Resolution 242 was a vital document drafted by the United Nations Security Council, to guide the actions of both the Arabs and Israelis in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War. The Resolution addressed such issues as the withdrawal of Israel's armed forces from newly occupied areas; the termination of all belligerency and all threats to national sovereignty in the region; and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue. Since 1967, Resolution 242 has been invoked as the centerpiece of negotiation efforts in such forums as the Israeli-Egyptian Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords, and the Road Map peace initiative. But the directives of Resolution 242 have been interpreted differently by the different parties involved, particularly where the issue of borders is concerned. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America states:
“[W]hile many sources correctly describe the wording and intent of Resolution 242, others have misrepresented it as requiring Israel to return to the pre-1967 lines -- the armistice lines established after Israel’s War of Independence. Such an interpretation was explicitly not the intention of the framers of 242, nor does the language of the resolution include any such requirement.”
Below are statements by the main drafters of Resolution 242, in which the document’s meaning and history are explained:
George A. Brown, who served as British Foreign Secretary from 1966 to 1968, and helped draft Resolution 242, said:
“The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council. I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said ‘Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied,’ and not from ‘the’ territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.”
Lord Caradon, who was the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations from 1964-1970, and was the chief drafter of Resolution 242, said:
"It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967 because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places the soldiers of each side happened to be the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to ..."
Eugene Rostow was a former dean of Yale Law School who served as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs from 1966-1969, and helped draft Resolution 242. He said:
“Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from ‘all’ the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries, agreed to by the parties. In negotiating such agreements, the parties should take into account, among other factors, security considerations, access to the international waterways of the region, and, of course, their respective legal claims.”
Arthur J. Goldberg was the U.S. representative to the United Nations from 1965-1968, and before that was a Supreme Court Justice. He too helped draft Resolution 242 and said::
"The resolution does not explicitly require that Israel withdraw to the lines that it occupied on June 5, 1967, before the outbreak of the war. The Arab states urged such language; the Soviet Union proposed such a resolution to the Security Council in June 1967, and Yugoslavia and other nations made a similar proposal to the special session of the General Assembly that followed the adjournment of the Security Council. But those views were rejected. Instead, Resolution 242 endorses the principle of the ‘withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ and juxtaposes the principle that every state in the area is entitled to live in peace within 'secure and recognized boundaries.'"
For further information, see “Security Council Resolution 242 According to its Drafters,” by CAMERA (January 15, 2007).