This Week in History: Israel joins United Nations (JERUSALEM POST) By MICHAEL OMER-MAN 05/06/12)
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Slightly less than one year after the Jewish state´s first prime
minister David Ben-Gurion declared independence and mere weeks after
the most serious fighting in the War of Independence came to an end,
the United Nations voted to admit Israel to its halls and chambers as
a full member-state. Although the country has since had a
continuously contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the
world body, obtaining membership after those first months of
statehood served as one of the most important and lasting
acknowledgements and symbols of independence and sovereignty.
When United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273 came up for a
vote on May 11, 1949, half a year after the application was first
submitted, 37 countries voted in favor, 9 abstained and 12 cast their
votes against Israeli membership in the UN. Immediately following the
vote, Israel´s flag was raised outside the United Nations building in
New York and Hatikva was first sung at the world body.
Israel´s first foreign minister Moshe Sharet and diplomat Abba Eban
were in attendance. Former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and then-
US delegate to the UN also attended the ceremony. Speaking at the UN
that day, Sharet celebrated the "great event, which marks our full
"Our flag has been raised proudly on the great circle which
symbolizes the liberty and humanity of mankind," he continued, "We
have achieved liberty and equality in the family of nations and full
creative appreciation for the national genius of our people."
In the General Assemblyís resolution approving the ascension of
Israel to a full member-state, its members had affirmed that the
young state was ďa peace loving State which accepts the obligations
contained in the (UN) Charter and is able and willing to carry out
those obligations.Ē But it also contained references to previous
resolutions relating to the state and the conflict it was born into.
In voting to admit Israel, the UN made specific note of resolutions
181 and 194. Resolution 181 was the approval of the Partition Plan,
which had planted the seed for Israeli independence two years
earlier. Resolution 194, which was passed half a year after Israelís
declaration of independence and the start of the War of Independence,
called for Jerusalem being an international city under UN control and
for allowing the conditional return of Palestinian refugees displaced
in the war.
While the language in Resolution 273 did not condition Israelís
membership on the implementation of 181 and 194, the included
mentions were indicative and foretelling of the frictions the Jewish
state would face in the United Nations in years to come.
The Jewish state has seen a disproportionate number of resolutions
relating to it and the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinians passed
since its establishment. Some 100 resolutions have been passed
relating to Israel and the conflict in the General Assembly. In the
Security Council, over 200 such resolutions have been passed,
although many of them reference previous resolutions.
But despite the contentious relationship Israel has continuously had
with the world body, its admission and continued membership remains
one of the most important landmarks and accomplishments along the
road to establishing the Jewish state envisioned in the Zionist
project. Membership in the United Nations cemented Israelís
membership in the international community. Amid continued fears of
delegitimization efforts against Israel, becoming the United Nationsí
57th member-state was and continues to serve as a nearly
unquestionable affirmation of the countryís legitimacy and existence.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/06/12)
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