On March 22, 1979, the United Nations Security Council voted 12-0 to approve Resolution 446, creating a commission to study the impact of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank. The United States usually vetoed resolutions that could be critical to Israel. It did not do so in this case, even though it feared that the resolution could be "an irritant" in the peace talks between Egypt and Israel, as James F. Leonard, speaking for the United States at the U.N., put it. But Leonard also noted that the United States was opposed to Israel's settlement policy.
The resolution was pressed by Jordan, which charged that Israel's settlements were seizing Arab water sources and Arab lands while harassing Arabs into abandoning the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In order to keep the United States from vetoing the resolution, Jordan and the sponsored of the resolution (Kuwait, Nigeria and Bangladesh) agreed to tone down the wording. An earlier draft of the resolution included the possibility of sanctions on Israel. The final draft did not.
The commission was established and furnished a report, which has since been largely forgotten. One segment of the resolution, however, remains significant for its unequivocal condemnation of Israeli settlements. "[T]he "policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967," the Resolution read, "have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
The resolution was approved, 12-0, with Britain, the United States and Norway abstaining. The full text of the resolution follows.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 (1979)
The Security Council,
Having heard the statement of the Permanent Representative of Jordan and other statements made before the Council,
Stressing the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Affirming once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 1/ is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,
1. Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;
2. Strongly deplores the failure of Israel to abide by Security Council resolutions 237 (1967) of 14 June 1967, 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968 and 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971 and the consensus statement by the President of the Security Council on 11 November 1976 2/ and General Assembly resolutions 2253 (ES-V) and 2254 (ES-V) of 4 and 14 July 1967, 32/5 of 28 October 1977 and 33/113 of 18 December 1978;
3. Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories;
4. Establishes a Commission consisting of three members of the Security Council, to be appointed by the President of the Council after consultations with the members of the Council, to examine the situation relating to settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem;
5. Requests the Commission to submit its report to the Security Council by 1 July 1979;
6. Requests the Secretary-General to provide the Commission with the necessary facilities to enable it to carry out its mission.
7. Decides to keep the situation in the occupied territories under constant and close scrutiny and to reconvene in July 1979 to review the situation in the light of the findings of the Commission.
Adopted at the 2134th meeting by 12 votes to none, with 3 abstentions.