Chicago Journal of International Law

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United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed in the wake of the Six-Day War in 1967, is one of the body's most famous decisions. The resolution called for “[w]ithdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The meaning of this provision--in particular, the extent of the required withdrawal--has been contested ever since. This Article presents new evidence on Resolution 242's meaning, adding two important but previously unexamined lines of evidence that bear on its interpretation. It compares the resolution's withdrawal provision to all other such territorial demands issued by the Security Council. The marked difference that emerges between Resolution 242's wording and that of all other such resolutions suggests the former was a meaningful and substantive drafting choice. The Article then sheds further light on the preamble's reference to the “inadmissibility” of conquest by examining original understandings of the U.N. Charter. International jurists of the post-World War II era believed the Charter prohibited territorial changes as a result of war but only with significant limitations and exceptions. The new evidence presented here supports the view that Resolution 242 contemplates only a partial Israeli withdrawal. This understanding is particularly relevant to current suggestions to “update” Resolution 242 by a new Security Council resolution.