By Rich Armbach
May 30, 2011
I hate to burst Advis3r’s bubble. He obviously worked very hard on his Resolution 242 piece and surely now deserves a well earned rest.
Unfortunately, the content is totally irrelevant. The words of the resolution are perfectly clear, and no one can change the meaning of those words. Anyone who says that a word or form of words means just what I mean by them is putting themselves on the same intellectual level as Humpty Dumpty, who famously claimed that this was so. In effect, they are saying I am not speaking English but rather a private language. And as we well know, “ a private language “ is a contradiction.
If the drafters of the resolution intended the resolution to say something other then what it does say, then we can only say that it is very badly drafted from that perspective.
Too bad, we are all stuck with the words of the resolution.
The drafters of the resolution have no special status in the context of “ what the words mean “ . The ordinary users of the language and what they understand by words and forms of words are sovereign.
Try a little experiment. Draw a map of Israel and the territories. Shade the territories. Present it to a large sample of regular people who have no particular interest in the issue, and not likely to be influenced by any prejudice. Explain that the shaded areas represent land occupied by Israel at the end of the six days war. Say a UN resolution requires Israel to withdraw from “ territories occupied at the end of the six day war.” Ask them to indicate which territories Israel is required to withdraw from. You can be sure that a thousand out of a thousand will indicate the whole of the shaded areas.
It is inexplicable that the Greater Israel lobby is such a big fan of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 242, given that this resolution requires that, on the conclusion of the appropriate peace agreements , Israel will withdraw to the frontiers as they were prior to the 1967 war.
That Israel chooses to “ interpret “ the resolution as meaning that it is required to withdraw from just some of the occupied territories is ludicrous and desperate, verging on the pathetic.
The resolution ....” Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include both the following principles...
1)Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict “
Now you would think that it couldn’t get any clearer than that. And you would be right. It couldn’t. And yet , laughably, Israel chooses to “ interpret “ the provision and comes up with the quaint notion that “ territories “ , in the absence of a definite article, means some , not all territories.
A UN resolution is quasi legislation. The first stop in applying legislation is the plain ordinary meaning of the words. Where the plain ordinary meaning of the words is clear, the question of interpretation doesn’t arise.
Who is the judge of the ordinary meaning of words ? Why the ordinary users of the language of course.
“ Don’t buy used cars off that man, he is a crook.” Does the absence of the word “ any “ mean you should buy some used cars off that man ? Of course not.
“ Don’t eat biscuits out of the red tin.” Does this mean don’t eat some of the biscuits ? Of course not.
“ Dogs must be kept on leads near ponds in the park.” Does this mean near just some of the ponds ? Of course not.
If a head teacher issued an edict saying “ At the end of term pupils must remove personal belongings from the school premises “, what would it profit a pupil to say, “ well she probably means just some belongings so I’ll leave my guitar, my cricket bat and my drum set “ ? You are right it wouldn’t profit him at all.
Where the question of interpretation does arise (in this case , has we have seen, it doesn’t ) it is appropriate to ask, not what the drafters intended, but what the legislators intended. So in an internal UK situation, a judge will ask himself what parliament intended, not what the drafters intended. What did MP’s think they were voting for ?
So in this case we might ask ( if the ordinary meaning of the words wasn’t so perfectly clear ), not what the drafters of the resolution had in mind, but what the members of the security council thought they were voting for. And there is no doubt that the majority had all the territories in mind as the Russians and the French continually testify.
That so and so has subsequently said this and subsequently said that is irrelevant. It’s what the resolution says that counts.
And even if what the drafters had in mind was relevant it wouldn’t help the Greater Israelers that much. Dean Rusk, the then American Secretary of State said “ We never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the six day war”. Lord Carodan said “ The parties assumed that withdrawal from occupied territories as provided in the resolution was applicable to East Jerusalem”.
As a matter of interest the UN has six official languages and they all have the same status. In all of the five other languages the definite article IS THERE. So even if we accept that the absence of the article changes the meaning ( which as we have seen it doesn’t ) the resolution requires Israel to withdraw from all the territories by a majority of 5 to 1 languages.
It is also interesting to note that the resolution reaffirms the UN Charter principle that territory may not be acquired by war.
“ ......inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just peace. “
Since this is in the context of the six day war it particularises the general principle and says Israel may not acquire territory as a result of this war.