Last updated on: 5/20/2008 2:13:00 PM PST
What Was the Outcome of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The United Nations (UN) 1990 document titled "The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1988, Part II 1947-1977," contained the following description of the UN Partition Plan's outcome:

"The United Nations partition resolution did not provide a solution to the Palestine problem, and violence increased. In protest against the partition of their country, the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee called for a general strike. Palestinian-Jewish clashes proliferated with Jewish paramilitary forces operating more freely as British forces started their withdrawal. Sabotage, attacks on military installations and the capture of British arms by these groups became a major feature of the Palestinian scene, along with a proliferation of Jewish-Arab clashes. With events moving towards a major armed confrontation, Great Britain announced that it would terminate the Mandate on 15 May 1948, several months before the time envisaged in the United Nations plan.

The Security Council could not take any effective decision after discussing General Assembly resolution 181 (II) (the partition resolution) in December 1947. In March 1948 the United States draft proposal to enable the Council to act on the partition resolution failed, and the Council only called for an end to the violence in Palestine. Under the pressure of rapidly moving developments, the partition resolution did not even reach the stage of routine reference to the Sixth Committee for an examination of its legal effects and implications. The United Nations Commission on Palestine, established by resolution 181 (II), could not move to Jerusalem, and only could hold consultations in New York. The formation of the armed militia, intended to assist the Commission in its functions in Palestine, became impracticable in the face of the accelerated British withdrawal in a deteriorating situation where the casualty toll in the first three months after the approval of the partition resolution was 869 dead and 1,909 injured."

1990 - United Nations (UN) 

Country Studies, a Federal Research Division of the U.S. Library of Congress, in a section titled "A Country Study: Israel, Prelude to Statehood" on its website (accessed Aug. 11, 2006), offered the following:

"Despite the passage of the UN partition plan, the situation in Palestine in early 1948 did not look auspicious for the Yishuv. When the AHC [Arab Higher Committe] rejected the plan immediately after its passage and called for a general strike, violence between Arabs and Jews mounted. Many Jewish centers, including Jerusalem, were besieged by the Arabs. In January 1948, President Truman, warned by the United States Department of State that a Jewish state was not viable, reversed himself on the issue of Palestine, agreeing to postpone partition and to transfer the Mandate to a trusteeship council. Moreover, the British forces in Palestine sided with the Arabs and attempted to thwart the Yishuv's attempts to arm itself...

The Haganah went on the offensive and... successfully consolidated and created communications links with those Jewish settlements designated by the UN to become the Jewish state. In the meantime, Weizmann convinced Truman to reverse himself and pledge his support for the proposed Jewish state.

In April 1948, the Palestinian Arab community panicked after Begin's Irgun killed 250 Arab civilians at the village of Dayr Yasin near Jerusalem. The news of Dayr Yasin [sic] precipitated a flight of the Arab population from areas with large Jewish populations. On May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion and his associates proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. On the following day Britain relinquished the Mandate at 6:00 P.M. and the United States announced de facto recognition of Israel. Soviet recognition was accorded on May 18; by April 1949, fifty-three nations, including Britain, had extended recognition. In May 1949, the UN General Assembly, on recommendation of the Security Council, admitted Israel to the UN.

Meanwhile, Arab military forces began their invasion of Israel on May 15... By January 1949, Jewish forces held the area that was to define Israel's territory until June 1967, an area that was significantly larger than the area designated by the UN partition plan.

The part of Palestine remaining in Arab hands was limited to that held by the Arab Legion of Transjordan and the Gaza area held by Egypt at the cessation of hostilities. The area held by the Arab Legion was subsequently annexed by Jordan and is commonly referred to as the West Bank (see Glossary).

Jerusalem was divided. The Old City, the Western Wall and the site of Solomon's Temple, upon which stands the Muslim mosque called the Dome of the Rock, remained in Jordanian hands; the New City lay on the Israeli side of the line. Although the West Bank remained under Jordanian suzerainty until 1967, only two countries--Britain and Pakistan--granted de jure recognition of the annexation."

Aug. 11, 2006 - Country Studies / Area Handbooks Program 

The Jewish Virtual Library, an online encyclopedia, in a section titled "Myths and Facts" (accessed Aug. 10, 2006), offered the following explanation of the geographical outcome of the proposed plan:

"The partition plan took on a checkerboard appearance largely because Jewish towns and villages were spread throughout Palestine. This did not complicate the plan as much as the fact that the high living standards in Jewish cities and towns had attracted large Arab populations, which insured that any partition would result in a Jewish state that included a substantial Arab population. Recognizing the need to allow for additional Jewish settlement, the majority proposal allotted the Jews land in the northern part of the country, Galilee, and the large, arid Negev desert in the south. The remainder was to form the Arab state.These boundaries were based solely on demographics.

The borders of the Jewish State were arranged with no consideration of security; hence, the new state's frontiers were virtually indefensible. Overall, the Jewish State was to be comprised of roughly 5,500 square miles and the population was to be 538,000 Jews and 397,000 Arabs. The Arab State was to be 4,500 square miles with a population of 804,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews. Though the Jews were allotted more total land, the majority of that land was in the desert.

Further complicating the situation was the UN majority's insistence that Jerusalem remain apart from both states and be administered as an international zone. This arrangement left more than 100,000 Jews in Jerusalem isolated from their country and circumscribed by the Arab state."

Aug. 10, 2006 - Jewish Virtual Library