”  Article 25 allowed the British Government to determine the fate of the area lying east of the Jordan River (trans-Jordania) provided that the British Government continued to abide by three other Articles of the Mandate, including Article 15. Finally, Article 27 required that any modification of the terms of the mandate must be subject to League of Nations’ approval.[6]

On September 16, 1922 Great Britain severed the portion of trans-Jordania from Mandatory Palestine, under Article 25, with the consent of the League of Nations and created therefrom the Emirate of Transjordan (now known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan).  While Great Britain and the League of Nations were certainly entitled to separate the lands lying east of the Jordan River (constituting 77% of the Mandatory territory) from the rest of the Mandate, the subsequent barring of Jewish immigration to those lands was a direct violation of Article 15 of the Mandate for Palestine.  While the British could determine that the lands of trans-Jordania would no longer be part of the Jewish National Home, they had no right under international law to bar Jewish immigration, since such discrimination based on religion was strictly forbidden under the Mandate.[7]

After the separation of trans-Jordania from the Mandatory territory, only cis-Jordania remained, this being the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, including the Golan Heights (included in the Mandatory Territory by the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920) and of course Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.  From this point in history and onwards, no other authorization for the modification of the Mandate was approved by the League of Nations, as required by Article 27.  Thus, in 1923, when Great Britain ceded the Golan Heights to the French Mandate for Syria, it violated Articles 5 and 27 of the Mandate, thus rendering the transfer of that territory illegal under international law.[8]  When Syria was granted independence in 1946, its territory included the Golan Heights; however this was a mere de facto control, rather than a de jure possession.

When Great Britain decided to resign its position as Mandatory trustee for the Mandate for Palestine in early 1947, the Mandate continued to exist, however it lacked an official administrative authority.  For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly voted on and passed Resolution 181, famously known as the “Palestine Partition Plan,” on November 29, 1947.  The Resolution called for the termination of the Mandate, and the division of the remaining territory (22% of the original territory of the Mandate for Palestine) into an independent Jewish State, an independent Arab State, and a UN-administered Special International Regime to oversee Jerusalem and its surrounding area.[9]  This division of the Mandate was a direct violation of Article 5 of the Mandate for Palestine, which forbade the ceding of any Mandatory territory to a foreign power, and was therefore illegal under international law.  However, despite the UN’s desire to create a second Arab state out of the Mandatory territory, and despite the inadequate and barely adjoining territories for a state which it was granted, the Jewish leadership of Palestine accepted the Resolution, on the implicit condition that the Arabs of Palestine would peacefully accept it too.  When the Arab leadership of Palestine in addition to all of the Arab and (non-Arab) Muslim States with UN membership at the time (such as Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, and Yemen)[10] rejected this Resolution and attacked the Jewish settlements of the Mandatory territory, this Resolution ceased to be relevant.  This is so for two reasons.  Firstly, since the Mandate strictly forbade the ceding of any Mandatory territory to a foreign power, the UN had no legal right to vote on Resolution 181.  Only Jewish acquiescence to the Resolution could render it relevant and lawful, as only the beneficiaries of the Mandate for Palestine could relinquish their rights to a portion of it.  Thus, despite the Jewish acceptance of Resolution 181, the Arab rejection of the Resolution prevented it from becoming legal and binding, as would be the case in any bilateral agreement.  A second reason for the irrelevance of the Resolution is the nature of the legal authority of the General Assembly.  The General Assembly of the United Nations is only endowed with the power of recommendation, thus its resolutions purporting to affect member states are not legally binding upon those states under international law.  (This concept will be expanded upon later.)

On May 14, 1948, under severe attacks by Arab forces in areas both inside and outside the Partition Plan lines, the creation of the State of Israel was announced by Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben Gurion, later to be Israel’s first Prime Minister.  The Israeli leadership announced that the new State of Israel would adhere to Resolution 181.[11]  Several Arab states, including Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, invaded the infant State of Israel with the intention of annihilating it.  By acting in such a manner, these states and the Arabs within the Mandatory territory who had been waging a war against the Jewish population therein since November 1947, justified Preamble request No. C [Section A (c)] of Resolution 181, which requested that: “The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.”[12]

When the Israeli War of Independence ended in 1949, the Jewish State controlled a much larger territory than was envisioned by Resolution 181.  However, the Gaza Strip was conquered by Egypt, and Judea, Samaria, and the eastern half of Jerusalem were captured by Jordanian forces.  In yet another violation of Resolution 181, which granted religious and minority rights throughout the newly-partitioned land,[13] the Jews who resided in communities in Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem were either massacred or expelled by their Arab conquerors.  Yet it is worthy to note that since Resolution 181 was neither accepted by the Arab side nor officially implemented, the Mandate for Palestine was never legally terminated.  Thus, the State of Israel, as the governing instrument of the Jewish People in the former Mandatory territory, still retained the legal title to [albeit without possession of]  the portions of Mandatory Palestine which had been captured by force illegally by Egypt and Jordan.  As Resolution 242 would later emphasize, the acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible in regards to legal title.  (The legal rule of jus ex injuria non oritur means that “no legal right can arise from a wrong”.  In this case, Egypt and Jordan could not gain legal title as a result of their illegal conquest and occupation of Gaza and Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, respectively.  Similarly, Syria could not gain legal title over the Golan Heights due to that territory’s illegal transfer to the French Mandate for Syria in 1923.) The de facto control of these territories had no effect whatsoever on the de jure rights of the State of Israel to these territories.

The Armistice Agreements, signed between Israel and four Arab States (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria) at the end of the war, defined ceasefire lines for the relevant military forces, but were explicitly regarded only as separation-of-forces lines, and not as final boundaries.  Thus, for example, Article V, Paragraph 2 of the Egypt-Israel Armistice Agreement of February 24, 1949 stated: “The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.”[14]  (See Article II, Paragraph 2 of the Lebanon-Israel, Syria-Israel, and Jordan-Israel Armistice Agreements for similar clauses.)  It should be noted that at the end of the War, Israel had conquered portions of southern Lebanon and northern Sinai, however it returned these territories to Lebanon and Egypt, respectively, as part of the Armistice Agreements.  The Israeli leadership at that time and afterwards expressed its willingness to have the ceasefire lines formally and legally acknowledged as internationally-recognized boundaries, however the Arab states refused this request, going so far as to make sure that “Israel” was not even mentioned by name in the Armistice Agreements themselves (although, out of linguistic necessity, the adjective “Israeli” was employed – but only once – to describe Israel’s army in the Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement; see Article V, Paragraph 1).  Thus, this Arab intransigence allowed Israel to retain its pre-War claims to the territories of Gaza, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, as only Israeli acquiescence to the relinquishment of Jewish title to these territories could turn the Arab de facto control into de jure possession and sovereignty.


The United Nations

When the United Nations was formed in 1945, its main purpose was declared:  To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”[15]  After having witnessed two gruesome World Wars in the previous thirty years, there was a need for a strong international organization which would promote peace and security among nations, and which would and could resolve those disputes in a peaceful manner, if possible before the outbreak of hostilities.  The United Nations was essentially meant to be a more effective version of the defunct League of Nations, which had been unable to prevent the outbreak of World War II.

The United Nations is composed of two main bodies: the General Assembly and the Security Council.  The General Assembly consists of all the member states of the United Nations.  Each country represents one vote in the General Assembly.  The main powers of the General Assembly are described in Chapter IV of the Charter of the United Nations, which states:  The General Assembly may consider the general principles of co-operation in the maintenance of international peace and security, including the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments, and may make recommendations with regard to such principles to the Members or to the Security Council or to both.”[16]  And, “the General Assembly may call the attention of the Security Council to situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security.”[17]  Thus, the General Assembly’s main power is to make recommendations to specific member states or to the Security Council.  General Assembly resolutions are, therefore, only recommendations, and not binding.

The second and more powerful body of the United Nations is the Security Council.  The Security Council comprises 15 members.  Five countries (United States of America, Britain, France, China and Russia) are permanent members and hold veto powers.  The other ten seats are filled by member states, voted in by the General Assembly to serve two year terms.  The two main Chapters of the Charter of the United Nations which are relevant in relation to the powers of the Security Council are Chapters VI and VII.  Chapter VI deals with the pacific settlement of disputes.  Security Council Resolutions passed under chapter VI are merely the recommendations of the Security Council, and not binding on the parties involved, much like resolutions made by the General Assembly.  Chapter VII, however, describes the powers of the Security Council to use force in order to settle disputes which endanger international peace and security.  Article 41 of Chapter VII describes economic sanctions and diplomatic measures which can be taken by the Security Council, while Article 42 of Chapter VII authorizes the Security Council to use “air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.”  Resolutions made under Chapter VII are binding on member states and if not followed, empower the Security Council to sanction the use of force to implement them.

