Yes, UN Security Council Resolution 242 Is Legally Binding on Israel

by | Apr 3, 2024

On March 14, Lex Fridman published a debate he hosted that pitted Norman Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani against Benny Morris and Steven Bonnell (a.k.a. “Destiny”) on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Norman Finkelstein is an American scholar well known for his work on the conflict, and Benny Morris is a renowned Israeli historian whose work is the subject of my short e-book Benny Morris’s Untenable Denial of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

I was unfamiliar with Rabbani before watching this debate and was impressed with his knowledge and eloquence. I was also unfamiliar with “Destiny”, a popular video streamer who first became widely known streaming gaming videos and later got into political commentary. At numerous points during the debate, Finkelstein appropriately called out Bonnell for displaying only a pretense of knowledge while repeatedly failing to get his facts straight and to produce valid arguments.

Watch the full debate below (a full transcript is conveniently available here):

The team of Finkelstein and Rabbani fairly well tromped Morris and Bonnell by calling out their factual and logical errors, and there’s much that I could say about the debate, but for the sake of time, for the moment, I want to highlight a particular false claim made by Bonnell.

In the wake of the June 1967 “Six Day War”, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 calling on Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied during that war, which were the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This is a critically important document to familiarize yourself with, and I discussed it in detail and debunked popular Zionist propaganda claims about it in my article “UN Resolution 242’s True Significance vs. Popular Zionist Myth“, which is an adapted excerpt from my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

A recurring theme during the debate was the rejection of the applicability of international law to the conflict by Morris and Bonnell, and at one point, when confronted about his dismissal of international law, Bonnell claimed that Resolution 242 was “non-binding” on Israel.

You can find that exchange starting at about the 04:17:09 mark in the video or transcript.

In response to repeated dismissals of international law, Rabbani made the point:

If you want to dismiss international law, that’s fine, but then you have to do it consistently. You can’t set standards for the Palestinians but reject applying those standards to Israel. If we’re going to have the law of the jungle, then we can all be beasts and not only some of us. So it’s either that or you have certain agreed standards that are intended to regulate our conduct, all of our conduct, not just some of us.

Bonnell tried to object that he was not being dismissive but then immediately provided yet another illustration of how he dismisses international law by claiming, “I’m just saying, for instance, 242, that was a Chapter VI resolution. That’s non-binding.”

Rabbani interjected to say, “It’s binding.”

But Bonnell insisted, “It’s absolutely not binding.”

Rabbani repeated, “It’s binding.”

Finkelstein then interjected to inquire of Bonnell, “What is binding? Do you know anything about how the UN system works?”

Bonnell then tried to argue that “binding” meant that “it commits you to upholding a particular international law” but that Resolution 242 was not binding because it was passed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter.

Finkelstein responded by noting that Bonnell was throwing out words without having any understanding, and Rabbani explained,

Yeah, but hold on. Hold on. Every United Nations Security Council resolution, irrespective of under which chapter it was adopted, is, by definition, binding. Binding not only on the members of the Security Council but on every member state of the UN. Read the UN Charter. It’s black and white.

Bonnell next tried to claim that the language of Resolution 242 was “kept intentionally vague” in “the part about territorial acquisition and Israel’s need to give it up”, which is a reiteration of the same Zionist propaganda claim that I debunked in Obstacle to Peace and aforementioned article.

It’s unambiguous from the UN meeting records that the intent of the Security Council was for Israel to immediately and fully withdraw to the positions it held prior to June 5, 1967, to the 1949 armistice lines (a.k.a. the “1967 lines” or the “Green Line” for the color with which it was drawn on the map).

As Finkelstein proceeded to rightly point out, the resolution’s requirement for Israel to withdraw was based on the principle of international law that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible.

“Which is meaningless,” Bonnell meaninglessly interjected, thus humorously proving Rabbani’s point about his dismissal of this perfectly meaningful principle of international law.

Rabbani and Finkelstein are correct, and Bonnell is wrong.

It is true that Resolution 242 was passed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. But it is not true that this means it is non-binding on Israel.

Chapter V of the Charter, as Rabbani correctly indicated, clearly states that “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.”

Hence, all Security Council resolutions are legally binding on member states by definition.

The key distinction between resolutions passed under Chapter VI and those passed under Chapter VII is that it is only under the latter that the UN may authorize the use of military power to enforce a Security Council resolution.

In short, Resolution 242 is legally binding on Israel, and Israel must withdraw fully and immediately from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to comply with its legal obligations under the UN Charter, and the fact that the UN did not authorize member states to use military power to enforce that order does not mean that it is not a legally binding resolution.

The whole debate is characterized by these types of basic errors of fact and logic and instructive dismissals of international law on the part of Morris and Bonnell, for the obvious reason that Israel’s policies and actions constitute gross violations of international law, which they did not want to admit because they both share the Zionist ideology upon which the “Jewish state” was founded.

The debate runs nearly five hours, so after watching some, I ended up just reading the transcript, but for a half-hour overview of how team Finkelstein & Rabbani tromped team Morris & Bonnell, see Krystal Ball’s incisive commentary on Breaking Points:

And while we’re on the topic of debates about the Israel-Palestine conflict, be sure to watch my debate at the Soho Forum about the true root cause of the conflict and was declared the winner by persuading more audience members to my position than my opponent did to his.

Cross-posted from

About Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent journalist and a Research Fellow at The Libertarian Institute whose work focuses on exposing deceitful mainstream propaganda that serves to manufacture consent for criminal government policies. He has written about a broad range of topics, including US foreign policy, economics and the role of the Federal Reserve, and public health policies. He is the author of several books, including Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian Economics in the Financial Crisis, and The War on Informed Consent. Find more of his articles and sign up to receive his email newsletters at

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles