Who’s Revising the History of Israel’s Independence?

The Palestinians want to use Israel’s creation as an argument for their own statehood push.

Unfortunately, some recent commentaries aren’t based on accurate facts.

The Claim: Henry Porter (The Observer):

We should remember that when Israel applied for membership of the UN in 1949, it argued that issues about refugees and the status of Jerusalem stood a better chance of being resolved if Israel was awarded statehood. That is exactly the Palestinian position. Abbas asks only that Palestine should meet Israel in negotiations as an equal.

The Reality: Israel’s independence didn’t come about because it was accepted by the UN. The reverse. Israel acceptance to the UN came about because of its independence.

In a nutshell, Britain, which was responsible for the Palestine Mandate, approached the UN and said, “We have a civil war on our hands and can’t handle it anymore. What do you suggest?”

In November, 1947, the UN General Assembly endorsed the partition plan (a two-state solution), which the Arabs rejected. Civil war continued, and as the May, 1948 expiration of the British Mandate loomed, the Arabs prepared for an all-out invasion.

On May 14, 1948, the day before the British Mandate expired, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence. Although Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iraqi forces invaded with Saudi and Yemeni support as soon as Britain quit the country, the US, USSR, and Iran were the first countries to recognize the new Jewish state.

After the 1949 armistice, Israel joined the UN, having all the characteristics of statehood: a single sovereign government commited to peace, defined borders (now known as the Green Line — which is a whole separate discussion), a permanent population, and the ability to carry out relations with other states.

The Statement: Reza Aslan (LA Times):

In 1948, after the U.N. voted for the partition of Palestine, debate among the world powers about how to divide the land dragged on and violence between Jews and Arabs grew worse. The Jewish Agency simply preempted negotiations and unilaterally declared the state of Israel; the United States immediately recognized it, and the U.N. accepted Israeli sovereignty the following year.

The Reality: By the time Ben-Gurion declared independence, the armies of seven nations were already massed for an invasion. Who can Aslan point to as Israel’s negotiating partner?

The Statement: Daoud Kuttab (The Scotsman):

This is not the first time that the UN has been called upon to arbitrate the intractable Middle East conflict; nor have only Palestinians approached. In 1947, the UN voted to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

The Reality: It spoils the mood Kuttab creates,  but the Arabs rejected the UN’s original two-state solution 63 years ago, went to war, and lost. The rest is history. Reality bites.