The weight and severity of Security Council resolutions made under Chapter VII imply that the Security Council must be very specific under which Chapter it is passing a resolution.  For example, Chapter VII requires member states to contribute armed forces for a multi-national fighting force, if so requested by the Security Council.[18]  Member states, obviously, must know whether a resolution requires them to contribute such armed forces.  Furthermore, the purpose of a resolution under Chapter VII is to threaten the use of force in order to frighten the aggressor in the relevant conflict to cease its aggression.  Therefore, it is vital that the aggressor understand that force is being threatened.  For these reasons, Security Council resolutions, unless otherwise stated, must be assumed to be passed under Chapter VI, for Chapter VII resolutions logically require a precise indication that they are, indeed, passed under Chapter VII.  It is quite clear, therefore, that Security Council Resolution 242 (to be analyzed in detail later in this paper) was passed under Chapter VI, since no mention was made of Articles relevant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter.  Thus, Resolution 242 is merely a recommendation of the Security Council, non-binding in its nature, and poses no threat of the use of force against any side for failure to adhere to its proposals.  (In contrast, Security Council Resolution 661 of August 6, 1990, which condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, specifically stated that the Security Council was acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, and set forth a number of actions to be taken against Iraq by member states.[19])


The Six Day War

After their failed attempt to destroy the newborn Jewish State in 1948, the Arab states resorted to cross-border attacks throughout the 1950s.  In 1956, in response to Egyptian sponsorship of these terrorist raids and the Egyptian decision to illegally close the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula and conquered it.  Under US and Soviet pressure, Israel withdrew from the Sinai several months later, despite Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s repeated commitments to the destruction of the Jewish State.[20]  The Israeli withdrawal was contingent on the demilitarization of the Sinai and the reopening of the Straits of Tiran (which was the gateway to the Gulf of Aqaba and, consequently, Israel’s port of Eilat) to Israeli shipping. A United Nations peacekeeping force known as the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was deployed in the Sinai Peninsula and in the Gaza Strip.

Throughout the 1960s, attacks on Israel continued, both from the Jordanian-controlled West Bank by the newly established Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and from the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights.  In 1967, another high intensity phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict loomed.  In an act of war, at the beginning of April 1967, the Syrian army launched a concentrated artillery barrage against northern Israel and all but destroyed Kibbutz Gadot.  Skirmishes ensued between the air forces of Syria and Israel, with Israel emerging victorious.[21]  On May 16, 1967, Egypt demanded the withdrawal of UNEF forces from the Sinai and Nasser subsequently sent over 100,000 soldiers into the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.  The Syrian army, which sat atop the Golan Heights, was positioned to launch a quick strike into northern Israel from its strategic high ground.  Lastly, the Jordanian army was stationed throughout the strategic hills of Judea and Samaria, overlooking the vulnerable coastal plain of Israel.  At its narrowest point along the coastal plain, an armored thrust by the Jordanian army could have cut the Jewish State in half.[22]  Egypt, Syria and Jordan formed a joint command in order to coordinate their forces. In addition, the Iraqi army sent a sizeable force of its army into Jordan in anticipation of the planned invasion of Israel.  In an act of war, Nasser once again closed off the Straits of Tiran to Israel shipping.  The United States Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg, stressed that as a result of the Armistice Agreements, neither Israel nor the Arab States possessed the right to exercise belligerent rights.  Thus, the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran was illegal under international law.  Furthermore, the leaders of these Arab countries publicly announced their intentions to destroy the Jewish State and throw its Jews into the sea.  On May 25, Nasser declared that the goal of the Arab countries in any war with Israel would be “to exterminate the State of Israel for all time.”[23] 

The Arab States were undoubtedly encouraged by the reaction, or lack thereof, of the world’s governments, who stood by silently as Israel was surrounded on every side by enemies who sought her destruction.  The Security Council’s inability to take any action to avert the impending hostilities stood in stark contradiction to its raison d’être, as its primary responsibility was to maintain international peace and security.[24]  (Ironically, other than weak draft resolutions which were adopted by the Security Council in the days prior to the outbreak of war and which lacked any real content which would deter the Arab armies, the only concrete action taken by the United Nations prior to the war was the evacuation of UNEF from the Sinai Peninsula, which only accelerated the countdown to, and the outbreak of, the June 1967 war.)  Moreover, U Thant, the Secretary-General of the UN, did not even make a personal appeal to Nasser following the evacuation of UNEF because he was told he would be rebuffed if he attempted such an appeal.  Instead, Thant, the highest UN official, chose to do nothing.  Member states of the General Assembly and of the Security Council could have called for a meeting of the Security Council due to the obvious threats to peace and international security, but chose not to for over a week.[25]

The removal of UNEF was a critical juncture in the inevitable spiral towards war.  Firstly, if UNEF was considered critical to maintain the peace after the Sinai Campaign of 1956, its removal by Egypt in 1967 obviously constituted a serious threat to peace.  The Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai following the 1956 war was contingent on the demilitarization of the peninsula and the deployment of international forces.  In 1957, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Abba Eban, asked the UN Secretary-General at the time, Dag Hammarskjold, what would happen in the event Egypt decided to evict UNEF and remilitarize the Sinai.  The Secretary-General assured Israel that the UN could invoke a procedure, whereby the General Assembly would be convened to deal with the issue.  In 1967, U Thant assembled the countries who contributed troops to UNEF in order to inform them of the Egyptian demand to remove UNEF from the Sinai.  Not a single country decided to bring the issue to the attention of the General Assembly.[26]  Israel saw the procedure it was promised would be invoked for its security ignored on the international stage.  This contributed in no small part to the military action eventually taken by Israel.

From mid-May, with the reintroduction of Egyptian forces into the Sinai and the withdrawal of UNEF, Israel felt the existential danger facing it begin to mount and the need to respond was urgent.  Yet, despite an official request for a public US guarantee of Israel’s security, the United States and President Lyndon Johnson remained mute.  The only message conveyed by the US government was its expectation that Israel take no action which might increase tension in the region without prior consultation.  Both Britain and France similarly refused entreaties for public support of Israel’s security.  Israel had no choice but to mobilize its reserves, which comprise the bulk of its army, even at the risk of US displeasure.  80,000 reservists were called up, at a staggering cost to the Israeli economy.[27]  The ensuing three weeks of waiting, while Egypt massed its forces in Sinai and Israel mobilized its reserve forces, were costly and crippling to the Israeli economy.  With its reserves massed, the Israeli economy came to a standstill.  The Israeli Cabinet, meeting on the night of June 4, voted for a preemptive strike, after deciding that the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan intended to commence a multi-front attack which threatened the existence of Israel.  It was decided that a military strike would be launched to prevent the impending attack.[28]

Israel launched its preemptive attack on the following morning, June 5, 1967, and successfully destroyed the Egyptian Air Force, most of whose planes were still on the ground.[29]  Israel also passed on a message to Jordan to warn that country against engaging in hostilities against the Jewish State.  Jordan was told that if it refrained from aggression, it would not be attacked.  Nevertheless, Jordan ignored this warning, and commenced artillery barrages against Israel. [30]  By mid-day, the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan had been nearly obliterated by the Israeli Air Force.[31]  Without air cover, Egyptian forces in the Sinai were at a significant disadvantage and within a several days were in full retreat.  In a mere six days of warfare, Israel captured the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, eastern Jerusalem and the Old City, Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights.  In fact, by the end of the fourth day of the war, every territory previously mentioned except the Golan Heights had already been captured.  Fierce debate raged in the Israeli Cabinet over whether to attack and capture the Golan Heights in response to the continuous Syrian shelling of Israel’s northern settlements throughout the first four days of the war.  Israel feared possible Soviet intervention, but ultimately attacked and captured the Golan Heights during the final two days of the war.  Despite the preemptive nature of the outbreak of war, Israel only fired the first shot on the Egyptian front.  Against Jordan and Syria, Israel only commenced hostilities after it was first attacked by those countries.[32]

During the six days of warfare, the Security Council issued four resolutions calling for a ceasefire (Resolutions 233, 234, 235, and 236).  The fighting officially ceased towards the evening hours of June 10, 1967.  In the war, Israel suffered approximately 700 dead and over 2,500 wounded.  The combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan suffered approximately 18,000 dead and nearly 23,000 injured.[33]  Estimates show that over 200,000 Palestinians fled from their homes in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as a result of the war.  However, while Israel did not stop these Palestinians from fleeing, it also did not forcibly expel them from their homes.[34]  The war changed the face of the Middle East and while there were several skirmishes in the ensuing months, including the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat by Egypt in late October, the major fighting ahead lay not on the battlefield, but in the halls of the UN.


