It was one of the most dramatic moments in the modern history of the Middle East -- the world's nations voting one by one in the U.N. General Assembly to partition the Holy Land into separate Jewish and Arab states.

The day of the vote -- Nov. 29, 1947 -- is legendary in Israel. Its 600,000 Jewish inhabitants huddled around their radios to listen to the live broadcast from the United Nations. Many kept score nervously in "yes" and "no" columns as the representatives called out their votes. After the vote, it was clear there would be a war between Jews and Arabs.

Now, 60 years, three full-scale wars and two bloody Palestinian uprisings later, the two-state formula remains unresolved.

But Israeli historian Tom Segev sees the process moving glacially in the direction of a settlement.

Once Palestinians refused to talk to Israelis, Israel refused to consider a Palestinian state and Palestinians rejected Israel, Segev wrote in the Haaretz daily newspaper. "All that is behind us. Most Israelis and most Palestinians agree in principle to dividing the country between them."

The concept remains at the heart of this week's U.S.-sponsored peace conference, where Israel and the Palestinians again pledged efforts to set up the two states envisioned in 1947.