Israel Marks Historic UN Vote

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It was one of the most dramatic moments in the modern history of the Middle East — the world's nations voting one by one in the U.N. General Assembly to partition the Holy Land into separate Jewish and Arab states.

Exactly 60 years later, the concept remains at the heart of renewed attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At this week's U.S.-sponsored peace conference outside Washington, Israel and the Palestinians again pledged efforts to wrap up a peace treaty that would set up the two states envisioned in 1947.

Three full-scale wars and two bloody Palestinian uprisings have failed either to change the two-state formula or bring it much closer to reality.

Violence has marked the process from the outset. When the General Assembly voted to partition the land on Nov. 29, 1947, it was clear it would set off a war between Jews and Arabs.

The day of the vote is legendary in Israel. Its 600,000 Jewish inhabitants huddled around their radios to listen to the live broadcast from the United Nations. Many kept score nervously in"yes" and"no" columns as the representatives called out their votes on the partition resolution.

It was no done deal, participants recalled in an Israel TV documentary that aired Wednesday. Israeli delegates scampered from room to room trying to garner enough support, while avoiding the British, who considered their very presence in the building illegal as long as they ruled Palestine under a U.N. mandate.

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