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UN Resolution 181

November 29, 2017

The United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of Palestine into a new Jewish state and a new Arab state on this date in 1947, by a vote of 33-13, with 10 abstentions and one absence (Thailand). The thirteen nations voting no on Resolution 181 were Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen. While Jews made up about a third of the population of Palestine in 1947, roughly 57 percent of the land was allocated to the Jewish state. This disparity stoked Palestinian resentment, though the Palestinian leadership also rejected partition in principle, claiming that it violated the provisions of the UN Charter. Under Resolution 181, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour were to be a corpus separatum -- a separate body under the jurisdiction of a UN Trusteeship Council that would “protect and . . . preserve the unique spiritual and religious interests located in the city of the three great monotheistic faiths.” The resolution also called on the Arab and Jewish states to form an economic union. The partition plan was never truly implemented: While Israel was established in May 1948, the land allocated to the Arab state would be divided up among Israel, Jordan, and Egypt following the Israel-Arab War of 1948-49.

“Two children of same cruel parent look at one another and see in each other the image of the cruel parent or the image of their past oppressor. This is very much the case between Jew and Arab: It’s a conflict between two victims.” —Amos Oz