UN Partition Plan
The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an internationalised city. Jewish representatives in Palestine accepted the plan tactically because it implied international recognition for their aims. Some Jewish leaders, such as David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, opposed the plan because their ambition was a Jewish state on the entire territory of Mandate Palestine. The Palestinians and Arabs felt that it was a deep injustice to ignore the rights of the majority of the population of Palestine. The Arab League and Palestinian institutions rejected the partition plan, and formed volunteer armies that infiltrated into Palestine beginning in December of 1947.

Summary of UN General Assembly Resolution 181

November 29, 1947

The territory of Palestine should be divided as follows:

  • A Jewish State covering 56.47% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem) with a population of 498,000 Jews and 325,000 Arabs;
  • An Arab State covering 43.53% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem), with 807,000 Arab inhabitants and 10,000 Jewish inhabitants;
  • An international trusteeship regime in Jerusalem, where the population was 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs.

The partition plan also laid down:

  • A guarantee of the rights of minorities and religious rights, including free access to and the preservation of Holy Places;
  • A constitution of an Economic Union between the two states: custom union, joint monetary system, joint administration of main services, equal access to water and energy resources.

The General Assembly also proposed:

  • A two-month interim period beginning 1 August 1948, date of expiry of the mandate when the British troops were to be evacuated, with a zone including a port to be evacuated in the territory of the Jewish State by 1 February;
  • A five-country Commission (Bolivia, Denmark, Panama, Philippines, Czechoslovakia) in charge of the administration of the regions evacuated by Great Britain, of establishing the frontiers of the two states and of setting up in each of them a Provisional Council of Government;
  • The gradual take-over of the administration by the Provisional Council of Government in both States, and the organization of democratic elections for a Constituent Assembly within two months.
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