Legal Warfare

Before discussion of Resolution 242 can begin, it is important to attempt a definition of the type of war waged by Israel in June 1967.  Was this a war of aggression, clearly forbidden under international law?  Or, was this a war of national defense, despite the preemptive nature of the war’s outbreak?  Specifically, who was the aggressor in the Six Day War, and who was the victim?  First, the UN Charter must be analyzed for the necessary background to understand the legal justification for Israel’s strike on June 5.  In Article 2, the Charter presents several major principles of international law upon which the newly-created United Nations would be based.  Paragraph 4 of Article 2 states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”[35]  Article 51, which is found in Chapter VII, acknowledges that: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”[36] 

Secondly, it must be understood that while war is offensive by its nature, it can nevertheless be undertaken for defensive reasons, and therefore, bend its offensive character to a defensive rationale.  Thus war can be broken into two main categories: offensive and defensive.  Offensive warfare is forbidden under international law.  It is expansionist in its nature, such as the wars of conquest waged by Nazi Germany to gain “lebensraum” for the German people in Eastern Europe.  Defensive warfare can be broken into three main sub-categories: preventive, preemptive and responsive.  Preventive or preventative war is initiated in the belief that military conflict, while not imminent, is inevitable, and that to delay would involve greater risk.[37]  Israel’s attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirik in 1981 was such an attack, destroying the growing nuclear potential of Saddam Hussein, albeit before that potential nuclear force was ready to be harnessed effectively.  Israel was not under any imminent threat from Iraq in 1981, but took preventative action in order to limit Iraq’s ability to threaten Israel in the future.  Preemptive war is defined as an attack initiated on the basis of incontrovertible evidence that an enemy attack is imminent.[38]  Israel’s actions on June 5, 1967 fit this definition closely, as the actions and declarations of Arab leaders and their armies indicated that a military conflict was imminent.  The most classic type of defense, however, is responsive defense, which is the type of response to aggression explicitly sanctioned by Article 51 of the UN Charter.  It is a war waged in response to an attack, such as Israel’s response to the 1973 surprise attack of Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur War.

While the UN Charter prohibits the use of force by any state against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state, it recognizes two exceptions.  The first is the use of force by the UN itself in order to enforce international law.  This type of force can be responsive, as was the case in the First Gulf War in 1991, or even preventive.  This right was granted to the UN under Article 42 of Chapter VII.  The second exception is the inherent self-defense acknowledged to be the right of every nation, mentioned in Article 51 of Chapter VII.  It relies on the just war theory, which emphasizes national defense as the prime justification for waging war.[39]

The Arab states, through their declarations of intent to destroy Israel, the blockade of the Straits of Tiran, the expulsion of UNEF, the artillery barrage of northern Israel, joint military pacts and the amassing of forces along Israel’s borders, clearly violated Article 2(4) by threatening and even using force against the encircled Jewish State.  Yet, because Israel was the country to fire the first “official” shots of the Six Day War (and even then, only on the Egyptian front), it has instead been accused of violating Article 2, and thus, of being the aggressor.  Yet it is naïve and immoral to assume that the term “aggressor” applies only to the side who takes the first offensive action.  Circumstances must be taken into account in order to understand what events led up to hostilities.  Israel’s actions were a defensive measure of a beleaguered state against military threats which overtly endangered its “territorial integrity and political independence.”  So while the Arabs states were violating Article 2(4), Israel was upholding its inherent right to self-defense under Article 51.  The language of Article 51 makes it clear that Article 51 is not granting this right to nations, but rather merely acknowledging that this right exists for every nation.  It is a right that cannot be taken away even by international law, for no nation can be expected to sit idly by while its existence is endangered. 

Yet, in the weeks leading up to the official outbreak of warfare on June 5, Israel did sit idly by, restraining itself from military action while vainly waiting for international intervention.  And while Article 51 states that the use of force for self-defense can be undertaken “until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”, the Security Council took no such measures in the weeks preceding the war, when it was clear that Arab belligerency was leading the region towards another war, and endangering the existence of the State of Israel.  Such action by the Security Council in those critical weeks could perhaps have prevented the outbreak of war, and indeed is the main purpose for the existence of the United Nations and its Security Council.  So while it is true that Israel fired the first “official” shots of the Six Day War, its actions were justified by a natural right of nations which supersedes international law.  Furthermore, when the international institutions that exist to maintain international peace and security shirk those responsibilities, no sovereign nation is required to sit by and wait to be attacked.  Israel waited for international intervention to curb Arab belligerency and when such intervention never came, Israel was certainly not required to wait for an imminent attack.

In the modern age, anticipatory self-defense is critical for the security of states, as the speed and destructive capacity of modern weapons has increased the need and urgency for preventive and preemptive action.  It is a vital right of a State to respond with force to an imminent threat.  The belligerent speeches and actions of Arab leaders, including threats to destroy the Jewish State, the military pacts made between Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and the strengthening of Arab forces along the borders of Israel, all pointed to an imminent attack on the besieged Jewish State, and justified the use of force in order to preempt such an attack.[40] (It is noteworthy that in the hours before the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel did not take preemptive action as a result of American pressure, and instead waited for Egypt and Syria to attack first.  The loss of life and initial losses of territory in the first days of that war expose the stupidity and immorality of waiting to be fired upon in order to avoid being labeled the “aggressor”.)

While it has just been argued that Israel possessed the inherent right of self-defense against an imminent attack, it can also be posited that a constant state of warfare has existed between Israel and her neighbors since 1948, notwithstanding the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which sought to end the active state of belligerency between the different states.  This state of warfare is an ongoing one, punctuated by several high intensity phases, such as the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  In between these major engagements, the conflict is waged at a low intensity level, through cross-border terrorist raids, the use of proxy terrorist organizations, closing or diverting of waterways, and constant diplomatic onslaught.  And while Israel surely fired the first “official” shots of the Six Day War, this was merely a belated response to years of ongoing low intensity conflict waged and supported by those same Arab states, and not in fact a preemptive attack.  Article 51 would therefore apply even more forcefully in this context, since it speaks of self-defense “in the event of an armed attack”, which is considered by some to mean that self-defense can only be used after an armed attack has already occurred.  The aforementioned actions undertaken by the Arab states (the remilitarization of the Sinai, the closing of the Straits of Tiran, and the artillery barrage on northern Israel, to state a few) can all be seen as acts of overt aggression which legitimize any offensive action taken by Israel.  That Israel waited until June 5 to respond to acts of aggression which occurred weeks beforehand only underlines Israel’s desire to avoid armed conflict if possible, and its hope that the international institutions in charge of maintaining peace and security would indeed attempt to fulfill their duties.

Regarding the legality of Israel’s offensive actions on June 5, 1967, it is ultimately unimportant whether the outbreak of war on June 5 is considered to be the eruption of a new war (and therefore Israel’s actions were preemptive) or whether it was simply the continuation of a 19 year old state of warfare (in which case Israel’s actions were a belated response to ongoing Arab aggression).  The existence of Israel was threatened openly and overtly by the Arab states surrounding it in 1967, and in accordance with common sense and the inherent right of nations to self-defense, Israel chose to act first, in order to strategically (and tactically) surprise its enemies.  Whether Israel acted preemptively to prevent an imminent attack or acted belatedly after weeks and months of Arab aggression ultimately leads to the same conclusion: Israel was justified in taking offensive action against the existential military threat facing it on the morning of June 5, 1967.


Interpretation of Resolution 242

Now that the legal context of Resolution 242 is clear, namely that it is merely a recommendation and has no binding authority to impose obligations on any of the parties involved, and the historical context leading up to and including the Six Day War has been explained, a proper analysis of the Resolution may be undertaken.  The text of the Resolution is important enough to the current inquiry to bear repeating in full:

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (22 November 1967).

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:

1. 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:

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

(ii) 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;

2. Affirms further the necessity:

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

(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

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

3. Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to them 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;

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

In the days and months following the Six Day War, the main issue facing the international community was whether to pass Resolutions aimed at a short-term solution to the most recent outbreak of war, or whether to attempt to move resolutely in the direction of a solution to the conflict and a lasting peace.[41]  Understood in this light, it can be stated that the main concern of Resolution 242 was peace, not territorial withdrawal as is commonly assumed and claimed.  Thus, for example, the Resolution called for the “establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” and for the “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.”  The Resolution strove to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, and addressed the Arab refusal to recognize Israeli sovereignty and right to exist as one of the major obstacles to that peace.

