This resolution was adopted by a vote in the UN General Assembly on 29 November 1947. It partitioned the British mandate of Palestine into two states — one Jewish and one Arab — with Jerusalem having a special international status.
UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 29 Novemer 1947 is cited as a basis for the establishment of the State of Israel in the Proclamation of that state made from Tel Aviv on the night of 14 May 1948, as British forces withdrew. It is also cited in the 15 November 1988 Palestinian declaration of a state, and of independence, made by Yasser Arafat at a meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council (in exile) in Algiers — by which the most recognized and most legal Palestinian body can be said to have thereby recognized Israel as a Jewish state.
Here is the map associated with that resolution:
This UN GA resolution requests the UN Security Council to “take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation”.
Like the Palestine Mandate assigned to Britain to administer and set up by the League of Nations — the predecessor body to the United Nations — this resolution specifically authorized Jewish immigration: “The mandatory Power shall use its best endeavours to ensure than an area situated in the territory of the Jewish State, including a seaport and hinterland adequate to provide facilities for a substantial immigration, shall be evacuated at the earliest possible date and in any event not later than 1 February 1948”. This resolution also determines that “Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in part III of this plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described … below”.
Here, interestingly, are the boundaries of Jerusalem (including the city
of Bethlehem) which was to constitute a special international regime under UN administration (specifically, by the Trusteeship Council) for at least ten years — as defined in UN GA Resolution 181:
The full text of UN GA Resolution 181 resolution can be found on the UN website here.
Ian Williams has written an interesting piece on Resolution 181 which is published in the Comment is Free section of The Guardian’s website. In his piece, dear Ian writes: “The resulting map broke many existing principles – not least of cartography. It produced a checkerboard state, without consulting the occupants directly. So, for example, the Jewish state held barely a majority of Jews and thus incorporated, presumably against their will, 400,000 Palestinian Arabs.
The doctrine, or the right, of self-determination had not been developed in 1947, when this UN General Assembly partition resolution was adopted by a (divided) vote. The doctrine — or the right — of self-determination was developed within the UN starting only in the 1960s.
And, international law experts say that the moment the Palestine National Council declared the Palestinian state in November 1988 — specifically, only in the Palestinian territory seized by Israel in the June 1967 war — the Palestinians gave up their claim to the land assigned to the “Arab” state in Resolution 181. But, these international law experts maintain, the Palestinians do have clear and uncontested legal title to that Palestinian territory seized in 1967 — to all of it, to all of the West Bank, to East Jerusalem, and to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians are not required to negotiate their title to this territory, it is theirs.