Powerful State, Powerless Mediator: The United States and the Peace Efforts of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, 1949–51

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Tiller, Stian Johansen & Hilde Henriksen Waage (2011) Powerful State, Powerless Mediator: The United States and the Peace Efforts of the Palestine Conciliation Commission, 1949–51, International History Review 33(3): 501–524.

​​The Arab–Israeli War of 1948 produced complex questions that needed to be solved to obtain peace. Whereas the Arab states suffered humiliating defeats, Israel was the undisputed winner, expanding and solidifying its power. For the Palestinians, the outcome was catastrophic. Between 600,000 and 760,000 Palestinians fled, becoming refugees on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in surrounding Arab states. Palestinian society collapsed and Palestine became divided between Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, leaving the borders undecided. The Palestinians’ dreams of statehood were crushed. After the war, Israel used diplomacy to achieve its goals, defending the post-war status quo to preserve its expanded territory and resisting the return of Palestinian refugees. Through its membership in the Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC), established by the United Nations (UN) in 1948 to solve these problems, the United States was deeply involved in the negotiations. The United States became the informal, yet undisputed leader of the PCC, thus, it would seem, empowering it with the muscles of a superpower. After three years of struggling for peace the PCC had toadmit failure. Knowledge about these negotiations gives important insights into how mediators approached the conflict and shows that power asymmetry may explain why the belligerents could not obtain peace.

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Authors

Hilde Henriksen Waage

Hilde Henriksen Waage

Research Professor

Research Groups