The Palestinian Saga Part Two

UN Partition Plan

To safeguard US interests in the region, US President Truman, through a letter to British Prime Minister Attlee in November 1945, sought to appoint an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. The Committee, in tune with the new role that USA had chosen for itself, abrogated the recommendations made by Britain in the White Paper it had issued in 1939 and urged for a free transfer of land for Jews and lifting of restrictions on their immigration into Palestine. Meanwhile, the Zionist movement, which had developed a numerically strong and well-armed force, was indulging in organized terror against the Palestinians.

Britain again tried to organize a round table conference in 1946 to discuss the new development. After that attempt too failed to produce any results, Britain shifted the Palestinian Question to the United Nations in April 1947 where a partition plan was adopted. It was Resolution 181 (II) of the UN General Assembly adopted on 29 November 1947 [1] that formally destroyed Palestine’s territorial integrity when it was partitioned into Arab and Jewish States. While the Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan, the Jews more or less welcomed it although there were a few who not only wanted the whole of Palestine but also harped on establishing a “Hebrew kingdom from the Euphrates to the Nile” [2]. India, Iran and Yugoslavia opposed the partitioning of Palestine and had instead proposed the setting up a federal state where both Arabs and Jews could co-exist. [3]

The partition plan allocated approximately 43 % of the territory of Palestine to the Arab State, while about 56 % of the area (including the most fertile land [4]) to the Jewish State, and less than 1 % of area to the City of Jerusalem [5]. This ignored the fact that the Jews then constituted only about one-third of the population and the land under their possession, which in1918 amounted to less than 2% of the total land area of Palestine, had by 1946 just increased to about 6 % of the total land area there [6]. The population composition in the UN Partition Plan would further reveal the patently discriminatory nature of the Plan. In the designated Jewish State nearly half the population consisted of Arabs: 498,000 Jews against 407,000 Arabs, totaling 905,000 in all. On the other hand, in the designated Arab State there were 725,000 Arabs against a mere 10,000 Jews, totaling 735,000 in all, while in the City of Jerusalem there were 100,000 Jews to 105,000 Arabs, totaling 205,000 residents in all [7]. After proposing the creation of two separate states, was it not absolutely mischievous on the part those who prepared the Partition Plan to enlarge the boundaries of the Jewish State to include within it such a large number of Arabs, most of whom were driven out as soon as the Zionists seized power?

The Palestinians had genuine reasons for being upset about the UN Partition Plan. Partition, which was recommended for the first time by The Royal (Peel) Commission of 1937, had been rejected by The Partition (Woodhead) Commission of 1938 on the ground that the Jewish State contemplated by that Plan would contain an Arab minority amounting to 49 per cent of the total population [8]. The British Government had set up both the Commissions. The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry of 1946 too had expressed the view that “now and for sometime to come any attempt to establish either an independent Palestine State or independent Palestinian States would result in civil strife such as might threaten the peace of the world ” [9]. The UN Special Committee on Palestine, which had proposed the Partition Plan, had also noted that: “In the appraisal of the Palestinian Question, it be accepted as incontrovertible that any solution for Palestine cannot be considered as a solution of the Jewish problem in general.” [10]

If the Jewish problem was not being solved, what was the plan of partitioning of Palestine seeking to solve? Did partition result in an amicable solution to the Palestinian problem? What is the justification in creating a bigger problem in the attempt to partially solve another? What was the justification for allocating 56% of the land (including the best land) to the Jews who comprised just 33% of the population and who legally owned less than 6 % of that land? Is there any unbiased yardstick by which this blatant discrimination can be justified? Strange as it may seem, even the Soviet Union had backed this outrageous Plan for Partition of Palestine. How and why the Soviet Union supported such a flagrant and unjust Plan at that time remains a mystery [11]. A decisive turnaround in the Soviet attitude towards the Palestinian cause came about only after Gamal Abdel Nassar–a staunch anti-imperialist–rose to power in Egypt in 1952.


