On this date in 1947, the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine. Palestine had been under British control since 1917. Zionist Jews from Europe and Russia were migrating in ever-greater numbers, with the intention of forming their own country, and hostility between the Jews and the native Palestinians was also growing. Britain supported the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine, but they also recognized the rights of the Arab Palestinians. Support for the Zionists grew during World War II, especially after people learned of the horrors of the Holocaust. In 1947, Britain decided it wanted out of Palestine and asked the newly formed United Nations to make recommendations for a plan that would ensure the rights of both sides.
The U.N. drafted a plan, also known as Resolution 181, that divided the region into three Jewish sections — more than half of the territory — and four Arab sections; the city of Jerusalem was internationally administered. The plan also guaranteed religious rights and minority rights, and made provision for free access to any holy sites. The two states would share a monetary system and all services, and have equal access to water and utilities. When British forces withdrew in August 1948, a five-country Commission would be put in place to occupy the formerly British regions, establish borders, and help the two states set up their governments.
The Jewish Agency in Palestine approved of the plan because it reflected international recognition of their cause, but they felt it didn’t give them enough territory. The United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13 in favor of the partition plan. Britain was one of 10 nations that abstained from voting. The six Arab delegates walked out in protest.
Six months later, on May 14, 1948, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion formally announced the formation of the State of Israel. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.