Genève, 14 november 1920. Eerste bijeenkomst van de Volkerenbond, de directe voorloper van de Verenigde Naties. De Brit Sir James Eric Drummond was de eerste secretaris-generaal. In het midden (5de van links rond de tafel) de Belgische vertegenwoordiger Paul Hymans (1865-1941), toenmalig minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, die de eerste president van de Volkerenbond werd en deze eerste bijeenkomst leidde. Op 26 juni 1945 werden de Verenigde Naties opgericht en werd enkele maanden later de Volkerenbond officieel opgedoekt.
Met onbevestigde geruchten in de pers over wat waarschijnlijk in het vredesproces in de komende maanden zal gebeuren, is het thans tijd om te herinneren wat de rechten van Israël zijn in zijn territoriale geschillen met de Palestijnen omtrent de toekomst van de Westelijke Jordaanoever.
Deze rechten werden voor het eerst vastgelegd in de meest beroemde en belangrijke VN-resolutie in het vredesproces, de VN-Veiligheidsraad Resolutie 242.
Deze maand markeert de verjaardag van de resolutie. Het eerste ontwerp werd voorgesteld op 7 november 1967, terwijl het definitieve ontwerp unaniem door alle 15 leden van de Veiligheidsraad op 22 november van dat jaar werd aangenomen.
Om de betekenis van Resolutie 242 te begrijpen (zie onderaan de volledige tekst van de resolutie) is het geen oefening in de studie van een een of ander obscuur aspect van tientallen jaren oude diplomatieke geschiedenis.
In de loop der jaren is deze de Resolutie uitgegroeid tot de basis van het gehele vredesproces, waaronder het Egyptisch-Israëlische vredesverdrag uit 1979, de vredesconferentie in Madrid van 1991, de Oslo Akkoorden van 1993, het Jordaans-Israëlische vredesverdrag uit 1994 en de ontwerp-akkoorden met Syrië.
Terug in 1973, aan de vooravond van de Geneefse Vredesconferentie, hebben de Verenigde Staten zelfs een brief gezonden aan Israël met de verzekering dat het zou voorkomen dat gelijk welke partij met Resolutie 242 zou willen knoeien. De Israëlische diplomatie heeft getracht om Resolutie 242 te beschermen alsof het de kroonjuwelen waren van de Joodse staat.
Resolutie 242 is het best bekend om zijn beroemde terugtrekkingsclausule, die Israël niet oproept om zich terug te trekken achter de vooroorlogse 1967 lijnen. Terwijl de Sovjet-Unie erop aandrong dat de resolutie specifiek zou eisen om ‘een terugtrekking uit alle bezette gebieden’ door Israël in de Zesdaagse Oorlog, gingen de VS en Groot-Brittannië hier tegenin met heel andere bewoordingen die tot uiting kwamen in het definitieve ontwerp, dat uiteindelijk werd aangenomen door alle 15 leden van de Veiligheidsraad. Het zou alleen maar stellen dat er een terugtrekking moest gebeuren ‘uit gebieden’ (zie onderaan: Punt 1 (i) “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”]
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. Indeed, Article 2 of the original 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan clearly stipulated that it did not prejudice the territorial “claims and positions” of the parties since its provisions were “dictated exclusively by military considerations.”
The battle over the language of the withdrawal clause was not just conducted by overly legalistic advisers to the British and American missions to the U.N.; everyone understood that these distinctions had enormous significance, for they went all the way to the apex of power in both Washington and Moscow and were settled in direct communications between President Lyndon Johnson and Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin.
The British, under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, were the main drafters of Resolution 242. Their Ambassador to the U.N. in 1967, Lord Caradon, clarified what the language of the withdrawal clause meant in an interview published in 1976 in the Journal of Palestine Studies: “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. Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong.”
Any Israeli withdrawal had to be to “secure and recognized borders,” as the resolution stated.
Lord Caradon’s American counterpart, Arthur Goldberg, fully supported this interpretation repeatedly over the years, such as in his 1988 statement: “The resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal.” Goldberg was a legal scholar who served previously on the U.S. Supreme Court, before coming to the U.N.
Others backed his interpretation as well. The senior U.S. figure in the State Department with responsibility for the Middle East, Joseph Sisco, went on NBC’s Meet the Press on July 12, 1970, and also said: “That resolution  did not say ‘withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines.”’ In short, there was no argument about how Resolution 242 should be interpreted. 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.
