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United Nations Resolution 181

Also known as the 1947 UN Partition Plan. This General Assembly Resolution divided the territory of British mandate Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem as an internationalized city. It was the first instance of overt international support for a Jewish state in Palestine, although previous British documents and declarations paved the way for international recognition. The plan passed on November 29, 1947 with 33 in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent, made possible by support of both the United States and the Soviet Union, and their cold war allies. Zionist leaders actively lobbied for the plan, which they stood to gain from as the minority population striving to build a Jewish nation-state, while the Arab League and Palestinian leaders rejected it and called for a General Strike, considering the establishment of a Jewish State to be illegitimate and an injustice to the majority Arab population. See "UN Partition Plan," BBC, Nov 29, 2011. For text of the Resolution, see "United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181," UNISPAL, Nov 29, 1947.

United Nations Resolution 194

This General Assembly Resolution was adopted on December 11, 1948 in order to deal with the rapidly growing crisis of Palestinian refugees. The resolution states that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible." Israel rejected the resolution from the outset. It is considered the legal basis for the Palestinian claim to the "Right of Return." See "MidEast Web Historical Documents: UNGA 194," MidEast Web.

United Nations Resolution 242

This Security Council Resolution, passed on November 22, 1967, calls for both the withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 War, and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and right to live in peace for all countries in the area (i.e. Arab states’ recognition of Israel’s right to exist). The text was made deliberately ambiguous in order to appease demands from conflicting parties within the UN. As such, differing interpretations of the text prevail, with disagreement on whether Resolution 242 calls for full Israeli withdrawal, or allows for minor or even considerable border adjustments. Despite these differences, the resolution has been the cornerstone of "land for peace" initiatives since 1967. See "MidEast Web Historical Documents: UNSC 242," MidEast Web.

United Nations Resolution 338

This Security Council Resolution, passed on October 22, 1973, calls for an immediate cease-fire and an end to all hostilities between Egypt, Syria and Israel, following the 1973 War. Resolution 338 also reaffirms the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 242, and calls for its implementation. See "MidEast Web Historical Documents: UNSC 338," MidEast Web.

United Nations Vote on Palestinian Statehood

On September 23, 2011, Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the United Nations (UN) for the recognition of Palestine as a full member state. At the time of the application, the PLO held observer status at the UN. By applying for full membership, Abbas was seeking symbolic recognition of Palestine within the 1967 borders (Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem) and the ability to join various UN agencies and international treaties. Proponents saw this move as a strategic avenue for the Palestinians to challenge Israel’s military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to demonstrate widespread international support for Palestinian statehood. Opponents decried the bid as bypassing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian opposition viewed the bid as a way for Abbas to distract from internal political divisions and issues. In response to the pursuit of the bid, the United States and Israel withheld funding to the PA. UNESCO accepted Palestine as a full member on October 31, 2011 resulting in the US pulling its funding from the UN agency. In December 2014, Palestine bought a resolution to the U.N. Security Council that called for a full end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Palestinian statehood by 2017. The resolution was rejected by a narrow margin, though the U.S. would have likely used its veto power had the resolution passed. In January 2015, Palestine acceded to the International Criminal Court. See "Q&A: Palestinians' upgraded UN status," BBC News, Nov 30, 2012; and "Palestinian statehood resolution fails at U.N council, U.S. votes against," Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, Dec 31, 2014.

Unrecognized villages

Bedouin communities in the Negev/Naqab desert and the Galilee that are not officially recognized by Israel; as a result, these villages do not have state support for basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity, roads and water. Of the approximate 170,000 Bedouins in Israel, half live in unrecognized villages, most of which pre-date the establishment of the state of Israel. Unrecognized villages are especially vulnerable to destruction by the Israeli military. Once such acute example of this is al-Araqib, an unrecognized village in the Negev/Naqab that was demolished in whole or in part 80 times between 2010 and 2014. Residents of al-Araqib have been involved in a protracted struggle with Israeli authorities for their village’s survival, a struggle that many rights groups and activists have joined, yet, the village continues to be destroyed each time it is rebuilt. Residents have been sleeping in the cemetery, which they have been assured will not be demolished. See "In Israel’s Desert, A Fight for Land," Ben Lynfield, The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 20, 2003; "Negev Bedouins – and unrecognized villages," The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; and " Israel demolishes al-Araqib village buildings for 80th time," Ma’an News Agency, Jan 14, 2015.

UNRWA

Acronym for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA is a relief and human development agency serving the millions of registered Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Agency was established in 1949 in response to the refugee crisis that resulted from the 1948 War. See UNRWA’s website.