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1947 UN Partition Plan

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1947 November 29, New York, USA , UN World Headquarters

1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN World Headquarters in New York, approved a plan to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict over the British Mandate of Palestine. The plan partitioned mandated Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, with the Greater Jerusalem area (encompassing Bethlehem) coming under international control (Map (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/IMAGES/PART.JPG) More Detailed Map (http://domino.un.org/maps/m0103_1b.gif)). The failure of this plan led to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

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Creation of the plan

The United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations, attempted to solve the dispute between the Jews and the Palestinians. The UN appointed a committee, the UNSCOP, composed of representatives from several states. None of the Great Powers were represented, in order to make the committee more neutral. UNSCOP considered two main proposals. The first called for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states in Palestine, 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.

Israel was to receive 55% of Mandatory Palestine. This included the fruitful shore plain and the Negev desert. The desert was not suitable for agriculture, and was not suitable urban development at that period. The shore plain, previously swampy, was developed into a zone suitable for agriculture by the Jews. Much of the land reserved for the Jewish state was already acquired by Jews, had a Jewish majority, or was under state control. (Map (http://www.passia.org/images/pal_facts_MAPS/dist_of_pop_jews_and_palestinians_1946.gif))

The plan envisioned two states, each composed of three major sections, linked by extraterritorial crossroads. the Jewish state would receive the Coastal Plain, stretching from Haifa to Rehobot[?], 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. It was also to control the coastal port of Jaffa as an enclave just south of Tel Aviv.

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

Reactions to the plan

Most of the Jews accepted the proposal, in particular the Jewish Agency, which was the Jewish state-in-formation. 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 Arabic leadership opposed the plan. They criticised the amount and quality of land given to Israel, given that they made only a quarter of the population. The Jews had been offered 55% percent of of the land when they only owned 7%. Four-hundred-fifty thousand Palestinians were to end up within the Jewish state.

Palestinians also feared that this Zionist 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. The Arab leadership thus rejected the partition offer, turning to neighboring Arab nations to ask for their help in removing the Jews from Palestine, in return for political control over its lands.

Text of the Resolution

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