By the way, 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 the Gaza Strip (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. In his memoirs, Abba Eban, then Israel’s foreign minister, described the readiness of the U.S. and Britain, in particular, to agree to a revision of the pre-war boundaries as a “major breakthrough” for Israeli diplomacy.
Yet there were also efforts underway over the years to erode this Israeli achievement. Some diplomats argued that the French version of the resolution said “from the territories,” rather than “from territories.” Anglo-American diplomacy had carefully avoided the definite article in the English version. Whether the French version was a translation mistake or a consequence of how French grammar deals with abstract nouns didn’t matter. Resolution 242 was negotiated in English, and 10 out of 15 members of the U.N. Security Council were English-speaking countries. Thus the English version of Resolution 242 was the decisive version to work with.
In 1970, British Prime Minister Wilson had been replaced by Edward Heath. In January 1973, Britain joined the European Economic Community, leading to a major erosion of its position on Resolution 242. On Nov. 6, 1973, in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the EEC issued a joint declaration which reflected its own growing sense of vulnerability to threats of an Arab oil embargo. It was a time when no European state would even allow U.S. cargo aircraft with badly needed spare parts for the IDF to refuel on their way to Israel — only Portugal agreed, but insisted on the U.S. using its airfield in the Azores. Europe as a collective felt it needed to appease the Arab oil-producers. As a result, the EEC declaration, which now included Britain, explicitly stated that Israel had to withdraw to the armistice lines of 1949. Under pressure, the British abandoned the essence of a resolution that they themselves had drafted six years earlier.
One of the intriguing aspects of Resolution 242 was that it said nothing about Jerusalem. In a letter to The New York Times on March 6, 1980, Arthur Goldberg wrote: “Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate.” He explained that he never described Jerusalem as “occupied territory.” Goldberg was reacting to the policy of the Carter administration, which was criticizing Israeli construction practices in east Jerusalem and misrepresenting Israel’s legal rights. Goldberg believed that the status of Jerusalem had to be negotiated, but he insisted that “Jerusalem was not to be divided again.”
Israel itself may have contributed to confusion about its rights in Jerusalem. The 1993 Oslo Accords formally recognized Jerusalem as a subject for future final status negotiations. Yet that did not mean that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was prepared to re-divide Jerusalem. Negotiability was one thing; withdrawal was something else. In his final Knesset address, on Oct. 5, 1995, one month before he was assassinated, Rabin declared: “The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six-Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines.” Rabin spoke the language of Resolution 242. He added that Israel would retain “a united Jerusalem.”
The effort to erode Israel’s rights recognized in Resolution 242 has continued. Over the past few years, the Middle East Quartet suggested to Israel that if it would say that the basis of the negotiations would be the 1967 lines, then Mahmoud Abbas would come back to the negotiations. This strategy didn’t work back then and contradicted Resolution 242.
Ultimately, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry succeeded in restarting negotiations without making the 1967 lines the basis of a final settlement. As Israel engages in the current sensitive talks with the Palestinians, it is imperative that it recall its legal rights, especially to those states who voted for Resolution 242 but now demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 lines, contrary to what the U.N. originally established.
door Dore Gold
(in een uitgewerkte vertaling van Brabosh.com)
Dore Gold was van 1997 tot 1999 afgevaardigde voor Israël aan de Verenigde Naties en is tegenwoordig voorzitter van het Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA.)
United Nations Security Council – S/RES/242 (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 fulfilment 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 Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment 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 the 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.
Adopted unanimously at the 1382nd meeting.
- Israel Hayom:
♦ The assault on Resolution 242 – With unconfirmed rumors appearing in the press about what is likely to happen in the peace process in the months ahead, now is the time to recall exactly what Israel’s rights are in its territorial dispute with the Palestinians over the future of the West Bank; door Dore Gold [lezen]
- From Wikipedia:
♦ United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 [lezen]
- Myths and Facts:
♦ UN Security Council Resolution 242 – Adopted: November 22, 1967; door Eli E. Hertz [lezen]
- United Nations:
♦ UNITED NATIONS Security Council – S/RES/242 (1967) – Resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 [lezen]
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