By Dan Izenberg
JERUSALEM (June 30) - In an unusual move, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein issued a legal opinion on his own initiative yesterday regarding the interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242.
He said the withdrawals from Sinai and Lebanon do not mean Israel has to pull out of the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Rubinstein's statement came to refute claims made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that Israel's handover of Sinai to Egypt in 1982 as part of a peace treaty and last month's Lebanon withdrawal by to the international border by Security Council Resolution 425 set precedents for Palestinian areas.
There are "significant and extremely substantive differences which make the Egyptian precedent or other precedents along Israel's borders inapplicable in the case of the Palestinians," wrote Rubinstein in a statement addressed to the media.
Rubinstein wrote that it should be remembered that when the Security Council passed Resolution 242, it was not meant to apply to a Palestinian entity.
Furthermore, the resolution applies essentially to states, wrote Rubinstein. The resolution talks about "recognized and secure borders," and such borders do not exist, and never existed, between Israel and the Palestinians. The status of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be compared to the Sinai because it was not under the sovereignty of a recognized state. Resolution 242 deliberately talks about withdrawal from "territories," not "the territories" to leave open the option that Israel might retain some of the land captured in the Six Day War. The resolution also states that the negotiations over the disposal of the West Bank and Gaza is to take into consideration the historic and religious connection to the land, the geographical characteristics of the land and their impact on Israel's security, and the size of the Jewish settlement in the territories.
Rubinstein added that Israel has more legal arguments than the ones included in his statement and that "this is Israel's position in the negotiations and it has been given expression in the positions expressed by the prime minister in the past."
© Jerusalem Post 2000
See also - U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 Explained