Laura Robson
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Partition and the question of international governance
The 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine
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This chapter examines the history of the 1947 United Nations Commission on the future of post-mandate Palestine, which ended in a split between one constituency supporting partition and another promoting a federalist future for a unitary Palestine/Israel – a division not only on the fate of Palestine itself but on the role the UN would play in the postwar world. The proposal for a federated unitary state – supported, notably, by the Commission’s India representative and prepared by the subcommittee’s Pakistani chair – represented an alternative vision for the future of Palestine, but also a different and more limited vision of the state-making capacities of the newly formed UN. In the course of the Commission’s negotiations, then, Palestine emerged as a locus of arguments about internationalism, sovereignty and external governance; and the UN’s eventual decision for partition in 1947 represented a step towards a more interventionist state-building strategy for the ‘Third World’ whose ramifications would go well beyond Palestine itself.

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The breakup of India and Palestine

The causes and legacies of partition

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