1st Edition

UNSCOP and the Arab-Israeli Conflict The Road to Partition

By Elad Ben-Dror Copyright 2023
    284 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides the first comprehensive account of the work of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), constituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 to study the situation in Palestine at the end of the British Mandate and make recommendations about its political future.

    Utilizing a wealth of archival documentation, some of it never before studied, Elad Ben-Dror explores the various aspects of UNSCOP’s activity to understand how it came to determine the fate of the country’s inhabitants. The book analyzes the methods and motivations of the various members, with special attention given to the personal viewpoint of each member of the committee. Through this Ben-Dror shows that the partition recommendation emerged after a long process of study, debate, and compromise that was very much dependent on the characters and circumstances of the individual members of the committee.

    UNSCOP and the Arab-Israeli Conflict will be a key text in understanding the role of UNSCOP in shaping the modern Middle East. It will be appropriate for scholars and students of political science, Palestine and Israeli history, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the UN and diplomacy, and conflict resolution.

    Introduction  1. "Without Recommendations": Handing the Palestine Question Over to the United Nations  2. UNSCOP: First Steps  3. The Encounter with Palestine  4. With Their Own Eyes  5. The Hearings in Palestine  6. The Testimony of the Arab States  7. The Inquiry in the DP Camps  8. Decision Point: Drafting the Report  9. UNSCOP’s Report  10. "Eleven Committees of One Man Each": The Personal Views of UNSCOP’s Members  11. The Great Powers and UNSCOP; Conclusion; Epilogue; Bibliography


    Elad Ben-Dror is an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. His research focuses on various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, chiefly the UN's involvement in the late 1940s and the establishment of the state of Israel.


    "Elad Ben-Dror’s book is a masterpiece of movement from macrohistory to the fascinating micro case of an international committee that was sent into the eye of a storm and managed to avoid sinking. A small group of men who had not known each other previously found the extraordinary internal dynamic required to formulate the geopolitical plan that put an end to the British mandate in Palestine and led to the establishment of Israel. Ben-Dror is an outstanding scholar but also an excellent storyteller. The two do not always go together, but here they certainly do. It is impossible to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict without this book."

    Motti Golani, Rosenberg Professor for Jewish Studies, Chair, The Chaim Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel, University of Tel Aviv

    "This is a fine, well-documented, well-argued history of the pivotal United Nations committee that laid the basis for the General Assembly's resolution of November 1947, which triggered the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. The committee's proposed compromise, of a two-state solution, remains the core idea for any future resolution of the conflict."

    Benny Morris, Professor of History, Middle East Studies department, Ben-Gurion University

    "A trailblazing study, based on archives in many countries, that offers a detailed account of the Zionists' multipronged campaign, which proved to be of major assistance in obtaining UNSCOP's dramatic recommendation of partition. A very important book that, like every good work of history, is enjoyable as well and essential, for anyone who wishes to learn about one of the decisive chapters in the annals of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

    Ronen Bergman, author of Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations, a New York Times Bestseller and the winner of the National Jewish Book Award

    "UNSCOP and the Arab-Israeli Conflict is grounded in meticulous archival research and deep awareness of the interpersonal dynamics as well as geo-political aspects of UNSCOP’s activity. The book’s representation of contingency in group decision making, the limited influence of Zionist or Arab lobbying, and the structural dilemma embodied in Zionist and Palestinian claims to the land, make it essential reading for anyone interested in the origins and course of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

    Derek Penslar, Harvard University

    "UNSCOP and the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a work of major importance, in which Ben-Dror not only provides a clear account of this seminal period in the history of modern Israel, but through assiduous research provides us with facts previously unknown or neglected."

    Neville Teller for The Jerusalem Post

    "Ben-Dror is to be congratulated for his meticulous, textured, lively dissection of UNSCOP’s ‘moment’ in the Middle East that while brief was momentous, not so much in forming Israel as in showing how well-organised political campaigns of persuasion are powerful and significant in international politics, and reflect well-organised and strong nations."

    Matthew Hughes for Middle Eastern Studies

    "The author wrote that he hopes UNSCOP and the Arab–Israeli Conflict will ‘give UNSCOP the place it deserves, as the real engine of the UN partition resolution’ (6). Ben-Dror’s book eloquently accomplishes this task by showing how the inevitable partition of Palestine was formalised in the UNSCOP-influenced UN Resolution to create an Arab and a Jewish state, a resolution taken with the great powers' unrelenting interference."

    Dr Roza I.M. El-Eini, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writing for Israel Affairs