While Nov. 29 marks 70 years of the United Nations Partition Plan calling for a division of the land of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, one Israeli official explains that the U.N. vote, though historic, is not what established Israel as a state. The declaration of independence by David Ben-Gurion is what made Israel legitimate, he said.
“It is often incorrectly asserted that the United Nations created the State of Israel by means of Resolution 181. That is completely untrue,” Dore Gold, former ambassador to the U.N., said in a video published on his website. “To this day, what establishes states are not actions in the UN, despite what (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas might hope. If you look at recently established countries – East Timor, Kosovo, South Sudan – all of them were established by a declaration of independence of their leaders.”
Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that Resolution 181 “provided international legitimacy for the Jewish claim to statehood. It was a morally significant action, but like all U.N. General Assembly resolutions, it was not legally binding.”
But Ben-Gurion’s declaration of independence on May 15, 1948 gave Israel its legitimacy, Gold contends.
Resolution 181, which also called for the internationalization of Jerusalem, was null and void, Gold argued, “because the U.N. appeared to be taking responsibility for Jerusalem through Resolution 181, yet when Arab armies converged on the nascent State of Israel, put Jerusalem under siege and bombarded the Old City from artillery positions near Bethlehem in the east and to the north, the U.N. did nothing.”
“As Ben-Gurion stated in his speech to the Israeli Knesset in December 1949, ‘The U.N. didn’t lift a finger.’ As a result, Ben-Gurion declared, ‘We cannot regard the decision of the 29th of November 1947 as being possessed of any further moral force since the U.N. did not succeed in implementing its own decisions.’”
A week later Ben-Gurion declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
Many world leaders will attend a reenactment of the vote in the United Nations in New York on Thursday including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon and President of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder.
The celebration will be marked a dance of the Hora just as Jewish residents of Israel did after the original vote. Ninet, an Israeli singer, will sing Israel’s national anthem “HaTikvah.”
“The vote on Nov. 29 is a constitutive event in our annals, and we are proud to celebrate it with our many friends from around the world,” Danon said. “Precisely because of Palestinian attempts to undermine our right to exist, we will display the great support Israel enjoys around the world and celebrate 70 years of independence and prosperity.”
The 70th anniversary of U.N. Resolution 181 will run parallel to the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held every year on Nov. 29 and usually marked by the passing of anti-Israeli resolutions in the U.N. The General Assembly voted in 1977 to designate this day for Palestinian solidarity.
Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, argued that this undermines the U.N.’s own stated desire for a two-state solution.
“Too often, U.N. officials are willing and active players in this dynamic, applying double standards and singling out Israel for attack,” Steinberg wrote to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, urging him to stand against anti-Israel sentiment.
“A good place to start will be in your remarks to be read on Nov. 29 in Geneva at the forthcoming ‘Special Meeting on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,’” Steinberg told Guterres. “Your repudiation of anti-Israel hate and rejectionism on this occasion would send a strong message that the vision and principles expressed in the 1947 Partition Plan remain guiding principles in the U.N.”