Arab / Israeli Conflict


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UN Resolutions 242 and 338

The Arab States and others who are hostile toward Israel make a lot of vague references to UN Resolutions 242 and 338 in the media. They say that these resolutions call for Israel to completely withdrawal to the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949 and 1950, which equate to the pre-1967 borders. More clearly stated, the Arabs insist that 242 requires Israel to give back all the land captured during the 1967 Six Day War, when defending themselves against an imminent attack by Egypt, Jordan and Syria with support from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria. According to the Arab's misinterpretation of 242, Israel would have to give up the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Gaza, The Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. This would create indefensible borders for Israel and further advance the Arab Covenant to destroy God's ancient Jewish people (Ps. 83).

Below is a chart that clarifies what 242 says, and what 242 means in simple language:

What 242 Says 1 What 242 Means 
  • "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency…"
  • The Arab states must end the state of war initiated and maintained by them since their attempted invasion of Israel in 1948.
  • "…respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area…"
  • The Arab states must recognize the State of Israel and its inherent right to exist.
  • "… [every State's] right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
  • Israel is entitled to clear and defensible borders, which is the right of every nation and is guaranteed by international law
  • "Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict."
  • Israel should withdrawal from some, but not all of the territories captured in the June 1967 Six-Day War.

The most misinterpreted portion of 242 is the part that calls for Israeli "withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent [June 1967] conflict." The Arabs have deliberately misrepresented this to mean that Israel must completely withdraw to the pre-1967 borders. However, world leaders and other legal experts, who authored Resolution 242, do not interpret it this way.

Aurthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1965-1967) and an author of Resolution 242, said:

"It [242] calls for respect and acknowledgement of the sovereignty of every state in the area. Since Israel never denied the sovereignty of its neighboring countries, this language obviously requires those [Arab] countries to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty. The notable omission in regards to withdrawal are the words 'the' or 'all' and 'the June 5, 1967 lines'... the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories, without defining the extent of withdrawal." 2

Lord Caradon, U.K. Ambassador to the UN (1964-1970), was another author of UN Resolution 242. He confirmed this interpretation when he said:

"We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67' line; we did not put the 'the' in, we did not say "all the territories," deliberately... We all knew that the boundaries of '67' were not drawn as permanent frontiers; they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67' boundaries must be forever." 3

UN Security Council Resolution 338 did nothing more than to reaffirm Resolution 242 when fighting broke out between Arabs and Jews after 242 was passed. 4 Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (1966-1969), clarifies both 242 and 338 in their entirety when he said:

"Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 rest on two principles. Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to 'secure and recognized borders,' which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949." 5

This is clear evidence that 242 and 338 do not call on Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, but to secure and defensible borders, which is all that Israel has ever wanted.

Author's Note: This does not mean that I believe Israel should withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and allow the creation of a Palestinian State. I'm only pointing out the deception in the Arab's misrepresentation of 242 and 338 as part of their continuing effort to eradicate the Jews.



  1. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 - November 22, 1967:
    The Security Council,
    Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East, Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security.

    Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter, Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
      Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
    • Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

    Affirms further the necessity:

    • For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
    • For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
    • For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

    Requests the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution; Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.

  2. Arthur J. Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, The Meaning of 242, June 10, 1977. Source: Israel Information Center.
  3. Lord Caradon, U.K. Ambassador to the UN, MacNeil/Lehrer Report, March 30, 1978. Source: Israel Information Center.
  4. U.N. Security Council Resolution 338: The Security Council,
    Calls upon all parties to present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately, no later than 12 hours after the moment of the adoption of this decision, in the positions after the moment of the adoption of this decision, in the positions they now occupy;
    Calls upon all parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts;
    Decides that, immediately and concurrently with the cease-fire, negotiations start between the parties concerned under appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
  5. Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, The Truth About 242, November 5, 1990. Source: Israel Information Center.