By Carol Rushton
For years, media outlets, journalists, and world leaders have talked about “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” You’ve probably heard this phrase so often that you have no idea where it came from or what it really means.
This phrase comes from United Nations Resolution 242 which was adopted by the U.N. on November 22, 1967, after the 1967 Six Day War in June 1967. The entire resolution is reproduced below:
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 (emphasis mine) which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) 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:
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) 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.
1967 Six Day War: The Backdrop of U.N. Resolution 242
Before the 1967 Six Day War, the Arab countries of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia were allied together in a planned attack on Israel. (Syria had already been using the Golan Heights to bomb and attack Israelis for two years.) The leaders of these countries made it very clear for some time that their goal was to wipe Israel off the face of the earth along with every Jew in the country.
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1965: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand; we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.”
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1965: “In other words, we aim at the destruction of the state of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.”
Syria’s Defense Minister Hafez al Assad in May 1967: “Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. . .I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
King Hussein of Jordan in May 1967: “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel. . .to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.”
Iraq’s President Abdur Rahman Aref in 1967: “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.”
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1967: “The Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war.”
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser on May 27-28, 1967: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight. . .We will not accept any. . .coexistence with Israel. . .Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. . .The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”
In May 1967, Egyptian troops started amassing at Israel’s southern border along the Sinai Peninsula and closed the Straits of Tiran to all ships headed for or from Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat. Syria moved its military troops up to its border with Israel on the Golan Heights.
By the time Israel decided they had to make a pre-emptive military strike on these armies or face extinction, the Arab alliance had surrounded Israel with 465,000 troops, over 2,800 tanks, and 800 aircraft. Israel’s decision to attack first saved the country and thousands of lives.
What “A Just and Lasting Peace” Means
Arabs use U.N. Resolution 242 to demand Israel withdraw from all territories it captured during the 1967 Six Day War. Neutral authorities such as former UK Ambassador to the U.N. Lord Caradon, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Arthur J. Goldberg, and former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Professor Eugene Rostow dispute this, saying that the resolution does not call for Israel to withdraw from all land it gained during the 1967 war because the resolution omits the words “all” and “the.”
After the U.N. accepted this resolution, the Arab League held their own summit in Khartoum, Sudan in which the leaders of eight Arab countries attended: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan adopted the Khartoum Resolution which included the three “nays”: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.”
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Israel returning the Sinai Peninsula in the peace treaty with Egypt made up 91% of the land Israel captured during the 1967 Six Day War. Therefore, Israel has more than fulfilled any obligation it had under U.N. Resolution 242 to return land to any of the belligerents during the 1967 war.
When Westerners hear the phrase “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” they automatically agree with it. After all, what reasonable person could be against a just and lasting peace in the Middle East?
Westerners do not understand that “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” means something completely different to them than it means to Arabs and Muslims.
To Westerners, “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” means Israel having peace treaties with all the Arab/Muslim countries in the Middle East, those Arab/Muslim countries engaging in trade and commerce with Israel, diplomatic relations, ambassadors, and all the other things that come with being on reasonable terms with other countries.
This is not what Arabs and Muslims mean by “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Their interpretation of “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” means a Middle East with no Israel and no Jews.
As I have already documented in my previous articles on Understanding the Middle East, the peace treaties that Israel has already made with Egypt and Jordan have not brought real peace between Israel and her two Arab neighbors. The Oslo Accords that Israel entered into with the PLO and the land they have surrendered to Egypt, Jordan, and the PLO have only brought more terror and death to Israel, not the peace Israel desperately longs for.
The vast majority of Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel and the Jews. Only God can bring a truly just and lasting peace to the Middle East between Israel and the Arab and Islamic peoples.