The UN Partition Plan for Palestine

November 27, 2012 IMEU


  • On November 29, 1947, the UNGA passed Resolution 181, calling for the partition of historic Palestine, which had been ruled by the British since the end of World War I under a mandate endorsed by the League of Nations in 1923, into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.
  • The Partition Plan allocated approximately 55% of the land of historic Palestine to the Jewish state and just 42% to the Arab state. The city of Jerusalem was to be placed under international administration.
  • At the time, Arabs comprised about 67% of the population of Palestine, while Jews made up only about 33%, many of whom were recent immigrants from Europe.
  • Although they were allocated more than half the area of historic Palestine under the Partition Plan, Jews only owned about 7% of the land in 1947.


  • Almost immediately after the plan was approved, violence broke out between Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Zionists. Not long afterward, Zionist paramilitary groups began to expel Palestinians from their homes.
  • By the time that Israel declared independence in May 1948 and war broke out with neighboring Arab countries, more than 200 Palestinian towns and villages had been emptied of their inhabitants by Zionist forces under Plan Dalet, the blueprint for expelling Palestine's Arab population that was formally adopted on March 10, 1948, by the Jewish Zionist leadership under soon-to-be Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.
  • Expanding far beyond the proposed borders of the Jewish state delineated in the Partition Plan, by the time Israeli forces stopped their advance they were in control of 78% of historic Palestine.
  • In December 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194 calling for the newly created state of Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. It stated: "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
  • By 1949, approximately 750,000 Palestinians, or 3/4 of the Arab population of historic Palestine, had been ethnically cleansed by Zionist and then Israeli forces in an effort to create a Jewish majority state.
  • In June 1967, Israel conquered the remaining 22% of historic Palestine, comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. In the intervening years, Israel has systematically transferred more than 500,000 Jewish colonists into the occupied territories in violation of international law, part of a plan designed to preclude a viable, sovereign Palestinian state from ever being established there.
  • To this day, Israel refuses to define its borders and continues to colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem with Jewish-only settlements in defiance of international law and the will of the international community.