November 29, 1947 By Miko Peled

United Nations resolution 181, accepted on November 29, 1947, not only gave the Zionist movement the permission, but opened the door for Zionists to execute the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and create an apartheid state with exclusive rights for Jewish people, or as some call it, The State of Israel. It should come as no surprise then, that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began as early as December of 1947, less than one month after the resolution was accepted.  According to Ilan Pappe, these early attacks on Palestinians neighborhoods and villages brought about the exodus of some 75,000 Palestinians. [1] In other words, a resolution whose intent was to bring calm to Palestine brought about a catastrophe.

As though to bring about a practical, moral and equitable solution to the question of Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly accepted Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. This resolution called for the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. It is arguably the biggest diplomatic success of the Zionist movement, and it enabled future successes without which the Zionist occupation of Palestine could not have survived. This resolution is the crowning achievement of the Zionist diplomatic corps, and of the man who headed it, Moshe Sharet, who later became the first foreign minister of Israel.

A myth that is still being perpetuated by the Zionists in this regard is that the Zionist movement accepted this just and equitable resolution, while the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians made a historical mistake by rejecting it. But as Dr. Walid Khalidi states: “The native people of Palestine,” like the native people of every other country in the colonized world, “refused to divide the land with a settler community.” Feeling that this was both illegal and immoral the Palestinians saw no justification in giving away parts of their country to European colonizers.

Palestine under the British Mandate was divided into sixteen districts. In the partition plan, nine of them were allotted to the Jewish State, although only one of the nine districts had a Jewish majority. Furthermore, the entire Jewish population in Palestine at the time was one third of the Palestinian population and Jewish land ownership did not exceed 7 percent of the land. Still the Partition Resolution gave the Jewish community in Palestine, a community made of mostly new comers who came to colonize, over fifty percent of the land.

As we know, the actual partition boundaries never materialized. By 1949 the Zionist militias which then became the Israeli army, ignored the stated boundaries and occupied almost all of Palestine with the exception of two areas they chose to leave out, two areas that were determined by Israel, namely the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Some twenty years later, in 1967, the Israeli army occupied those as well and by doing so completed the conquest of Palestine, or as they call it, The Land of Israel.

The Zionist movement toiled relentlessly to achieve this international recognition through the United Nations. Resolution 181 gave a rubber stamp to everything the Zionists wanted and to everything they did following that resolution. Again quoting Ilan Pappe, “Resolution 181’s most immoral aspect is that included no mechanism to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” “UN members who voted in favor of the Partition Resolution contributed directly to the crime that was about to take place.” [2]

It is ironic that Moshe Sharet, who was the point man in getting the resolution to pass, later referred [3] to the country being “emptied” of the Arabs as “very surprising.” “In the history of Eretz Israel” he says in a cabinet meeting, “this is even more surprising than the establishment of the State of Israel.” Surprising indeed. It’s as though the Zionists had nothing to do with it. “They started it by attacking us and so they had it coming and all of their homes and property are now ours,” Sharet stated and “What’s more” he added, “what is clear is that they will not return.” He said all this in a meeting of the Israeli cabinet on June 6, 1948. Then, discussing the Palestinian population of Yaffa, which Sharet describes in that same meeting as “an evil curse” and a “fifth column,” he says, “having eradicated it, we will never allow it to return.”

Sharet further reported that the Arabs were “removed” all the way from Tel-Aviv to the Western neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In the northern part of the country, from the city of Akka until Ras-Elnakura near todays border with Lebanon, “in terms of the population, the Arab villages no longer exist.” In a later meeting on the 9th of June, 1948, Sharet reports that already two hundred villages were “emptied” of their residents, the cities of Tabariya, Haifa, Akka, Yaffa, Safad, and all of Jerusalem that is outside the walled city are in our hands, Jenin has been emptied of people,” and he adds, “the situation is in our favor.”

Then during a meeting of the cabinet on 16 of June, 1948 David Ben-Gurion exclaimed: “The resolution of November 29 (1947) is dead. Our military force will determine the political outcome.”

We can see that certain patterns that exist today regarding resolution of the issue of Palestine, were already set in the days when UNSCOP, or the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine, were deliberating the partition plan. For example, the Zionist diplomatic corps dominated the discussions of the commission and created a reality in which, much like today, the solution was determined without any serious consideration of the Palestinian point of view, not to mention Palestinian interests. Furthermore, like Ben-Gurion stated in June 1948, what determines the political outcomes in Palestine is the Israeli military, and the Palestinian resistance to the invasion of their land is characterized, as it was then, as aggression and terrorism, while the Zionist offensive is characterized as justified self defense.

As an International Solidarity Day is planned in cities all around the world on this November 29, we must not forget the cause for the violence in Palestine. We must not forget what brought about the destruction of Palestine, and we must demand that the Zionist regime be removed, the refugees allowed to return. Sixty-eight years after that fateful UN resolution it is time to remedy the situation by freeing Palestine and allowing an inclusive democracy to be established instead of the State of Israel.

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[1] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 40
[2] The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe, (2006) page 35.
[3] All the cabinet meeting quotes, from: “Speaking Out” Israeli Foreign Minister’s Speeches, May-December 1948 (2013) Edited by Yaakov and Rina Sharett pp. 136-144.


