Israeli History/From Partition to Independence

UN Partition


In 1945 the US Congress adopted a resolution for the restoration of a Jewish Commonwealth. According to a public opinion poll [source?] 65% supported the creation of a Jewish State, and during the third quarter of 1947 White House received 62,850 postcards, 1,100 letters, and 1,400 telegrams urging it to push the UN to adopt the partition plan. Truman reacted negatively to what it perceived as a "Jewish Lobby". Members of Truman's Administration opposed partition [source?] and undermined U.S. support [source?]. James Forrestal [who?] believed that Zionist aims would bring about a threat to U.S. oil supplies [source?]. Joint Chiefs of Staff thought that Arabs might align with Soviets if they were alienated by the West.

Cuba and Greece voted against although U.S. dependents. U.S. and Soviet Union for the partition. SU wanted British out of Palestine. Asian countries solidly against. Garcia-Grandados of Guatemala and Fabrega of Uruguay were outspoken in their support. The Vatican was subtly against partition. Most of Latin America supported Cuba, El Salvado and Colombia against. Britain was opposed because it was not acceptable to both Jews and Arabs.

The UN was empowered only to make a recommendation, and Britain was under no obligation to carry out the UN plan, although UN member-nations expected Britaln to implement the decision. On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to recommend Partition by a vote of 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions.

6,120 square miles of the 10,400 Palestine was allotted to the new Jewish State. More than half of the Jewish State, some 3,670 square miles, consisted of the Negev Desert. The state itself consisted of three regions, a Northern section, a Coastal section, and Negev, which were connected by narrow corridors of land. International Jerusalem was connected to Jewish State by a narrow road running through the heart of the Arab State. ~500,000 Jews in Jewish State and ~350, 000 Arabs. ~92,000 Arabs lived in Tiberias, Safed, Haifa, and Bet Shean. 40,000 were Bedouins mostly in Negev. remainder spread throughout and occupied most of the agricultural land.

Partition Problems


UN appointed a commission with representatives from Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Panama, Bolivia, and the Philippines to implement their resolution. British gave notice of their evacuation to be August 1, 1948. it actually happened May 15, 1948. Because Britain was critical of the resolution, it declined to implement it, instead withdrawing from the territory. The UN commission into Palestine was not allowed into the country until 2 weeks prior to the British evacuation, rendering it ineffective.

Open hostilities between Arabs and Jews began with greater intensity. Arabs declared a protest strike and instigated riots- 62 Jews killed, 32 Arabs. end of second week 93 Arabs, 84 Jews, and 7 Englishmen killed and scores more injured. jurists of Al-Azhar University in Cairo called on Muslim world to proclaim Jihad against Jews. Minority of Jews not satisfied with having a Jewish State in Palestine; among them were members of Irgun and Lehi

between Nov. 30, 1947 and Feb. 1, 1948 427 Arabs, 381 Jews, and 46 British were killed. Jan. 9, 1948 1,000 Arabs attacked Jewish communities in Northern Palestine. by Feb. British said so many Arabs infiltrated that they lacked the forces to run them back. British surrendered bases and arms to Arabs irregulars and Arab Legion, which was being run by a British commander at the time. this facilitated Arab raids and eventual invasion. British refused to allow the Jews to form a militia to defend themselves till the termination of the Mandate. Jews couldn't legally form or train an army or import weapons. existing Arab States free to import weapons. British even signed a treaty with Transjordan that provided Arabs with arms while a blockade was maintained against the Jews

The King of Jordan expressed his position on what was called the "Jewish Problem" as follows:

Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy [case of the] European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.

We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.

Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had one third of our entire population forced upon us. In America that would be the equivalent of 45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your country, over your violent protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to that?

Because of our perfectly natural dislike of being overwhelmed in our own homeland, we are called blind nationalists and heartless anti-Semites. This charge would be ludicrous were it not so dangerous.

No people on earth have been less "anti-Semitic" than the Arabs. The persecution of the Jews has been confined almost entirely to the Christian nations of the West. Jews, themselves, will admit that never since the Great Dispersion did Jews develop so freely and reach such importance as in Spain when it was an Arab possession. With very minor exceptions, Jews have lived for many centuries in the Middle East, in complete peace and friendliness with their Arab neighbours.

