What was United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and what does it say?
Keeping in view the deteriorating situation between Israel and Palestine that followed the Six Day War, the Security Council of United Nations prepared a resolution to guide these two parties in reaching a peaceful solution. Since that time, UN Resolution 242 has been used as a framework for carrying out other negotiating acts which includes the Oslo Accords and ‘Road Map’ peace plan.
Formulation of the Resolution
All the major powers of the world had been trying to find a just solution for the situation of Israel and Palestine even before the Six Day War had started. After the war, international community ensured that it is peace settlement through which the Arab-Israeli hostilities could be prevented instead of a third party arrangement or the armistice agreements, strategies that had been used to end wars previously.
However, achieving unanimity was difficult to reach with Arabs and Soviet Union not in harmony with the ideas presented by Israel and the West regarding what steps to be taken. Where Soviets and Arabs insisted that all blame should be put on Israel and demanded them to withdraw to the pre-war lines, Israel and the USA saw Arabs as the ones who should be blamed and they were not eager to go back to the combustible pre-war state.
After a failed attempt to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council, the matter was taken to General Assembly and turned down once again. The next proposal before the Security Council was made by UN Ambassador Arthur Goldberg who called for a final peace agreement between the parties. According to him, “Israeli troops must be asked to withdraw from the territories and all the states be recognized as well.” Although parties disagreeing to his proposal, Goldberg’s proposal would go on to become a basis for the successful words of British Ambassador Lord Caradon.
The language of Caradon’s resolution was built upon Goldberg’s principles as it demanded withdrawal of the Israeli troops, although without specifying the territories and for “[t]ermination 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 text of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 reads as:
“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,
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:
Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
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;
Affirms further the necessity
For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
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;
Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.”
Response to the Resolution
Drafters of the resolution stated clearly that Israel should not be asked to withdraw to the pre-war armistice lines as doing that would leave the Jewish state more vulnerable. The Soviets voted in favor of the resolution along with the Security Council after seeing Caradon’s resolution as a compromise and also the one that had the most chances of being passed. Jordan and Israel were next to readily vote for the resolution – with Israel insisting to meet the negotiating parties face-to-face. Syria, Palestine, Libya, Iraq and some other Arab countries plainly rejected the resolution while Egypt made an ostensible acceptance.