Lior Sternfeld writes in a guest column for Informed Comment:
On November 29, 1947 the UN general assembly granted the Zionist movement one of its most prominent diplomatic achievements, when it approved the Palestine Partition Plan. The non-binding resolution, never voted on by the UN Security Council, proposed dividing the land of the British mandate into a Jewish State and an Arab-Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership rejected the UNGA resolution as giving away a substantial amount of territory to which they felt what they viewed as foreign settlers had no right. In contrast, Jews welcomed the idea of partition in principle (though they did not commit to settled borders for Israel) and they moved forward to establish the state of Israel.
Kaf-Tet means 29 in Hebrew letters, and to date every Israeli child can tell by heart what Kaf-Tet Be’November is, even if he does not know what or when November is. Every Israeli child recognizes the old radio recording of the voting process and thus know how Argentina and Australia voted on this issue (abstention and yes respectively). The war that erupted immediately afterwards and the bloodshed that has transpired since prevented the full implementation of the solution.
Some sixty-five years later, the original UN resolution has a chance to be realized. The President of the Palestine Authority, Mahmud Abbas, has vowed to seek a vote on fulfilling that decades-old pledge of Palestinian Statehood to the UNGA on a symbolic date: Kaf-Tet Be’November 2012. With the last round of fighting behind us now, and given that the bluff of Israel “not negotiating with Hamas” has been called, Israel can do the right thing, remember what the passion for an independent state felt like, and congratulate Abbas and Palestine with the best wishes for luck. This is all the more appropriate give Abbas’s moderation and the rise of much more radical forces among some Palestinians.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared his willingness to pursue a two-state solution and must be held accountable for that, and now is the time. Generations in Israel remembered what countries stood on the right side of history back in 1947, and did not forget who remained indifferent to the suffering of the Jewish people. It is Israel’s turn now to choose on which side of history it’d rather be on the issue of ending Palestinian statelessness and suffering.
Lior Sternfeld is pursuing a Ph.D. in History at the University of Texas, Austin.