UN Partition, 1948

I like to see how different writers depict what happened in and around 1948. Tony Karon had this one:

Recognizing that the Palestinian Arabs would not agree to more than half of British-ruled Palestine, in which they were the majority, being carved off for a separate Jewish state, the U.N. nonetheless voted to prescribe such a partition in 1947.

That didn’t settle matters, of course; the two sides fought a war first (involving troops from all of Israel’s Arab neighbors), which saw Israel grow its share of the partition from 55% to 78%, and which turned half the Palestinian population into refugees.

This is a clever shift of the argument (to be clear, clever is not always the same as accurate).  So it is not that the Palestinians rejected the UN plan, as some of Israel’s defenders like to argue the point. Rather, it is that the United Nations and UNSCOP ignored the parameters the Palestinians had made clear to them as to what was unacceptable (not more than half).

I wonder if there is any documentary evidence to back up the claim that the Palestinians made that clear or that the UN officials even thought of an upper limit on the Jewish state’s land as a way to try to win Arab support.


3 Comments to “UN Partition, 1948”

  1. As far as I know, the Palestinians actually refused to negotiate or discuss with the UN commission, so it would have been probably hard for the commission to gauge the upper limits to which the Palestinians agree. Is that just my narrative or the actual fact?
    Also, this piece contains other spins: the two sides “fought a war” (without mentioning who initiated it) and the war “involved troops” from all of Israel’s Arab neighbors (that is, they did not invade, just were involved).
    It may be the case that the Palestinians had a just case, but one should not make a case by spinning the facts, with all due respect to narratives.
    Thank you for pointing this out, Jeremy!

  2. It made me think a look at the archives could be interesting. Did UNSCOP try to ascertain Palestinian perspectives given the refusal to meet? (If yes, how?)

  3. Speaking of the Canadian delegation, the documents show they were very aware of the limitations of the recommendations. But they sincerely felt that the Plan was the best that could be made given the circumstances. They felt, by 1947, that the Jewish community in Palestine would simply have to be accommodated.

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