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1947 UN Partition Plan

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On 29 November 1947 the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, a plan to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict in the British Mandate of Palestine, was approved by the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN World Headquarters in New York. The plan partitioned the territory into Jewish and Arab states, with the Greater Jerusalem area (encompassing Bethlehem) coming under international control. The failure of this plan led to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Table of contents
1 Creation of the plan
2 Reactions to the plan
3 Text of the Resolution
4 Related Articles
5 External links

Creation of the plan

The United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations, attempted to solve the dispute between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The UN appointed a committee, the UNSCOP, composed of representatives from several states. To make the committee more neutral, none of the Great Powers were represented. UNSCOP considered two main proposals. The first called for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration. The second called for the creation of a single federal state containing both Jewish and Arab constituent states. A majority of UNSCOP adopted the first option, although several members supported the second option instead and one member (Australia) said it was unable to decide between them. The UN General Assembly largely accepted UNSCOP's proposals, though they made some adjustments to the boundaries between the two states proposed by it. The division was to take effect on the date of British withdrawal.

The Jewish state was to receive 55% of Mandatory Palestine. This included the fruitful shore plain and the Negev desert. The desert was not suitable for agriculture, nor for urban development at that time. The land allocated to the Jewish state was largely that where there was a significant Jewish population (Map of population distribution). Much was owned by Jewish interests (about 7% of the area of Palestine) or the state.

The Jewish population was concentrated in settlement areas in 1947. The borders were drawn to encompass them, placing 98% of the Jewish population in the Jewish state.

The UN made the recommendation for a three-way partition of Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The two states envisioned in the 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 Samarian highlands and the Judean highlands, and the southern coast stretching from north of Majdal (now Ashkelon) and encompassing what is now the Gaza Strip, with a section of desert along the Egyptian border. The UNSCOP report placed the mostly-Arab town of Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv, in the Jewish state, but it was moved to form an enclave part of the Arab State before the proposal went before the UN.

The plan was a compromise position based on two other plans, giving more or less land to each state.

Reactions to the plan

Political pressure by proponents of partition was used to get the UN to pass the partition proposal. Most of the Jews accepted the proposal, in particular the Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation. The more extreme nationalist Jewish groups like Menachem Begin's Irgun Tsvai Leumi and Yitzhak Shamir's Lehi (known as the Stern Gang) which had been fighting the British rejected it. Numerous records indicate the joy of Palestine's Jewish inhabitants as they attended to the U.N. session voting for the division proposal. Up to this day, Israeli history books mention November 29th (the date of this session) as the most important date in the Israel's acquisition of independence. However Jews did criticise the lack of territorial continuity for the Jewish state.

The Arab leadership opposed the plan, arguing 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). They criticised the amount and quality of land given to Israel. The Jews had been offered 55% percent of the land when they only owned 7%. The population for the proposed Jewish State would be 498,000 Jews and 325,000 non-Jews. The population for the proposed Arab State would be 807,000 non-Jews and 10,000 Jews. The population for the proposed International Zone would be 105,000 non-Jews and 100,000 Jews.

Arabs also feared that the Jewish state would be a stepping stone for further advancement; this view is supported by statements from David Ben Gurion and other leaders recently discovered by Israel's New Historians and other independent scholars.

David Ben-Gurion declared in 1938, "after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine" In 1948, Menachem Begin said, "The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever".

Subsequent events showed Israel expanding primarily through land conquered in wars which were intended to eliminate Israel, retention of which was justified primarily on the grounds of military necessity, to create a buffer zone against future invasions. The return of the Sinai to Egypt led to lasting peace between Israel and Egypt. As of 2004, Israel completely occupies about half of the territory originally allocated to the Arab state and exercises considerable control over the remainder.

Text of the Resolution

Related Articles

External links