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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
30 August 1948
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York

Press Release PAL/266
30 August 1948
RADIO INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL LUNDSTROM

(The following is text of a radio interview in Cairo with General Aage Lundstrom, Chief of Staff
of the UN Mediator on Palestine. The interview was broadcast shortwave to UN Headquarters
in Lake Success where it was transcribed for rebroadcast over the radio facilities of the UN).

TALK BY GENERAL LUNDSTROM FROM CAIRO, 12 NOON to 1 P.M.
29 August 1948


Announcer:

We are speaking to you from Cairo, Egypt. General Aage Lundstrom of the Royal Swedish Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Military Observers in Palestine, and Count Bernadotte's personal representative, has agreed to give our listeners a short description of his activities in the service of the United Nations. General Lundstrom has just held a meeting with Egyptian authorities regarding the difficult situation in Jerusalem. He is returning to his Haifa headquarters shortly. General Lundstrom, would you tell us something about your work and about the organization you are commanding?


General Lundstrom:

I suppose that most of the listeners know that the United Nations is exerting special efforts in order to find a peaceful solution to the very difficult problem of Palestine. The United Nations Security Council at the suggestion of the Mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, has twice succeeded in bringing about a truce in the war in Palestine between the Jews and the Arabs. The second truce is an enforced truce. This means that the parties may not break it and that it can only be ended by decision of the Security Council. Now the Security Council has established a definite procedure for this truce. My task here is to supervise this procedure and to assure compliance with it. My task is also to aid in the settlement of disputes of a military character which may arise between the parties as well as to try to keep the parties from breaking the truce or provoking the other party to break it. I am receiving my orders directly from Count Bernadotte and I have 300 officers at my disposal to supervise the truce, 125 Americans, 125 Frenchman and 50 Belgians. Besides this I have 10 Swedish officers and am getting 300 additional American, French and Belgian enlisted men. The observer organization consists of headquarters in Haifa and of a number of observer groups. These groups or teams are distributed in the different former combat areas in Palestine. They are equally distributed in Arab and Jewish territories. Three United States warships and a French convoy have been placed at my disposal to guard Middle East waters and coasts against possible truce violations. The rest of my staff consists of political advisors, legal experts, administrative officers and so on.


Announcer:

And what has this organization achieved up to now, General?


General Lundstrom:

Our most important job has been to establish a cease-fire and to stabilize the front lines. Because of this our observers in the various areas where fighting has occurred have had to work in the so-called no-man' s land zones in order to fix the dividing lines between the opposing parties and to get them to accept these lines. When it has been impossible to get both sides to agree, the observers have had to fix the lines themselves and to ask the parties to respect these lines. Because the truce became effective on the evening of July 18th -- when observers were not yet at their posts -- it has often been very difficult to get the parties to reach an agreement on lines. When it has been possible to set an agreement on the truce lines of a given area, that area has almost always remained calm. In certain areas, however, the work of the observers is somewhat dangerous since the opposing parties are what we would call "trigger happy." We have succeeded, however, in establishing truce lines in about 30 of the 400 kilometers of lines in Palestine. The observers in the harbors, airports and other points are able to control immigration and prevent the import of war material. This must be done because one of the conditions laid down by the truce is that no party may strengthen its military position during the truce. As you know, two of my most skillful and experienced observers Lt. Col. Queru and Capt. Jeannel, both from France, were killed in Gaza yesterday. They died serving the cause of peace when they were about to hold discussions with the Egyptians concerning several alleged violations of the truce. It was a great shock to me and the circumstances under which they died are now the object of a special investigation by a United Nations team. I believe that you will perceive that the observers have a job which is difficult and certainly not lacking risks.


Announcer:

And how are the disputes between the parties settled, Sir?


General Lundstrom:


The local observers charged with trying to solve the different problems within their areas. Should this prove impossible, the question must be submitted to Truce Headquarters. Here I have a number of special investigation teams at my disposal consisting of high American, French and Belgian officers. These teams are then sent to the areas of conflict in order to try to get an agreement between the parties. Of course, I am also intervening personally either by giving my points of view at meetings with high military and political leaders of both sides and giving decisions. If an agreement is not reached by this means, the question is forwarded to the Central Truce Supervision Board of which I am Chairman. The other Board members are the Chiefs of the American, French and Belgian contingents as well as the political advisors and legal experts. When the Board makes a decision, it is sent to the parties concerned and is reported to Count Bernadotte. Sometimes the Board rulings may submitted to the Security Council for further action.


Announcer:

It would seem to me that this would require a lot of travelling, General.


General Lundstrom:

You are quite rights. This travelling is done either in jeeps or by plane. Although the distances are not great in the Middle East, trips take a long time, especially when one has to cross the lines where minefields and other fortifications are danger points. Because of this we try to use the planes as often as possible. During this month, for example, I have travelled more than 8,000 kilometers in 35 hours by air.


Announcer:

Tell me, General, do the parties respect or accept the decisions made by the United Nations representatives?


General Lundstrom:

As a general rule they do, except in Jerusalem. Of course, there are minor incidents from time to time even in the quiet sectors of the lines. This is due to the fact that the general situation is what I would call a bit irritating. This irritation is particularly true of Jerusalem where the front lines crisscross the city. There the Arabs are in the Old City with its Holy Places and ancient buildings and the Jews are in the new city. I am sorry to say that in Jerusalem there has been some fighting especially during the night. Damage to the Holy Places has been slight, fortunately, because the artillery of both sides is not very heavy at present. At the moment Count Bernadotte is putting all energy into an effort to demilitarize Jerusalem. This is a very complicated problem, however, that would probably require a rather large international police force. Among other irritation areas, if I may call them so, I should like to mention the corridor leading eastward from the coast of Jerusalem and encloses the wall between Tel-Aviv and the Holy City. This road is in Jewish hands except for ten kilometers which are in the hands of the Arab Legion. In order to bring food to the Jewish part of Jerusalem the United Nations observers daily have to guide convoys through the lines. At the same time they have to make certain that no war material is being transported by the convoys.


Announcer:

And why do you think, General, that hostilities still continue in Jerusalem?


General Lundstrom:

Well, there are many reasons. One is that it is impossible to establish a sufficiently wide no-man's land between the buildings of the city. There has always been ample room for snipers in Jerusalem and they are a constant source of danger. In spite of the great number of observers we have sent to Jerusalem, it is almost impossible to locate these snipers. Furthermore, Jerusalem concentrates in itself all the problems of Palestine. The city is holy to the Jews as well as to the Arabs. As a result new incidents arise just as soon as our observers have been able to settle the old incidents. In this connection I want to give my unconditional support to the observers in Jerusalem. They are taking the greatest risks in a self-sacrificing and thankless job amid constant fire from snipers, mortars and even artillery. The United Nations, however, is doing its utmost to improve the situation in Jerusalem, well aware as we are of the fact that the entire Palestine question would probably improve if we could bring peace to the Holy City.


Announcer:

Now is there any other point you would like to bring up, General?


General Lundstrom:

I would like to say that for the United Nations the Palestine problem is a basic one. As servants of the United Nations we work on the basis of absolute neutrality while handling the conflicting interests which come our way -- a neutrality above suspicion. The strength of the United Nations rests on this principle and this principle is the greatest weapon of the United Nations in its fight for peace.


Announcer:

Thank you, General Lundstrom. You have just heard an interview with General Aage Lundstrom, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Mediator for Palestine. This broadcast came to you from Cairo, Egypt, under the auspices of the Radio division of the United Nations through the facilities of the Egyptian Broadcasting Station.

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