20 April 2010

State of Israel 1948

"...The British tried to work out an agreement acceptable to both Arabs and Jews, but their insistence on the former's approval guaranteed failure. They subsequently turned the issue over to the UN in February 1947.

The UN established a Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) to devise a solution. Delegates from 11 nations* went there and found what had long been apparent: The conflicting national aspirations of Jews and Arabs could not be reconciled.

Although most of the Commission's members acknowledged the need to find a compromise solution, it was difficult for them to envision one given the parties' intractability. At a meeting with a group of Arabs in Beirut, the Czechoslovakian member of the Commission told his audience: "I have listened to your demands and it seems to me that in your view the compromise is: We want our demands met completely, the rest can be divided among those left."

When they returned, the delegates of seven nations — Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, The Netherlands, Peru, Sweden and Uruguay — recommended the establishment of two separate states, Jewish and Arab, to be joined by economic union, with Jerusalem an internationalized enclave. Three nations — India, Iran and Yugoslavia — recommended a unitary state with Arab and Jewish provinces. Australia abstained.

The Jews of Palestine were not satisfied with the small territory allotted to them by the Commission, nor were they happy that Jerusalem was severed from the Jewish State; nevertheless, they welcomed the compromise. The Arabs rejected the UNSCOP's recommendations.

As the partition vote approached, it became clear little hope existed for a political solution to a problem that transcended politics: the Arabs' unwillingness to accept a Jewish state in Palestine and the refusal of the Zionists to settle for anything less. The implacability of the Arabs was evident when Jewish Agency representatives David Horowitz and Abba Eban made a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise in a meeting with Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha on September 16, 1947. Pasha told them bluntly:

The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It's likely, Mr. Horowitz, that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won't get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not sure we'll succeed, but we'll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost Spain and Persia. It may be that we shall lose Palestine. But it's too late to talk of peaceful solutions.

The ad hoc committee of the UN General Assembly rejected the Arab demand for a unitary Arab state. The majority recommendation for partition was subsequently adopted 33-13 with 10 abstentions on November 29, 1947."

Breakdown of the Vote

In favour: 33

Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian S.S.R., Union of South Africa, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela.

Against: 13

Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen.

Abstained: 10

Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.

(Courtesy of Jewish Virtual Library)