  1. “These early attack on Palestinians neighborhoods and villages brought about the exodus of some 75,000 Palestinians. [1]”I believe the correct figure is 750,000.Molly Hogan

    1. Thank you but it’s not a typo. It says the “early attacks”, the ones that took place immediately after the resolution was passed.

  2. Major typo! I believe you meant to write “brought about the exodus of some 750,000 Palestinians” and not just 75,000 Palestinians. This typo trivializes the massiveness of the crisis.

    1. Thank you but it’s not a typo. It says the “early attacks”, the ones that took place immediately after the resolution was passed.

  3. Trying to alert you to a major typo near the top of the article. You meant to say 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee the ethnic cleansing, not just 75,000, I believe. The typo trivializes the scale of the tragedy.

    1. Thank you but it’s not a typo. It says the “early attacks”, the ones that took place immediately after the resolution was passed.

  4. Mr. Peled, Good to see you back after the unpleasantness, which I personally know too well. I look forward to more of your “unreasonable” ethics and the clear unprejudiced reporting, opinion. If there is reason top hope it comes by such as yourself.
    Wishing you and yours the safe lights of the season
    DARRELL Mtl.

  5. I was 9 years old in 1948 when I saw a newsreel of Palestinian families behind fences in refugee camps. I hoped that someone would let them go back to their homes, very soon, since their imprisonment had been shown in a newsreel. I am still waiting. I am grateful that Miko Peled is spreading the word that may yet right the wrong in Palestine.

  6. Good day to you Miko.
    I have just this minute finished the watching of your video about your “general’s son” book, which I found on YouTube, without even looking for anything on that subject bizarrely enough. So overall it was absolutely brilliant and I am so glad you have found out about all the information which is correct, as well as obviously writing about it and talking about it, presumably as worldwide as possible.
    I already knew the vast majority of the information already, I know many Palestinians also, I have family still living in Palestine, as far as I know….. This lead me to a question to ask you if I may, the question is how do you call yourself a champion on the search and activism for peace for Palestinians when you adamantly stated that Palestinians getting their OWN
    land back will never happen, when their not having their stolen land back is what is stopping the peace agreement? You stated that no president would give them their land back with quite a force and if you are champion you would be pushing for the Israeli government to give that land back and any Israeli living there to go back to live somewhere in the land that was given to the war survivors to start with.
    In your speech, at least, you missed out on vital information regarding the British Army leaving Palestine and the Jewish government then deciding to take their place virtually straightaway, but on the most awful vile violent way possible, plus the Israeli IDF and government and Zionist et cetera HAVE committed genocide on Palestine, many times (who would’ve thought that was possible), and this has been confirmed and cemented by the Hague. You didn’t seem to want to go there.
    Lastly, unfortunately, very surprisingly, I was both alarmed and annoyed at your notion that nobody else talks about these events, this genocide, what is happening to Palestinians, asking for support for Palestine and to free Palestine. There are billions of people worldwide supporting Palestine in the best ways they can, there is a noted 95% support for Palestine from all those interested across the world. I have no idea how you don’t know this. Really have you not seen the marches in protest against Israel for Palestine, at least???
    I cannot remember the exact phrase that you stated but you did say everybody thinks the same about something which I know was absolutely not true. This is not a one man show, it’s not your show, there are people who have supported Palestine longer than you have been alive for. Don’t forget.
    Last of all, if someone was to look at your date of birth up on google, it states your age then Jerusalem, Israel. There is no such thing as Jerusalem in Israel, never will be, and I do admit I am sure you stated something like that, I wondered what you had done about changing this?

    So to reiterate and conclude, all Palestinians want their land back, and thereafter peace can be talk about, and this is certainly not impossible.

    Dr Quant.

  7. Hi Miko,
    Thank you for your blog, explaining the historical background of the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

    An important aspect could be added, namely the misunderstood, misinterpreted meaning of General Assembly Resolution 181.

    In my understanding of UN regulations: the GA formulates recommendations. And such GA resolutions are not legally binding. The GA had not the authority to partition the land, nor the authority to give the Zionists the right to establish a state.

    Regards, WAM

    1. That is correct Wim. The resolution referred the matter to the Security Council which I believe didn’t want to address the topic. When the Arab nations expressed their disapproval, the Security Council never addressed the question.

      So the Zionists were never entitled to any land in Palestine except the 7% they already owned.

      Now the Zionists will argue the majority of the land was state owned so when the British left, they were entitled to take it. Except, even as early as 1947, the world had already moved towards the independence of colonies dominated by the major powers of Europe. Yet the Zionists believed that as colonial settlers, the vast majority of whom had been there for less than 2 decades, they could take the land from the British.

      In essence, they believe they were right because they were colonial settlers and not colonial administrators. Either way, it was the theft of land by colonial force. To most of the world, if you remove the name Israel, that logic wouldn’t stand.

      To make matters worse, as Miko noted, they not only took the land, but ethnically cleansed the vast majority of it. They continue to do so incrementally today.

      Israel’s Continuing Colonization of Palestine

      Keep up the great work Miko.

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