On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Palestine to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews, allowing for the formation of the Jewish state of Israel.
Since 1917, Palestine had been under the control of Britain, which supported the creation of a Jewish state in the holy land. Sympathy for the Jewish cause grew during the genocide of European Jews during the Holocaust. In 1946, the Palestine issue was brought before the newly created United Nations, which drafted a partition plan.
The plan, which organized Palestine into three Jewish sections, four Arab sections and the internationally-administered city of Jerusalem, had strong support in Western nations as well as the Soviet Union. It was opposed by Arab nations.
The General Assembly voted, 33-13, in favor of partition, with 10 members, including Britain, abstaining. The six Arab nations in the General Assembly staged a walkout in protest. The New York Times reported: “The walkout of the Arab delegates was taken as a clear indication that the Palestinian Arabs would have nothing to do with the Assembly’s decision. The British have emphasized repeatedly that British troops could not be used to impose a settlement not acceptable to both Jews and Arabs, and the partition plan does not provide outside military force to keep order. Instead, it provides for the establishment of armed militia by the two nascent states to keep internal order.”
Six months later, on May 14, 1948, Jewish leaders in the region formed the state of Israel. British troops left, thousands of Palestinian Arabs were expelled or fled and Arab armies soon invaded Israel. In the Arab-Israeli War, Israel defeated its enemies. It was the first of several wars fought between Israel and its neighbors.
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The United Nations is now debating whether to accept Palestine, formally known as the Palestinian Authority, as a full member. While the Arab world and much of Asia and Africa endorse the bid, it is firmly opposed by Israel and the United States, which as a member of the Security Council has the power to veto Palestinian acceptance. On Oct. 31, 2011, Unesco defied a legally mandated cutoff of American funding and approved a Palestinian bid for full membership by a vote of 107 to 14, with 52 abstentions. In November 2011, The New York Times reported that the Palestinian bid for full U.N. membership is likely to fail, however, even before an American veto.