Land for peace

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Land for peace is a legalistic interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 which has been used as the basis of subsequent Arab-Israeli peace making. The name Land for Peace is derived from the wording of the resolution's first operative paragraph which affirms that peace should include the application of two principles: Withdrawal of Israeli forces (Giving Up Land), and Termination of all claims or states of belligerency (Making Peace). Since the resolution stipulates that both principles should apply, they can be viewed jointly as giving up land for peace, referred to more concisely as 'land for peace'.[1]

This interpretation is widely contested because it implies that Israeli withdrawal is linked to its neighbours' willingness to formally make peace. Competing interpretations of the resolution regard Israel as being obligated to withdraw unilaterally from all territories captured in 1967. Operative paragraph 1 of Resolution 242 reads as follows:

1. 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:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and 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;

When in 1976 Lord Caradon was asked about the concessions the Arab states would have to make to Israel as part of an overall settlement he said "Well, that's perfectly obvious if you read again the principles of 242, which have been accepted by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and in effect by Israel. The provision is that if there is an adequate withdrawal, all states in the area must be free to live within secure and recognized boundaries, free from force and threat of force. So it is an acceptance that Israel has a right to exist, just as they would have a right to their homeland, and have a right to exist. This is the essential bargain that we are proposing. It's not a new thing, it's been going since 1967.[2]

Peace treaties[edit]

Egypt–Israel border. Looking north from the Eilat Mountains

On 19 June 1967, Israel offerred "to give up Sinai and the Golan in exchange for peace,"[3] an offer that was rejected in September 1967 by the Arab States by the Khartoum Resolution, which became famous for the "Three No's": "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it..."[4]

The first application of the land for peace formula was Israel's peace treaty with Egypt in 1979,[citation needed] under which Israel withdrew from the Sinai as part of a comprehensive peace agreement facilitated by economic assistance to both sides from the United States.

In 1994 a similar comprehensive agreement invoking resolution 242[citation needed] formed the basis of the Israel Jordan peace treaty whereby both sides redeployed to their respective sides of the agreed international boundary.


The forced eviction by Israel of its settlers and military forces in entirety from the ground territory of the Gaza strip has been put forth as a 'test case' of "Land for Peace" with the Palestinians.

  • This 'test case' is argued by some to show the failure of the "Land for Peace" strategy with the Palestinians:
    • Rockets launched against Israeli targets continued almost immediately after the Israeli withdrawal and have increased in the time since.[5]
    • The attacks from the Gaza Strip are continuing today[6]
    • The area is now being used to smuggle weapons into Gaza[7]
    • Tunnels are being built under the border for use in the smuggling of weapons, fighters and to kidnap Israeli soldiers [8]
    • Is presumed that Hamas is the main organization behind the smuggling and tunnels, though other groups are likely involved as well[9]

Arab–Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties[edit]