Canada, Israel and three Pacific Island nations also voted at the General Assembly on Tuesday against what has been international law since 1967 — namely, that Israel must end its occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights. By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
The United Nations General Assembly voted 91 in favor and 8 against with 62 abstentions to reaffirm U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981 that demand Israel cease its control over the Golan Heights and return it to Syria.
Resolution 242 (1967) speaks of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and “demands withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” which lasted six days from June 5 to June 10, 1967. Israel started the war and took the Golan Heights from Syria, Gaza from Egyptian administration, Sinai from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordanian control.
Resolution 497 (1981) also reaffirms “that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the principles of international law and relevant Security Council resolutions,” and “decides that the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect” and “demands that Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision.”
Except for some pro-Israeli voices, those resolutions are nearly universally viewed as legally binding on Israel, as all Security Council resolutions are binding on all nations. Security Council resolutions create international law, even for countries that vote against them. But Resolution 242 and 497 were unanimously adopted, meaning both the United States and Britain, both veto-wielding members, voted in favor of both of them.
To vote against the resolution on Tuesday referring to 242 and 497, as the United States and Britain did, was to defy their own votes back in 1967 and 1981 and undermine the legitimacy of international law. Joining them to defy that law were two of the other five eyes: Canada and Australia. New Zealand and Europe, as a bloc, abstained.
View speeches during the Assembly session on Tuesday. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., at 26:00 provided a disturbing account of the devastation of his people in Gaza:
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe