Edited by Gerald Boerner
The fate of Palestine has been an issue from ancient times. It is a land that lies along the Mediterranean Sea has been a land of conflict from the days of the settlement by the children of Abraham through present times. The Jewish people, the descendants of Jacob, and the Arab people, the descendants of Essau, have been in conflict from those ancient times. Outside powers were able to bring some temporary resolution only through the application of external control. Through most of the last two thousand years the Jews have been dispersed throughout Europe and Asia, leaving the territory of Palestine to the settlement by the Arabs.
All that changed in the early days of the 20th century. The Balfour Declaration included the first proposal for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But until the end of World War I, that land was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. As part of the Treaty of Versailles, the League of Nations issued mandates for a variety of lands, including Palestine, were awarded; Britain took over the oversight of Palestine. After World War II and the Nazi Holocaust that sent millions of Jews to their death created a cry for the Jewish homeland once more. Britain was against such a move since it would destabilize the territory.
But in 1947, the new United Nations General Assembly issued Resolution 181. This resolution called for the partitioning of Palestine to provide a Jewish homeland at the expense of the Arab peoples living in those parcels. This is much like the partitioning of India to create a homeland, Pakistan, for the Muslim population of that subcontinent; partitioning required the relocation of the current occupants if they were living in the “wrong” areas. This same relocation in Palestine with the displaced Arabs living in essentially refugee camps, where many of them still live all these years later.
The result has been a series of Arab-Israeli Wars, starting with the one in 1948, over the land. Emotions and passion run high within these camps, especially over the develop of Israeli settlements in lands given to the Arab population of Palestine. Where will this end? Who knows!
But now, let’s get into our exploration of some of the relevant issues related to the United Nations’ Partitioning of Palestine in 1947… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 4506 Words ]
Quotations Related to Palestine:
“There is no more Palestine. Finished.”
— Moshe Dayan
“We are totally committed to ending partition and to creating the conditions for unity and independence.”
— Gerry Adams
“Zionism demands a publicly recognized and legally secured homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people. This platform is unchangeable.”
— Theodor Herzl
“Among them, there were Muslims, Christians, and Jews living together. But then violent organizations came, bringing with them many large groups of people from various parts of the world to Palestine.”
— Hassan Nasrallah
“Fear is the main factor in Arab politics… There is no Arab who is not harmed by Jews’ entry into Palestine.”
— Moshe Sharett
“Here, I declare that the Palestine Liberation Organization is ready to return immediately to the negotiating table on the basis of the adopted terms of reference based on international legitimacy and a complete cessation of settlement activities.”
— Mahmoud Abbas
“And opposite the bench, the dock, divided by a partition, with the women to the left and the men to the right, as it is on the stairs or the block in polite society.”
— Henry Lawson
“What should be the future of Israel? Is the land the most important choice, and for that reason to keep the whole of the land at any cost, or to have a partition and build the Jewish state on part of the land? And the other part?”
— Shimon Peres
Palestine: United Nations Votes to Partition in 1947…
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was created by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 to replace the British Mandate for Palestine with "Independent Arab and Jewish States" and a "Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem" administered by the United Nations. It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 29 November 1947 as Resolution 181.
Under the plan, the Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible, and the United Kingdom would evacuate Palestine no later than the previously announced date of 1 August 1948. The new states would come into existence two months after the evacuation, but no later than 1 October 1948. The plan sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Arab nationalism. The plan included a detailed description of the recommended boundaries for each proposed state. The plan also called for an economic union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.
The proposed plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. The plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community (the Palestine Arab Higher Committee etc.), who were supported in their rejection by the states of the Arab League.
Under the plan, a transitional period under United Nations auspices was to begin with the adoption of the resolution, and last until the establishment of the two states. On the UN adoption of the Resolution Civil War broke out. On 11 December 1947 Britain announced the Mandate would end at midnight 14th May 1948 and its sole task would be to complete withdrawal by 1 August 1948. On May 14th, an independent state of Israel was declared "from the moment of the termination of the Mandate". The 1948 Arab–Israeli War began on the Invasion of Palestine by the Arab States on the 15th May 1948.
Myths and Facts 3: Did the United Nations Unjustly Partition Palestine?
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.
The boundaries of the region have changed throughout history, and were first defined in modern times by the Franco-British boundary agreement (1920) and the Transjordan memorandum during the British Mandate for Palestine. Today, the region comprises the country of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Palestine is also used to refer to the State of Palestine which, since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, has referred to a state in the Palestinian territories on 22% of the wider historical region of Palestine. The State of Palestine is recognized today by approximately two-thirds of the world’s countries, although this status is not recognized by the United Nations, Israel and major Western nations such as the United States.
Other terms for the same area include Canaan, Zion, the Land of Israel, Syria Palaestina, Southern Syria, Jund Filastin, Outremer, the Holy Land and the Southern Levant.
Arab people, also known as Arabs, are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing an important part of Arab identity.
Philip the Arab • John of Damascus • Al-Kindi • Al-Khansa
Faisal I of Iraq • Gamal Abdel Nasser • Asmahan • May Ziade
The word "Arab" has had several different, but overlapping, meanings over the centuries (and sometimes even today). In addition to including all Arabized people of the world (with language tending to be the acid test), it has also at times been used exclusively for bedouin (Arab nomads [although sometimes in the past a related word, "`a-RAB," with rhe Arabic letter "alif" in the second syllable, was used when this specific meaning was intended] and their now almost entirely sedentary descendants). It is sometimes used that way colloquially even today in some places. Townspeople in the past sometimes were called "sons of the Arabs." As in the case of other ethnicities/nations, people identify themselves (or are identified by others) as "Arabs" to varying degrees. This may or may not be one’s primary identity (it tends to compete with country, religion, sect, etc.), and whether or not it is emphasized may vary from time to time and depend on whom one is talking too. For further analysis of the word (thorough and scholarly, though not without its biases), see Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History, new edition (Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 3-14 (introduction).
Jewish Nationalism (Zionism)
Judaism claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, and the oldest to survive into the present day. The Hebrews / Israelites were already referred to as "Jews" in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism’s texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law.
Jews are an ethnoreligious group and include those born Jewish and converts to Judaism. In 2010, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.4 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 42% of all Jews reside in Israel and about 42% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe. The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Hareidi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. A major source of difference between these groups is their approach to Jewish law. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more "traditional" interpretation of Judaism’s requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the many rabbis and scholars who interpret these texts.
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state and address threats to its continued existence and security. In a less common usage, the term may also refer to non-political, cultural Zionism, founded and represented most prominently by Ahad Ha’am; and political support for the State of Israel by non-Jews, as in Christian Zionism.
Competing Jewish and Arab Claims
In the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, Great Britain agreed to "recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within" a large portion of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine. In exchange, the Arabs agreed to revolt against the Ottomans. In November 1917, the British Foreign Office issued the Balfour Declaration, which expressed British support for a Jewish national home in Palestine. Based in part on these arguably contradictory promises, both Jews and Arabs came to believe that the British had promised them an independent state in Palestine.
The Paris Peace Conference (including the Treaty of Sèvres), and the San Remo Conference, laid the foundations for the British Mandate of Palestine. After much debate concerning Jewish and Arab claims to the land, the following compromise language acknowledging the Balfour Declaration was included in the Mandate: "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country." On 24 July 1922, the Mandate was approved by the League of Nations. On 16 September 1922 the League approved the Transjordan memorandum exempting the portions of the Mandate east of the Jordan River from the provisions concerning a Jewish National Home and Immigration. This territory eventually became the nation of Jordan.
Early Proposals for Partition
Increased Jewish immigration and rising Arab nationalist sentiment led to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, prompting the creation of The British Peel Commission.
