Palestine and the U.N. in Retrospect: The Sixties

(Part 3 of 6)

This is the third in a series of six retrospects, listed chronologically by decades, looking back at the most important events related to the question of Palestine that have taken place at the United Nations (U.N.) since the inception of the organization in 1945. Those events have greatly influenced both the history and the present of the Palestinian people and will affect their future also, as the permanent responsibility of the U.N. towards the question of Palestine must be upheld until it is solved in all its aspects.

The Security Council, on 11 April 1961, adopts resolution 162 (1961), which endorses the decision of the Mixed Armistice Commission of 20 March 1961, relating to the military parade contemplated for 20 April 1961 in the Israel-occupied part of Jerusalem, and urges Israel to comply with this decision.

On 21 April 1961, the General Assembly Directs the United Nations Conciliation Commission to report on the repatriation of the refugees. And in another resolution on 20 December 1961, requests the Commission to intensify its work on the identification and evaluation of Arab refugee immovable properties in Palestine as of 15 May 1948.

The Security Council, on 9 April 1962, in response to the Israel attack of 16 and 17 of March in Lake Tiberias area, calls upon Israel to scrupulously refrain from military action in violation of the General Armistice Agreements.

The General Assembly decides on 20 December 1962, to extend the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until 30 June 1965. On 15 December 1965, it further extends the mandate of UNRWA until June 1969 and calls on the Conciliation Commission for Palestine to report on the repatriation of the refugees.

In October 1965, the Special Political Committee, at the request of a group of Arab states, decided that a delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) be allowed to attend the meetings of the Committee and present a statement, without implying recognition. The PLO participated in the discussions of the Committee under the agenda item of UNRWA in much the same way until 1973. (Another group of Arab states requested and the Committee accepted the same for the Palestine Arab Delegation.)

The Security Council, on 25 November 1966, censures the Israeli military action which took place in the southern Hebron area (Al-Samu') on 13 November 1966, deplores the loss of life and heavy damage to property as a result of the Israeli action and emphasizes that the Security Council will consider further and more effective steps to ensure against the repetition of such acts.

On June 5 1967, war breaks out in the Middle East engulfing Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. After six days, Israel occupies large areas of Arab territory including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Sinai and the Golan Heights. From 6 to 12 June, the Security Council passes four resolutions calling for a cease-fire.

On 14 June 1967, the Security Council adopts resolution 237 (1967), calling on Israel to respect human rights in areas affected by the 1967 Middle East conflict and to facilitate the return of those inhabitants who fled the areas since the outbreak of hostilities, and calls for compliance by the parties with all the obligations of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.

The General Assembly convenes its fifth emergency special session to consider the situation in the aftermath of the latest Middle East crisis. On 4 July 1967, the Assembly adopts resolution 2252 (ES-V), in which it welcomes with great satisfaction Security Council resolution 237 (1967), whereby the Council, inter alia, called upon the government of Israel to ensure the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants of the areas where military operations had taken place and to facilitate the return of those inhabitants who had fled the area since the outbreak of hostilities, and recommended to the governments concerned the scrupulous respect of the humanitarian principles relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, contained in the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.

On the same day, the Assembly adopted 2253 (ES-V), in which it considers that measures taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem are invalid and calls upon Israel to rescind all measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem. On 14 July 1967, the fifth emergency special session adopts resolution 2254 (ES-V), which deplores the failure of Israel to implement General Assembly resolution 2253 (ES-V), reiterates its call to Israel, and repeats the request to the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council and the General Assembly on the implementation.

On 22 November 1967, the Security Council adopts resolution 242 (1967). The resolution affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; and termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for an 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. Resolution 242 (1967) also affirms the necessity for guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area; for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem; and for guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones; and requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution.

On 21 March 1968 the Israeli forces attack a Palestinian base belonging to Fatah in the village of Al-Karameh in Jordan. Israeli forces engage in a battle with Palestinian fighters for the first time. On 24 March 1968, the Security Council adopts resolution 248 (1968), condemning the large scale and premeditated military actions by Israel against Jordan.

On 27 April 1968, the Security Council adopts resolution 250 (1968), once again calling upon Israel to refrain from holding a military parade in Jerusalem. On 2 May 1968, the Security Council adopts resolution 251 (1968) deeply deploring the Israeli military parade in Jerusalem.

In resolution 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, the Security Council deplores the failure of Israel to comply with the General Assembly resolutions 2253 (ES-V) and 225 (ES-V) of 4 and 14 July 1967 respectively; considers that all legislative and administrative measures taken by Israel, including the expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem, are invalid and cannot change the status; and urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures taken and to desist from further actions changing the status of Jerusalem.

On 16 August 1968, in response to another Israeli attack on Jordan (Salt) the Security Council adopts resolution 256 (1968) condemning further military attacks by Israel and deploring the loss of life and heavy damage to property.

The Security Council adopts resolution 258 (1968) on 18 September 1968, in which it insists that the cease-fire ordered by the Council in its resolutions be rigorously respected; reaffirms resolution 242 (1967) and urges all the parties to extend full cooperation to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

On 27 September 1968, the Security Council adopts resolution 259 (1968), deploring the delay in implementation of resolution 237 (1967) because of the conditions still being set by Israel for receiving a Special Representative of the Secretary-General; and requesting the Secretary-General to urgently dispatch a Special Representative to the Arab territories under military occupation by Israel following the hostilities of 5 June 1967 and to report on the implementation of resolution 237 (1967). Requests the government of Israel to receive the Special Representative , to cooperate with him and to facilitate his work.

On 19 December 1968, the General Assembly adopts resolution 2443 (XXIII) establishing the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories.

Also on 19 December 1968, the General Assembly calls upon Israel to take immediate steps for the return of those who fled from the territories occupied in 1967, and extends the mandate of UNRWA until 30 June 1972.

The Security Council adopts resolution 267 (1969) on 3 July 1969, in which, reaffirming the established principles that the acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible, it deplores the failure of Israel to show any regard for the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council; censures in the strongest terms all measures taken to change the status of the City of Jerusalem; and urgently calls once more on Israel to rescind all measures to change the status of Jerusalem and in the future to refrain from all actions likely to have such an effect. In the resolution, the Council also determines that in the event of a negative response or no response from Israel, the Security Council shall reconvene without delay to consider what further action should be taken in this matter.

On 15 September 1969, the Security Council adopts resolution 271 (1969) following the universal outrage at the desecration of Al Aqsa Mosque. In the resolution, the Council expresses the following: Grieved at the extensive damage caused by arson to the Holy Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on 21 August 1969 under the military occupation of Israel, recognizes that any act of destruction or profanation of the Holy Place, religious buildings and sites in Jerusalem or any encouragement of, or connivance at, any such act may seriously endanger international peace and security. The Council also calls upon Israel to scrupulously observe the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and international law governing military occupation and to refrain from causing any hindrance to the discharge of the established functions of the Supreme Moslem Council of Jerusalem; and condemns the failure of Israel to comply with aforementioned resolutions.

On 10 December 1969, in resolution 2535 (XXIV), the General Assembly regrets the failure to implement repatriation or compensation for Palestine refugees, reaffirms the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, and draws the attention of the Security Council to Israeli policies in the occupied territories.

On 11 December 1969, the General Assembly condemns the violations of human rights in the occupied territories and calls upon Israel to desist from repressive practices.