State of Israel declared 14 May, 1948

Under what guidelines was this state declared? Was the land in question divided in to 2 states, one Arab, one Israeli? And the Israelis were declaring “their” slice?

According to this site:

A U.N. plan to divide the land between the two parties was rejected, so I am curious what exactly the Israelis were declaring, and did the UN back them in this declaration?

  1. The UN partition map can be seen here. Whoever made up that map was apparently living in fantasyland. (Note that the text in this URL is very biased towards Israel.)

  2. The “Declaration” was, as I understand it, a declaration of independence for an area more or less approximating the blue areas as shown in that map, although at the time Israel held part of Jerusalem and a small corridor leading to it, and didn’t hold the southermost blue chunk.

  3. Immediately following Israel’s declaration of independence, the surrounding Arab states invaded with the surprisingly honest declaration that they intended to destroy Israel and murder all the Jews. This was my favourite, but there are many, many others:

(Note that when George Bush uses the word “Crusade” it was considered terribly offensive to Arabs. Apparently when they use it it’s okay.)

  1. Israel won the war, establishing a pattern that would keep repeating itself, and captured most of Palestine/Israel except for what is now known as the West Bank. The West Bank was occupied by Jordan, who just kept it for themselves, although this annexation wasn’t recognized by the UN.

This analysis (just this one sentence) is somewhat out of context. When George Bush said “crusade” with a small C he meant the contemporary meaning of the word as in any heartfelt campaign or effort. However, the Crusades with a capital C was an invasion by the Christians against the Arabs holding Jerusalem, in the name of religion. It was a ruthless massacre. The criticism of Bush was that he was making it sound like the U.S. was going to attack the Muslim world as a religious war rather than to defend against terrorist attacks. The U.S. bent over backwards in its statements to avoid the appearance of turning the conflict into a religious war of Christians against Muslims, and Bush screwed up by using this one word.

The quote provided uses Crusades with a capital C, and in this case the speaker was indeed comparing his purported intent with that of the Crusades, as well as the Mongolian invasion of Arab lands. In both cases the Arabs suffered terribly from brutal invasions.

Now, I’m not defending what this guy said (according to your uncited quote) but just clarifying. Surely this remark was considered more outrageous in the West at the time if it was publicized, than was Bush’s remark.

And of course the State of Isreal came about after acts of terrorism commited by Isreali gangs against British forces who were there to police the mandate given them by the UN/League of Nations to oversee the area. One act was exploding a bomb in the King David Hotel which killed several British soldiers. It is ironic that this same hotel is used by the Isreal Government to hold press conferences when terrorist acts are commited against them. What a difference fifty years make!

Before anyone else says so, I have just noticed that I have spelled Israel incorrectly. Sorry about that.


So when Israel declared themselves a state, who or what was controlling the West Bank and Gaza?

I believe that it was part of the British Empire, or at least under British administration at the time.

British rule in the area ended in May 1948. By then, about 300,000 Arabs ahd fled their homes, seeking sanctuary in neighboring countries. Through the urging of Dr. Weizmann, President Truman came around to adopt a Jewish state. On May 14, Ben-Gurion, PM, proclaimed the State of Israel. The next day, the British Mandate expired and Truman announced US de facto recognition of Israel.

The land was partitioned by the UN and Palestine was to get about half to establish its own state, but as you know, they were intent on destroying Israel, which they, along with the other Arab countries, immediately tried to do. Thus, a Palestine state never came to fruition.

After another war against Israel, later that year, more than 500,000 Arab refugees left Israeli-held territory. The Arabs refer to them as “driven out,” but the Israelis say they “fled.” In fact, the Hagana had no policy of driving out Arabs and in at least one case, at Haifa, they tried hard to persuade them to stay.

The British were strongly pro-Arab. It had enacted the "White Paper in May 1939. The main provisions were: no partition, no Jewish state, an independent Palestine state within 10 years, and Jewish immigration would not be allowed after five years, “unless the Arabs of Palestine were prepared to acquisce in it.” However, since the British needed American post-war help, they acquisced to Truman’s demands.

There were three stages to the Israeli War of Independence -

  1. The first period was the pre-war stage, from the end of WWII till 1947. During that time, tensions in palestine rose close to the boiling point, with Jewish and local Arab militias fighting each other in a series of raids, attacks and counter-attacks, while at the same time both sides were making life miserable for the British. The Jews kept on trying to smuggle Holocaust survivors into the country, with the British trying to stop them. It was all very nasty, and it reached the point that some of the extreme Jewish groups started attacking the British directly (i.e. besides smuggling, prison breaks and such) before they were reigned in - violently - by their more moderate brethren. The British, exausted, called in the UN to decide on the subject.