It must be stressed that the United Nations is not an institution of justice; rather it is one of compromise.  It is composed of both democracies and dictatorships, and its main purpose as an organization is the maintenance of international peace and security, and the prevention of war.  To pass a Security Council Resolution, at least 9 out of 15 countries must vote in the affirmative, while none of the permanent members decide to use their veto power.  On a politically charged issue such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the US and the USSR would naturally struggle to find common ground.  Therefore, the wording of certain clauses of Resolution 242, authored by Lord Hugh Caradon, the British Ambassador to the UN, was purposely made ambiguous so that it would be possible to garner the necessary votes for passage in the Security Council.   For the five months between June and November 1967, much debate ensued over possible draft resolutions, and several were submitted and turned aside.  Caradon did not create a new resolution; rather he borrowed from other proposals and attempted to create a synthesis that would acceptable to all sides, and especially to the US and the USSR.  The final resolution was unanimously accepted on November 22, 1967.[42]


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

The United Nations directly contributed to the “grave situation in the Middle East” by withdrawing UNEF and not even bothering to summon the General Assembly to debate the matter, as was previously promised to Israel.  The UN proved itself unable and unwilling to take any meaningful action to prevent or even delay the noose that was slowly tightening around the Jewish State in the last weeks of May and first days of June 1967.  Opening the Resolution with a statement such as this displays a moral cowardice on the part of the Security Council by failing to admit the major part played by it and the UN as a whole in the acceleration towards open warfare.

Just and Lasting Peace

The cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict has evolved over the years.  While Resolution 242 implies, as Arab leaders since the Six Day War have claimed, that the main cause of the continuing conflict between Israel and her neighbors is the Arab loss of territory in that war, logic dictates that there is a more fundamental reason.  The Arab loss of territory in the 1967 War was certainly not the cause for the outbreak of that war, nor could the lost territories of 1967 have been the root cause of the 1948 War.  However, Arab leaders since 1967 have repeatedly proclaimed that peace with Israel is possible, if only Israel would return all of the territories that it captured in the 1967 War.  Logic, on the other hand, dictates that a “just and lasting peace” is only possible if measures taken to secure that peace are relevant to solving the root cause of the conflict.  Since the territory of the 1967 War is clearly not the root cause of the conflict, the relinquishment of that territory will certainly not resolve the conflict.  Nevertheless, in the flawed UN analysis of the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s territorial victories in 1967 were intimately tied to the resolution of the conflict.

Inadmissibility of the Acquisition of Territory by War

This clause of the Resolution is interesting because while it seems to be directed at and critical of Israel, and in fact, that was the intent of the Resolution’s authors, in actuality this clause is an unwitting criticism of the unlawful acquisitions of the Gaza Strip and Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem by Egypt and Jordan, respectively, in their illegal offensive war of 1948 against the newborn Jewish State.  (Syria, as previously stated, illegally acquired the Golan Heights in 1923 when that territory was severed from the Mandate for Palestine by the British Government and transferred to the French Mandate for Syria.)  Thus, Israel’s reacquisition of these territories in its defensive war of 1967 was legal under international law.  Egypt, Jordan and Syria, while having effected de facto control over these territories until 1967, could not effect de jure sovereignty under international law.  These territories were always intended to be part of the Jewish National Home envisioned by the Mandate for Palestine, and Israel, as the legal repository of the national rights bestowed by the Mandate for Palestine, is the only country that can legally claim de jure sovereignty over these territories.  Israel’s lawful claim to these territories was not diminished despite their capture and illegal occupation by Arab armies.  The reunification of the entire western portion of the Mandate for Palestine after the 1967 war legally, albeit belatedly, completed the original vision of the Mandate.

Withdrawal from Territories

During the numerous negotiations in the weeks leading up to the passing of Resolution 242, one of the main issues, if not the central one, was the issue of the territories which had been conquered by Israel in the war.  The Arabs demanded full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories captured in the war, while Israel was willing to consider partial withdrawal, under certain conditions, linked to a comprehensive peace settlement with her Arab neighbors.  An influential factor as far as members of the Security Council were concerned was King Hussein’s hint that the problems of the region could be resolved if only Israel would withdraw from all the territory it had captured.  Only then, according to the Jordanian monarch, could the Arab States recognize Israel’s right to exist.[43]

A critical argument arose from the text of the Resolution regarding the exact wording of Paragraph 1(i): “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”  Several members of the Security Council wanted the qualifying terms “all” or “the” inserted before the word “territories,” in order to specify that Israel would be required to withdraw from all territories it had captured in the war.  The United States and Israel demanded that the phrase remain ambiguous in order to leave room for negotiations.   The Soviets and even Lord Caradon wished to add the aforementioned qualifying terms, but in the end they relented.   It was understood within the Security Council that different member states would interpret the text of the Resolution in different ways, but in order to reach a consensus, the Resolution needed to remain vague.  The Arab states understood from Lord Caradon that regardless of the language of the Resolution, the meaning of its text was total Israeli withdrawal.  The Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, emphasized that in the opinion of Israel, the resolution called on the Arabs to make peace in order to reclaim lost territories.  Furthermore, he pointed out that every word which was or was not inserted into the Resolution was deliberate, and that if the qualifying words “the” or “all” are not in the Resolution, then they were not meant to be there.  Britain, for its part, refused to publicly clarify or explain the text of the Resolution.  It merely explained that the text was deliberately ambiguous in order to assure its passage in the Security Council, and that while the text was not perfect, it tried to be fair, just and impartial.  Despite the vast differences of interpretation between the numerous parties involved, all fifteen members of the Security Council voted for the Resolution on November 22, 1967.[44]

Lord Caradon was interviewed in February 1973 by the Israeli radio service Kol Israel.  In the interview he was asked to clarify the significance of the missing definite article “the” before the word “territories”.  He answered as follows:

"The purposes are perfectly clear, the principle is stated in the preamble, the necessity for withdrawal is stated in the operative section.  And then the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized.  They will not be secure unless they are recognized.  And that is why one has to work for agreement.  This is essential.  I would defend absolutely what we did.  It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be.  I know the 1967 border very well.  It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary... "[45]

The intent of Lord Caradon here is clear. He viewed withdrawal as a necessary component of a comprehensive settlement, but not a complete withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines, which were dangerously vulnerable and not permanent international borders to begin with.

Despite the clear indication by the architects of the Resolution that the qualifying words “the” and “all” were deliberately left out of the Resolution, it has been pointed out that in the French-language version of the Resolution the phrase “from territories” was translated as “des territoires.”  This literally re-translates into English as “from the territories” but idiomatically re-translates as “from the territories” or “from territories.”  However, this is a result of the grammatical rules of the French language, which do not permit the use of the proposition “from” together with its intended object, without the insertion of the definite article “the.”  Thus, the English-language phrase “from territories” cannot be translated into French, except as “des territoires.”[46]  Furthermore, it should be noted that the negotiations regarding the Resolution were conducted in English, and the original text of the draft resolution which was submitted was also in English.  The French-language version was only meant to be an exact translation of the English-language version, and therefore, cannot bestow any alternate meaning other than that intended by the English-language version.[47]

It is also important to point out that it is the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces that is the main requirement, but not necessarily the withdrawal of Israelis from these territories.  Thus, the building and expansion of Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in no way violates the Resolution.  In addition, the rights bestowed upon the Jewish people for settlement on the lands of the Mandate never ceased to be applicable since Judea, Samaria and Gaza could not be legally annexed by Jordan and Egypt, respectively.  Therefore, even if it could be argued that this clause of the Resolution referred not only to Israel armed forces, but even to Israeli civilians, it would still be an irrelevant clause, since this Resolution has no legal power to cancel out a provision of the Mandate for Palestine.

