Only a U.S. veto can prevent the adoption
of a resolution that will make peace
harder to achieve
Alan M. Dershowitz
Although I have opposed Israel’s civilian settlements in the West Bank since 1973, I strongly believe that the United States should veto a resolution currently before the U.N. Security Council that would declare illegal “all Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” This condemnatory resolution is being supported by all members of the Security Council other than the U.S. So it will pass unless the U.S. exercises its veto power.
There is a big difference between a government action being unwise, which the Israeli policy is, and being illegal, which it is not. Indeed, the very Security Council resolution on which proponents of the condemnation rely makes it clear that the legal status of Israel’s continued occupation isn’t settled.
Passed in 1967, Resolution 242 (which I played a very small role assisting then-U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg in drafting) calls for Israel to return “territories” captured during its defensive war of 1967. The words “all” and “the” were proposed by those who advocated a complete return, but the U.S. and Great Britain, which opposed that view, prevailed.
Even partial return of captured territories is conditioned on “termination of all claims of belligerency” and “acknowledgment of the sovereignty . . . 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.”
Resolution 242 does not mention the rights of nonstates, such as the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Hezbollah, the latter two of which do not accept the conditions of the resolution. (Nor do Iran and several other states in the region.) It would be wrong for the Security Council retroactively to rewrite Resolution 242, which is the foundation for a two-state solution—Israel and Palestine—44 years after it was enacted.
But the real reason the U.S. should veto this ill-conceived resolution is that it is inconsistent with U.S. policy, which has long advocated a negotiated resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has put it: “We continue to believe strongly that New York is not the place to resolve the longstanding conflict.”