On this occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel it is salutary to note a point about the United Nations General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 of 1947. Not least, it is instructive to see ways that the issue is treated by official representatives of the Israel Lobby. The Partition Resolution 181 was mentioned by the Director of the Victorian State Zionist Council, Danny Lamm in his article responding to ours in the Melboure Age. Lamm’s introductory paragraph is as follows:
THE path to peace in the Middle East is a tortuous one. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together with great difficulty to establish an Israel and a Palestine living side by side together in peace, as envisaged more than six decades ago by United Nations Security Council resolution 181 and in line with the “road map” for peace proposed by a quartet of international entities: the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
The cynicism and fraudulence of such pious sentiments are clear to anyone who cares to go beyond these public propaganda statements to some informed discussion. A good example is the article by Henry Siegman in London Review of Books, 16 August 2007 titled ‘The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam’.
Before noting Siegman’s account of UN 181, we may note that Siegman bluntly states the theme of his detailed discussion as follows:
The Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history. Since the failed Camp David summit of 2000, and actually well before it, Israel’s interest in a peace process – other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo – has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, is ‘to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people’.
Siegman’s article is shocking in its exposé of the myths that are constantly repeated about the entire history of Israel/Palestine and the “peace process”. He cites James Wolfensohn’s comments on the way that the US systematically undermined the agreement he had helped make in 2005, turning Gaza into a vast prison. He mentions the maps showing the ‘facts on the ground’. These reveal the truths that Siegman says are drowned out by “the uninformed and/or cynical blather in Jerusalem, Washington and Brussels – about waiting for Palestinians to reform their institutions, democratise their culture, dismantle the ‘infrastructures of terror’ and halt all violence and incitement before peace negotiations can begin …”
Typical of such “blather”, as I have shown in earlier blogs, is Lamm’s mention of the 1947 UN Partition Resolution 181. Siegman reveals what lies behind these self-righteous remarks:
Israel’s contention has long been that since no Palestinian state existed before the 1967 war, there is no recognised border to which Israel can withdraw, because the pre-1967 border was merely an armistice line. Moreover, since Resolution 242 calls for a ‘just and lasting peace’ that will allow ‘every state in the area [to] live in security’, Israel holds that it must be allowed to change the armistice line, either bilaterally or unilaterally, to make it secure before it ends the occupation. This is a specious argument for many reasons, but principally because UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 of 1947, which established the Jewish state’s international legitimacy, also recognised the remaining Palestinian territory outside the new state’s borders as the equally legitimate patrimony of Palestine’s Arab population on which they were entitled to establish their own state, and it mapped the borders of that territory with great precision. Resolution 181’s affirmation of the right of Palestine’s Arab population to national self-determination was based on normative law and the democratic principles that grant statehood to the majority population. (At the time, Arabs constituted two-thirds of the population in Palestine.) This right does not evaporate because of delays in its implementation.