Thomas Friedman’s Partition Plan
On June 18, 2011 the New York Times published an Op-Ed by its columnist Thomas Friedman, named “What to Do With Lemons,” suggesting to “update Resolution 181” and take it to “the more prestigious Security Council.” Friedman’s writing is so biased that it casts off Arab aggression and terrorism to be irrelevant to the search for peace. By twisting history as he does, Friedman’s “solutions” can only produce incitement, aggression and hostility.
June 21, 2011 here are the historical facts: In 1947 the British put the future of Western Palestine into the hands of the United Nations, the successor organization to the League of Nations, which had established the “Mandate for Palestine.” A UN Commission recommended partitioning what was left of the original Mandate – Western Palestine – into two new states, one Jewish and one Arab.
What resulted was Resolution 181 [known as the 1947 Partition Plan], a non-binding recommendation to partition Palestine, whose implementation hinged on acceptance by both parties – Arabs and Jews.
The resolution recognized the need for immediate Jewish statehood (and a parallel Arab state), but the “blueprint”‘ for peace became a moot issue when the Arabs refused to accept it. Subsequently, de facto [In Latin: realities] on the ground in the wake of Arab aggression (and Israel’s survival) became the basis for UN efforts to bring peace. Resolution 181 then lost its validity and relevance.
Aware of the Arabs’ past aggression, Resolution 181, in paragraph C, calls on the Security Council to:
“Determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.”
The ones who sought to alter by force the settlement envisioned in Resolution 181 were the Arabs who threatened bloodshed if the United Nations was to adopt the Resolution:
“The [British] Government of Palestine fears that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is terminated, and that the international status of the United Nations Commission will mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcends all other considerations. Thus, the Commission will be faced with the problem of how to avert certain bloodshed on a very much wider scale than prevails at present. The Arabs have made it quite clear and have told the Palestine Government that they do not propose to co-operate or to assist the Commission, and that, far from it, they propose to attack and impede its work in every possible way. We have no reason to suppose that they do not mean what they say.”
The UN Palestine Commission’s February 16, 1948 report (A/AC.21/9) to the Security Council noted that Arab-led hostilities were an effort: “To prevent the implementation of the [General] Assembly’s plan of partition, and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian territory” [which shows that Palestinian territory referred to Jewish Palestine territory].
By the time armistice agreements were reached in 1949 between Israel and its immediate Arab neighbors (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan) with the assistance of UN Mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche, Resolution 181 had become irrelevant, and the armistice agreements addressed new realities created by the war. Over subsequent years, the UN simply abandoned the recommendations of Resolution 181, as its ideas were drained of all relevance by events. Moreover, the Arabs continued to reject 181 after the war when they themselves controlled the West Bank (1948-1967) which Jordan invaded in the course of the war and annexed illegally.
The attempt by Thomas Friedman to “roll back the clock” and resuscitate Resolution 181 more than six decades after the Arabs rejected it “‘as if nothing had happened” are a baseless ploy designed to use Resolution 181 as leverage to bring about a greater Israeli withdrawal from parts of Western Palestine and to gain a broader base from which to continue to attack Israel with even less defendable borders.
The metaphor of Israel having her back to the sea reflected the image crafted by Arab political and religious leaders’ rhetoric and incitement.
There were 6,000 Israeli dead as a result of that war, in a population of 600,000. One percent of the Jewish population was gone. In American terms, the equivalent to more than 3 million American civilians and soldiers killed over an 18-month period. Both Palestinians and their Arab brethren in neighboring countries rendered the plan null and void by their own subsequent aggressive actions.
Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, wrote about this “novelty of resurrection” calling it “‘revival of the dead.” Resolution 181 had been tossed into the waste bin of history, along with the Partition Plans that preceded it.
Just a reminder Mr. Freidman: The resolution did not partition anything – It only recommended to partition.