—King Abdullah of Jordan. "As the Arabs see the Jews". November 1947.

Forces in Palestine


On Feb. 17, 1948 the Palestine Commission told UN Secretary Council that the partition plan needed military aid to be carried out. Russians insisted on sending a contingent to Palestine if U.S. did, and Truman did not want Russians in Palestine under any circumstances, fearing that Israel would double its problems by becoming a front in the Cold War. Other countries in UN did not want to send military forces without the aid of one of the two superpower. Hence, the only outside forces in Palestine by the time of independence were the lackadaisical British.

It is now clear, without the slightest doubt, that were we to face the Palestinians alone, everything would be all right. They, the decisive majority of them, do not want to fight us, and all of them together are unable to stand up to us, and all of them together are unable to stand up to us.
—David Ben-Gurion. Political and Diplomatic Documents of CZA and ISA, December 1947-May 1948, p. 128.



150,000 Jewish citizens in Jerusalem, including 2,500 Jews in Old City. 5 month Arab blockade of Old City. blockade ended May 29, 1948: Jews forced to surrender

Highway linking Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was Jerusalem's only supply route

      i. Arabs controlled several strategic vantage points
      ii. villages of Kastel and Deir Yasin - they overlooked the highway and  
          made it possible to fire on convoys
   D. Irgun decided to attack Deir Yasin on April 9, 1948 while Haganah tried 
      to capture Kastel
      i. ~100 Jews carried out attack
      ii. Begin claimed that a small truck with a loudspeaker was driven to 
          the city to warn the civilians to evacuate
      iii. many citizens did leave
      iv. warning probably did not occur because the truck rolled into a 
      v. residents opened fire
      vi. battle took several hours
         a. 41 Irgun injured, 4 dead
         b. 200 Arabs killed, 40 captured - according to New York Times
         c. recent study based on family discussions determined that there 
            were 107 Arab casualties
      vii. New York Times report did not mention any atrocities nor did it 
           call the attack a massacre as it is often referred to by Arabs
      viii. Irgun escorted a representative of the Red Cross through the town  
            and held a press conference after the battle
      ix. there was left open an escape route from the village
      x. Arabs feigned surrender then opened fire
         a. some Jews killed soldier and civilians indiscriminately
         b. some Arab men dressed as women were found among the bodies
      xi. Jewish Agency expressed its "horror and disgust"
         a. also sent a letter to King Abdullah - Transjordon - expressing 
            its shock and disapproval
      xii. Arab Higher Committee called this a massacre
         a. hoped Arab countries would intervene in Palestine
         b. instead Arabs left Palestine

United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine

Civil war


1947–1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine

   A. 4 days after reports from Deir Yasin published, an Arab force ambushed 
      a Jewish convoy on the way to Hadassah Hospital
      i. 77 Jews killed including; doctors, nurses, patients, and the
          director of the hospital
      ii. another 23 people injured
   B. May 4, 1948 Arab Legion attacked Kfar Etzion
      i. defenders drove them back
      ii. Arab Legion returned a week later
         a. after 2 days of fighting Jewish settlers overwhelmed and 
         b. many defenders murdered after they surrendered
         c. 148 people killed including Palmach defenders of the settlement
         d. only 4 people survived


   A. UN resolution was never suspended or rescinded
      i. May 14, 1948 - 5th or Iyar, 5708
      ii. issued in Tel Aviv
   B. Hours after Declaration of Independence, 5 Arab armies invaded
      i. Egypt, Syria, Transjordon, Lebanon, and Iraq
      ii. U.S. and Soviet Union immediately recognized Israel and condemned 
          the Arabs
      iii. 80,000 Arab men in armies
      iv. 60,000 trained fighters for Israel, 1/3 had combat experience
      v. as of May 12, only 18,900 Jewish soldiers fully armed and could be 
         considered prepared for war
Israeli History
From World War II to Partition From Partition to Independence War, Ceasefire and Refugees