1946 - 1960
A 12-member Anglo-American Inquiry Committee begins its work in January for 3 months. The Committee rejects the idea of early independence for
Palestine , whether partitioned or unified, and proposes instead that Palestine become a United Nations Trusteeship, pending which the mandate would continue. Among the immediate measures the committee recommends is the rescinding of the 1940 land transfer regulations and the immediate issuance of 100,000 immigration permits. However, the British government states that it cannot accept the recommendations immediately and instead would examine them further.
On 22 July, the campaign conducted by Zionist terrorist organizations reaches a new climax with the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem . The explosion destroys a wing of the hotel housing the offices of the British government secretariat, as well as part of the military headquarters, and kills 86 people. In general, there is some evidence of involvement by the Jewish Agency in similar terrorist actions, including the engagement of the Haganah and the Palmach in carefully planned acts of sabotage and violence under the guise of the Jewish resistance movement.
The New London Conference is held from September until February 1947. At the later stages of the conference, the British government presents its own proposal for two autonomous provinces in
Palestine , which would continue to be governed under the British High Commissioner. Both the Arab and the Jewish sides reject the proposal.
Great Britain decides to relinquish its mandatory role and hand over the Palestine problem to the United Nations.
Violence continues to spread in Palestine as Zionist armed groups, now on the offensive, step up their acts of sabotage. The British government, under the pressure of violence, requests a Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
The U.N. General Assembly convenes its 1st Special Session on 28 April to consider the question of Palestine and establishes the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) “to make recommendations . . . concerning the future government of Palestine.”
Three convicted Jewish terrorists belonging to the Irgun gang are executed by the British authorities, despite warnings by Menachem Begin, leader of the Irgun, that two kidnapped British sergeants would be killed. The threat is carried out and the two British officers are killed.
The General Assembly adopts resolution 181 (II) on 29 November regarding the future government of Palestine . The resolution sets forth a plan partitioning Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, with an economic union and with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under an international regime to be administered by the United Nations. Palestinians, who account for 70% of the population, are only allocated 43% of the country. Jews, which only accounted for 30% of the population would be allocated 56.5% of Palestine .
Great Britain announces that it will terminate the mandate on 15 May, several months before the time envisioned in the partition plan. With the increasing British disengagement, the Zionist movement moves to establish control over more territory. Bordering Arab states make it clear that they will intervene.
On 14 January, Haganah concludes arms deal with Czechoslovakia for $12,280,000 worth of arms including 24,500 rifles, 5,000 light machine guns, 200 medium machine guns, 54 million rounds of ammunition, 25 Meserschmitts. By end of Mandate at least 10,740 rifles, 1,200 machine guns, 26 field guns, and 11 million rounds of ammunition arrive in Palestine . Rest of arms arrive by end of May.
On 9 April, the Deir Yassin massacre takes place, as combined Itzel and Stern gang units mount a deliberate and unprovoked attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem . 254 Palestinians are massacred, including many women and children. Terror spreads among the Palestinian population, leading to a mass exodus of refugees to neighboring countries and areas of Palestine not under Jewish control. In total, approximately 750,000 Palestinians flee their homes and properties as a result of direct Jewish force, as well as psychological and military terrorism. 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed starting the Al-Nakkba (The Castatrophe).
A Jewish state, Israel , is proclaimed on 14 May, one day before the British Mandate expires and just before the General Assembly convenes a session passing a resolution containing a U.S. idea on the trusteeship of Palestine . The U.S. government recognizes the Jewish state, as does the Soviet Union . The Israeli Declaration of the Establishment of the State refers directly to U.N. resolution 181(II) as a basis for this establishment, at the same time pledging its intention to “cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution . . .”
Upon the termination of the mandate, Jewish forces move to occupy further territory and cities beyond that specified by the partition resolution. Irregular forces from neighboring Arab states had already entered Palestine in the final weeks of the mandate; regular forces from these countries now cross into Palestine , resulting in the first Middle East war.
Support of an Arab state in Palestine proves largely ineffective in the face of Israeli military superiority. Within weeks, Israel occupies most of the territory of Palestine (78%) with the exception of the area known as the “West Bank” of the Jordan River , and the “Gaza Strip”. The West Bank comes to be held by Jordan and the Gaza Strip by Egypt .