When the Zionist movement unilaterally proclaimed the “State of Israel” on 14 May 1948, they occupied over 77 % of the land in Palestine–far in excess of the 56 % of land allocated to it under the UN partition plan [12]. This was achieved when Zionist gangs, partially under the protection of the British occupying forces, forcibly and systematically evicted through unbridled terror an estimated 750,000 Palestinians not only from the area allocated to Israel but also from a portion of the area allocated to the Arab state. The facts, as ascertained by the US Library of Congress, a source that the Zionists would not dispute, are as follows:

“According to British Mandate Authority population figures in 1947, there were about 1.3 million Arabs in all of Palestine. Between 700,000 and 900,000 of the Arabs lived in the region eventually bounded by the 1949 Armistice line, the so-called Green Line. By the time the fighting stopped, there were only about 170,000 Arabs left in the new State of Israel. By the summer of 1949, about 750,000 Palestinians were living in squalid refugee camps, set up virtually overnight in territories adjacent to Israel’s borders. About 300,000 lived in Gaza Strip, which was occupied by the Egyptian army. Another 450,000 became unwelcome residents of the West Bank of the Jordan, recently occupied by the Arab Legion of Transjordan.” [13]

According to the same report:

“The property of the Arabs who were refugees outside the state and the property expropriated from the Arabs who remained in Israel became a major asset to the new state. According to Don Peretz, an American scholar, by 1954 ‘more than one-third of Israel’s Jewish population lived on absentee property, and nearly a third of the new immigrants (250,000 people) settled in urban areas abandoned by Arabs’. The fleeing Arabs emptied thriving cities such as Jaffa, Acre (Akko), Lydda (Lod), and Ramla, plus ‘338 towns and villages and large parts of 94 other cities and towns containing nearly a quarter of all the buildings in Israel’.” [14]

Palestinian sources claim that 418 Palestinian villages alone were completely obliterated in the wake of creation of Israel [15]. The occupied land was then leased out to the Jewish immigrants who rebuilt villages with new names in place of the destroyed ones.

The usurpation of power by the Zionists and the expulsion of the Palestinians created a piquant situation for the United Nations, which lost no time in appointing a mediator to find an amicable solution. In pursuance of the decision of the UN General Assembly, a committee composed of representatives of China, France, the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States met on May 20, 1948, and appointed Count Folke Bernadotte, President of the Swedish Red Cross, as United Nations Mediator on Palestine [16]. In his Progress Report submitted to the Secretary General on 16 September 1948, Count Bernadotte confirmed that:

“The majority of these [Palestinian] refugees have come from territory which, under the [UN General] Assembly resolution of 29 November [1947], was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion…. There have been numerous reports from reliable sources of large-scale looting, pillaging and plundering, and of instances of destruction of villages without apparent necessity.” [17]

The Report further said:

“Moreover, while those who had fled in the early days of the conflict had been able to take with them some personal effects and assets, many of the late comers were deprived of everything except the cloths in which they stood, and apart from their homes (many of which were destroyed) lost all furniture and assets, and even their tools of trade.” [18]

(On 17 September 1948, the day after this report was published in Paris, the malevolent Zionists assassinated Count Bernadotte in Jerusalem. It was quite apparent what they thought of his mediatory effort!) [19]

Prior to the deluge, hundreds of Palestinians were systematically massacred; the cold-blooded slaughter of over 350 people (254 according to some others) in the village of Deir Yassin on 9 April 1948 stands out as a glaring example of the extensive terror perpetrated by the Zionist gangs. Jacques de Reynier, member of the Swiss Red Cross and head of the International Red Cross Delegation in Palestine during 1948, who got to know of the tragedy and who managed to reach the spot with great difficulty, was a witness to the aftermath of the massacre. Later describing the horrifying act in his memoirs he said:

“There had been four hundred people in this village, about fifty of them had escaped and were still alive. All the rest had been deliberately massacred in cold blood for, as I observed for myself, this gang was admirably disciplined and only acted under orders.”