Secure and Recognized Boundaries

Between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the outbreak of the 1967 War, Israel had neither secure nor recognized boundaries.  As previously stated, the 1949 Armistice Lines were not permanent borders, rather only ceasefire lines.  All the sides involved accepted that these were not international borders between nations.  Although Israel made overtures to each of her neighbors, proposing a peace agreement with each in exchange for recognition and transformation of the ceasefire lines into permanent international borders, these overtures were rejected.  The vulnerability of these borders is evident from several perspectives.  Firstly, the Syrian army was entrenched on the strategic high ground of the Golan Heights.  It could and did attack Israeli farmers and settlements in the Hula Valley and around Lake Kinneret.  The Syrian army could reach the reach major Israeli cities in the north of the country within a matter of hours.  The formidable Egyptian army in Gaza sat only tens of kilometers from Tel Aviv.  More critical, though, was Israel’s strategic vulnerability in the center of the country.  At its narrowest point, near the coastal town of Netanya, the width of Israel was a mere 15 kilometers.  Moreover, the Judean and Samarian hills towered over Israel’s entire coastal plain.  All of its major population centers were at risk.  Israel’s border with Jordan, along the outskirts of the Judean and Samarian hills, was a long and arcing border, with no fence.  Terrorist infiltration from this indefensible frontier became the norm during the 1950s and 1960s.  These intrinsic Israeli strategic weaknesses substantially influenced the Arab states to continue adopting a belligerent stance regarding Israel.  Despite their loss in 1948 and Israel’s show of military superiority in the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the Arab states still saw Israel as vulnerable and therefore continued to strive for her destruction.

Resolution 242 recognized that Israel’s vulnerable borders were a major cause of the continued aggression of her Arab neighbors, and therefore sought to emphasize that secure and recognized boundaries are a vital component for achieving a just and lasting peace.  This statement was also a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the 1949 Armistice Lines were neither secure boundaries (despite Israel’s victory in 1967), nor were they recognized boundaries (since the 1949 Armistice Lines were merely ceasefire lines, and not internationally recognized borders). 

A deeper analysis of the two concepts of “secure” and “recognized” boundaries reveals that these two concepts are, in actuality, antithetical to one another, as a result of the consistent hostility and destructive intentions of Israel’s neighbors.  Boundaries considered by Israel to be secure would not be recognized by her neighbors.  Yet the boundaries, if any, that these countries would be willing to recognize for Israel would in no way be definable as “secure”.

The next issue in this line of logic is which concept, “secure” or “recognized”, takes precedence over the other.  The UN Charter presupposes the inherent right of states for security and self-preservation.  Every state is naturally most concerned with its own preservation.  Furthermore, whereas the existence of “recognized” borders is mainly a legal matter and largely dependent on the acquiescence of others, the existence of “secure” boundaries is solely a military matter, dependent on geography and one’s own national resources and will. Thus, “secure” and “recognized” do not carry equal importance, legally or morally, and the concept of “secure” boundaries must take precedence over the concept of “recognized” boundaries.[48]


Freedom of Navigation through International Waterways

This clause was directed solely at the government of Egypt, which had blocked Israeli shipping in the Straits of Tiran both in 1956 and in 1967, in blatant disregard of international law.  According to international law, the blockade of international waterways is a casus belli.  The re-opening of these international waterways was required by international law regardless of Resolution 242.  This clause was fulfilled by Egypt, although it must be remembered that by the end of the Six Day War, the Israeli Defense Forces were entrenched on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal.  Whether Egypt ended the blockade as a result of the IDF presence or because of a desire to adhere to Resolution 242 is debatable.  Although, judging by Egyptian disregard for Resolution 242 in starting a new war against Israel in October 1973, it can be assumed that honoring the Resolution was never a real consideration of the Egyptian leadership.  In fact, had the 1973 Yom Kippur War not been based on strategically surprising Israel with the outbreak of warfare, it is highly probable that this war too would have been preceded by a blockade of international waterways.


Before 1967, the “refugee problem” was the oft-repeated cause of the conflict according to Arab leaders.  Once again, this cause is also not the main source of the conflict, since there was no “refugee problem” prior to the 1948 War.  Obviously, the existence of refugees could not have been the source of that first Arab-Israeli war.

Despite the above, Resolution 242 affirmed the necessity of “achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.”[49]  It is therefore necessary to understand the nature of the refugees referred to by the Resolution.  The Arab “refugees” of the 1948 War were told to leave by their own leadership in order keep them out of harm’s way from the impending Arab invasion of the newly-declared Jewish State.  Undoubtedly, some Arabs were driven from their homes as a result of the warfare being waged in the country at the time, however the complete blame placed on Israel by the Arab world for the “refugee problem” is a political machination used to defame and weaken the Jewish State. [50]  

To discuss the refugees of the 1948 War, it is first necessary to refer to General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 11, 1948.  This resolution called for the creation of the Conciliation Commission, and discussed the international regime of Jerusalem and the return of refugees.  The job of the Conciliation Commission was to “assist the Governments and authorities concerned to achieve a final settlement of all questions outstanding between them.”[51]  In Paragraph 11, the General Assembly “resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible [and] instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations.”  While once again it must be pointed out that General Assembly resolutions are merely recommendations, much can be learned from an analysis of the language of Paragraph 11.  Firstly, it was accepted by the General Assembly that a condition for the return of a refugee to Israel was that refugee’s desire to “live at peace”.  Israel was under no obligation to permit refugees to return who were unwilling to accept the State of Israel’s right to exist, and who were unwilling to live at peace with their Jewish neighbors.  Secondly, since the general term “refugee” was used, it can be argued that the provisions of Paragraph 11, specifically the stipulation dealing with the “compensation [that] should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property,” also apply to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who were expelled by their hosts after the Israeli victory in the 1948 War of Independence.  However, the rights of the Jewish refugees of the 1948 War were never realized.  The fact that the newborn State of Israel spent much time, money and effort to absorb and integrate the hundreds of thousands of diverse Jews who had been expelled from several Arab countries did not absolve those Arab states who had affected their expulsion from paying due monetary compensation for property and assets which had been damaged, stolen, or just left behind in fear.

In order to continue to use the “refugees” as a political weapon against Israel, the Arab countries had to maintain them as refugees, denying to them the ability to become citizens of those Arab countries in which they currently resided (Jordan was the lone exception to this).  That the 650,000 Arab refugees of the 1948 War were not absorbed into the tens of millions of Arabs spanning over 20 countries is proof enough of the unwillingness of the Arab world to allow the refugees to integrate into their societies, rather preferring to use them as a weapon against Israel.  The Arab states rejected the 1949 proposal of the Security Council for investigating the plausibility of resettling the refugees throughout the Middle East, and reacted with equal fury at the 1959 suggestion by the UN Secretary-General of a rehabilitation program for the refugees.[52]  The Arab aim was not to settle the refugees, but rather to cultivate them, as a useful weapon against Israel.  Unfortunately, the United Nations has facilitated this aim over the years.

The Palestinian refugee problem is unique in the world.  In 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was formed.  Its purpose was to deal solely with the Arab refugees of the 1948 War, while every other refugee population in the world was to be dealt with by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  To highlight the absurdity of this situation, it is useful to note that, by 2010, while UNHCR’s 6,600 employees deal with approximately 34 million refugees in 110 countries,[53] UNRWA’s 30,000 employees deal with approximately 4.7 million refugees in a mere 5 geographically adjacent locations (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank).[54]   Thus, the ratio of refugee to UNHCR worker is 5151:1, while the ratio of Palestinian refugee to UNRWA worker is 156:1.  The primary purpose of UNRWA in actuality is to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem, while ensuring that the refugees continue to reside in their camps and develop enduring hostility against Israel.  In fact, in 1982, UNRWA released a report admitting that its educational institution in Siblin, Lebanon had been in fact a military training base for PLO terrorists for the previous two years![55] 

It is also worth noting that the Palestinian refugees are the only refugees in the world whose status is hereditary.  While every other refugee population in the world, such as the millions of displaced persons after the Second World War, has decreased with the passage of time, the Palestinian refugee population continually increases.  Therefore, those 650,000 refugees from 1948 have today become millions.  The Arab world’s demand that these refugees be allowed to return to the State of Israel, known as the “Right of Return”, therefore becomes a powerful weapon, as an influx of that magnitude would cause the demographic destruction of the Jewish State.  This would be in violation of Paragraph 11 of Resolution 194, which required that those returning should and desiring to “live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”  The Right of Return, being a weapon for the demographic destruction of Israel, fits neither the “live at peace” clause nor the “earliest practicable date” clause.  There is no practical, let alone moral, way for Israel to accept and enable its own demise.

The influx of millions of Palestinian Arabs into Israel would demographically destroy the Jewish State.  No clause of a Security Council Resolution (especially a recommendatory one under Chapter VI, and not even a mandatory one under Chapter VII) can legally obligate a state to undertake actions which endanger its political independence or territorial integrity.  The refugee clause of Security Council Resolution 242 has, unfortunately, never been used to level criticism and blame against the Arab states, due to their refusal to integrate the Palestinian Arabs into their countries.  Such integration would not cause the demographic destruction of these countries, virtually all of whom are dictatorships and not affected by demographic fluctuations.

