, Volume 90, Number 6

David McDowall

Today the international community seems at a loss as to how to transact peace between Israel and Palestine (and Syria). UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 provides the principles for that peace. Yet there has always been a perceived ambiguity about its withdrawal clause. Diplomatic and UN records show clearly what the Security Council intended in Resolution 242. Nine of 15 members wanted total withdrawal, and the minority saw the virtue of small adjustments to the 1949 Armistice Line to accommodate Israel’s demand for ‘secure and recognized’ borders. Every Security Council member upheld the overarching principle, ‘the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.’ Those who drafted Resolution 242 seem not to have checked that its terms were consonant with the Fourth Geneva Convention, even though they recognized the Convention applied. The Convention renders it illegal for those under occupation to agree terms with the Occupying Power which infringe the rights and protections of the Convention. Since the Convention remains in force until the end of occupation, no peace agreement which includes the adjustment of borders or ceding territory may be concluded until after a full withdrawal has taken place—a requirement fully consonant with Resolution 242’s ‘inadmissibility’ principle, and removing any doubt regarding the requirement for a full Israeli withdrawal. To comply with it themselves and to avoid misapprehension, Quartet members must tell Israel, Syria and Palestine that they cannot recognize a peace agreement which would violate the Convention’s terms.

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