No, the New U.S. Peace Plan Doesn’t Violate UN Resolutions

February 10, 2020 | Evelyn Gordon
About the author: Evelyn Gordon is a commentator and former legal-affairs reporter who immigrated to Israel in 1987. In addition to Mosaic, she has published in the Jerusalem Post, Azure, Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs at Evelyn Gordon.

In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, cited in every subsequent peacemaking proposal, calling on Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The then-U.S. ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg has stated—as has his British counterpart, who drafted the resolution—that the text deliberately does not say “the territories” or “all the territories”; in other words, it emphatically did not demand a complete Israeli withdrawal. Thus, writes Evelyn Gordon, the oft-repeated claim that the recent American peace proposal violates UN resolutions is incorrect; to the contrary, it is the first to take Resolution 242 seriously:

In the resolution’s own words, a “just and lasting peace” would require “secure and recognized boundaries” for all states in the region. But the pre-1967 lines (properly, the 1949 armistice lines) did not and could not provide secure boundaries for Israel. As Goldberg explained, the resolution called for “less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces” precisely because “Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be notably insecure.” And since Israel had captured these territories in a defensive rather than an offensive war, the drafters considered such territorial changes fully compatible with the resolution’s preamble “emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”

But then, having successfully defeated the Arab and Soviet demand that Israel be required to cede “all the territories,” America abandoned its hard-won achievement just two years later, when it proposed the Rogers Plan. That plan called for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines with only minor adjustments. . . . This formula made a mockery of Resolution 242 because it failed to provide Israel with “secure boundaries.” Yet almost every subsequent proposal retained the idea of the 1967 lines with minor adjustments, even as all of them continued paying lip service to 242.

Now, for the first time, a plan has attempted to take that resolution seriously and provide Israel with defensible borders. . . . The plan’s limited version of Palestinian sovereignty derives from the need for defensible borders as well, since as the past quarter-century has shown, Palestinian military control over territory means kissing Israeli security goodbye.

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