Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXXIII. Where Are We Going? (3 of 4)

The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine

The plan was described as a “Plan of Partition with Economic Union.”  It would take effect at the termination of the British Mandate, and would lead to the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the plan as Resolution 181 (II).

One of the issues dealt with was when to terminate the British mandate.  Different dates were considered; eventually, May 14, 1948 was selected as the date the United Kingdom would withdraw from Palestine.

The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency and rejected by the Arab community in Palestine as well as by the Arab states.  The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) claimed all of Palestine and categorically opposed any partition.

As a result, the moment England withdrew from Palestine, the parties went to war and the partition plan was never implemented.  Nevertheless, it`s worthwhile taking a look as to how Palestine would have been divided, had the plan been accepted by both sides.

The Arab state would have included Western Galilee with the town of Acre, Samaria and Judea, and the southern coast stretching from North of Ashdod and encompassing the Gaza Strip, with a section of desert along the Egyptian border.

The Jewish state would have received the Coastal Plain, stretching from Haifa to Rehovot, the Eastern Galilee and the Negev, including Eilat.

Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the surrounding areas would have belonged to the International Community.  (They were referred to in the resolution as the Corpus Separatum which would have been neither Jewish nor Arab).

In a perfect world, had the Arab side accepted the partition (or at least suggested some changes), we would have had a very different Middle-East, indeed a different world; for most of humanity, this region has religious, emotional, and strategic connotations.

Let me tell you in some details what would have happened had the United Nations resolution been adopted and implemented.

Four wars would have been avoided.  Countless young lives would have been spared.  The young men and women who died would be alive today bouncing their grandchildren on their knees.

For over 60 years, we have heard about the need to provide the Palestinian with a homeland; a place where they can lead a normal life instead of living in refugees camps scattered across the Arab world.  The Palestinians were given their own state back in 1947, but they refused it.  Depending upon where they lived, many could simply have stayed in their own homes.  If, because of the partition, they happened to be in the land allocated to the Jewish state, they could still have stayed put, or simply move to the Arab state (and no doubt get compensation; there is nothing the rest of the world would have been unwilling to do to avoid a Palestinian problem).  The partition plan simply stated:  Jews and Arabs living in Israel would become Israeli citizens; Jews and Arabs living in the Palestinian state would become Palestinian citizens.  As much as possible, the partition took into account the composition of the section being allocated; if it was a predominantly Arab section, it became a part of the future Palestinian state; and the same thinking, of course, went into allocating land to the Jews.  A lot of thought went into that plan.  But that`s only a partial picture.

When the 1948 war started, the Arab nations told Palestinians to get out of harm`s way; in no time at all they (the Arab armies) would overrun the Jews and the Palestinians can then go back to their homes.  Those Arabs that didn`t heed that advice stayed put; they, and their descendants, are today Israeli citizens.  Another version to that story is that the Jews chased the Arabs from their homes. Who is right?  When the State of Israel came into being in 1948, there were some 156,000 Arabs; in 2012 there are 1,597,300. These numbers indicate that Arabs were given the choice to stay or leave – to a point.  During my time in Israel, I heard (and read) of many situations where Arabs were forced to leave with very little.  Put another way, the truth is somewhere in between.

Let us put all that aside, and ask a legitimate question. What happened to the rest of Palestine?  I was a child at the time, but the question was on everybody’s lips. What happened is that the lion’s share of that land (and its inhabitants) went to Transjordan which thereafter was renamed Jordan; East Jerusalem also stayed in Jordanian hands.  Gaza and other desert parts went to Egypt.  Syria and I believe Lebanon also got a small share of that pie.  The adults in my life speculated about all that, and they could only speculate, for the press and the governments (Egypt, Jordan, England, France, the U.S., and other involved nations) were strangely silent.  Since I was young, it’s possible that there were explanations I was not aware of.  But the main question still remains:  Why was that land parcelled out instead of cobbling it together to form a Palestinian state?  Had this very legitimate next step been taken, there would be no Palestinian problem today.

After the 1967 war, Israel conquered the so-called West Bank.  The story goes that many prominent Israelis – among them Moshe Dayan – advised the government of the day to return it to Jordan.  Why?  Because they were now responsible for the welfare of its hostile residents.  They were other arguments made, but the bottom line was that it would prove to be a liability, and the source of major problems.  And how right they were.  We cannot go for any lengthy period of time without hearing of an incident that had affected this troubled region.  It would be impossible to talk of all the problems, the one I want to briefly mention is the settlement issue.

Israel has established agricultural settlements in that occupied land; and these settlements and settlers literally live among, and despite, the Palestinians that surround them.  The army need to protect them at all time, and tragedies to both sides is the price paid for this unnecessary and continuous provocation.  So why have these settlements?  The Bible is invoked here; this land is Judea and Samaria, and according to the scriptures, it was given to the people of Israel.  Ironically, Judea and Samaria were given to the Arab side in the original partition plan.  And so, I raise the same question again:  Had the original partition plan been accepted by both parties ….?

I am reminded that the title of this plan is “Plan of Partition with Economic Union.”  In other words two states living side by side in peace and establishing an economic union that will benefit both nations.  Look how far we are today from that ideal.

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