Later he went on to add that:

“The affair of Deir Yassin had immense repercussions. The press and radio spread the news everywhere among Arabs as well as the Jews. In this way a general terror was built up among the Arabs, a terror astutely fostered by the Jews…. Finally, about 700,000 Arabs became refugees, leaving everything behind in their haste, their one hope being to avoid the fate of the people of Deir Yassin. The effects of this massacre are far from being over today, as this immense crowd of refugees is still living in makeshift camps, without work and without hope, the Red Cross distributing to them emergency aid provided by the United Nations.” [20]

One of the two Zionist terrorist gangs–Irgun Zvai Leumi–that carried out the barbaric attack was then headed by Menachem Begin, a fact that is readily acknowledged. Begin, who went on to head the right wing Herut (“Freedom”) Party and then the Likud (“Unity”) Party, become Israel’s Prime Minister in 1977 and was awarded–believe it or not–the Noble Peace Prize for 1978! But it may also be noted that many eminent intellectuals especially of Jewish origin, including the noted scientist Albert Einstein, had protested against the visit of Begin, while he was in the United States in 1948 on a fund raising campaign, for his role in the Deir Yassin massacre. In their protest letter, which was published in the New York Times on 4 December 1948, they did not mince words while urging the citizens of the United States of America not to support Begin or the fascist political movement he represented. The letter stated as follows:

“Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created State of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine. …Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions…the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of <Mr.Begin>’s and his movement. …Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state.”

“A shocking example was their behaviour in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands which wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES) terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, killed most of its inhabitants–240 men, women and children–and kept a few of them alive to parade them as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdulla of Transjordan. But the terrorists far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicised it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character of the Freedom Party.”

“It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or to even expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin….”

“The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism. ” [21]

(It is the same fascist Freedom Party that has re-emerged as the Likud Party, which has been ruling Israel for the last several years. At least three of its members who have occupied the Prime Ministerial post–Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Aerial Sharon–have blood on their hands. Sharon, the present Israeli Prime Minister, is accused of having had a direct hand in the massacres at Qibiya in 1953, at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and at Jenein in 2002.)


Since its creation, Israel has waged four wars against the Arab States, i.e., in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying more Arab lands as well as the whole of Palestine. It has waged four wars against the PLO alone in 1978, 1981, 1982 and 2002. Over the last fifty-four years, the Israeli army has killed several thousands of Palestinians, injured ten times as many, demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian houses in West Bank and Gaza and have detained hundreds of thousands Palestinians in Israeli prisons at various times. Selective assassination of key PLO leaders in and outside Palestine is a routine matter for Israel’s secret service, Mossad.

The massacre of over 3700 Palestinian civilians carried out by the Israelis in collusion with Lebanon’s ‘Christian’ militia, the Phalangists at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps near Beirut on 16,17 and 18 September 1982, remains the bloodiest in the short bloodstained history of Israel. The Kahane Commission of Inquiry headed by Yitzhak Kahane–the then President of the Israeli Supreme Court, while down-playing the magnitude of the massacre, nevertheless accused the Israeli Government of ‘indirect responsibility’ for the same. The Report forced the then Defence Minister (and the current Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon to resign from his post. Subsequently, the then Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, also had to resign on the issue. The International Commission, headed by Sean MacBride–former Foreign Minister of Ireland and a leading figure in the international peace movement–too had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that: “Israel was involved in the planning and preparation of the massacres and played a facilitative role in the killings”. [22]

Following years of desperation, frustration and failure of the UN to solve the Palestinian Question, the Palestinian people began in the mid-1950s to organise themselves into a genuine national political movement. Yasser Arafat, the present Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded the Fatah (Palestinian National Liberation Movement) in 1958. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) led by George Habash was established soon after. Both Fatah and PFLP, along with few other groups, later became constituents of the PLO. The PLO itself was established at the first session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) convened in Jerusalem on 28 May 1964. The PLO was recognised by the UN on 14 October 1974 as the sole representative of the Palestinian people [23]. But programmatic differences among the various factions constituting the PLO did impede its organizational growth and dissipate its struggle against occupation. Repeated attacks against the Palestinian refugee camps by Israel forced the PLO to downplay factional squabbles within it and to carry on the struggle for national liberation in a more united manner. The 18th Session of the PNC held in Algiers in April 1987 did bring about the much-needed unity within the PLO. As a ripple effect, the first Palestinian intifada (sustained protest) against occupation began on 9 December 1987 bringing back memories of the 1936-39 revolt.

