It’s still the best basis for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflictby Toby Greene / April 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
As Israel’s presence in the occupied territories reaches its fiftieth year, now is the time to recall that the internationally agreed framework for ending the occupation has been around almost as long.
On a bracing Wednesday in New York, 22nd November 1967, the UN Security Council approved the 291 words of Resolution 242. It presented two principles in parallel: Israeli territorial withdrawal on the one hand, and recognition of Israel’s right to “live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries” on the other. This “land for peace” trade-off has come to define Arab-Israeli peacemaking.
That the Cold War titans could agree on it showed that the 1967 war, born of crisis, had created an opportunity. June 1967 saw the end of the Arab states’ hope of destroying Israel. Arab goals moderated to regaining the territory lost in the war. Resolution 242 reflected the international realisation that this could be compatible with Israel’s goals of legitimacy and security.
Several drafts lay before the Council that day. But it was a British ambassador, Hugh Foot, better known as Lord Caradon, (a former president of the Cambridge Union whose younger brother was Michael Foot) whose deft diplomatic and textual manoeuvres finally won approval.
Foot’s draft had enough substance to be meaningful, but sufficient ambiguity for each side to frame its interests in the context of the resolution. Israel interpreted the resolution as requiring full Arab recognition, though this was not explicit. The Arabs interpreted the resolution as requiring ful…