THUMBS UP to The Economist Magazine, for its Oct. 10, 2002 article entitled “Iraq, Israel and the United Nations: Double Standards,” which explains the difference between binding and nonbinding U.N. resolutions, and points out that Iraq is in noncompliance with binding U.N. resolutions, while Israel is not. Specifically, all of the U.N. resolutions concerning the Israeli-Arab conflict fall under Chapter Six, meaning they are non-binding. In contrast, the resolutions regarding Iraq are under Chapter Seven, which gives “the council broad powers to take action, including warlike action.”
The detailed article further explains that U.N. Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from all the land gained in the 1967 war, and, in fact, that the resolution drafters envisioned that through negotiations, Israel would likely keep some of the land. Thus, according to the Economist, “Resolution 242 cannot be implemented unilaterally, even if Israel wanted to do so.” Iraq, on the other hand, received instructions from the Security Council “to take various unilateral actions that [Saddam Hussein] is perfectly capable of taking.”
The Economist then deals with more recent resolutions concerning Israel, those born out of the two-year-old intifada. Some rebuke Israel for “excessive force” and others–like Resolution 1435, which calls on Israel to pull its troops back to positions held prior to September 2000–make specific demands. The unnamed writer points out: “But like most recent resolutions, this one cuts both ways. It makes demands of the Palestinians, too, which have also been ignored.”
In short, observes the Economist, Iraq’s conflict is with the U.N. itself, while the resolutions concerning Israel cannot be fulfilled alone by Israel.
On virtually all of the issues it raises in the article, the Economist provides both sides of the argument, but then commendably notes whether each one is accurate. This is an impressive departure from the magazine’s past record on the Middle East.