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

The UN acted with particular disgrace by including this clause in Resolution 242.  One of the main causes in the spiral towards war in May and June 1967 was the evacuation of UNEF and the collapse of the demilitarized Sinai.  Neither of these serious violations of the terms of Israel’s original withdrawal from Sinai following the 1956 Sinai Campaign even merited a gathering of the General Assembly.  The UN stood by and watched events unfold, seemingly to Israel’s peril.  Israel’s territory and political independence were directly threatened by the disintegration of the demilitarized Sinai.  Moreover, the UN ignored explicit promises made to Israel regarding the procedures to be taken in the event that the Sinai was remilitarized.  The expectation that Israel was once again supposed to trust in internationally-administered demilitarized zones was ludicrous considering the circumstances that led to the outbreak of war in the first place.


Aftermath of Resolution 242

After the passing of Resolution 242, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon accepted the resolution as a basis for negotiation, while Syria rejected it.[56]  It seems apparent that their massive defeat in the Six Day War caused these states to reevaluate their strategic approach to their conflict with Israel. While they still wished to eliminate the Jewish State, they understood that there was no simple military solution while Israel held on to the territories it liberated in 1967.  They decided to resort to the use of political pressure against the Jewish State. That pressure could be brought to bear against Israel most effectively by the West, and specifically by America.  The Arab states avoided public declarations calling for the destruction of Israel, and instead began to present the Israeli triumphs of the 1967 War as examples of Israeli expansionism.  Therefore, in line with the UN Charter’s declaration and Resolution 242’s reiteration of the principle of “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, the Arab States presented themselves to the world, not as the aggressors in the 1967 war, but rather as the victims.[57]

Jordan accepted the Resolution on February 25, 1968.  King Hussein understood the Resolution to mean Israel would withdraw from all of the territories it had captured in exchange for an Arab promise for peace.  Egypt accepted the Resolution privately on February 20, 1968, but only publicly announced so in March.  Israel for its part accepted the Resolution privately on February 12, 1968, but only made the announcement public on May 1 of that year.  Syria, however, refused to accept the Resolution, making a public statement to that effect the day after the passage of the Resolution in the Security Council.  Syria later accepted the Resolution, as part of Resolution 338 which followed its defeat at the hands of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  The PLO similarly rejected Resolution 242 the day after its passage by claiming that it failed to decisively state the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and ignored the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.[58]

Despite having accepted Resolution 242, Egypt, in conjunction with Syria (who had not, as yet, accepted the Resolution) launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel in October 1973, which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War.  This attack surely violated Resolution 242, and thereby absolved Israel of any obligation to continue to adhere to the Resolution.  By attacking Israel, these two countries thereby attempted by military means to deprive Israel of Resolution 242’s recommendation for negotiations leading to “secure and recognized boundaries.”  It can therefore be argued that the aggressors in that war thereby forfeited their recommended benefits under the Resolution.  (Even if one argues that countries should also abide by non-binding Security Council resolutions, despite there being no basis for this position in international law, or that by agreeing to accept Resolution 242, Israel caused that Resolution to become binding on itself, it can be countered that this surprise attack in 1973 absolved Israel of any obligation to the Resolution.  It has also been argued that UN Resolutions are binding on each party separately (independently) and not interdependently.  However, there is no logic in such an argument, for if one country’s compliance with a Resolution has no bearing or connection with the compliance and actions of other countries involved, then there is no incentive for any side to abide by international agreements and treaties,.  Rather, just as in contractual law, once an agreement is broken by one party, the other party is freed from its obligations thereunder.) 

However, despite the gross violation of Resolution 242 by Egypt and Syria through their aggression, Israel returned 100% of the territory it captured in the Yom Kippur War to these countries.  In addition, after concluding the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords, Israel transferred full control of the Sinai to Egypt, thereby returning over 90% of the territory captured in the 1967 war.  This surely satisfies the non-specific withdrawal component of Resolution 242, which called for a partial withdrawal “from territories”, but not from all of the territories.  Furthermore, there is no specification in the Resolution requiring Israel to return territories to each individual country.  Thus, even if Resolution 242 is binding or should be treated as such, Israel, by returning over 90% of the territory captured in that war, has already fulfilled its requirements under international law. 

The PLO, unlike Egypt and Jordan, had not accepted Resolution 242, and was therefore unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for land, since peace would mean recognition of Israel’s right to exist.  However, despite being committed to the continuation of an armed struggle against the Jewish State, the PLO lacked the military strength to achieve their goal of re-taking any territory from Israeli control.  King Hussein, for his part, realized that the restoration of the West Bank would only be achieved through negotiation, and thus would be based on Resolution 242.[59]  When the Rabat resolution of 1974 recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, the re-acquisition of the West Bank became the responsibility of the PLO, and not of Jordan.  King Hussein opposed the resolution at first, but under intense pressure, eventually signed it.[60]  Despite this, the renunciation of Jordanian claims to the West Bank was only officially proclaimed by King Hussein in July 1988.[61]  When Israel and Jordan finally signed a peace accord in 1994, mutual recognition and respect for sovereignty were achieved without any withdrawal from territory (except for a small sliver of land simultaneously leased back to Israel), proving both that Jordan no longer attempted to claim Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem as its own, and that withdrawal from territory was not the main impetus to peace between Israel and her neighbors.[62]

In 1975, the US declared its refusal to negotiate with the PLO as long as that organization continued to reject Resolution 242 and Israel’s right to exist.  In 1988, Yasser Arafat managed to agree to Resolution 242, within the context of Resolution 181, also known as the Palestine Partition Plan.  Essentially, despite seeming to agree with Resolution 242, by citing it within the context of the 1947 Palestine Partition Plan, which prescribed a Jewish State even smaller than that which was established within the 1949 armistice lines (including the internationalization of Jerusalem), Arafat made Resolution 242 irrelevant.  The implementation of Resolution 181 would strip Israel of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and large sections of the Galilee, in addition to Judea, Samaria and its legal claim to Gaza.  (Additionally, it should be noted that Arafat’s acquiescence to Resolutions 181 and 242 directly contradicts Articles 19 and 21 of the PLO Charter, adopted in 1964 and amended in 1968.  Article 19 of the PLO Charter declares that the 1947 Partition of Palestine is null and void, as is the establishment of the State of Israel.[63]  Article 21 states: “The Palestinian Arab people, in expressing itself through the armed Palestinian revolution, rejects every solution that is a substitute for a complete liberation of Palestine, and rejects all plans that aim at the settlement of the Palestine issue or its internationalization.”[64]  This contradiction has never been resolved by the Palestinian leadership, who has refused to amend these relevant and hostile Articles of their Charter.)[65]

While Palestinian “self-determination” is not mentioned in Resolution 242, this Resolution has been used as the basis for this demand by the Arab world in general and by the Palestinians in particular.  When an Arab state was offered to the Arab population of the western portion of the Mandate for Palestine by UN Resolution 181 in 1947, that sovereignty was rejected by their Arab leadership and by the Arab States.  During the 19-year occupation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza by Jordan and Egypt, no claims were put forth by the “Palestinians” for a homeland or for recognition of their “legitimate rights”.  In fact, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964, three years before the Israeli “occupation” of “Palestinian” territory supposedly began.  Rather, the PLO’s stated goal has always been the conquest of the land controlled by Israel since 1948, and not just the territories liberated in 1967.  In 1985, Abu Iyad, as head of the PLO’s Fatah military department, stated in a BBC interview: “When we say occupied Palestine…we consider all Palestine occupied…Our resistance will be everywhere inside the territory and that is not defined in terms of the West Bank and Gaza.”[66]  The support of the Arab world for the “self-determination” of the Palestinian people therefore becomes yet another means to affect the reduction of Israel to its vulnerable 1949 armistice lines.[67]  Palestinian self-determination was retroactively read into the Resolution.  The omission of any mention of Palestinian rights, and the only general mention of the “refugee problem”, indicate that the Resolution and its authors were not attempting to bestow or even acknowledge any rights of the Palestinians.  The Resolution dealt only with the national entities that had fought in the Six Day War.  When the PLO began to gain power in the international arena, even receiving official UN General Assembly observer status in 1975, more and more countries began to assume that Palestinian acquiescence to Resolution 242 was critical.  However, the Resolution neither referred to the Palestinians directly nor obligated any party to grant them land, autonomy, or national rights.  Unfortunately, while more can be said about Palestinian claims for self-determination, it is beyond the scope of this paper to elaborate any further upon the issue.