  2. The UN, after long investigations and fervent committee work, drew up a “Partition Plan”, creating a map which, frankly, looked like it was designed by a committee.

On November 29, 1947 the UN General Assembly voted on the plan. It passed at a comfortable majority, with the U.S., Europe and the Soviet Block voting for, and teh Arab nations voting against. The U.N. declared that the British were required to withdraw all their troops from the country by May 14, 1948.

The Jews in Palestine rejoiced, because even though it was a crappy country, at least they had a country. The Arabs, on the other hand, rejected the resolution, because it gave the Jews a country. Full scale civil war started practically the next day.

The Arabs had the advantage of numbers and of weaponry brought in from the surrounding countries. The Jews were better organized ( there were only three major militias, versus the very fractured Arabs) and better trained (both by certain maverick British officers and by Jewish WWII veterans). The British, on their way out, did little except enforce a naval blockade. The fighting was terrible, and there were many casualties on both sides. Many Arabs fled their homes; some Jews fled theirs. By May the Jewish side was more or less the clear winner, holding territory very similar to what they held until 1967.

  1. On May 14 the last British troops left Haifa harbor. The same day, the leaders of the Jewish community declared independece, basically over whatever lands their troops were holding at the moment (like the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it was mostly a matter of wishful thinking). The very next day, the armies of Egypt, Syria, (Trans)jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and two others I can never remember crossed into the country, with the declared intention of wiping out the newborn state. The Jewish militias fought them to a standstill, united (in one case forcibly) into the IDF, and couterattacked After about a year of fighting, in which another huge amount of Arabs fled (often at the request of the invading armies), the Israelis forced the enemy to the borders known today as “the '67 lines”. At the signing of the cease fire, the Jordanians held the West Bank (including the Old City of Jerusalem, driving out the Jewish inhabitants), and the Egyptians held the Gaza Strip.

And so it remained until 1967…

Thank you, Alessan.

You have cleared up most of my queries.

Couple more:

Were the Palestinians ever granted autonomy over any parts of the land of Israel, at any stage?

I have been told that the Palestinians were offered 90% of what they wanted by the Israelis, but Arafat rejected it. When did this occur, and what was/wasn’t offered?

Will the Palestinian extremists settle for nothing short of the destruction of Israel?

In April 1948 the Arab chiefs of staff worked out a coordinated offensive. Syrian and Lebanese armies were to invade northern Palestine and occupy Tiberias, Safed, and Nazareth. The principal effort would be opened by the Iraqi army and the Arab Legion south of Lake Tiberias, moving west toward the port of Haifa,the main objective of the opening phase. The role of the Egyptians was to pin down Jewish forces south of Tel Aviv.

This might have worked, but Abdullah, the commander in chief of the Arab armies, wasn’t interested in Haifa. Abdullah kept his forces in the West Bank territory, designated by the UN for the Arab state, and in Jerusalem (theoretically internationalized).

So the Arab armies attacked piecemeal. The Syrians attacked in the Jordan Valley, a zone of heavy Jewish settlement, in brigade strength, with an armored car battalion, an artillery regiment and a company of tanks. The defenders managed to beat off the Syrians. This news spread rapidly.

The Lebanese Army made a limited invasion into Northern Galilee, but then stopped, after an Israeli counterattack into Lebanon. However, other Arab forces, Fawzi al-Kaukji’s Arab Liberation Army of volunteers, were able to penetrate into central Galilee, where they were welcomed by the local Arabs. The Syrians now returned to the attack, capturing Mishmar Hayarden.

To the south of the Syrian, Lebanese, and “Liberation” armies, the Iraqi Army was repulsed at Gesher and Geulim. The Israelis counterattacked into Arab territories, capturing the Arab villages and laying siege to Jenin. The operation was over for the Iraqis.

In the extreme south, the Negev desert, Israel was attacked by the largest and most formidable of the Arab forces, the Egyptians. They were halted at Yad Mordechai, where many of the settlers were veterans of the partisan fighting against the Germans. The defenders of Yad Mordechai numbered about one infantry company. The Egyptians had two infrantry battalions, one armored battalion, and one artillery regiment. Yad Mordechai held out for five days, which was critical for the survival of Israel.

Every day gained was a day in which Israel, a state recognized by the superpowers, could import new and greatly superior weapons. Hagana agents had bought weapons even before the Mandate (the treaty at the end of WWI wherein Britain gained its Mandate over Palestine at the partition of the Ottoman Empire).