On 7 July 1937, the Peel Commission proposed a Palestine divided into a small Jewish state (about 15%), a much larger Arab state, and an international zone. The Arab leadership rejected the plan. The Jewish Agency also rejected the borders in the British plan, but established their own committees on borders and population transfer so that they could offer an alternative plan of their own. Both of the proposals contained provisions for the relocation of Arab population to areas outside the borders of the new Jewish state, modeled on the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey. These proposals were rejected by the Arab side.
The British Woodhead Commission was charged with investigating the implementation of the Peel Plan. They considered several additional plans for partition. On 9 November 1938, based largely on the Woodhead Commission’s work, the British government issued a policy statement declaring that "the political, administrative and financial difficulties involved in the proposal to create independent Arab and Jewish States inside Palestine are so great that this solution of the problem is impracticable", and inviting representatives of Arabs and Jews to London for additional talks regarding Palestine. These talks, known as the St. James Conference, were unsuccessful.
With war looming, and Britain needing to shore up Arab support and access to oil, Parliament approved the MacDonald White Paper on 17 May 1939. The White Paper declared "unequivocally that it is not part of [the British government's] policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State" and sought to eliminate Jewish immigration to Palestine. This was seen as a contradiction of the terms of the Mandate (according to which, the government of Palestine "shall facilitate Jewish immigration"), and an anti-humanitarian catastrophe, in light of the increasing persecution in Europe.
Jewish reaction to the White Paper was varied. The Jewish Agency, which represented the mainstream Zionist leadership, still hoped to persuade the British to restore Jewish immigration rights, and cooperated with the British in the war against Fascism. Aliyah Bet was organized to spirit Jews out of Nazi controlled Europe, despite the British prohibitions. The White Paper also led to the formation of Lehi, a small Jewish terrorist organization which opposed the British during most of the war.
After World War II, despite pressure to allow the immigration of large numbers of Jewish Holocaust survivors to Palestine, the British maintained limits on Jewish immigration imposed in the aftermath of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt. In response, the Jewish community began to wage increased campaigns of illegal immigration and armed resistance. These and United States pressure to end the anti-immigration policy led to the establishment of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. In April 1946, the committee reached a unanimous decision. The Committee approved the American condition of the immediate acceptance of 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine. It also recommended that there be no Arab, and no Jewish State. US President Harry S. Truman angered the British government by issuing, without forewarning, a statement supporting the 100,000 refugees, but refusing to acknowledge the rest of the committee’s findings. The British government had conditioned the implementation of the report’s recommendations on the US providing assistance if force would be required to do so, but that was not offered. The US War Department had issued an earlier report which stated that an open-ended US troop commitment of 300,000 personnel would be necessary to assist the British government in maintaining order against an Arab revolt.
On 7 February 1947, Britain announced its intent to terminate the Mandate for Palestine. On 2 April 1947, Britain formally asked the United Nations to make recommendations regarding the future government of Palestine. On 15 May 1947, the UN appointed the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), composed of representatives from eleven states. To make the committee more neutral, none of the Great Powers were represented. The UNSCOP spent three months conducting hearings and a general survey of the situation in Palestine.
On 18 July 1947, the SS Exodus, a ship packed with Holocaust Survivors wanting to immigrate to Palestine, arrived off the coast. The ship was intercepted by the Royal Navy and a struggle ensued in which two passengers and a crew member died. UNSCOP members watched as the Exodus passengers were forcibly transferred to ships bound for France. The passengers refused to disembark in France, and the British ultimately decided to transfer the passengers to Hamburg, Germany. The voyage resulted in spectacularly bad press for the British and was followed by UNSCOP members as they deliberated in Geneva.
On 31 August 1947, the UNSCOP officially released its report. The only unanimous recommendation was that the United Kingdom terminate their mandate for Palestine and grant it independence at the earliest possible date. A majority of nations (Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay) recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. A minority (India, Iran, Yugoslavia) supported the creation of a federal union (composed of an Arab state and a Jewish state) based upon the US Constitutional model.
