The basis of Middle East peace negotiations is UN Security Council resolution 242. That is why understanding and interpreting it correctly is crucial.
According to Richard Rosen (In Reply, Dec. 15) resolution 242 calls on Israel to return lands. Sorry. The words “return lands” or “land” are nowhere to be found in the resolution. Rather it explicitly calls on Israel to “withdraw its armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
Apologists of Israel tend to use mild terms to refer to an unjust, oppressive, armed occupation that sows the seed of hatred and destroys children's hopes.
Lord Caradon, the architect of this resolution, emphasized in an interview with the Journal of Palestine Studies that 242 laid down the general principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. He clarified this as follows: "That means that you can't justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it."
Rosen's interpretation of 242 is tendentious. He claims its wording gives Israel the right to retain some areas after a peace settlement. Yet Lord Caradon explained why the phrase “from territories” was used rather than “from the territories.” The reason is that the 1967 borderline is not suitable for a permanent international boundary. In some cases the line cut right through a village. In this case a readjustment of the line would be necessary to make it reasonable.
Given Lord Caradon’s authority as Britain's ambassador to the UN from 1964 to 1970, readers will not be challenged in choosing between his interpretation of UN resolution 242 and that of the biased Mr. Rosen.
January 10, 2001
For a reply see 199