the UN Partition Plan for Palestine

A Vote 70 Years Ago That Set the Stage for a Renewed Jewish State

UN_Palestine_Partition_Versions_1947November 29 is not just another date on the Israeli calendar, especially not this year. It was 70 years ago, on November 29, 1947, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Partition Plan for Palestine. The plan was intended to create two states, one Jewish and one Arab (plus a special international status for Jerusalem) within the territory of Palestine that was ruled under British mandate, stemming from Britain’s conquest in 1917 of Palestine from the Turkish Ottoman forces during World War I.

The Jewish state was to include limited areas in the north and central coastal region of the country, as well as the Negev desert in the south. The Arab area would incorporate the highlands in the center.

After its passage, joyous celebrations broke out among the Jewish population in Palestine, who viewed the vote as the springboard for the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land for the first time in almost 2000 years. At the same time, Arab leaders within Palestine and outside of it all vowed that they would prevent the establishment of a Jewish state by all means, including warfare. And, indeed, after adoption of the resolution by the General Assembly, war broke out in the Holy Land.

The vote to approve the partition plan saw 33 nations voting in favor and 13 against, thus passing with the necessary two-thirds majority. Ten nations abstained, including Britain, and one was absent.

The United States and Zionist leaders had worked hard beforehand to convince wavering nations to vote for the plan. Most of the major Western nations voted for the plan, as did some Eastern European countries (including the Soviet Union and its satellites), as well as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa. The Arab and Muslim world all voted against, as did India, Greece and Turkey.

The acceptance of a Jewish and Arab state in the Holy Land is thus not an initiative of our times, but rather has its roots in a UN vote taken 70 years ago. Unfortunately, the rejection of that concept is still “alive and well” in much of the Muslim world and has prevented real peace from finally being established in this land.