United nations special committee on palestine

The United Nations' Special Committee on Palestine

The United Nations' Special Committee on Palestine

When Britain turned its control over Palestine to the UN after World War II, Canadian officials played an important role in the move to divide the territory into Jewish and Palestinian states. By doing so Canadian diplomats effectively enabled the Zionist movement’s 1947/48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

External Affairs Undersecretary Lester Pearson pushed partition in two different UN committees dealing with the issue and Canada's representative on the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), Supreme Court Justice Ivan C. Rand, was a lead author of the majority report in support of partitioning the area into ethnically segregated states. In State in the Making David Horowitz, the first governor of the Bank of Israel, writes: “Canada more than any other country played a decisive part in all stages of the UNO [United Nations Organization] discussions of Palestine.”

The UN’s 1947 partition plan gave the new Jewish state the majority of Palestine despite the Jewish population owning roughly seven percent of the land and representing a third of the population. Rand’s assistant on UNSCOP, Leon Mayrand, provides a window into the dominant mindset at Canada’s External Affairs: “The Arabs were bound to be vocal opponents of partition but they should not be taken too seriously. The great majority were not yet committed nationalists and the Arab chiefs could be appeased through financial concessions, especially if these accompanied a clearly declared will to impose a settlement whatever the means necessary.” A dissident within External Affairs, the department’s only Middle East expert, Elizabeth MacCallum, claimed Ottawa supported partition, “because we didn’t give two hoots for democracy.”

A huge boost to the Zionist movements’ desire for an ethnically-based state, the UN partition of British Mandate Palestine contributed to the displacement of at least 700,000 Palestinians. Scholar Walid Khalidi complained that UN (partition) Resolution 181 was “a hasty act of granting half of Palestine to an ideological movement that declared openly already in the 1930s its wish to de-Arabise Palestine.”