Israel, as stated above, accepted Resolution 242 several months after its passage in the Security Council.  Israel considered the Resolution to be a major step forward in its attempts to eventually reach peace settlements with its Arab neighbors.  Israel interpreted the Resolution to mean that final borders would be decided through negotiations by the different parties, with the ultimate purpose of the negotiations being the recognition of Israel by the Arab states and comprehensive peace treaties between the sides.  Nevertheless, Israel, who saw its historical and eternal capital divided by Jordanian occupation following that country’s illegal conquest of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem in the 1948 war, decided to annex the eastern portion of the city shortly after the Six Day War and to officially unite the eastern and western portions of Jerusalem under Israeli and Jewish sovereignty for the first time since the year 63 BCE (when the Roman Empire, under General Pompei Magnus, invaded and occupied the Kingdom of Judea) by passing the Basic Law: Jerusalem on July 30, 1980.[68]  (The UN condemned this decision as null and void in its Security Council Resolution 478.)  Furthermore, the Golan Heights Law was passed on December 14, 1981 by the Israeli Knesset, thereby incorporating the Golan Heights completely into the State of Israel.[69] 

Following the Six Day War, Israel instituted a military administration for the territories of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.  It intended to maintain possession of the territories until the conclusion of peace treaties in order to determine their final status.  In the 1979 Camp David Accords, Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed that the sovereignty of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would be determined by negotiations involving representatives from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians.[70]  Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel granted civilian control of most of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, allowing nearly 98% of the Palestinians in these territories to live under Palestinian rule.[71]  In 2005, Israel withdrew all military forces and expelled all Jewish civilians from the Gaza Strip, thereby relinquishing control over that territory.  Yet, all of these were unnecessary, and ultimately damaging, steps taken by Israel, including the belated inclusion of eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights under Israeli sovereignty.  Eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and Gaza were all included in the Mandate for Palestine and were always intended to be part of the Jewish State.  Jewish title over these territories never ceased, despite the illegal Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian occupations.  However, the government of Israel either was unaware of the legal title of the Jewish people to these lands or worse, ignored it.  All of these territories could have been annexed immediately following the Six Day War.  Even if the UN refused to recognize such an annexation (as it did with the unification of Jerusalem), per the restrictions imposed upon the UN by Article 80 of its Charter, that organization has no legal right to change the status of these territories.  The government of Israel, by its refusal to annex these territories immediately, cast doubt on the legal right of the Jewish People to these lands, a grievous error.  Judea, Samaria and Gaza were neither “unallocated territories” nor “territories without a sovereign.”  De jure sovereignty of these territories was always vested in the Jewish People, embodied by the State of Israel, and – putting aside the issues of demography and national electoral rights, both of which are beyond the scope of this paper -- Israel should have acted in a manner befitting a sovereign, namely by exercising its right to annex all of these lands immediately following the culmination of warfare in June 1967.



            Resolution 242 will continue to play a major role in the interaction between Israel and her neighbors now and in the future.  Yet, the importance placed on this Resolution has no basis in international law.  It is merely used as a political weapon against Israel, by nations and international organizations hostile to it, in order to diminish the Jewish State.  What is truly baffling, however, is that Israel’s leadership has not emphasized the irrelevance of this Resolution in regards to her legal rights under international law. 

·         The territories of Gaza, Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are all part of the original Mandate for Palestine, and came into the possession of Arab countries (namely, Egypt, Jordan and Syria) illegally.  The State of Israel, representing the Jewish People, continued to hold the legal title to these lands from the issuance of the Mandate in 1920 until these lands were liberated in 1967.

·         The 1949 Armistice Lines were never intended to be final, recognized borders between Israel and her Arab neighbors; rather they were explicitly stated to be mere ceasefire lines.

·         The circumstances leading up to the outbreak of war on June 5, 1967 were such that Israel launched a preemptive defensive strike against the Arab armies which had surrounded it and had announced their intention to launch a war of aggression and annihilation against the Jewish State.

·         While it is true that Resolution 242 is a Security Council Resolution, because it was passed under Chapter VI and not under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, it is a non-binding directive.  It is merely a recommendation, even if a strongly-worded one.

·         Even if Resolution 242 was a binding Resolution, it would be a bilateral agreement between Israel on the one side, and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan on the other.  Egypt and Syria violated the Resolution’s insistence on negotiations leading to final borders by launching a surprise attack on Israeli forces in October 1973.  Such a fundamental violation of the Resolution by these two countries absolved Israel of any obligation to honor the Resolution with regards to these two countries.  Regarding Jordan, the peace agreement signed in 1994 between Israel and that country renders Resolution 242 irrelevant, as that peace agreement settled the major issues of secure and recognized borders and put an end to the state of belligerency between them.

·         Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from all of the territories captured in the 1967 War.  It states that Israel should exchange territories for Arab recognition of secure and recognized borders.  The Resolution also implies that Israel’s borders prior to June 5, 1967 were neither secure nor recognized.  The 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, which returned 90% of the territory captured by Israel in the Six Day War, surely satisfies this non-specific withdrawal component.

            Thus, Israel was never under any obligation to abide by Resolution 242, because the lands it liberated in that war always legally belonged to the Jewish National Home envisioned by the Mandate for Palestine, which is embodied by the State of Israel.  Yet while Israel is not legally obligated to abide by Resolution 242, it has certainly fulfilled more than its part.  The Arab states, specifically Egypt and Syria, while also not legally obligated to abide by the Resolution, nevertheless grossly violated it in 1973, and continue to allow terrorist proxy organizations to operate from their territories to attack the Jewish State.  Arab countries purposely perpetuate the Palestinian refugee issue, denying citizenship and integration to these Palestinians, in order to use them as a dangerous political and terroristic weapon against Israel.  And, to this day, Arab recognition of Israel does not recognize Israel’s right to exist; rather only the unfortunate fact that Israel does exist.  This includes Egypt and Jordan, the two Arab states with peace treaties and tepid diplomatic ties with Israel. 

The authors of Resolution 242 attempted to create a different type of Resolution after the Six Day War.  The Resolutions which ended the 1948 and 1956 wars were concerned solely with the cessation of hostilities between Israel and her neighbors.  Resolution 242, in contrast, attempted to address the core issues which could lead to a lasting peace in the region.[72]  However, the United Nations ignored three main issues, mainly because it was and still is unable to deal effectively with any issues relating to Justice and Truth.  First of all, the two sides in the 1967 war were not morally equal.  One side was the aggressor, while the other was the victim.  The victim, Israel in this case, triumphed in the final outcome; however that triumph does not retroactively convert Israel, as the victor, into the aggressor.  (Might does not make Right, but it does not necessarily make Wrong.)  Even though Israel emerged victorious from the war, this fact has no ameliorative bearing on the guilt of the Arab parties in commencing hostilities against the Jewish State.  Secondly, requiring the victim of aggression to return territories captured in a war of self-defense only encourages future aggression.  Why should an aggressor fear embarking on another war of aggression if it is allowed to return to the status quo ante that existed before its failed attempt at conquest and annihilation?  Lastly, a dangerous naïveté exists in assuming that something intangible (namely, recognition and peace) can be honestly bartered with something tangible (territory).  Once a tangible object, such as territory, has been transferred, it can only be retaken by force.  It is either in the possession of one side or the other.  However, an intangible thing such as “recognition” or “peace” can be granted one day and rescinded the next, with little or no risk involved.  The equation thus created by Resolution 242 is not only naïve, but it enhances the main weakness of democracies when dealing with dictatorships.  The democracy, in this case Israel, is required to trust the promises of dictatorships, that once recognition is granted and territory transferred, the agreements signed will be honored.  Echoes of the 1938 abandonment and subsequent conquest of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany while the nations of the world stood idly by would do well to remind the leaders of Israel the fate that awaits those countries who subordinate their national interests to the will of the international community and to the promises of dictatorships.

