Nov. 13, 2015
48 Years Since Resolution 242: The Cornerstone of the Arab-Israeli Peace Process – Dore Gold (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- This month marks the anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Over the years the resolution evolved into the basis of the entire peace process, including the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the 1991 Madrid peace conference, the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, and draft agreements with Syria. The U.S. even provided a letter of assurance to Israel that it would prevent any party from tampering with Resolution 242.
- Resolution 242 did not call on Israel to pull back to the pre-war 1967 lines. The U.S. and Britain recognized that the pre-1967 line had only been an armistice line from 1949 and was not a final international border.
- The British Ambassador to the UN in 1967, Lord Caradon, clarified what the language of the resolution’s withdrawal clause meant: “We could have said, ‘Well, you go back to the 1967 line.’ But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.”
- Any Israeli withdrawal had to be to “secure and recognized borders,” as the resolution stated. Israel had rights to retain some West Bank territory, so that at the end of the day it could obtain defensible borders in any future political settlement.
- It is notable that, according to Resolution 242, Israel was entitled to this territory without having to pay for it with its own pre-1967 territory. There were no land swaps in Resolution 242. Nor was there any corridor crossing Israeli sovereign territory so that the West Bank could be connected to Gaza (just as there is no land corridor across Canada connecting Alaska to the rest of the U.S.). These diplomatic innovations were thought of by negotiators in the 1990s, but Israel in no way is required to agree to them, according to Resolution 242.
The writer is director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.