Last updated on: 5/14/2008 1:47:00 PM PST

What Events Led to the First Arab - Israeli War of 1948?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Bernard Lewis, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, in the 1993 edition of The Arabs in History, wrote:

"On 2 April, 1947 the British government informed the United Nations, as successor to the defunct League of Nations, that it would relinquish the Palestine Mandate on Saturday, 15 May 1948, leaving it to the U.N. to decide the further fate of the mandated territory...

The United Nations, after long and intricate discussions and negotiations, adopted a formal resolution on 29 November 1947 for the partition of the mandated territory into three -- a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a corpus separatum under international jurisdiction for the city of Jerusalem.

The United Nations made no provision for the execution and enforcement of these decisions. Very soon after, on 17 December, the Council of the Arab League announced that it would prevent the proposed partition of Palestine by force. The UN plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership, who, anticipating the end of the mandate by some hours because of the Sabbath, set up a state which they called Israel. It was rejected by both the Palestinian leadership and the Arab states, which went to war to prevent its implementation."

1993 - Bernard Lewis, PhD 

Albert Hourani, the late Oxford historian, in his 1991 book A History of the Arab Peoples, wrote the following:

"In 1947 Britain decided to hand the matter [of Palestine] over to the United Nations. A special committee of the United Nations sent out to study the problem produced a plan of partition on terms more favorable to the Zionists than that of 1937 [Peel Commission] had been. This was accepted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in November 1947, with very active support from the United States and from Russia, which wanted the British to withdraw from Palestine. The Arab members of the United Nations and the Palestinian Arabs rejected it, and, faced once more with the impossibility of finding a policy which both Arabs and Jews would accept, Britain decided to withdraw from Palestine on a fixed date, 14 May 1948...

As the date came nearer, British authority inevitably decreased and fighting broke out, in which the Jews soon gained the upper hand. This in turn led to a decision by the neighboring Arab states to intervene, and thus a series of local conflicts turned into a war."

1991 - Albert Hourani 

The 1990 United Nations document titled "The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1988, Part II 1947-1977," contained the following:

"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."

1990 - United Nations (UN) 

Thomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs columnist for the New York Times, in his 1989 book From Beirut to Jerusalem, wrote:

"On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions to partition western Palestine into two states -- one for the Jews, which would consist of the Negev Desert, the coastal plain between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and parts of the northern Galilee, and the other for the Palestinian Arabs, which would consist primarily of the West Bank to the Jordan, the Gaza District, Jaffa, and the Arab sectors of the Galilee. Jerusalem, cherished by both Muslims and Jews as a holy city, was to become an international enclave under U.N. Trusteeship.

The Zionists, then led by David Ben-Gurion, accepted this partition plan, even though they had always dreamed of controlling all of western Palestine and Jerusalem. The Palestinian Arabs and the surrounding Arab states rejected the partition proposal. They felt that Palestine was all theirs, that the Jews were a foreign implant foisted upon them, and that they had the strength to drive them out. Just before the British completed their withdrawal on May 14, 1948, the Zionists declared their own state, and the next day the Palestinians, aided by the armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, launched a war to prevent Jewish independence and to secure control of all of western Palestine."

1989 - Thomas L. Friedman, MPhil