Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekly Commentary: Understanding 242 - it's not what the Arabs and their allies claim

Weekly Commentary: Understanding 242 - it's not what the Arabs and their
allies claim

Dr. Aaron Lerner

This week's barefaced Palestinian lie that the September 4, 1999 Sharm
el-Sheikh Memorandum obligated Israel to release all terrorists held for
terror attacks carried out before Oslo served as a reminder of the danger of
ignoring ongoing public misrepresentation of such key documents as UNSC 242.
For just as Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat distort the truth by closing their
eyes to the significance of the missing "the" in UNSC 242 (the absence of
the "the" makes 242 call for withdrawal but without requiring full
withdrawal) , they implicitly deny the significance of the missing "the" in
the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum in the section dealing with the release of

Here is the actual wording: "The Government of Israel shall release
Palestinian and other prisoners who committed their offences prior to
September 13, 1993, and were arrested prior to May 4, 1994."
Not "release the Palestinian and other prisoners".
Not "release all Palestinian and other prisoners".
The meaning: some should be released - not ALL.

To emphasize: this it not a matter of equally valid contending
interpretations of the meaning of an English sentence.

Buried to this day on the website of the Israel Foreign Ministry is an
excellent presentation of statements made by officials from various nations
that UN Security Council Resolution does not, as the Arabs and their allies
claim, require a total Israeli withdrawal.

It is noteworthy that these remarks all pre-date the Israeli withdrawal from
Sinai - a withdrawal that ceded to the Arabs the overwhelming majority of
the land covered by Resolution 242.

The Sinai, thanks to its great size and specific topography lends itself to
the establishment of security arrangements based on a series of zones with
force restrictions, thus making it possible to maintain that withdrawal from
Sinai could possibly entail a withdrawal to a secure border.

After the Yom Kippur War Israel also carried out a withdrawal in the Golan
from the area of Kuneitra, a move that was defended at the time to be a
redeployment to a secure line, with additional withdrawals not feasible on
security grounds (talk of "technological substitutes" that hinge on the
assumption that the Arabs will never acquire technology to overcome these
substitutes is more window dressing than anything).

With regard to the West Bank, a secure border and a Palestinian state is a
contradiction in terms.

The presentation is repeated below in full as a proper understanding of 242
is an essential building block that, unfortunately, has been lacking in most
public discourse.

How did the Arabs succeed in convincing so many people to accept their
distorted interpretation of 242?

They didn't do it alone.

Israeli officials, for the most part, have shied away from talking about 242
over the years, leaving the field open for the false claims of the Arabs
regarding 242 to be repeated again and again essentially unchallenged.
And when a lie is repeated enough times...
Statements Clarifying the Meaning of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242
Even before the beginning of the Jarring Mission (the Special Representative
as mentioned in the Resolution), the Arab States insisted that Security
Council Resolution 242 called for a total withdrawal of Israeli forces from
territories occupied in the Six-Day War. Israel held that the withdrawal
phrase in the Resolution was not meant to refer to a total withdrawal.
Following are statements including the interpretations of various
delegations to Resolution 242:

A. United Kingdom

Lord Caradon, sponsor of the draft that was about to be adopted, stated,
before the vote in the Security Council on Resolution 242:

"... the draft Resolution is a balanced whole. To add to it or to detract
from it would destroy the balance and also destroy the wide measure of
agreement we have achieved together. It must be considered as a whole as it
stands. I suggest that we have reached the stage when most, if not all, of
us want the draft Resolution, the whole draft Resolution and nothing but the
draft Resolution." (S/PV 1382, p. 31, of 22.11.67)

Lord Caradon, interviewed on Kol Israel in February 1973:
Question: "This matter of the (definite) article which is there in French
and is missing in English, is that really significant?"

Answer: "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... "

Mr. Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs, in reply to a question in Parliament, 17 November 1969:
Question: "What is the British interpretation of the wording of the 1967
Resolution? Does the Right Honourable Gentleman understand it to mean that
the Israelis should withdraw from all territories taken in the late war?"
Mr. Stewart: "No, Sir. That is not the phrase used in the Resolution. The
Resolution speaks of secure and recognized boundaries. These words must be
read concurrently with the statement on withdrawal."

Mr. Michael Stewart, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs, in a reply to a question in Parliament, 9 December 1969:
"As I have explained before, there is reference, in the vital United Nations
Security Council Resolution, both to withdrawal from territories and to
secure and recognized boundaries. As I have told the House previously, we
believe that these two things should be read concurrently and that the
omission of the word 'all' before the word 'territories' is deliberate."
Mr. George Brown, British Foreign Secretary in 1967, on 19 January 1970:
"I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the
wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was
very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise
to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. "I formulated the Security
Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to
Arab leaders. The proposal said 'Israel will withdraw from territories that
were occupied', and not from 'the' territories, which means that Israel will
not withdraw from all the territories." (The Jerusalem Post, 23.1.70)

B. United States of America

Mr. Arthur Goldberg, US representative, in the Security Council in the
course of the discussions which preceded the adoption of Resolution 242:
"To seek withdrawal without secure and recognized boundaries ... would be
just as fruitless as to seek secure and recognized boundaries without
withdrawal. Historically, there have never been secure or recognized
boundaries in the area. Neither the armistice lines of 1949 nor the
cease-fire lines of 1967 have answered that description... such boundaries
have yet to be agreed upon. An agreement on that point is an absolute
essential to a just and lasting peace just as withdrawal is... " (S/PV.
1377, p. 37, of 15. 11.67)

President Lyndon Johnson, 10 September 1968:

"We are not the ones to say where other nations should draw lines between
them that will assure each the greatest security. It is clear, however, that
a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be
secure and there must be recognized borders. Some such lines must be agreed
to by the neighbours involved."

Mr. Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State, 12 July 1970 (NBC "Meet the

"That Resolution did not say 'withdrawal to the pre-June 5 lines'. The
Resolution said that the parties must negotiate to achieve agreement on the
so-called final secure and recognized borders. In other words, the question
of the final borders is a matter of negotiations between the parties."
Eugene V. Rostow, Professor of Law and Public Affairs, Yale University, who,
in 1967, was US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs:
a) "... Paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of
Israeli armed forces 'from territories occupied in the recent conflict', and
not 'from the territories occupied in the recent conflict'. Repeated
attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word 'the' failed in the
Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the
provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied
under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines."
(American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
b) "The agreement required by paragraph 3. of the Resolution, the Security
Council said, should establish 'secure and recognized boundaries' between
Israel and its neighbours 'free from threats or acts of force', to replace
the Armistice Demarcation lines established in 1949, and the cease-fire
lines of June 1967. The Israeli armed forces should withdraw to such lines
as part of a comprehensive agreement, settling all the issues mentioned in
the Resolution, and in a condition of peace." (American Journal of
International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 68)


Mr. Vasily Kuznetsov said in discussions that preceded the adoption of
Resolution 242:

"... Phrases such as 'secure and recognized boundaries'. What does that
mean? What boundaries are these? Secure, recognized - by whom, for what? Who
is going to judge how secure they are? Who must recognize them? ... There is
certainly much leeway for different interpretations which retain for Israel
the right to establish new boundaries and to withdraw its troops only as far
as the lines which it judges convenient." (S/PV. 1373, p. 112, of 9.11.67)

D. Brazil

Mr. Geraldo de Carvalho Silos, Brazilian representative, speaking in the
Security Council after the adoption of Resolution 242:
"We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East
has necessarily to be based on secure, permanent boundaries freely agreed
upon and negotiated by the neighbouring States." (S/PV. 1382, p. 66,

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730