70 Years After Partition Plan, Unresolved Issues Remain

Jewish Light Editorial

The 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ approval of its partition plan for Palestine went by last week with little notice. And the related issues that have been simmering in Israel for decades remain.

If the U.N. General Assembly had not approved the plan Nov. 29, 1947, the creation of the State of Israel as the first Jewish sovereign nation in 2,000 years would have been impossible. The partition plan, which won support from the United States and the Soviet Union, was one of the signal events in the 4,000-year history of the Jewish people.

But you wouldn’t realize that significance based on this year’s attention to the anniversary. Our former Israeli correspondent Greer Faye Cashman, a veteran reporter for the Jerusalem Post, told the Jewish Light that only 10 of the 120 members of the Knesset showed up for a ceremony marking the occasion. 

Have we become so jaded with the relentless negative news from the Middle East that we cannot properly celebrate the event that made the creation of the State of Israel possible?  Where were the public rallies noting the event? Are we worried that the usual chorus of anti-Israel voices would come to the event to mock and disrupt it?

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The White House did take note of the significant date, in the person of Vice President Mike Pence. At a re-enactment of the historic vote in New York City, Pence called President Donald Trump “a champion of Israel” and added:

“The president sent me with a simple message: Under our administration, America will always stand with Israel.” The New York Times reports that Trump is widely expected to announce that he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday of this week.

But the occasion, which included diplomats and Jewish leaders, also wandered into more controversial territory when Pence said that the president “is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” 

Such a move would fulfill a campaign promise but would also stir resentment among parties trying to reach an elusive two-state solution to the longstanding issues involving Israel and the Palestinians.

The issue recalls the conditions under which the partition plan was hammered out and approved. Mandated Palestine was to be divided into three Jewish sections that would form the Jewish State and four Arab sections, with Jerusalem placed under international supervision. Israel unified the divided city of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967, but Tel Aviv has remained the nation’s official capital. 

Presidents before Trump have vowed to move the capital to Jerusalem, only to fail to do so under pressure from the Palestinians. Now, an administration official has said the question of moving the capital is one of when, not if. So the issue is likely to remain unresolved for at least a while. 

Meanwhile, supporters of Israel can look back 70 years with pride, and they can hope that the enlightened leadership that led to approval of the partition plan will emerge once again to come up with a workable, acceptable,  two-state solution.