Earlier today, Ira Glunts posted at Mondoweiss on the subject of Palestinian reactions to Obama’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly. He highlighted the response of Hanan Ashrawi, who mentioned the lengths the U.S. is going to, in order to prevent international recognition of Palestine’s statehood:
I did not believe what I heard, it sounded as if the Palestinians were occupying Israel. There was no empathy for the Palestinians, he only spoke of the Israeli problems.
He told us that it isn’t easy to achieve peace, thanks, we know this. He spoke about universal rights – Good, those same rights apply to Palestinians.
[The Americans] are applying enormous pressure on everybody at the UN, they are using threats and coercion. I wish they would invest the same energy in an attempt to promote peace, not threats.
When I read that, the obvious comparison that came to mind was with the U.N. General Assembly meeting of 29 November 1947, that adopted the proposal to partition Palestine. Specifically, the threats and coercion the U.S. brought to bear on that occasion against the most dependent member states, in order to ensure that the U.N. would recommend the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, over the objections of a large majority of its population, and despite the fact that the U.N.’s own Special Committee on Palestine had already concluded that founding a Jewish home in Palestine, against the wishes of the Palestinian people, “may well run counter” to the principle of self-determination [footnote 1], in contradiction of the U.N.’s own charter .
On November 25, 1947, the ad hoc committee approved the partition recommendation of subcommittee I, by a vote of 25 to 13, with 17 abstentions. While sufficient to carry the plan in the subcommittee, this margin was short of the two-thirds majority that would be required for passage in the General Assembly. By this time the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition. Most European countries, including the Soviet Union, supported it, but most Third World countries viewed it as an infringement of Arab rights.
The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote "to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own views." U.S. officials, "by direct order of the White House," used "every form of pressure, direct and indirect," to "make sure that the necessary majority" would be gained, according to former Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. Members of the U.S. Congress threatened curtailment of economic aid to several Third World countries. As a last-minute compromise, and as a major concession, several Arab states proposed a plan for a federated government in Palestine. Similar to the Special Committee's minority proposal, this plan called for a federation with Jewish and Arab components. Colombia asked the General Assembly to refer the matter back to the ad hoc committee for further efforts at producing a solution acceptable to both the Arabs and the Jews of Palestine.
There was little reason in the fall of 1947 to believe that the delicate political arrangement contemplated by the partition plan could find the necessary level of cooperation between the Jewish and Arab communities. But the General Assembly proceeded to a vote on the partition plan. On November 29 it adopted a draft resolution embodying the partition plan as Resolution 181. The resolution narrowly gained the required majority of two-thirds -- 33 in favor, 13 opposed, and 10 abstaining.
Included in the countries that switched their votes from November 25 to November 29 to provide the two-thirds majority were Liberia, the Philippines, and Haiti. All heavily dependent on the United States financially, they had been lobbied to change their votes. Liberia's ambassador to the United Nations complained that the U.S. delegation threatened aid cuts to several countries. Some delegates charged U.S. officials with "diplomatic intimidation." Without "terrific pressure" from the United States on "governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals," said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution "would never have passed."
The fact such pressure had been exerted became public knowledge, to the extent a State Department policy group was concerned that "the prestige of the UN" would suffer because of "the notoriety and resentment attendant upon the activities of U.S. pressure groups, including members of Congress, who sought to impose U.S. views as to partition on foreign delegations."...
 Yearbook of the United Nations 1947-48 (1949), p. 245. Sally Morphet, "The Palestinians and Their Right to Self-Determination," in R.J. Vincent (ed.), Foreign Policy and Human Rights: Issues and Responses (1986), p. 85-87.
 New York Times, November 30, 1947, p. A64.
 Sumner Welles, We Need Not Fail (1948), p. 63.
 Alistair Cooke, "Final UN Vote on Palestine Postponed," Manchester Guardian, November 27, 1947, p. 5. Alistair Cooke, "More Complaints on Pressure," Manchester Guardian, November 29, 1947, p. 5. Mohammed K. Shadid, The United States and the Palestinians (1981), p. 35. Alan R. Taylor, Prelude to Israel: An Analysis of Zionist Diplomacy, 1897-1947 (1959), pp. 103-104. J.R. Gainsborough, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Politico-Legal Analysis (1986), p. 34. W. Roger Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East 1945-1951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism (1984), pp. 485-486. Henry Cattan, Palestine and International Law: The Legal Aspects of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (2nd ed. 1976), pp. 82-87.
 New York Times, November 30, 1948, p. A1.
 Yearbook of the United Nations 1947-48 (1949), p. 245.
 Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe (1987), p. 31.
 Millar Burrows, Palestine Is Our Business (1949), p. 71.
 Editorial, "The Partition Gamble," Christian Century, vol. 64, p. 1541 (December 17, 1947).
 "Report by the Policy Planning Staff on Position of the United States With Respect to Palestine: Top Secret," January 19, 1948, Foreign Relations of the United States 1948_, vol. 5, p. 546, (1976).
The part played by the United States - government and people - in bringing about a majority vote in the General Assembly, can best be illustrated by quoting from American sources:
1. The Hon. Lawrence H. Smith declared in Congress, "Let's take a look at the record, Mr. Speaker, and see what happened in the United Nations Assembly meeting prior to the vote on partition. A two-thirds vote was required to pass the resolution. On two occasions the Assembly was to vote and twice it was postponed. It was obvious that the delay was necessary because the proponents (the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.) did not have the necessary votes. In the meantime, it is reliably reported that intense pressure was applied to the delegates of three small nations by the United States member and by officials 'at the highest levels in Washington'. Now that is a serious charge. When the matter was finally considered on the 29th, what happened? The decisive votes for partition were cast by Haiti, Liberia and the Philippines. These votes were sufficient to make the two-thirds majority. Previously, these countries opposed the move ... The pressure by our delegates, by our officials, and by the private citizens of the United States constitutes reprehensible conduct against them and against us." [Footnote 42 - cites U.S. Government Record, 18 Dec 1947, p. 1176].
