Is it true that Israel is in violation of UN resolutions?
Map of UN 181 Partition Plan, 1947
It is often claimed that Israel “is in violation of UN resolutions”. Some anti-Israel websites complain about “66 UN resolutions Israel ignores”. To respond requires a review of what UN resolutions have been passed on the subject of Israel and its neighbors, what is their actual content, and what have been the actions of all the parties involved, not just Israel.
In the 1940s, the United Nations was formed by the victors in World War II. The new body explicitly took over the existing agreements made by the League of Nations, including the British-administered Mandate for Palestine. When the war-exhausted British decided to abandon the Mandate in 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for a plan that would partition the 22% of the Mandate for Palestine that was west of the Jordan River into a Palestinian Jewish state and a Palestinian Arab state, each in a shape that attempted to encompass most of their respective populations. Jerusalem was left out, to be a separate internationally-administered area. The 78% of the Mandate for Palestine that was east of the Jordan River was left as the British had decided -- to be the Arab country of Jordan (partly shown on the map under its former name of Transjordan), with a majority population of Palestinian Arabs and no Jews allowed. Notwithstanding the manifestly unfair nature of this division, against the Jews -- especially in light of the thousands of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who had nowhere to go but Palestine -- the representatives of the Jewish community accepted the division and declared the State of Israel within the UN-determined borders on May 15, 1948. Palestinian Arabs could have done the same and had a State of Palestine right then and there. But the Arab leadership rejected the plan, solely on the basis that they wanted no Jewish state at all. That is, it was not a dispute about the details of borders or any other issue. They rejected any Jewish presence in the region and went immediately to war to destroy the newborn Israel. The Arab actions were in defiance of the UN partition plan and all other international laws against aggression. When the Arab war of aggression failed, armistice agreements (not peace treaties) were negotiated with UN help and the long, twilight, underground war of the Arab countries and the Palestinian Arabs against Israel began. Israel's borders were not permanent, internationally recognized limits but only lines where troops happened to be when the cease-fire was arranged. This fact made them hard to defend and allowed terrorist operations against Israel from day one. Jordan occupied the areas of the Mandate called Judea and Samaria, renaming the area "the West Bank". Egypt occupied the strip of coastal land called Gaza. These occupations were not internationally recognized, but were not condemned either. Palestinian Arabs did not object to occupation by Jordan and Egypt or demand a Palestinian Arab state. UN Resolution 194 of November 12, 1948 dealt with the issues of the then-in-progress War of Independence. It set up an international Conciliation Commission to mediate between the parties and made provisions for the return or resettlement of refugees. The resolution says nothing solely about "Arab refugees" and clearly applies to both Arab and Jewish refugees of the Arab-instigated war. But Resolution 194 is only mentioned today when demanding rights for Arabs to return to Israel, something that is neither in the wording of Resolution 194 nor would be considered rational except in a different world, a world in which Jews could freely return to Arab lands and live there in peace. Those who demand compensation for Arab refugees have to also consider the loss of life, home, and property by hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were forced out of Arab countries in the same time period. The pattern was established:
- Israel is attacked.
- Israel defends itself.
- The UN or other international group steps in to end the violence, calling for both sides to take certain actions to resolve the situation.
- Israel attempts to comply but the intransigence and non-compliance of Israel's enemies delays implementation.
- Israel is blamed for failing to comply while the failures of Israel's enemies are ignored.
- Chapter VII, dealing with "Threats to Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression", resolutions that require compliance by the subject nation and carry the threat of force that may be used to compel compliance, or
- Chapter VI, dealing with "Pacific Resolution of Disputes", resolutions that are meant to be implemented through negotiation or other voluntary means.
- "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;"