UN Partitioning Plan for Palestine
The two states envisioned in the UNSCOP plan were each composed of three major sections, linked by extraterritorial crossroads. The Jewish state would receive the Coastal Plain, stretching from Haifa to Rehovot, the Eastern Galilee (surrounding the Sea of Galilee and including the Galilee panhandle) and the Negev, including the southern outpost of Umm Rashrash (now Eilat). The Arab state would receive the Western Galilee, with the town of Acre, the hill country of Samaria and Judea, and the southern coast stretching from north of Isdud (now Ashdod) and encompassing what is now the Gaza Strip, with a section of desert along the Egyptian border. The Corpus Separatum included Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the surrounding areas.
The Jewish population was concentrated in settlement areas
in 1947. The borders were drawn to encompass them, placing
most of the Jewish population in the Jewish state.
(Map reflects Jewish owned land not the size and number
of settlements. It does not imply that only Jews lived here
or that all other land was owned or exclusively populated
The plan tried its best to accommodate as many Jews as possible into the Jewish state. In many specific cases, this meant including areas of Arab majority (but with a significant Jewish minority) in the Jewish state. Thus the Jewish State would have an overall large Arab minority. Areas that were sparsely populated (like the Negev), were also included in the Jewish state to create room for immigration in order to relieve the "Jewish Problem". According to the plan, Jews and Arabs living in the Jewish state would become citizens of the Jewish state and Jews and Arabs living in the Arab state would become citizens of the Arab state.
The UNSCOP plan would have had the following demographics (data based on 1945). This data does not reflect the actual land ownership by Jews, local Arabs, Ottomans and other land owners. This data also excludes the land designated to Arabs in Transjordan.
The land allocated to the Arab state in the final plan included about 43% of Mandatory Palestine and consisted of all of the highlands, except for Jerusalem, plus one third of the coastline. The highlands contain the major aquifers of Palestine, which supplied water to the coastal cities of central Palestine, including Tel Aviv. The Jewish state was to receive 56% of Mandatory Palestine, a slightly larger area to accommodate the increasing numbers of Jews who would immigrate there. The state included three fertile lowland plains — the Sharon on the coast, the Jezreel Valley and the upper Jordan Valley. The bulk of the proposed Jewish State’s territory, however, consisted of the Negev Desert. The desert was not suitable for agriculture, nor for urban development at that time. The Jewish state was also given sole access to the Red Sea.
Reactions to the Plan
The majority of the Jewish groups, and the Jewish Agency subsequently announced their acceptance of the proposed Jewish State, and by implication the proposed international zone, and Arab State. However, it had been stipulated that the implementation of the plan did not make the establishment of one state or territory dependent on the establishment of the others.
The Jewish Agency criticized the UNSCOP majority proposal concerning Jerusalem, saying that the Jewish section of modern Jerusalem (outside the Walled City) should be included in the Jewish State. During his testimony Ben Gurion indicated that he accepted the principle of partition, but stipulated: "’To partition,’ according to the Oxford dictionary, means ‘to divide a thing into two parts’. Palestine is divided into three parts, and only in a small part are the Jews allowed to live. We are against that.”
A minority of extreme nationalist Jewish groups like Menachem Begin’s Irgun Tsvai Leumi and the Lehi (known as the Stern Gang), which had been fighting the British, rejected the plan. Begin warned that the partition would not bring peace because the Arabs would also attack the small state and that "in the war ahead we’ll have to stand on our own, it will be a war on our existence and future".
The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) opposed partition and claimed all of Palestine. The Arabs argued that it violated the rights of the majority of the people in Palestine, which at the time was 67% non-Jewish (1,237,000) and 33% Jewish (608,000).
