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

Press Release PAL/234
2 August 1948

MEDIATOR DISCUSSES JERUSALEM AND REFUGEES AT PRESS CONFERENCE

(The following was received at UN Headquarters from the Press Officer with
the UN Mediator on Palestine, Rhodes.)


At a press conference held on Rhodes on Saturday (31 July), Count Folke Bernadotte, UN Mediator, outlined the situation with respect to two major current pending problems, namely: the demilitarization of Jerusalem and refugees.

Regarding Jerusalem, Count Bernadotte is awaiting an official reply from Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, to the inquiry sent several days ago regarding the Arab position with respect to the principle of demilitarization. When this reply is received the Mediator will cable the report on Jerusalem's demilitarization to the Security Council.

The sole question on which the Mediator now wants an answer is whether both parties agree in principle to demilitarization with all details to be worked out from scratch. The present situation therefore is unrelated to the rather detailed paper sent to Azzam Pasha, and Moshe Shertok, Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Israel, some time ago and which both rejected. This was merely intended as a working paper and had nothing resembling the status of proposals or a plan.

With regard to refugees, Count Bernadotte said that this was an extremely important matter which he had discussed with Azzam Pasha last week on a visit to Beirut.

Two-hundred-fifty to three-hundred thousand Arab refugees are involved in two categories: 1) Palestine Arabs who were forced to leave their homes because of the fighting but who are still in Palestine; and 2) displaced persons who fled their Palestine homes into Arab countries.

Count Bernadotte said that he also discussed refugee problems with Mr. Shertok last week and is now awaiting a reply from the Israeli Government to specify questions concerning the alleviation of the refugee problem.

Sir Raphael Cilento, Director of the UN Social Activities division, arrived at Rhodes Saturday and participated briefly in the press conference with the Mediator. Sir Raphael said that he hopes to have a plan within a week for coping with the refugee problems including that of immediate care, epidemic prevention and possible repatriation and resettlement.

Sir Raphael will accompany the Mediator on a trip to the Jewish and Arab capitals.

Dr. Ralph Bunche, personal representative of the UN Secretary-General, departed from Rhodes for New York on Sunday (1 August) in an urgent attempt to secure action on much needed personnel and equipment, particularly that requested from the United States Government. Count Bernadotte said that Dr. Bunche would try to explain the situation and the need. The Mediator pointed out that the United States had thus far supplied only 30 of the 125 observers requested an agreed upon. The French have sent 50 observers and the Belgians 47. He said that 15 C-47 planes were requested and four were received; 8 Beechcraft were requested and none was received; 2 heliocopters were requested and none was received; and 150 jeeps were requested and 30 were received.

The Mediator said that "the delay in receiving this personnel and equipment has made it quite difficult for me to supervise the truce." He pointed out the difficulty in investigating alleged incidents several days after they happen. To be effective, he said, investigation must be immediate.

Count Bernadotte has decided to assign five chartered British Consul planes to courier and transport service outside Palestine. The planes will be based at Beirut or another Arab country. Their limited use is necessitated because of the British nationality of the crews, but the need is sufficiently great to warrant putting them into immediate service. All parties are being notified of this decision and of the purposes for which the planes are to be used.

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