doesn’t follow UN resolutions, so why attack Iraq?
by Chuck Chriss
is being heard frequently during the debate on US policy and plans
against Iraq. The full question seeks to know why the US supports
Israel with aid and military cooperation and the US does not condemn
Israeli "violations of international law". Yet the US
wants to attack Iraq for such violations. If both countries are
in violation of UN resolutions, what is the difference?
The real agenda
with such questions is to try to focus attention on Israel’s alleged
"violations of international law" and to undermine US
support for Israel. The answer requires a review of what UN resolutions
have been passed on the subject of Israel and its neighbors, what
is their actual content, and what have been the actions of the parties
involved, not just Israel?
In the 1940s,
the United Nations was formed by the victors in World War II. The
new body explicitly took over the existing agreements made by the
League of Nations, including the British-administered Mandate for
Palestine. When the war-exhausted British decided to abandon the
Mandate in 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for a plan that would
partition the 22% of the Mandate for Palestine that was west of
the Jordan River into a Palestinian Jewish state and a Palestinian
Arab state, each in a shape that attempted to encompass most of
their respective populations. Jerusalem was left out, to be a separate
internationally-administered area. The 78% of the Mandate for Palestine
that was east of the Jordan was left as the British had decided
— to be the Arab country of Jordan, no Jews allowed. [See
Events Surrounding the Independence of the State of Israel (1947-1949)]
The Partition Plan, UN Resolution 181 Map]
the manifestly unfair nature of this division, against the Jews
— especially in light of the thousands of Jewish survivors of the
Holocaust who had nowhere to go but Palestine — the Jews accepted
the division and declared the State of Israel within the UN-determined
borders on May 15, 1948. Palestinian Arabs could have done the same
and had a State of Palestine right then and there. But the Arab
leadership rejected the plan, solely on the basis that they wanted
no Jewish state at all. That is, it was not a dispute about the
details of borders or any other issue. They rejected any Jewish
presence in the region and went immediately to war to destroy the
newborn Israel. The Arab actions were in defiance of the UN partition
plan and all other international laws against aggression.
When the Arab
war of aggression failed, armistice agreements (not peace treaties)
were negotiated with UN help and the long, twilight, underground
war of the Arab countries and the Palestinian Arabs against Israel
began. Israel’s borders were not permanent, internationally recognized
limits but only lines where troops happened to be when the cease-fire
was arranged. This fact made them hard to defend and allowed terrorist
operations against Israel from day one. Jordan occupied the areas
of the Mandate called Judea and Samaria (renaming the area "the
West Bank", a name that only makes sense if you are in Jordan).
And Egypt occupied the strip of coastal land called Gaza. These
occupations were not internationally recognized, but were not condemned
either. Palestinian Arabs did not object or demand a state.
194 of November 12, 1948 dealt with the issues of the then-in-progress
War of Independence. It set up an international Conciliation Commission
to mediate between the parties and made provisions for the return
or resettlement of refugees. The resolution says nothing solely
about "Arab refugees" and clearly applies to both Arab
and Jewish refugees of the Arab-instigated war. But Resolution 194
is only mentioned when demanding rights for Arabs to return to Israel,
something that is neither in the wording of Resolution 194 nor would
be considered rational except in a different world, a world in which
Jews could freely return to Arab lands and live there in peace.
pattern was established:
- Israel is
- Israel defends
- The UN or
other international group steps in to end the violence, calling
for both sides to take certain actions to resolve the situation.
- Israel attempts
to comply but the intransigence and non-compliance of Israel’s
enemies delays any resolution.
- Israel is
blamed for failing to comply and the failures of Israel’s enemies
repeats over the decades: Sinai, 1967 war, 1973 war, Lebanon, and
recently with Israeli actions in the territories, action taken in
reaction to the wave of homicide bombings.
General Assembly Resolution 997 passed on November 2, 1956 in response
to the Sinai Campaign, calls for all parties "to desist from
raids across the  armistice lines into neighboring territory",
specifically referring to the hundreds of fedayeen attacks carried
out against Israel in the early 1950s. But even though Israel withdrew
from Sinai as required, Egyptian violations of this provision continued
through the years, eventually one of the causes leading to the 1967
Six Day War. [See
What led to the Six Day War in 1967?]
has been subject to a "UN Resolution" you first have to
ask what type of resolution it was. Resolutions of the General Assembly
are merely recommendations and many Security Council actions are
too. There is no force of law and Israel cannot be accused of anything
more than deciding the resolution is not in Israel’s national interest.
Resolutions of the Security Council that are meant to be implemented
are more serious matters. Israel has been very good on compliance
when the entire resolution is taken into account, not just the sentence
the pro-Palestinian advocate wants you to look at.
The most famous
example is UN Security Council Resolution 242 (UNSCR 242) — the
"land for peace" resolution passed after the Six Day War.
Palestinian advocates consistently maintain that Israel has to pull
out of the West Bank based on 242, but UNSCR 242 doesn’t say that.
UNSCR 242 actually calls for a dual requirement, Israeli withdrawal
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;"
are no "secure and recognized boundaries free from threats
or acts of force", Israel is under no obligation to withdraw.
What was United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and what
does it say?]
On March 30,
2002 in response to Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield against
terrorist bases and operatives in the territories, the UN passed
UNSCR 1402. One line of that Resolution "calls for the withdrawal
of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah"
— that is the line you hear about. But another, equally valid line
calls for "an immediate cessation of all acts of violence,
including all acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction."
Why should Israel withdraw until the acts of the latter sentence
have ceased, including provocation and incitement that continue
among Palestinian Arabs at a fever pitch? [See:
UNSC Adopts Resolution 1402 on Middle East]
to accusations against Israel based on UN Resolutions, the question
must be asked: "Exactly what UN Resolution is Israel violating?"
It is certainly true that many of the UN Resolutions have not been
implemented, but is Israel at fault? Does Israel have to implement
its obligations before others implement theirs? And what about resolutions
where Israel has complied? What have been the results? Resolutions
425/426 regarding Lebanon led to Israel’s withdrawal and Israel
has been certified by the UN as being in full compliance. But attacks
against Israel across that border continue to this day. [See
Why did Israel withdraw from the security zone in Lebanon in May
Iraq’s defiant and evasive performance, Israel is a model international
citizen. This is true despite the fact that Israel has been subject
to a barrage of attacks by its enemies using the UN as a platform.
What is the evidence that the United Nations is biased against Israel?]