Last updated on: 5/23/2008 12:48:00 PM PST

Does the 1967 UN Resolution Require Israel to Withdraw to Its Pre-1967 Borders?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Avi Shalim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford, in the 2001 book The Iron Wall, wrote:

"The resolution [242] was a masterpiece of deliberate British ambiguity. It was this ambiguity that won for the resolution the support of the United States, the Soviet Union, Jordan, and Egypt but not of Syria. Israel had many successes on the long road that led to its adoption. It defeated a series of Arab and Soviet proposals that called for withdrawal without peace. Another success was to avoid the requirement of withdrawing from 'the territories' or 'all the territories' occupied in the recent war. The final wording was 'withdrawal from territories,' and this gave Israel some room for maneuvering."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD 

PRO (yes)

Noam Chomsky, PhD, Professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a July 27, 2000 ZNet editorial titled "'Peace Process' Prospects," wrote:

"To review the essentials briefly, in November 1967, under U.S. initiative, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 242 on 'land for peace.' As explicitly understood by the US and the other signatories, UN 242 called for a full peace settlement on the pre-June 1967 borders with at most minor and mutual adjustments, offering nothing to the Palestinians. When President Sadat of Egypt accepted the official US position in February 1971, Washington revised UN 242 to mean partial Israeli withdrawal, as the US and Israel would determine. That unilateral revision is what is now called 'land for peace,' a reflection of US power in the domain of doctrine and ideology."

July 27, 2000 - Noam Chomsky, PhD 

The Palestine Ministry of Information, in an entry on its website titled "Borders" (accessed June 1, 2004), stated the following:

"The Security Council’s injunction is unambiguous: All of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 were occupied by war; Israel is legally prohibited from acquiring (i.e., annexing) any territory occupied by war; accordingly, Israel must withdraw from all territory so occupied."

June 1, 2004 - Palestine Ministry of Information 

The Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), in a Dec. 2001 commentary titled "The basis for peace: Security Council Resolution 242," wrote:

"It is not true that the plain meaning of the English wording [of U.N. resolution 242] 'withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict' does not cover all the territories occupied. If you saw a notice which said 'Dogs may swim in ponds in the park', would you not assume that it applied to all ponds in the park, even though the notice does not say 'all ponds in the park' or 'the ponds in the park'. It is similar with 'territories occupied in the recent conflict'. A reader is entitled to assume that all such territories are intended."

Dec. 2001

Robert Fisk, PhD, journalist for the Independent of London, in a Nov. 20, 2000 Nation editorial titled "Time of the Intifada," wrote:

"That 1967 resolution, so rarely mentioned now by State Department officials, calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War in return for the security of all states (including Israel) in the area. It also insists on the illegality of the acquisition of land through war. And 242, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, means a return to the 1967 borders of Israel. No more occupation of the West Bank or Gaza (or the Golan Heights) or of East Jerusalem, illegally annexed by Israel."

Nov. 20, 2000 - Robert Fisk, PhD 

CON (no)

Dore Gold, PhD, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1999), in a 2003 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs commentary titled "Defensible borders for Israel," wrote:

"According to Resolution 242, Israel was specifically required to withdraw only from 'territories' (and not 'all' the territories) to 'secure and recognized boundaries' that were to be different from the vulnerable earlier lines from which it had been attacked."

2003 - Dore Gold, PhD 

Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, in a June 9, 2002 New York Times editorial titled "The Way Forward in the Middle East," wrote:

"The United Nations Security Council determined in a historic decision, Resolution 242, that Israel was entitled to 'secure and recognized boundaries' and was not expected to withdraw from all the territories that its forces had entered — and from which it was attacked — in the Six Day War. In effect, the resolution established that these were disputed territories where Israel had legitimate rights to defensible borders, besides the claims of the Arab parties to the conflict."

June 9, 2002 - Ariel Sharon 

Eugene W. Rostow, JD, former US Undersecretary of State for political affairs, in an Oct. 21, 1991 New Republic commentary titled "Resolved: are the settlements legal? Israeli West Bank policies," wrote:

"Resolution 242, which as undersecretary of state for political affairs between 1966 and 1969 I helped produce, calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until 'a just and lasting peace in the Middle East' is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces 'from territories' it occupied during the Six-Day War--not from 'the' territories nor from 'all' the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

Oct. 21, 1991 - Eugene W. Rostow, JD 

Charles Krauthammer, MD, MA, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, in an Apr. 31, 2004 editorial titled "A next step for Israel?" wrote:

"The Johnson administration was instrumental in making sure that the governing document for a Middle East settlement -- Security Council Resolution 242 -- called for Israeli withdrawal to 'secure and recognized boundaries,' not 'previous boundaries.' And it called for Israel to withdraw 'from territories occupied' in the 1967 war -- not 'from the territories occupied,' as had been demanded by the Arab states, and not from 'all territories occupied' as had been demanded by the Soviet Union.

Arthur Goldberg (U.S. ambassador to the U.N.), Lord Caradon (British ambassador to the U.N.) and Eugene Rostow (U.S. Undersecretary of State) had negotiated this language with extreme care. They spent the subsequent decades explaining over and over again that the central U.N. resolution on the conflict did not require Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines."

Apr. 31, 2004 - Charles Krauthammer, MA, MD