The gross ignorance displayed by current United Nations General Assembly President - Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann - highlights the difficulty in having any kind of rational discussion at the United Nations about finally resolving Jewish and Arab claims to the territory once called Palestine.
Speaking on the Question of Palestine at the 57th Plenary Meeting at UN headquarters in New York on 24 November, President Brockmann stated (apparently without anyone present attempting to correct him) :
“No amount of arm twisting and intimidation will change the Security Council resolution 181, adopted 61 years ago, calling for the creation of two states”
The President was demonstrably wrong in making this remarkable utterance.
Resolution 181 calling for the partition of western Palestine into one Jewish State and one Arab State was a resolution of the General Assembly not the Security Council. Being a General Assembly resolution it did not bind any member state of the United Nations - even those Arab States violently opposing it.
However many member states were concerned that Arab rejectionism of Resolution 181 could result in outright war and sought to qualify their support for Resolution 181 by seeking assurances that the Security Council would enforce the resolution once it was passed.
Resolution 181 therefore specifically requested
“The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution; “
The subsequent invasion of western Palestine in May 1948 by the armies of all the Arab League members (excepting Yemen) - signalled open defiance of Resolution 181 by the Arab League and exposed the Security Council as a toothless tiger unwilling to stop this clear act of aggression by the Arab League in its campaign to wipe out the nascent Jewish State.
Yet the opportunity presented by Resolution 181 could still have been translated into reality between 1948 and 1967 - after the Jews living in Gaza and the West Bank had been driven out by the invading Arab armies leaving the solely Arab population under Egyptian and Jordanian occupation.
However instead of creating a state in the West Bank and Gaza in that 19 year window of opportunity and self determination for its exclusively Arab population - the United Nations bowed to Arab League pressure and perpetuated a refugee problem instead - haunting its thought processes on Palestine to this very day.
Yet worse was to come as President Brockmann continued his journey into Fantasyland by declaring:
“Shamefully there is no Palestinian state to celebrate today and the prospects are as distant as ever”
The President of the General Assembly had obviously not read the debates of the General Assembly on 26 November 1947 when the Question of Palestine was being discussed. Had he done so he would have come across Uruguay’s representative - Rodriguez Fabregal - reminding those present on that day:
“But this word “partition” is not new; it has not been suddenly introduced into the present debate on the question. It goes back further than that. The territory of the old League of Nations Mandate [ for Palestine] has already been divided; and an independent State has already been established in its territory. That new State, Transjordan, has already been considered as a candidate for admission by the competent organs of the United Nations”
Not one of the hostile Arab delegations then present disputed Mr Fabregal’s statement of fact - namely that in 1946 Transjordan - with its exclusively Arab population - had been the first sovereign and fully independent state to be created in Palestine on territory that comprised 77% of Palestine.
Transjordan still exists today - having been renamed Jordan in 1950. Israel - established in 1948 comprises 17% of the former territory of Palestine. The West Bank and Gaza - in which sovereignty still remains undetermined - makes up the remaining 6% of what was once known as Palestine.
This historic truth makes a mockery of Arab propagandists and sympathisers who claim today that Israel comprises 78% of Palestine whilst Gaza and the West Bank comprise the remaining 22% of Palestine.
President Brockmann - revelling in his fictitious world - then appealed to member states :
“All explanations notwithstanding, this central fact[no Palestinian state] makes a mockery of the United Nations and gravely hurts its image and prestige. How can we continue like this?”
President Brockmann’s blatant attempt to bury any explanation for this “central fact” indicates the extent to which he has become a victim of his own rhetoric and a guarantor for the continued mockery of the UN.
Resolution 181 was adopted on 29 November 1947 by a vote of 33 nations in favour , 13 against and 10 abstentions. Those against the resolution included Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen - the then entire membership of the Arab League with the exception of Transjordan.
Arab outrage at the proposed Resolution clearly failed to win the day in the General Assembly. The Arabs were simply not prepared to accept this overwhelming international support for Resolution 181. Their failure to do so has been the root cause for everything that has occurred since then in relation to Palestine.
Even today Articles 19 and 20 of the PLO Covenant proclaim that the partition of Palestine in 1947 was illegal and the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them are deemed null and void.
Respect for this body of international law still has no place in the Arab lexicon.
This is the explanation President Brockmann did not have the moral courage to identify, face up to or address.
No amount of crocodile tears by President Brockmann - or those who have pushed proposals such as Oslo and the Road Map - can ever hope to succeed in bringing about a 22nd Arab State in all of the West Bank and Gaza.
This is the clear message to be understood on the 41st Anniversary of Resolution 181.
Redrawing the boundary lines between Israel, Egypt and Jordan to allocate sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza between them represents the last - and now the only - hope for peace between Jews and Arabs.
Until the United Nations abandons the notion of three states in former Palestine its image and prestige will continue to remain at rock bottom. It has become the victim of its own gutlessness.
It is indeed time for fact to replace fantasy and fiction at the United Nations.
Starting at the top with the President of the General Assembly would be a welcome first step in the right direction