This resolution uses a somewhat strange construction in English “occupied territories in the last conflicts”, the final article “the” has been omitted. For this reason, it was possible to ask whether Israel had actually been invited to withdraw from all the territories occupied in the recent conflict or to withdraw from a number of territories, but not from all territories. Another controversy that followed this resolution was due to the French translation of the document which, unlike the original English, used the definitive article: “Withdrawal… occupied during the recent conflict.” The French version, which, together with the English version, is an official UN version of the document, therefore proposed that Israel withdraw from the territories it occupied during the Six Day War. It is clear that such an interpretation was in line with the requirements of the Arab countries and that they did their best to prove their validity. Israel naturally objected to such an interpretation and it appears that the proponent of the resolution, Lord Caradon, also had no intention of inserting the final article. Mr. Caradon also stressed that the fact that the second part of the first provision provides additional and bright light on the first part must be taken into account in the first place. Indeed, the second part creates what I have called a “multi-text ambiguity”, since it is said that all states have the right to live within secure and recognized borders, which was not the border before the Six Day War, said Lord Caradon. Implicitly, Israel did not have to retreat to its borders before the six-day war. It appears that the second part of the first provision has opened up even more space for Israel to interpret UN Sc Resolution 242 for its own benefit. My fourth round of reflections is on the role of the mediator, which proposes an ambiguous two-party format to the conflict. I think that a mediator should explain to the parties the meaning and purpose of ambiguous language: this does not mean that the mediator must disclose his own interpretation, but that the mediator should explain why this ambiguous provision has been proposed.
First, the ombudsman must make it clear that an ambiguous provision is ambiguous; second, that both parties have the same right to make their own interpretation; third, that both parties, when it comes to the interpretation process, are on an equal footing and have the opportunity to present their arguments in favour of a specific interpretation; and fourth, that the issue in question was deliberately left unresolved, but that the preferred interpretation should seek to strike a balance between the two incompatible interpretations that the parties defend in order to preserve their specific interests. I think a mediator has to give that explanation, because if he does not, he risks losing both parties. If the parties realize that an ambiguous formula has been proposed and the chief negotiator has remained silent on this, and if they have not had time to establish a relationship of trust with the mediator, what would prevent them from suspecting that the ambiguous formula could be a secret protection for the interests of the other party and a murderer disguised in their own interests? It also means that if the parties do not trust a mediator enough, no explanation will be helpful.