State of Palestine and The United Nations’ Partition Plan 1947

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The State of Palestine is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East claiming the West Bank bordering Israel and Jordan, and Gaza Strip bordering Israel and Egypt with East Jerusalem as the designated capital. Its administrative center is located in Ramallah. Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the consequence of the Six-Day War. The population is 4,550,368 as of 2014, ranked 123rd in the world.

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After World War II, in 1947, the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. After the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, neighboring Arab armies invaded the former British mandate on the next day and fought the Israeli forces. Later, the All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948 to govern the Egyptian-controlled enclave in Gaza. It was soon recognized by all Arab League members except Transjordan. Though jurisdiction of the Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip. Israel later captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank including East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria in June 1967 following the Six-Day War.

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Following the withdrawals of Egypt from Sinai and Gaza (1982) and Jordan from the West Bank (1988), the State of Palestine proclaimed its independence on 15 November 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Algiers as a government-in-exile. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian National Authority was formed the following year to govern the areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Gaza would later be ruled by Hamas in 2007 after Israel withdrawal from Gaza two years prior.

The State of Palestine is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations – which amounts to a de facto recognition of statehood. It is a member of the Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, G77, and the International Olympic Committee.

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The term “Palestine” has been associated with the geographical area that currently covers the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the British Mandate.  “Palestine” or related terms to the area at the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea beside Syria has historically been taking place since the times of Ancient Greece, with Herodotus writing of a “district of Syria, called Palaistine” in which Phoenicians interacted with other maritime peoples in The Histories.

The areas claimed by the State of Palestine lie in the Levant. The Gaza Strip borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt to the south and Israel to the north and east. The West Bank is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel to the north, south, and west. Thus, the two enclaves constituting the State of Palestine have no geographical border with one another, being separated by Israel. These areas constitute the world’s 163rd largest country by land area.

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The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a proposal by the United Nations, which recommended a partition of Mandatory Palestine at the end of the British Mandate. On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181(II).

The resolution recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem. The Partition Plan, a four-part document attached to the resolution, provided for the termination of the Mandate, the progressive withdrawal of British armed forces and the delineation of boundaries between the two States and Jerusalem. Part I of the Plan stipulated that the Mandate would be terminated as soon as possible and the United Kingdom would withdraw no later than 1 August 1948. The new states would come into existence two months after the withdrawal, but no later than 1 October 1948. The Plan sought to address the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Zionism. The Plan also called for Economic Union between the proposed states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.

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The Plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, despite its perceived limitations. Arab leaders and governments rejected it and indicated an unwillingness to accept any form of territorial division arguing that it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN Charter which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.

Immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented.

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  10. Benny Morris (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. p. 75. Retrieved 24 July 2013. ” p. 75 The night of 29–30 November passed in the Yishuv’s settlements in noisy public rejoicing. Most had sat glued to their radio sets broadcasting live from Flushing Meadow. A collective cry of joy went up when the two-thirds mark was achieved: a state had been sanctioned by the international community. ; p. 396 The immediate trigger of the 1948 War was the November 1947 UN partition resolution. The Zionist movement, except for its fringes, accepted the proposal.”
  11. The Question of Palestine: Brochure DPI/2517/Rev.1: Chapter 2, The Plan of Partition and end of the British Mandate
  12. Benny Morris (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. pp. 66, 67, 72. Retrieved 24 July 2013. p.66, at 1946 “The League demanded independence for Palestine as a “unitary” state, with an Arab majority and minority rights for the Jews.” ; p.67, at 1947 “The League’s Political Committee met in Sofar, Lebanon, on 16–19 September, and urged the Palestine Arabs to fight partition, which it called “aggression,” “without mercy.” The League promised them, in line with Bludan, assistance “in manpower, money and equipment” should the United Nations endorse partition.” ; p. 72, at Dec 1947 “The League vowed, in very general language, “to try to stymie the partition plan and prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine
  13. Benny Morris (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. p. 73. Retrieved 24 July 2013. “p73 All paid lip service to Arab unity and the Palestine Arab cause, and all opposed partition… p. 396 The immediate trigger of the 1948 War was the November 1947 UN partition resolution. … The Palestinian Arabs, along with the rest of the Arab world, said a flat “no”… The Arabs refused to accept the establishment of a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. And, consistently with that “no,” the Palestinian Arabs, in November–December 1947, and the Arab states in May 1948, launched hostilities to scupper the resolution’s implementation ; p. 409 The mindset characterized both the public and the ruling elites. All vilified the Yishuv and opposed the existence of a Jewish state on “their” (sacred Islamic) soil, and all sought its extirpation, albeit with varying degrees of bloody-mindedness. Shouts of “Idbah al Yahud” (slaughter the Jews) characterized equally street demonstrations in Jaffa, Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad both before and during the war and were, in essence, echoed, usually in tamer language, by most Arab leaders. ”
  14. Sami Hadawi,Bitter Harvest: A Modern History of Palestine, Olive Branch Press, (1989)1991 p.76.

Article “History of Palestine”, Encyclopædia Britannica (2002 edition), article section written by Walid Ahmed Khalidi and Ian J. Bickerton. (by: Rabia Saghar, Advocate)