Elusive Peace in the Middle East by Malcolm H. Kerr

By Malcolm H. Kerr

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Yet the overriding fact is that both the new possibilities of success and the risks of failure are too great to ignore. Page 19 United Nations Peace Efforts Fred J. Khouri When, on 2 April 1947, Britain placed the Palestine question in the hands of the United Nations, no one could have foreseen how difficult and long-lasting the problem would be or how crucial a role the fledgling world organization would ultimately play in trying to resolve it. Even less predictable was the degree to which widespread ignorance and misunderstanding of the essence of the problem, big-power rivalry and partisanship, the failure of the disputants to abide by UN decisions, and the inability of the UN to enforce its own resolutions would frustrate UN peacemaking efforts and turn a relatively localized dispute between Arabs and Zionist Jews into a complex and perilous Arab-Israeli dilemma of worldwide concern.

The individual chapters of the book took form, to a large extent, as postmortems which linked the failures of post-1967 peace diplomacy to the chain of failures that had gone before. As these chapters were being completed, the 1973 war arrived to introduce fresh and, conceivably, revolutionary changes in the patterns of the Middle Eastern conflict. The authors have each briefly taken note of this prospect, but essentially their studies stand as analyses of the cumulative record up to the most recent conflict.

President Truman now renewed his support for partition, and the General Assembly Special Session ended on 15 May without repealing or replacing the partition resolution. Meanwhile, on 14 May Palestine Jewish leaders proclaimed the existence of the state of Israel, which was quickly recognized by the United States, the Soviet Union, and a number of other UN members. On 15 May, armies from the neighboring Arab countries entered Palestine. This intervention precipitated a larger Palestine war and led to strong criticism of the Arabs by some UN Security Council members, including the two superpowers.

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