The General Assembly of the United Nations gathered in New York and under the Brazilian Secretary General Osvaldo Aranha, approved Declaration 181, which recommended dividing the western part of the British Mandate into two states, a Jewish one and an Arab one (the term Palestinian was not used). There would be an area under international control that included Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Both states had to contribute economically.
The UN wanted to ensure a territory for the Jews to absorb a million refugees that were to arrive after the creation of Israel, even though 45% of the country was a desert (Negev). Declaration 181 (based on the proposal by UNSCOP) was voted in favor by 33 countries, against by 13 and 10 abstained, and proposed some adjustments to the limits between the states. The partition would be in effect upon the retreat of the British, who did not contribute to the execution of the decision. The US and Russia were among those who voted in favor of the resolution. In 1947, the United Nations had 57 member states (today 193). At present, it is impossible to think that a similar decision could have been adopted by such a shamelessly anti-Israel body. Most of the Jewish inhabitants celebrated the plan although they criticized the lack of territorial continuity because the territory would be divided into three separate zones that made it not very viable (and hard to defend). David Ben- Gurion considered that if they were attacked the Jews could increase the borders. The Arab leaders opposed the plan, arguing that it violated the rights of the Arab population, which was 67% of the total population at the time (1,237,000 inhabitants). The Arab League approved another resolution that rejected the UN’s, threatening with armed intervention.