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View Diary: Without Arafat, Whither Palestine? (264 comments)

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  •  While Israel... (2.00)
    and its few supporters/apologists interpret the lack of the definitive article as a justification to keep part of the "territories", the rest of the world insists that the lack of the definitive article makes no difference. Personally, I would back the latter interpretation, considering the resolution also emphasises the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war". If it is inadmissible for territory to be acquired by war, doesn't it follow naturally that Israel must withdraw from ALL the territory it acquired by war? In any case, it is quite clear even from your post that at the very least, the whole point is in dispute and open to opposing interpretations. Given that, isn't it at least disingenuous and perhaps even dishonest for you to state as established fact (in your earlier post) that UNSCR 242 does not require complete withdrawal?

    As far as the second principle goes, I have no problem with your interpretation. Israel's withdrawal to 1967 borders can only be as part of a comprehensive peace settlement in which all parties recognise the right of Israel to exist within its 1967 borders. It is my understanding that both the Palestinians and the Syrians are willing to recognise that right if Israel withdraws to its 1967 borders. The problem is Israel refuses to do so.

    •  On the meaning of UNSCR 242 (none)
      The meaning of UNSCR 242 does not depend upon a head count.  Nevertheless, you may want to reflect upon the fact that what you call Israel's "supporters/apologists" includes Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and the Democratic Party.  Our 2004 platform provides:

      The Democratic Party is fundamentally committed to the security of our ally Israel and the creation of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors. Our special relationship with Israel is based on the unshakable foundation of shared values and a mutual commitment to democracy and we will ensure that under all circumstances, Israel retains the qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self defense. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

      Under a Democratic Administration, the United States will demonstrate the kind of resolve to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that President Clinton showed. We will work to transform the Palestinian Authority to promote new and responsible leadership, committed to fighting terror and promoting democracy. We support the creation of a democratic Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish state of Israel. The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. Furthermore, all understand that it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. And we understand that all final status negotiations must be mutually agreed.

      Rather, the meaning of UNSCR 242 is a legal question.  I argued that its legislative history demnstrates that it does not require Israel to withdraw from 100% of the territories occupied in the 1967 war.  Even though you have not presented any counter-argument, let me amplify the point.

      As previously noted, a simple reading of UNSCR 242 shows that it does not say that Israel should withdraw from all the territories occupied during the war.  As the resolution's principal sponsor, Lord Caradon, the UK representative, stated in the Security Council prior to the vote on its adoption:

      []T]he draft Resolution is a balanced whole. To add to it or to detract from it would destroy the balance and also destroy the wide measure of agreement we have achieved together. It must be considered as a whole as it stands. I suggest that we have reached the stage when most, if not all, of us want the draft Resolution, the whole draft Resolution and nothing but the draft Resolution.

      Then Under Secretary of State Eugene Rostow subsequently explained:

      Paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces "from territories occupied in the recent conflict", and not "from the territories occupied in the recent conflict". Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word "the" failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines. (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)

      Discussing the difference between the English and French texts, Lord Caradon later explained:

      The purposes are perfectly clear, the principle is stated in the preamble, the necessity for withdrawal is stated in the operative section. And then the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized. They will not be secure unless they are recognized. And that is why one has to work for agreement. This is essential. I would defend absolutely what we did. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary

      In response to a question in Parliament, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated:

      As I have explained before, there is reference, in the vital United Nations Security Council Resolution, both to withdrawal from territories and to secure and recognized boundaries. As I have told the House previously, we believe that these two things should be read concurrently and that the omission of the word "all" before the word "territories" is deliberate.

      The United States representative to the Security Council, Arthur Goldberg, stated prior to the vote:

      To seek withdrawal without secure and recognized boundaries . . . would be just as fruitless as to seek secure and recognized boundaries without withdrawal. Historically, there have never been secure or recognized boundaries in the area. Neither the armistice lines of 1949 nor the cease-fire lines of 1967 have answered that description . . . such boundaries have yet to be agreed upon. An agreement on that point is an absolute essential to a just and lasting peace just as withdrawal is.

      At a minimum, there is a strong legal case for the conclusion that UNSCR 242 does not require Israeli withdrawal from all of the territories occupied in the Six-Day War.

      What this means is that there needs to be a negotiated resolution to the conflict, specifically, a negotiation that includes Palestinian representatives -- who do not even have any relevant status under UNSCR 242 -- as well as Israel.

      Here, the United States has a vital role to play.  We played a constructive role under the Clinton Administration.  President Bush is to be faulted for having dropped the ball.  A President Kerry is committed to re-engaging the United States in the pursuit of peace along the lines stated in our Party's platform.

