The UN Partition of Palestine

Why did the UN recommend the plan partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state?

"By this time [November 1947] the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition...The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote 'to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views.'...Some delegates charged U.S. officials with 'diplomatic intimidation.' Without 'terrific pressure' from the United States on 'governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals,' said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution 'would never have passed.'" John Quigley, "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice."

Why was this Truman's position?

"I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents." President Harry Truman, quoted in "Anti Zionism", ed. by Teikener, Abed-Rabbo & Mezvinsky.

Was the partition plan fair to both Arabs and Jews?

"Arab rejection was...based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body—a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least...The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter." Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

Were the Zionists prepared to settle for the territory granted in the 1947 partition?

"While the Yishuv's leadership formally accepted the 1947 Partition Resolution, large sections of Israel's society—including...Ben-Gurion—were opposed to or extremely unhappy with partition and from early on viewed the war as an ideal opportunity to expand the new state's borders beyond the UN earmarked partition boundaries and at the expense of the Palestinians." Israeli historian, Benny Morris, in "Tikkun", March/April 1998.

Public vs private pronouncements on this question.

"In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that '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 declared that: '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." Noam Chomsky, "The Fateful Triangle."

The war begins

"In December 1947, the British announced that they would withdraw from Palestine by May 15, 1948. Palestinians in Jerusalem and Jaffa called a general strike against the partition. Fighting broke out in Jerusalem's streets almost immediately...Violent incidents mushroomed into all-out war...During that fateful April of 1948, eight out of thirteen major Zionist military attacks on Palestinians occurred in the territory granted to the Arab state." "Our Roots Are Still Alive" by the People Press Palestine Book Project.

Zionists' disrespect of partition boundaries

"Before the end of the mandate and, therefore before any possible intervention by Arab states, the Jews, taking advantage of their superior military preparation and organization, had occupied...most of the Arab cities in Palestine before May 15, 1948. Tiberias was occupied on April 19, 1948, Haifa on April 22, Jaffa on April 28, the Arab quarters in the New City of Jerusalem on April 30, Beisan on May 8, Safad on May 10 and Acre on May 14, 1948...In contrast, the Palestine Arabs did not seize any of the territories reserved for the Jewish state under the partition resolution." British author, Henry Cattan, "Palestine, The Arabs and Israel."

Culpability for escalation of the fighting

"Menahem Begin, the Leader of the Irgun, tells how 'in Jerusalem, as elsewhere, we were the first to pass from the defensive to the offensive...Arabs began to flee in terror...Hagana was carrying out successful attacks on other fronts, while all the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter'...The Israelis now allege that the Palestine war began with the entry of the Arab armies into Palestine after 15 May 1948. But that was the second phase of the war; they overlook the massacres, expulsions and dispossessions which took place prior to that date and which necessitated Arab states' intervention." Sami Hadawi, "Bitter Harvest."

The Deir Yassin Massacre of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers

"For the entire day of April 9, 1948, Irgun and LEHI soldiers carried out the slaughter in a cold and premeditated fashion...The attackers 'lined men, women and children up against the walls and shot them,'...The ruthlessness of the attack on Deir Yassin shocked Jewish and world opinion alike, drove fear and panic into the Arab population, and led to the flight of unarmed civilians from their homes all over the country." Israeli author, Simha Flapan, "The Birth of Israel."

Was Deir Yassin the only act of its kind?

"By 1948, the Jew was not only able to 'defend himself' but to commit massive atrocities as well. Indeed, according to the former director of the Israeli army archives, 'in almost every village occupied by us during the War of Independence, acts were committed which are defined as war crimes, such as murders, massacres, and rapes'...Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, goes one step further, maintaining that 'every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.'" Norman Finkelstein, "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict."

 

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