November 29, 1947
Queens Museum at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York
Eli E. Hertz
In 1947 the British put the future of western Palestine into the hands of the United Nations, the successor organization to the League of Nations, which had established the "Mandate for Palestine." A UN Commission recommended partitioning what was left of the original Mandate - western Palestine - into two new states, one Jewish and one Arab.
Israel's independence is not a result of a partial implementation of the Partition Plan. Resolution 181 has no legal ramifications - that is, it recognized the Jewish right to statehood, but its validity as a potentially legal and binding document was never consummated. Like the proposals that preceded it, Resolution 181's validity hinged on acceptance by both parties of the General Assembly's recommendation.
Cambridge Professor, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, past Judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice, a renowned expert on international law, clarified that from a legal standpoint, the 1947 UN Partition Resolution had no legislative character to vest territorial rights in either Jews or Arabs. He explained:
"The coming into existence of Israel does not depend legally upon the Resolution. The right of a State to exist flows from its factual existence - especially when that existence is prolonged shows every sign of continuance and is recognized by the generality of nations."
Reviewing Lauterpacht's arguments, Professor Stone, a distinguished authority on the Law of Nations, added that Israel's "legitimacy" or the "legal foundation" for its birth does not reside with the United Nations' Partition Plan, which as a consequence of Arab actions became a dead issue. Professor Stone concluded:."
"The State of Israel is thus not legally derived from the partition plan, but rests (as do most other states in the world) on assertion of independence by its people and government, on the vindication of that independence by arms against assault by other states, and on the establishment of orderly government within territory under its stable control."