The United Nations as an organization is ill-equipped to solve the existential nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Instead, it confuses cause and effect, morally equates the aggressor and the victim, and treats the issue as a mere territorial conflict between neighbors.  It should be noted that because the United Nations treats democracies and dictatorships as equals, it is inherently unable to make decisions based on Truth and Justice, since these two issues are foreign to dictatorships.  Moreover, whereas democracies reach agreements through compromise, dictatorships reach agreements through the use of force and threats.  Because the international stage is one of anarchy, agreements between nations must be reached through compromise, often between democracies and dictatorships.  Compromise and Justice are certainly not synonymous.  The language of Resolution 242, including its ambiguities, was a deliberate political act in order to ensure the consensus necessary to secure the Resolution’s passage in the Security Council, which automatically implies that the language of the Resolution had more to do with Expediency than with Justice.  Yet, several times the word “just” is mentioned in the Resolution, specifically in regards to achieving a “just and lasting peace” in the region, and to finding a “just settlement of the refugee problem.”  Both of these mentions of justice are pitiful considering that the Resolution goes on to morally equate the victim Israel with her Arab aggressors.  Yet the UN’s moral cowardice is even more evident in its mention of only Israel by name in Resolution 242 (and, then, only in the context of the Resolution’s withdrawal component), despite having a war of annihilation thrust upon it by the combined armies of three Arab states, thus implicitly labeling Israel as the aggressor.  Moreover, the adjective “just” in regards to the refugee problem is grossly hypocritical considering the facts presented regarding the clear favoritism shown by the UN towards UNRWA over UNHCR, despite the latter organization’s greater and far more complicated responsibilities, and the international community’s hypocrisy in refusing to expect the Arab countries to properly integrate the Palestinian refugees residing in their respective countries.

Resolution 242 endangers the State of Israel.  The UN illegally attempted to divide the western portion of the Mandate for Palestine between a Jewish State (authorized by the Mandate) and an Arab State (not authorized by the Mandate) in its 1947 Partition Plan, and failed when Israel finished its War of Independence controlling those lands allocated to it by the plan and more.  The UN shirked its responsibility and raison d’être in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of warfare in 1967, not only failing to prevent the outbreak of war, but contributing significantly to the war’s inevitability by withdrawing UNEF from the Sinai Peninsula.  Resolution 242 is a continuation of that first attempt in 1947 at diminishing the lands to which the Jewish People are entitled under the Mandate for Palestine and international law. 

            Resolution 242 was unable to prevent the outbreak of war in 1973.  The only peace in the Middle East that succeeds is peace through strength and deterrence.    Peace will come from security and not security from peace.[73]  The real root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the Arab refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist within any boundaries.  Therefore, no treaty or peace settlement and no UN Resolution will provide Israel with security.  Only Israel’s deterrent ability prevents war from erupting.  Therefore, Israel should exercise its sovereign rights over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, without fear of causing another regional war.  The Arab dictatorships surrounding Israel will go to war when it suits them, only needing a pretext, not a true moral justification.  The UN is no different, as it has always found a pretext for criticizing and condemning Israel.  Thus, Israel should cease fearing these inevitabilities, as it is condemned regardless of its behavior or the legality of its actions, and exercise its true, legal rights in its Land.

·         Israel should annex Judea, Samaria and Gaza, under its legal right to these lands as sanctioned by the San Remo Peace Conference and the Mandate for Palestine.

·         Israel should publicly declare that it has no responsibility to find any settlement for Palestinian refugees, as their status has been purposely perpetuated by Arab countries and the United Nations, in order to be used as a powerful demographic, political and terroristic weapon against the Jewish State.  The Arab states have more than enough land and resources to adequately incorporate the several million Palestinian refugees into their countries.

            Israel should not only state its case and its rights under international law, but it should realize that it will never receive fair and unbiased treatment in an organization such as the UN, which is based on Bargaining and not Justice.  Israel would be better to withdraw from that organization rather than to continue being unjustly disparaged, criticized and condemned for daring to defend itself.  There is no excuse for Israel’s having allowed Resolution 242 to gain the international standing and legitimacy which it has over the years.  Israel should have exposed that Resolution, as it should have exposed so many others, as unjust and irrelevant.  Israel’s leadership must begin to properly, proudly and forthrightly defend Israel’s right to exist and protect itself.  While this surely won’t solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it will allow Israel and her citizens to not only dwell more securely, but know that they have the right to.



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[1] Grief, Howard. The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law. (Jerusalem: Mazo Publishers, 2008), 18.

[2] First World War, http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/versailles.htm (Accessed June 3, 2010)

[3] Treaty of Versailles, Article 22

[4] Grief, 33-36.

[5] Mandate for Palestine, Preamble.

[6] Mandate for Palestine

[7] Palestine Facts, World War I, Creation of Jordan, http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_ww1_british_mandate_jordan.php (Accessed June 6, 2010)

[8] The Peace FAQ, The Golan Heights, http://www.peacefaq.com/golan.html (Accessed June 6, 2010)

[9] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), Part I / A (3).

[10] Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN General Assembly Resolution 181, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/UN%20General%20Assembly%20Resolution%20181 (Accessed July 2, 2010)

[11] Jewish Virtual Library, Myths and Facts, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf3.html (Accessed July 2, 2010)

[12] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), A (c)

[13] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), Part I / C, Chapter 2.

[14] Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement, February 24, 1949, Article V(2).

[15] Charter of the United Nations, Article 1(1).

[16] Charter of the United Nations, Article 11(1).

[17] Charter of the United Nations, Article 11(3).

[18] Charter of the United Nations, Article 43, Paragraph 1.

[19] UN Security Council Resolution 661 of August 6, 1990.

[20] Netanyahu, Benjamin, A Durable Peace, (New York: Warner Books, 2000), 142.

[21] Oren, Michael. Six Days of War, (New York: Presidio Press, 2003), 46.

[22] Netanyahu, 144-145.

[23] Nasser quoted in H. Sachar, History of Israel, 633. Cited in Netanyahu, A Durable Peace, 143.

[24] Pogany, Istvan S. The Security Council and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. (England: Gower Publishing Co. Ltd., 1984), 88-90.

[25] Bailey, 164.

[26] Bailey, 165-167.

[27] Oren, 77-79.

[28] Oren, 157-158.

[29] Pogany, 90.

[30] Oren, 184.

[31] Bailey, Sydney D. The Making of Resolution 242. (Dordrecht:Martinus Nujhoff Publishers, 1985), 68-69.

[32] Netanyahu, 148.

[33] Bailey, 91-92.

[34] Oren, 306.

[35] Charter of the United Nations, Article 2(4).

[36] Charter of the United Nations, Article 51.

[37] Answers.com, US Military Dictionary, http://www.answers.com/topic/preventive-war (Accessed July 20, 2010)

[38] Answers.com, US Military Dictionary, http://www.answers.com/topic/preemptive-war (Accessed July 20, 2010)

[39] Shue, Henry and David Rodin. Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 88.

[40] Pogany, 96-97.

[41] Bailey, 172.

[42] Bailey, 177-178.

[43] Bailey, 144-145.

[44] Bailey, 153-157.

[45] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Statements Clarifying the Meaning of UN Security Council Resolution 242, http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/peace%20process/guide%20to%20the%20peace%20process/statements%20clarifying%20the%20meaning%20of%20un%20security%20c (Accessed July 15, 2010)

[46] Bailey, 152-153.

[47] Pogany, 107.

[48] Eidelberg, Paul. Sadat’s Strategy, (Canada: Dawn Books, 1979), 120-122.

[49] United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, 2(b)

[50] Netanyahu, 154-155.

[51] United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), Paragraph 6, December 11, 1948.

[52] Beker, Avi. The United Nations and Israel. (USA: Lexington Books, 1988), 49-50.

[53] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c2.html (Accessed June 2, 2010)

[54] UNRWA, Overview, http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=85 (Accessed June 2, 2010)

[55] Beker, 50-51.

[56] Salibi, Kamil. The Modern History of Jordan (London: I.B. Tauris and Co., 1998), 225.

[57] Netanyahu, 150-151.

[58] Bailey, 178-180.

[59] Salibi, 251.

[60] Palestine Facts, Rabat Arab Summit, http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_rabat_1974.php, (Accessed 30 May 2010)

[61] Salibi, 268.

[62] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel Jordan Peace Treaty, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Main%20Points%20of%20Israel-Jordan%20Peace%20Treaty (Accessed 18 July 2010)

[63] PLO Charter, Article 19.

[64] PLO Charter, Article 21.

[65] Netanyahu, 230-232.

[66] Abu Iyad interviewed on BBC, November 10, 1985. Cited in Netanyahu, A Durable Peace, 228.

[67] Netanyahu, 157-161.

[68] The Jewish Virtual Library, Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/Basic_Law_Jerusalem.html (Accessed July 20, 2010)

[69] The Jewish Virtual Library, The Golan Heights Law, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/golan.html (Accessed July 20, 2010)

[70] Grief, 688-689.

[71] Netanyahu, 341.

[72] Pogany, 108.

[73] Netanyahu, 272-275.