Is it true that Israel is in violation of UN resolutions?

Is it true that Israel is in violation of UN resolutions?

Israel MFA

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:

  1. Israel is attacked.
  2. Israel defends itself.
  3. The UN or other international group steps in to end the violence, calling for both sides to take certain actions to resolve the situation.
  4. Israel attempts to comply but the intransigence and non-compliance of Israel's enemies delays implementation.
  5. Israel is blamed for failing to comply while the failures of Israel's enemies are ignored.
This pattern repeats over the decades: Sinai, 1967 war, 1973 war, Lebanon, and in 2002 with regard to Israeli actions in the territories, actions taken in reaction to a wave of homicide bombings in Israel. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 997 passed on November 2, 1956 in response to the Sinai Campaign, calls for all parties "to desist from raids across the [1949] armistice lines into neighbouring territory", specifically referring to the hundreds of fedayeen attacks carried out against Israel in the early 1950s. But even though Israel withdrew from Sinai as required, Egyptian violations of this provision continued through the years, eventually one of the causes leading to the 1967 Six Day War. When Israel has been subject to a "UN Resolution" you first have to ask what type of resolution it was. Resolutions of the General Assembly are merely recommendations and many Security Council actions are too. There is no force of law to any UN resolution, and Israel cannot be accused of anything more than deciding that the resolution is not in Israel's national interest. Resolutions of the Security Council are of two types, falling under either:
  • 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.
The article by Dore Gold, "Baseless Comparisons: UN Security Council Resolutions on Iraq and Israel ", explains the difference between Chapter VI and Chapter VII resolutions of the UN and the fact that Israel has never been subject to a Chapter VII resolution. The most famous example is UN Security Council Resolution 242 (UNSCR 242) -- the "land for peace" resolution passed after the Six Day War. Palestinian Arab advocates consistently maintain that Israel has to pull out of the West Bank based on 242, but UNSCR 242 doesn't say that. UNSCR 242 actually calls for a dual requirement, Israeli withdrawal coupled with:
  • "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;"
Since there are no "secure and recognized boundaries f ree from threats or acts of force", Israel is under no obligation to withdraw. UNSCR 242 is a Chapter VI resolution calling for a negotiated settlement, not immediate action by Israel alone. On March 30, 2002 in response to Israel's Operation Defensive Shield against terrorist bases and operatives in the territories, the UN passed UNSCR 1402. One line of that Resolution, "calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah" -- that is the line often used in verbal attacks on Israel. But another, equally valid line calls for "an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction." Why should Israel withdraw until the acts of the latter sentence have ceased, including provocation and incitement that continue among Palestinian Arabs at a fever pitch? This is especially true given that Israeli withdrawal would certainly increase the potential and opportunity for more acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction. Israel has been very good on compliance when the entire resolution is taken into account, not just the sentence the anti-Israel advocate wants you to look at. In response to accusations against Israel based on UN Resolutions, the question must be asked: "Exactly what UN Resolution is Israel violating?" It is certainly true that many of the UN Resolutions have not been implemented, but is Israel at fault? Does Israel have to implement its obligations before others implement theirs? Does Israel have to risk increased damage, death and destruction with no corresponding action on other requirements of the resolutions? And what about resolutions where Israel has complied? What have been the results? Resolutions 425/426 regarding Lebanon led to Israel's withdrawal in 2000 and Israel has been certified by the UN as being in full compliance. But attacks against Israel across that border continued and even escalated. Despite the fact that Israel has been subject to a barrage of attacks by its enemies using the UN as a platform, resulting in many unwarranted resolutions of censure against Israel, Israel's actual record of compliance is quite good when all factors are taken into account.

§ 6 Responses to Is it true that Israel is in violation of UN resolutions?"

  • John Israel says:

    Boo-hoo…your factual inaccuracies and convenient oversights of not so flattering details is only overshadowed by your cries of victimization. I hope this website is run by racist elementary students, otherwise there is no excuse for the content of this sight. Given the current situation west of the Jordan river, the past 70+ years of history in the region, and the total dominance of political policy and war by Israel, this sight seems entirely unnecessary and is only looked upon unfavorably by those with educated backgrounds or the ability to read and process information. In other words, the only minds you would be able sway with your biased whines of foul play are those simple enough to already be followiing your lead like zombies walking off a cliff.

    • Ysrael Arieh says:

      The best thing is that no matter what all those enemies do, we are the only survivors of everything 😉 We’ll talk in a few years after you manage to destroy yourselves with your internal wars and trying to control all your radicalized groups

  • A Citizen says:

    To John “Israel”. Try reading an actual book on the subject. All these “factual inaccuracies” are in many of them. Popular opinion does not dictate fact. Facts are that Israel traded land for peace numerous times and was rewarded with more violence. Just because you’re deluded doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to follow your confused example. And, one final note: On the day that the 300,000 Jewish refugees can return to their homes in Arab lands and live without fear, Palestinians may do the same. Fair is fair.

  • Kirk Augustin says:

    Nonsense. Not only can Jews return to their homes in Arab lands, but there are still Jews in extreme Islamic states ranging from Afghanistan to Iran. There are 30,000 Jews living in Tehran alone. Nor did Jews have to leave Europe in 1948. Europe was the safest place in the world for them in 1948. Nor is it sane to believe Palestinians should give up their homes to pay for the sins of others. Israel has NEVER tried to trade land for peace. For they NEVER allowed the millions of Arabs illegally dispossess from their homes in Israel, to return. They have NEVER stopped building illegal settlements on the occupied territories. Never once did they show any intent to follow the Oslo Accord and give any land back. They pulled out of Gaza because it was a concentration camp with the highest population density in the world, and they found it was too expensive to administer. That is not a gift, considering they won’t let anyone leave or enter.
    Israel has never complied with a single UN Resolution, because the US won’t ever let anyone prosecute their crimes.

  • Denis Hay says:

    The behaviour of the Jewish State towards Palestine does not seem much different to the way the Nazis behaved towards the Jews in the Second World War. The Jewish State does not seem to have a conscious and should be investigated for War crimes.

  • Big-one5 says:

    I did read all notes and all resolutions and all documents of the United Nations. At all times observers agreed that the faction doing and initiating aggression was Israel. They will go and remove people of their lands. Usually old people women and children and claim that Palestinians started it. Is all in black and white. The latest is that Israel has oil. Which do not belong to Israel as those are disputed lands that Israel has been ordered to abandon. The water of Israel do not belong to Israel. If it wasn’t for U.S giving state of the art weapons and technologies to Israel, and acting as protectorate, Israel would had given the lands back. Matter of fact Netay or whatever he call himself now a days, went to MIT and gave a speech where he wanted Palestine dissipated because Palestine had too many states. He declared that they can live in a free and true democracy and have rights to vote. A democracy under an Israel flag. So stop spelling lies.

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