2. Journalist Drew Pearson explained in his 'Merry-Go-Round' column that in the end 'a lot of people used their influence to whip voters into line. Harvey Firestone, who owns rubber plantations in Liberia, got busy with the Liberian Government; Adolphe Berle, Advisor to the President of Haiti, swung that vote ... China's Ambassador Wellington Koo warned his Government ... The French Ambassador pleaded with his crisis-laden Government for partition'.
'Few know it', he wrote after the partition, 'but President Truman cracked down harder on his State Department than ever before to swing the United Nations vote for the partition of Palestine. Truman called Acting Secretary Lovett over to the White House on Wednesday and again on Friday warning him that he would demand a full explanation if nations which usually line up with the United States failed to do so on Palestine ... " [Footnote 43 - cites the Chicago Daily Tribune, 9 Feb 1948].
3. Sumner Welles affirmed, 'By direct order of the White House, every form of pressure, direct or indirect, was brought to bear by American officials upon those countries outside the Moslem world that were known to be either uncertain or opposed to partition. Representatives or intermediaries were employed by the White House to ensure that the necessary majority would at least be secured'. [Footnote 44 - Sumner Welles, We Need Not Fail (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), p. 63]
4. James Forrestal, then Secretary of Defense, described 'The methods that had been used ... to bring coercion and duress on other nations in the General Assembly bordered closely on scandal'...
From Sir Zafrulla Khan, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister, and head of Pakistan’s delegation to the U.N. in November 1947:
LISTENING ‘live’ to Mr Kofi Annan’s farewell speech on a worldwide American news channel (Dawn Dec 11), one was astonished that Mr Annan should base his five postulates for future peace on quotations from the late President Truman. Mr Truman was hardly a Woodrow Wilson or Wendel Wilkie, much less an oracle.
One of the issues Mr Annan so distressfully lamented was of Palestine. Here is a first-hand graphic account of the not-so-visionary role Mr Truman played in the partitioning of Palestine in 1948 at the UN given by former Pakistan foreign minister Sir Zafrulla Khan in his memoirs (Servant of God pp 143-144).
“The factor that played the decisive role was that President Truman, who as vice-president, had taken over the presidency on the death of President Roosevelt, in the spring of 1945, was looking forward to being elected president in the 1948 election. His own party was not united in his support. The Jews [sic] had a strong position in New York City, and the state was expected to go the way the City went. The Jewish vote in the City might prove crucial. President Truman was, therefore, a strong supporter of the partition of Palestine. The US delegation in the UN was not too happy about it. The legal adviser to the delegation had conveyed to the president his doubts about the competence of the assembly to carry out partition of a country. But the president remained firm in his support for the Jews [sic].
“The debate in the plenary session started in an atmosphere of great tension. It reached its closing stage on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. A careful checking up confirmed the impression that had been gained from the speeches delivered in the plenary session that the Resolution did not have the support of a two-thirds majority. That morning, before proceeding to the Assembly, I, as leader of the Pakistan delegation, called on Mr Dennis, the leader of the Liberian delegation, and was assured by him that his instruction from his government was to vote against partition, and [he] added: But we are under great pressure from the United States. Try that the vote should be taken today, for I do not know what might happen tomorrow.
“General Romulo, foreign minister of the Philippines, had gone to the rostrum and roundly condemned partition in a speech of burning eloquence. The representative of Haiti had declared he would vote against partition.
“At about lunch time a rumour was heard that the president [of the Assembly] did not intend to proceed to the vote that day. Dr Fadhil Jamali, foreign minister of Iraq, and the Pakistan leader called on the president and discovered that he was determined to postpone the vote till Friday.
“His excuses were flimsy, but he was adamant. At the end of the afternoon sitting he adjourned the session to Friday morning. On Thursday President Truman put through personal telephone calls to certain heads of state and persuaded them to shift their position on the question of the partition of Palestine from opposition to support. Among others, the Philippines, Liberia and Haiti made the shift.
“The resolution was carried, the die was cast, and the Arabs and Jews were set by the ears for generations. President Truman will go down in history as the statesman whose decision released the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and whose determination pushed the partition of Palestine through the United Nations.”
- Dawn Newspaper, 19 Dec 2006
So, to get this clear: The United States, which once coerced members of the U.N. into establishing the Israeli half of the two state solution when no clear international consensus existed on that step, is today trying to coerce members of the U.N. into NOT establishing the Palestinian half of the two state solution, even though a strong international consensus exists in favor of this. And this is the same United States that for the last 20 years has been the sole mediator of a “peace process” allegedly intended to lead to the establishment of that two state solution. Do you really wonder why that process has failed to deliver?
 With regard to the principle of self-determination, although international recognition was extended to this principle at the end of the First World War and it was adhered to with regard to the other Arab territories, at the time of the creation of the "A" Mandates, it was not applied to Palestine, obviously because of the intention to make possible the creation of the Jewish National Home there. Actually, it may well be said that the Jewish National Home and the sui generis Mandate for Palestine run counter to that principle.
- UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), Report to the General Assembly, 3 September 1947. Paragraph 176.
 The Purposes of the United Nations are:
1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
3. To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
4. To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
- The Charter of the United Nations Organization, Article One.