Jimmy Carter, Lord Caradon, the Palestine Mandate, and Resolution 242 (Part II)

Jimmy Carter treats a sentence from the non-binding preamble to Resolution 242 as if it were a binding part of the Resolution itself. He thinks that the phrase about the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” applies to Israel, when examination of the Mandate for Palestine reveals that it is Jordan, not Israel, that is claiming territory in the “West Bank” based on its acquisition by war (in 1949). Carter then asserts that the other key words of Resolution 242 are these: “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” He wants you to think that this means that Israel is required to withdraw from “all the territories” that it won in the 1967 war. And indeed, the Arab diplomats at the U.N. sought, repeatedly, to have the words “the” or “all the” inserted before “territories.” But they failed.

The chief drafter of Resolution 242 was Lord Caradon (Hugh M. Foot), the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations from 1964-1970. At the time of the Resolution’s discussion and subsequent unanimous passage, and on many occasions since, Lord Caradon always insisted that the phrase “from the territories” quite deliberately did not mean “all the territories,” but merely some of the territories:

Much play has been made of the fact that we didn’t say “the” territories or “all the” territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if  we had put in the “the” or “all the” that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.

On another occasion, to an interviewer from the Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring-Summer 1976), he again insisted on the deliberateness of the wording. He was asked:

The basis for any settlement will be United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, of which you were the architect. Would you say there is a contradiction between the part of the resolution that stresses the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and that which calls for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied territories,” but not from “the occupied territories”?

Nota bene: “from territories occupied” is not the same thing as “from occupied territories” – the first is neutral, the second a loaded description. Lord Caradon answered:

I defend the resolution as it stands. What it states, as you know, is first the general principle of inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. That means that you can’t justify holding onto territory merely because you conquered it. We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.

“Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong.”

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