What is the international response to the Israel-Palestine conflict? Is there international agreement?


Since at least the mid-1970s, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was deemed the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and welcomed as an observer member of the United Nations, there has been a clear international consensus on how to deal with the seemingly endless conflict.

Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 war, is widely recognized as the basis for a permanent settlement. Outside of the U.S., however, the resolution is understood in a much different way than simply calling for an exchange of land for peace. The international consensus puts much greater emphasis than the U.S. does on the opening words of the resolution, which identifies "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." That is understood to mean that the territory Israel captured by war must be returned; that to keep it is "inadmissible."

In terms of process, the international community has long recognized as inadequate the notion of bilateral talks under U.S. sponsorship, in which Israel and Palestine, with such enormous disparities of power, face each other as if on a level playing field. That they are forced to negotiate before a mediator which is itself the strategic, financial, diplomatic and military champion of the stronger of the two parties, only makes matters less legitimate. Instead, the UN has repeatedly called for convening an international peace conference, in which all the parties to the conflict, including Israel, the PLO, the Arab states and others would negotiate in concert under the auspices of the UN Security Council.