Egypt held air command, and was bombing Tel Aviv and other Jewish centers; an Egyptian brigade, with 500 vehicles, was moving north. But on May 29, the first Israeli fighter palnes attacked the Egyptian column. The Egyptian advance was halted near Ashdod.

It was in the center, in the Jerusalem sector, that the Israelis experienced their greatest rebuffs and losses, at the hands of the Arab Legion, now the Jordan army, Abdullah’s forces. Israeli barely managed to keep a lifeline open to Jewish Jerusalem by the Burma Road, a rough cross-country trail.

The Security Council called for a truce on May 29. The truce, agreed to by all combatants, came into force on June 11, for one month.

from * The Siege * by Conor Cruise O"Brien, an Irish journalist.

Thanks barbitu8.

Sigh. It’s amazing how often this half-truth appears, insinuating that the Israelis are “no different” from the Palestinian terrorists.

Point one: The Israeli gangs almost always acted against military targets, namely the British soldiers, and never (OK, extremely rarely) against civilians. True, they sometimes hit the soldiers when they weren’t expecting it (like in their barracks), but the King David Hotel housed British military HQs and was a military target. Those gangs never attacked shopping centers, public transportation, commercial aircraft, or other civilian sites.

Point two – and the main difference: These attacks were CLEARLY AND SOUNDLY CONDEMNED by mainstream Israeli leaders. Ben Gurion, for instance, declared the Stern gang to be criminals and ordered them rounded up and jailed. These gangs were a distinct minority, and their actions were condemned by Israeli national leadership.

If Arafat would have followed the Ben Gurion model rather than the Stern model, we’d be at a very different place today.

The efforts to pretend that the Israeli gangs of 1948 are somehow “similar” to the Palestinian terrorists of today is idiocy.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. 96 people were killed in the King David Hotel including many civilians the hotel staff were held at gunpoint while the bombs were planted in the basement so that they could not escape.

As was pointed out in another post on this subject a few weeks ago, a call was placed to the the British command informing them of the bomb in their wing of the hotel.

The British command refused to leave their post – although the lower-level chap who actually got the call decided to leave. (He survived and later recounted his story to a British commission of inquiry.)

When was the last time Arafat’s Al Asqa Brigade warned a pizza place/night club/grocery store/cafe about a bomb?

Including the UN mediator Folke Bernadotte who was assasinated by a group under command of Yitzhak Shamir, later to become Prime Minister of Israel.

I’d like to clarify something which was asked in the OP, and I think the answer was given, but not clearly enough.

When the United States declared their independence, it was a unilateral move to break off from Britain. Britain didn’t like that, and that’s what the Revolutionary War was all about.

When Israel declared their independence, they were not really severing any pre-existing ties. Britain had already left, albeit grudgingly, at the direction of the UN. So this action of Israel was really not so much of independence from any particular other government, as much as it was an establishment of a new Jewish state in the void left by the departed Brits.

  1. As pointed out above, the UN did grant some of Palestine to the Jews, and some to the Arabs. But because of the war started by the already-existing Arab countries the next day, Palestinean Arabs never got a chance to exercise their new autonomy.

  2. The offer amounted to about 97% of the disputed area, IIRC, and this offer was made in the peace talks about a year or two ago. Last week, I saw Hanan Ashrawi on tv explaining that the reason they rejected it was because although 97% is a large total amount, it was made up of a number of pieces which were isolated from each other and would not have amounted to a viable state. (I have not seen a map of it, but I would imagine that the other 3% of Israeli areas would be isolated pockets themselves.)

  3. What the Palestinean mainstream wants can be found in the The Palestinian National Covenant. Look for it with your favorite web search engine under that name, or the phrase “PLO charter”. Here are two excerpts:

Interesting quote, Keeve.

Given Article 2, and given the fact that the area known today as Jordan was also under the British Mandate, shouldn’t they be just as angry about the Hashemites taking control of the area?

Zev Steinhardt

Yes, Zev. As I often say (though I think this might be the first time I’m saying it on Straight Dope): The Palestinians want their own state? They already have one, and it’s called Jordan!

As some commentators have already said, the Kingdom of Jordan would be at grave risk if and when another Arab Palestinian state gets created – assuming it is run by extremists like Arafat or his ilk.

Arafat and the PLO already tried to overthrow the Jordanian government once – in the 1970s. That led to “Black September” – when the Jordanians killed thousands of Palestinians and threw out the rest.

Can you image the risk Arafat (supported by Iran) will pose to Jordan if he should ever control a completely sovereign and heavily militarilized state?