Arab leaders threatened the Jewish population of Palestine, speaking of "driving the Jews into the sea" and ridding Palestine "of the Zionist Plague". Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, "describing the fate of the Jews" declared: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades". On 20 May 1948, Azzam told reporters "We are fighting for an Arab Palestine. Whatever the outcome the Arabs will stick to their offer of equal citizenship for Jews in Arab Palestine and let them be as Jewish as they like. In areas where they predominate they will have complete autonomy.”
The plan was vigorously debated in the British parliament. Thomas Reid, the MP for Swindon known for his strong views on the subject, called it an "iniquitous scheme" and suggested that the motive was the weight of Jews in the United States electorate.
Britain ultimately announced that it would accept the partition plan, but refused to implement the plan by force, arguing it was not acceptable to both sides. In September 1947, the British government announced that the Mandate for Palestine would end on 14 May 1948. Britain refused to share the administration of Palestine with the UN Palestine Commission during the transitional period or to assist in smoothly handing over territory or authority to any successor.
1948 Arab–Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation, was the first in a series of wars fought between the State of Israel and its Arab neighbors in the continuing Arab–Israeli conflict.
The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded Palestine, escalating the war to one between sovereign states. The fighting took place mostly on the former territory of the British Mandate and for a short time also in the Sinai Peninsula and southern Lebanon.
Much of what Palestinian Arabs refer to as The Catastrophe, occurred amidst this war. The war is also considered among the main triggers of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, initiating the first exodus wave of Egyptian, as well as other Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities.
The war concluded with the 1949 Armistice Agreements, which established armistice lines, known as the Green Line, between Israeli forces and the forces in the Jordanian-held West Bank.
UN Partition Plan (Documentary)…
Please take time to further explore more about United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, British Mandate for Palestine, Palestine, Arab Nationalism, Jewish, Jewish Nationalism (Zionism), Jewish Agency, Palestine Arab Higher Committee, and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War by accessing the Wikipedia articles referenced below. In most cases, the text in the body of this post has been selectively excerpted from the articles; footnotes and hyperlinks have been removed for readability…
Other Events on this Day:
In late fall, Harriet Tubman is engaged in a mission to rescue nine slaves from Maryland and conduct them north to Canada.
Thomas Edison demonstrates hand-cranked phonograph.
The Navy Midshipmen beat the Army Black Knights, 24-0, at West Point, N.Y. The annual Army-Navy game remains one of the biggest rivalries in college football.
Navy lieutenant commander Richard E. Byrd and his crew make the first airplane flight over the South Pole. Byrd, along with three others, reach the South Pole in a Ford trimotor airplane called the Floyd Bennett. Byrd sends the message, “My calculations indicate that we have reached vicinity of South Pole.”
In Thanksgiving Day, the Chicago Bears beat the Detroit Lions 19-16 in the first NFL game to be broadcast nationally on radio.
The United Nations votes to partition Palestine, recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states.
First underground atomic explosion is set off under Frenchman Flats in Nevada.
In preparation for NASA astronaut John Glenn’s first orbital space flight, Enos the chimpanzee is launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The 5-year-old chimp orbits the Earth twice aboard the Mercury-Atlas 5 spacecraft before making a successful return voyage.
Former Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison dies at age 58 after battling lung cancer.
Dates and events based on:
William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine…
Wikipedia: United Nations Special Committee on Palestine…
Wikipedia: Jewish Agency…
Wikipedia: Palestine Arab Higher Committee…
Wikipedia: 1948 Arab & Israeli War…
Wikipedia: British Mandate for Palestine…
Brainy Quote: Partition Quotes…
Brainy Quote: Palestine Quotes…
Other Posts on related Topics:
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: The Balfour Declaration: Proposing a Jewish State in Palestine…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Golda Meir, Israel’s only Female Prime Minister Takes Office…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: Harry S. Truman: Moments in History…
Prof. Boerner’s Exploration: T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, Dies in Motorcycle Accident…