BY FRANK MEIR LOEWENBERG, WINNIPEG JEWISH REVIEW—
A demand to implement the UN Partition Plan of 1947 is one of the options the Palestinians are studying in the wake of Washington’s decision to veto their request for statehood in September, according to Nabil Shaath, ex-Palestinian Foreign Minister and now Fatah commissioner for international relations. He refers to UN Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine that was adopted by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947, with 33 votes in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent. All of the Arab states voted against the resolution. At the time, the partition plan was accepted by the Jews of Palestine, but rejected by the Arabs in Palestine and the Arab states.
While the Jews of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem danced in the streets to express their joy about becoming a state, their neighbors, seven Arab states, massed their armies on the borders and within days attempted to conquer all of the area. Their attempt was only partially successful – they conquered the area now known as the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, but Israel was able to stop the invading armies and secure a large area for its state.
Now, 64 years later, the Palestinians have second thoughts about the Partition Plan which they totally rejected in 1947. However, Dr. Shaat should carefully consider what will be the final result of any such demand to implement the partition plan. UN Resolution 181 called for the establishment of independent Arab and Jewish States in Palestine and an international corpus separatum in Jerusalem. It is crucial to consider all of the provisions of the Partition Plan. Dr. Shaath should pay special attention to three of these.
1. A Jewish State – The United Nations Partition Plan unambiguously calls for the establishment of a Jewish State. This seems to run counter to Dr. Shaat’s earlier statement that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, even if it has a Jewish majority
(Haaretz 08 September 2010). This provision is also contrary to the Palestinian Authority’s stated position that it will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Thus, Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the “the issue of the Jewishness of the state has nothing to do” with our return to peace talks. (Haaretz 12 October 2010)
2. Jews in the Arab State – The Partition Plan specifically states, “No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex.” This means, among other things, that “Arabs and Jews who …reside in Palestine … shall …become citizens of the State in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights.” Yet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that there is no room for Jews in the future state called Palestine. For example, he said, “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.” (The official Egyptian Maan News Agency, 28 July 2010) And a year later he again said, “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.” (American Thinker, 28 July 2011)
3. Bethlehem – Bethlehem is a thriving Arab city with a population of about 30,000 people, located approximately 5 miles south of Jerusalem. It is the capital of the Bethlehem District of the Palestinian National Authority and one of the centers of Palestinian Arab culture. Is Dr. Shaat aware that when UN Resolution 181 calls for the establishment of a a corpus separatum under a special international regime for the City of Jerusalem, it defined the international area to include the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages. The “surrounding villages” listed in the resolution include Abu Dis, Shu’fat, Ein Karim, and Bethlehem. Two years after the Partition Plan resolution was adopted, the UN General Assembly reiterated its commitment to the internationalization of Jerusalem and again defined the area of the corpus separatum to include Bethlehem (Resolution 303 of 9 December 1949). Is Dr. Shaat really willing to give up Arab control of Bethlehem?
No doubt, all this is not news for Dr. Shaat who uses the demand for a return to the Partition Plan as an experienced poker player who has a weak hand would bluff his way through the game.
(Frank. M. LOEWENBERG is a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan-University in Israel. He was born in Germany and now lives, together with his wife, in Efrat, a town 22 kilometers south of Jerusalem. At the age of 12 he immigrated together with his parents and brothers to the United States. He is a graduate of Harvard University (A.B.), Columbia University (M.S.), and Wayne State University (Ph.D.). He immigrated to Israel in 1971 and became a professor of social work at Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of many books and articles in professional journals.)