Isn’t the Nakba the result of the Palestinians' rejection of the UN partition plan? After all, didn’t they start the war?

From its very beginnings, Zionist settlement strove to gain as much territory as possible for exclusive Jewish benefit. Even if not all Zionist thinkers and decision makers agreed with that interpretation of Zionism, this was the ideology in practice. Even before 1948, 57 Palestinian villages were uprooted, and thousands lost their livelihoods due to the ideology of "Hebrew labor.” Organized Palestinian resistance did not begin until after the Balfour Declaration, which announced the British government’s support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" despite the Palestinians constituting 90% of the land’s residents.

All people have the right to live in security in their home and in their homeland. Their consent to or rejection of the division of their country is a political opinion, which has nothing to do with their basic rights. Nonetheless, it is meaningful to understand the main reasons for the Palestinians' rejection of the UN partition proposal. According to the proposal, the Jewish state would assume 55% of the territory despite Jews comprising only one third of the population, most of them immigrants, and owning less than 10% of the land. In addition, Palestinians were supposed to make up almost half of the population of the proposed Jewish state. Not only was the distribution of land unfair, but also the plan raised concerns that its acceptance would lead to the transfer of Arab citizens from the Jewish state. As the majority of the population, the Palestinians saw the proposal as an attempt by the Jewish minority to impose upon the majority. Moreover, it is notable that many in the Jewish public as well opposed the partition proposal (the Revisionists), while others saw it as only an intermediate stage (Mapai) towards the conquest of the entire country and the expulsion of all its Palestinian residents.

Even the forces on the ground fail to reflect the myth of Jewish defense against an Arab offensive. By late 1947, the Jewish community in Palestine had an organized military force of about 40,000 fighters; they faced a mere 10,000 poorly organized and mostly untrained Palestinian fighters alongside volunteers from Arab countries. Even in May 1948, when several established Arab armies joined the war, Israel had the twofold advantage of greater resources and better quality arms.

Ultimately, the ongoing Nakba is a result of military decisions that ignored the partition proposal and led attacks and conquests beyond established borders, and of the Israeli political decision to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees and destroy their towns. The prevention of return is inexcusable and completely unrelated to the question of responsibility for the war.