Israel also takes control of the western part of Jerusalem , which had been allocated by the UN as a corpus separatum to be administered under a United Nations trusteeship. Israel destroys 37 of the 41 villages surrounding the western area of Jerusalem and more than 80,000 Palestinians are driven out of or flee from this western area, while the rest of Jerusalem- the eastern sector and the Holy Places, and the West Bank, comes under Jordanian administration. This de facto division of Jerusalem is formalized in the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom-Israel General Armistice of 3 April 1949.
Count Folk Bernadette Sweden is appointed by the U.N. General Assembly to mediate and supervise the cease-fire. After establishing a temporary truce, he submits several proposals which are rejected by the two sides.
On 17 September, Count Bernadette is assassinated by, according to the official Israeli view, the Stern gang. According to a U.N. report, his killers wore Israeli army uniforms. The report states that “the provisional government of Israel must assume full responsibility. ” The Security Council requests that the Israeli government investigate the assassination and submit a report to the Council (no report has been received).
On 22 September, Israel adopts the “Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance”, which absorbs, de facto, almost half of the land allocated to the Arab state which were occupied by Israeli forces.
On 29 November, Israel applies for admission into the United Nations, while in occupation of territories beyond those allocated in the partition resolution. Israel is criticized in the Security Council for its non-compliance with U.N. resolutions, and, on 17 December, its application fails, receiving 5 votes in favor, 1 against, and 5 abstentions.
On 11 December 1948, the U.N. General Assembly passes resolution 194 (III), which establishes a Conciliation Commission, headquartered in Jerusalem , to continue the functions of the Mediator and the Truce Commission. The resolution reiterates the call for an international regime for Jerusalem and resolves that “. . . the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors 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 the loss or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Government or authorities responsible. . .”
The Conciliation Commission for Palestine is established in January 1949, with France , Turkey and the U.S. as members. In April 1949, the Commission holds a conference in Lausanne , consisting of separate talks with the two sides. Two separate protocols are signed in May 1949 by the Arab states and Israel , agreeing to use the boundaries specified in the partition resolution as a “basis for discussions with the Commission.”
On 11 May, Israel is admitted to U.N. membership. The preamble of the resolution admitting Israel refers specifically to Israel ’s undertakings to implement U.N. General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III).
Between February and July 1949, the acting mediator, Ralph Bunche of Norway , arranges armistice agreements between Israel on the one hand and Egypt , Jordan , Lebanon and Syria on the other.
On 8 December 1949, the United Nations establishes the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to assist the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in makeshift camps in bordering countries. By providing shelter, food, health care and training to those living in camps, UNRWA proves to be crucial in preventing the exasperation of this human catastrophe.
In defiance of United Nations resolutions, Israel moves its capital from Tel Aviv to the western part of Jerusalem on 23 January.
The Israeli government adopts the Absentees’ Property Law, which is preceded by the Abandoned Areas Ordinance (1948), the Emergency Regulations Concerning the Cultivation of Waste Lands (1949), a series of laws legalizing the expropriation of Arab land and creating a de facto situation aimed at preventing the return of Palestinian refugees.
On 24 April 1950, the West Bank is formally brought under full Jordanian control.
On 20 July, King Abdullah of Jordan is assassinated in Jerusalem , by a nineteen year old Palestinian.
The item “Question of Palestine” is dropped from the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly. At this stage, the entire issue of Palestine is reduced to that of a refugee problem.
On 15 October, an Israeli army unit crosses the armistice line into the West Bank and attacks the village of Qibya, near Al-Khalil (Hebron), massacring 53 Palestinian civilians.
President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal . Britain and France , in a trilateral offensive with Israel , go to war against Egypt . On 29 October, Israel invades the Sinai, occupying the Gaza Strip and, along with Britain and France , the Suez Canal . At the request of the 1st Emergency Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly, British and French forces withdraw. Israel withdraws from most of the Egyptian territory it occupies, but maintains its occupation of Sharm al-Sheikh and the Gaza Strip.
On 29 October, the same day that Israel attacks Egypt , Israeli forces impose a curfew on the Arab villages in Al-Muthalath (the Triangle), including on the village of Kafr Kasem . When the unaware villagers return home to Kafr Kasem, Israeli soldiers indiscriminately open fire, massacring 49 Palestinians.
On 3 November 1956, one day before the end of the resistance in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army commits a massacre in Khan Yunis, killing scores of palestinian men, women and children. The massacre occurs while the camp is still under curfew.
On 8 March, Israel withdraws from Sharm al-Sheikh and the Gaza Strip and the U.N. Emergency Forces (UNEF), established earlier by the United Nations 1st Emergency Special Session, moves in.