Conceived in Law: The Legal Foundations of Resolution 242

29 Pages Posted: 29 May 2009

See all articles by S. Michael Lynk

S. Michael Lynk

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 2, 2007


Resolution 242, adopted by the United Nations Security Council in November 1967, has been the international community's diplomatic cornerstone for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflicts. Regularly cited in subsequent peace proposals and treaties, Resolution 242 is as much a legal document as it is a political blueprint. Its apparent ambiguity - its strength, claim its diplomatic drafters; its downfall, argue its critics - have acquired layered and contradictory political meanings as it was used by the regional adversaries in the Middle East.

The most enduring consequence of 242's ambiguity has been to allow Israel to claim compliance while continuing to occupy and colonize its most valued territorial acquisitions from 1967. Yet, a careful legal analysis of the origins of the Resolution provides a clarity and direction to the authentic meaning of 242 that banishes the ambiguity. Read within the context of the United Nations debates surrounding its creation and the foundations provided by international law, the most important and contentious provision in Resolution 242 – Israel's obligation to withdraw from territories conquered in 1967 – escapes the interpretative fog that has shrouded it for much of the past 40 years.

A shorter version of this article has been published in (2007), 37:1 Journal of Palestine Studies 7.

Keywords: International Law, United Nations Security Council, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Suggested Citation

Lynk, Michael, Conceived in Law: The Legal Foundations of Resolution 242 (July 2, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Lynk (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law ( email )

London, Ontario N6A 3K7 N6A 3K7
519-661-2111 (Phone)
519-661-3790 (Fax)

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