The PLO has repeatedly called for a just, durable and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian Question on the basis of international legitimacy and all UN resolutions supporting the various international efforts and initiatives towards this goal. The Declaration of Independence adopted at the 19th session of the PNC in Algiers on 15 November 1988 has outlined the structure of the future Palestinian State. According to it:

“The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be…. Governance will be based on principles of social justice, equality and non-discrimination in public rights of men or women, on grounds of race, religion, colour or sex, and the aegis of a constitution which ensures the rule of law and an independent judiciary. Thus shall these principles allow no departure from Palestine’s age-old spiritual and civil heritage of tolerance and religious coexistence…. The State of Palestine proclaims its commitment to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It proclaims its commitment as well to the principles and policies of the Non Aligned Movement.” [24]

While the PLO began to move forward in a more united manner, a new organization by the name of ‘Hamas’ (the Arabic acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya, i.e., “the Islamic Resistance Movement”) appeared on the scene. It was about the same time that the CIA funded and armed Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. The ‘Islamic Covenant’ [25] published by ‘ Hamas’ on 18 August 1988, clearly betrays the objectives of the movement. It purveys hatred: its language is intemperate, vituperative, and provocative. It makes extreme demands, which can never be the basis for any amicable settlement of the Palestinian Question. It is totally opposed to the moderate and secular approach of the PLO. While subjectively appearing to spew venom at Zionism, objectively the actions of ‘Hamas’ fit in well with the vile schemes of the Zionists. It appears that ‘Hamas’, “was at first given some encouragement by Israel, as a means of countering the influence of the PLO”. Israel perhaps also encouraged ‘Hamas’ because “the opposition of the Hamas to an international conference that would adjudicate the problem of Palestine, coincided with the policies of the Shamir government” [26]. It is hardly surprising that some among the Palestinians living under trying conditions in the occupied territories flare up under the influence of the ‘Hamas’, thereby offering the fig leaf of justification for the inhuman actions of the Israeli armed forces.

While individual suicide bombings are described as terrorist attacks, the widespread atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli armed forces on the Palestinians, for some strange reason, are not categorized as such! It is very unfortunate that the world has largely remained a mute spectator to the systematic terror, humiliation and plunder of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Zionists. Micro-level terror gets all the attention, while macro-level terror goes unnoticed! Mahatma Gandhi’s observation in this regard is again very pertinent here. He said:

“I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted cannons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.” [27]

Click here for Part Three of The Palestinian Saga.

N.D.Jayaprakash is a member of the Delhi Science Forum/Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace in New Delhi, India. He can be reached at:


1. UN General Assembly Resolution <No.A/RES/181> (II) (A+B)

2. One of the goals enunciated by the Zionist extremist organisation Lehi.

3. See Recommendations (III), Chapter VII, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, Document No. A/364 (Official Reocords of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Volumes I)

Note: India, Iran and Yugoslavia, which were part of the 11 member UN Special Committee on Palestine set up on 15 May 1947 to deal with the question, had instead proposed the creation of a federal state. They had also forewarned that any other decision would have tragic consequences. But the other members of the Committee–Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay–voted against the proposal. Australia abstained.

