Israeli Affairs (Issue no. 67)

70 Years since the Partition of Palestine”

  • Author: Muhannad Mostafa, Bilah Daher, Ayman Yousef, Nabih Bashir, Wadii Awawde,Tomer Prisco, Alon Convino, David Ben-Gurion, Yair Wallach, Mahmoud Fataftah
  • Translator: Said Ayyash, Yaseen el-Sayyed, shaymaa Nader
  • Editor: Raif Zureik, Nabil al-Saleh, Honaida Ghanem
  • Number of Pages: 130
  • ISBN: 978-9950-03-007-7
  • Date of update: Sunday, 12 November 2017
  • Price: $0.00

As unjust as it was for Palestinians, partition had already been expected, if not almost inevitable. From the outset, the Zionist Jewish settlement enterprise was separate and sought to establish its separation with assistance from, under the aegis of and in the context of the British Mandate. The Zionist settlement enterprise did not involve a group of displaced persons and immigrants, who were willing to integrate into the then existing system and its laws. They arrived as settlers, who carried with them their collective dreams, code, law and moral and symbolic world. Their integration into the Palestinian local community was unthinkable, neither by themselves nor by the Palestinian community who viewed them as an existential threat. This way, two religiously, ethnically and economically parallel communities were born out of the British Mandate. These were mostly like parallel lines, which seldom intersected. The 1936 revolution was a milestone that entrenched this sharp division, albeit some historians such as Hillel Cohen attribute it to the Buraq Uprising events of 1929. The obvious fact stands still: the British Peel Commission had proposed partition ten years before it turned into an official UN resolution. Together with its partition proposal, the Peel Commission was one factor that took the idea of a separate and independent Jewish State out of the deliberate grey area within the Zionist project and turned it into an approved and public project in the Biltmore Conference of 1942.

In the interval between the Peel Commission and 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was established to submit recommendations on the future of Palestine, several developments took place: the Jewish Yishuv was larger and more powerful with a full panoply of means. The Palestinian community was worn out by the 1936 revolution and global sympathy with the Jewish question reached a climax. Partition was not the only proposal on the table. Of course, the Arabs and Palestinians could not imagine the significant shift in the international awareness of the Jewish question. Morally, nothing would justify the proposition of the idea of a bi-national state by the Arabs and Palestinians at the time. There is no clear justification why the indigenous population would share their land with people, who had just arrived recently. However, if hope had been pinned to overcome and avoid the Partition Plan, the only solution that was qualified to block partition would have been a bi-national state. No one knows how the UN would have dealt with a bi-national state project. However, it was possible that it would bring the initiative back to the Arab side.

At the time, the key question was not as much about partition as it concerned approval of the emerging bi-nationalism in Palestine. An overwhelming majority of states around the world believed that two nationalisms were in place regardless of the form of the solution: one or two states. Despite the minority’s view which rejected partition, the UNSCOP report considered the Jews as a national group who had the right to self-determination, albeit unnecessarily in the form of a state. The dispute addressed whether there was a need for two states. However, the UN did not engage in a genuine discussion of whether there were two nationalisms in Palestine.

Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan because it divided the people and homeland.

Palestinians could not accept such a demographic upheaval which originated in a volcanic eruption made by other nations in another continent. The Palestinian people, too, were a victim of another upheaval they had nothing to do with.

Seventy years after partition, Israel practically rejects the one-state and two-state solutions. Today, Israel counts on the disappearance and dismantlement of the question of Palestine. However, as long as Palestinians exist on the land of Palestine, that is the bet. No matter how long it takes, it is inevitably a bad bet.

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Friday, October 22, 2021


The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) is an independent research centre specialising in Israeli affairs, based in Ramallah, Palestine. MADAR was established in 2000 by a group of Palestinian intellectuals and academics, including the late poet Mahmoud Darwish, Dr. Lily Feidy, Dr. Ali Jarbawi, Dr. Ahmad Harb, Mr. Walid Al-Ahmad and Mr. Akram Haniyyeh. The centre was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, and obtained a research centre’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.