Sunday, October 9, 2011

How a Plan for Two States Led to Just One: Israel

Two articles - one in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and one in Haaretz - provides new insight into the process that led to the creation of only one state instead of two in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. The articles show how the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was intended to be non-partisan and led by a Swede, Emil Sandström, was boycotted by the Palestinians and cleverly manipulated by the Jewish Agency and the intelligence network Haganah. The full story behind UNSCOP's recommendation to the create a Jewish state will soon be available in a new book by Elad Ben-Dror, a historian at Bar-Ilan University.

Ben-Dror has had access to recently declassified documents. He writes that UNSCOP were planning to create and train two militias - one Palestinian and one Jewish, but this didn't happen. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quotes from the book:

"The plan to establish a militia was the most surprising material I found at the UN," Ben-Dror says. "As part of the Partition Plan, both states were to create militias - a military force under government control and charged mainly with domestic policing duties."
But because the Palestinian leadership viewed Resolution 181 as a pro-Zionist plan and did everything possible to foil it, the UN focused only on establishing the Jewish militia.
"From quite an early stage, due to a lack of cooperation, the UN dropped half of the Partition Plan - the idea of establishing an Arab state," Ben-Dror explained.
"The idea was to implement at least part of the plan - that is, the Jews would create the Jewish state, on the assumption that eventually the UN Security Council would implement the creation of the Arab state," Ben-Dror continued. "As soon as the Partition Plan was adopted, UN Secretary General Trygve Lie and senior UN officials became identified with the idea of the Jewish state. The Arab assault was interpreted as an assault on the UN resolutions, and the UN trusted that the Jews would carry out the partition and not do anything beyond that."
A State is Born in Palestine (New York Times)
UN archives reveal plan to arm Jewish militia (Haaretz)

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