      •  You still haven't... (none)
        explained how your interpretation squares with the fact that the resolution also states the inadmissability of acquiring territory by war.

        If the Palestinians and Israelis can come to a negotiated settlement to modify the border, that is great. But in case they cannot come to such an agreement, to  me the letter and spirit of UNSCR 242 seems to suggest that Israel should withdraw to 1967 borders provided the other issues mentioned in the resolution are resolved.

        As for your suggestion that I may want to reflect upon the fact that what I call Israel's supporters/apologists includes Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and the Democratic Party.", it is something I know very well and have reflected upon at length. It has always been one of my abiding regrets that the Democratic Party, an otherwise decent organisation is almost slavish in its support of Israel. So please don't expect me to be impressed by the fact that Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and the Democratic Party support your interpretation of UNSCR 242.

        •  Re: You still haven't... (none)
          "It has always been one of my abiding regrets that the Democratic Party, an otherwise decent organisation is almost slavish in its support of Israel."

          The recent history of both parties' attitude toward Israel has been mixed.  

          For almost 10 years up until Taba, both parties acted as fair brokers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

          Bush the Elder's decision to deny Shamir's loan guarantees was courageous and right.  Clinton's constant cajoling and threatening of the Israeli side to get them to live up to any part of the Oslo accords was courageous and right.

          But Clinton's violation of his promise to Arafat on how he would spin any failure of the Taba talks was disgraceful.  And I think we all feel the same way about Bush the Younger's insane embrace of the Likud platform.

          A change in American policy to no longer be complicit with Israel's occupation will require a bipartisan shift in Washington.  But if Israel doesn't wake up soon, I think such a shift can happen.

        •  On reading UNSCR 242 (none)
          There are at least three answers to your question:

          First, the previously-related legislative history of UNSCR 242 establishes the meaning of the resolution.  

          Second, and also an element of legislative construction, to the extent there may be a conflict between a resolution's operative clause and a preambular clause, the operative clause controls.  Doubtless, that's why the Arab states unsuccessfully tried to get the operative clause to read "all the territories."

          Third, the preambular clause speaks of "the acquisition of territory by war."  Any territory that Israel may acquire will be the result of a negotiated agreement.  UNSCR 242 sets certain parameters for the negotiation, including that the borders must be "secure and recognized" and that Israel's withdrawal must be from "territories" not from "all the territories."

          If this does not convince you, and absent any reasoned argument to the contrary, I see no point to continuing our discussion of this point.

          In all events, there does not seem any likelihood of any power having both the inclination and the ability to enforce your interpretation on Israel.    Accordingly, as I have suggested, the important question is how to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians (who, if we stayed only with UNSCR 242, would not be negotiating parties).

          •  Like I said earlier... (none)
            the wording of UNSCR 242 is open to different interpretations. The legislative history you quoted gives the opinions of the security council representatives of USA and Britain. I am sure the security council representatives of the other countries would have their own version of it. In my opinion, it was disingenuous and perhaps dishonest of you to have stated it as undisputed fact.

            As far as there not being any likelihood of "any power having both the inclination and the ability to enforce your interpretation on Israel", you are right. As things stand right now, it is unlikely. But I would rather be on the side of what is just and right than on the side of what is possible in the near-term.

            •  Re: Reading UNSCR 242 (none)
              You may want there to be other interpretations of UNSCR 242, but you haven't provided any factual or analytic basis for challenging the evidence and analysis presented.  For sure, simply calling me "disingenuous and perhaps dishonoest" does nothing either to advance the cause of reasoned discourse or to suggest that you have something more than personal preference to support your opinion.

              Even so, I'm curious as to the details of a resolution to the conflict that you would regard as "just and right."

              •  In my opinion... (none)
                I have provided the analytic basis for my interpretation of UNSCR 242. The problem is you do not accept it just as I do not accept your analytic basis. Which just leads me back to my original point. The meaning of UNSCR 242 is disputed and should not be presented as fact.

                As far as what I consider just and right, here it is .

                1. If Israel wants to keep a part of the West Bank, it must offer EQUAL land in compensation. What's more, it should be land that the Palestinians consider to be comparable in quality to the land they are being asked to give up. If the two parties cannot come to agreement on such a land swap, the 1967 borders should made permanent. They may not be perfect borders but if they worked from 1949 to 1967, they are certainly not unworkable.

                2. A recognition of the right of return for the refugees, a right that the Palestinians should voluntarily give up in the interest of peace. Refugees must be compensated for their losses and suffering. This would apply to any Jewish refugees from Arab countries as well.

                3. All the rights of statehood to Palestine including the right to a military and complete sovereignity over land, sea and air.

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