Each year, the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is commemorated on November 29, the anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 181, the infamous “partition plan” resolution, in 1947. The tragic irony behind the UN expressing support for the Palestinians in their struggle against colonialism and occupation is that the UN itself was instrumental in helping to cause their plight.
The General Assembly’s adoption of the “partition plan” was certainly not an act of solidarity with the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. On the contrary, it was premised upon the same racist, colonialist rejection of their right to self-determination that characterized the Mandate period, during which the British forced a belligerent occupation upon the Palestinians.
The purpose of the Mandate was essentially to prevent the Palestinians from being able to establish a state of their own in order to facilitate the Zionist project to reconstitute Palestine into a demographically “Jewish state”.
The UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), the body that came up with the partition plan, explicitly acknowledged that the Palestinians were denied their right to self-determination in order to facilitate the Zionist colonization project. Yet, in direct violation of the UN Charter’s recognition of this fundamental human right, the majority members of the committee, instead of proposing that Palestine’s independence be recognized like every other formerly Mandated territory, advocated that most of Palestine become a “Jewish state”.
It was a grossly inequitable proposal that the Arabs were right to reject. With the adoption of Resolution 181, the UN General Assembly was effectively endorsing the theft of Arab land and the denial of their rights. The plan called for the “Jewish state” to be comprised of more than 55 percent of the land even though Jews owned less than 7 percent and Arabs were “in possession of approximately 85 percent of the land” (to quote from the UNSCOP report). In fact, Arabs owned more land than Jews in every single district in Palestine. Arabs owned more land than Jews within the proposed “Jewish state”, and, furthermore, when the Bedouin population was counted, also constituted a numerical majority within that same area.
Although, contrary to popular myth, Resolution 181 neither partitioned Palestine nor conferred any legal authority to the Zionist leadership for their unilateral declaration of Israel’s existence on May 14, 1948, it lent the Zionists political cover to establish their state through force of arms. While the UN stood by and watched, Israel came into being through the ethnic cleansing of most of the Arab population from their homes in Palestine.
Thus, the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is commemorated on a date that also represents one of the UN’s greatest betrayals of the very same people. Unfortunately, this commemoration also has the effect of reinforcing the misconception that the UN’s plan to partition Palestine resolution was somehow supportive of the Palestinians, when the reality is that it was grounded in a fundamental rejection of their right to self-determination.
In effect, it is a way for the UN organization to absolve itself of its own crimes against the Palestinians. By this and other misdeeds, the UN helped create the conflict that persists today, and has repeatedly betrayed the Palestinians since.
To learn more about how the UN helped cause the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that persists today and how it has repeatedly betrayed the Palestinians, read my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
My Message of Solidarity with the Palestinians
Last year, I was asked by the Council on International Relations – Palestine (CIR-P) to contribute a short message of solidarity for the International Day of Solidarity of the Palestinian People, a portion of which was included in a video they created for the occasion. Here’s my full recorded message: