January 24, 2022

UN Resolution 181, Resolution Adopted on the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question

This document, known as the “partition resolution,” proposed to deal with the conflict between the Jewish settler community and indigenous Arab inhabitants in Palestine on the eve of the British withdrawal by dividing the territory into two parts, an independent Jewish state and an Arab territory connected by some as-yet-undetermined mechanism to Jordan. Its vision owed much to its predecessor, the 1937 Peel Commission report (which had also proposed partitioning Palestine), but unlike the Peel report stopped short of advocating for a compulsory population transfer between the two territories.

The resolution went to the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947 and passed the body by a vote of 33-13, with 10 abstentions. Both the United States and the Soviet Union voted in favor. The first stage of the war for Palestine began the following day.

List of reading

Eugene Rogan and Avi Shlaim, The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Penny Sinanoglou, Partitioning Palestine: British Policy-Making at the End of Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2019)

Ardi Imseis, “The United Nations Plan of Partition for Palestine Revisited: On the Origins of Palestine’s International Legal Subalternity,” Stanford Journal of International Law 57, no. 1 (2021)

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