4. (a) “The Jews will have the more economically developed part of the country embracing practically the whole of the citrus-producing area which includes a large number of Arab producers”. See Point No. 13 (1), Recommendations (II), Chapter VI, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, UN Document No. A/364

(b) “In view of the fact that the proposed Jewish state would include the best land in Palestine, the [Peel Committee] Report recommended that the Arab state be assisted by an annual subvention from the Jewish state.” See Kayyali op cit., p. 207

5. Document No. A/364, Add.1, 9 September 1947 (Official Records of the second session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, Volumes II, Map of Palestine–Plan of Partition with Economic Union [Majority Proposal], Map No. 82 United Nations, UN Presentation 520, September 1947)

6. “The total area of Palestine, according to official data, is 26,320,230 dunums. The greater part of this area belongs to the Arabs who lived there for thousands of years as uncontested owners. Jewish ownership at the beginning of the British Mandate represented only 2 per cent of the above total area. As a result of laws imposed by the Mandatory Government without the consent of the rightful indigenous population, Jewish ownership rose by the end of the Mandate to 1,491,699 dunums, a figure still representing less than 6 per cent of the total area’ of the whole of Palestine.”. Letter dated 11 April 1966 from the representatives of Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United Arab Republic addressed to the Chairman of the United Nations Conciliatory Commission for Palestine, in UN Document No. A/AC.25/W.85, dated 16 May 1966 [1 dunum = approx. 1/1000 of a Sq. km]

7. Point No. 5, Justification, Part II, Recommendations (II), Chapter VI, Report to the General Assembly, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 3 September 1947, UN Document No. A/364, p.54

8. See Paras 3 and 4, Chapter IV, ibid.

9. Para 5, ibid.

10. Section B, Recommendations (I), Chapter V, ibid.

11. The Soviet stand was inexplicable because every communist leader–from Karl Marx (who was himself of Jewish origin) downward, including Stalin in his early phase–had opposed the idea of a separate Jewish homeland. Therefore, there is no denying the fact that the Soviet Union had gravely erred in its assessment of the ground realities in Palestine in the late 1940s and its support for Zionism during that crucial phase was one of the biggest blunders it had committed. For more details see Dasgupta, op cit., pp. 110-126

12. See endnote 2 above

13. Report on the web-site of the US Library of Congress/Federal Research Division/Country Studies/…Israel-A country Study, Israel: Israeli Arabs, Arab Land and Arab Refugees at

14. Ibid.

15. Details of all the destroyed villages can be found at

16. General Assembly resolution of May 14, 1948, Document No. 186 (S-2)

17. Paras 6 and 7, Section V–Refugees, Part I, Document No. A/648 (Supplement No. 11, Official Records, Third Session, General Assembly, United Nations, Paris, 1948)

18. Para 3, Section I–Nature of the Problem, Part III, Document No. A/648 (Supplement No. 11, Official Records, Third Session, General Assembly, United Nations, Paris, 1948)

19. Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948), a Swede with family ties to the Swedish King, gained international recognition through his work as head of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II. One organisation that saw Bernadotte’s mediation efforts as a threat was LEHI–a Jewish underground group then headed by Yitzhak Shamir. Under international pressure the assasins of Bernadottte, Natan Yellin-Mor and Mattiyahu Shmuelevitz were tried and sentenced but were released in 1950 under a general amnesty. Thereafter, Natan Yellin-Mor was elevated to membership of the Knesset–the Israeli Parliament! Yitzhak Shamir reputedly played a role in planning the assassination. However, Shamir was never tried and he went on to become Prime Minister of Israel in October 1983, in the wake of the resignation of Menachem Begin, who was forced to resign as a result of the fallout of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. For more details see: (Jewish Virtual Library -A Division of the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise) and the official web-site of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: at

20. Jacques de Reynier, A Jerusalem un drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu [In Jerusalem a Flag Fluttered Over the Line of Fire], Neuchatel: Editions de la Baconniere, 1950 [Geneva, Switzerland], pp.69-74, at

21. Albert Einstein and twenty-eight others, New York, Dec.2, 1948 (N YT, 4 December 1948)

22. See Dasgupta, op. cit., p. 241

23. UN Resolution No.A/RES/3210 (XXIX)


25. ;


27. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, op cit., p.140


N.D. Jayaprakash is Joint Secretary, Delhi Science Forum and Co-Convenor, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (Coalition for supporting the Cause of the Bhopal Gas Victims).