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Department of Public Information (DPI)
3 December 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/395
3 December 1948
UN OBSERVER'S STORY ON JERUSALEM CEASE FIRE
(The following has been received at UN Headquarters from the UN Press Officer in Haifa.)
The United Nations observer who brought Jews and Arabs together in a successful cease-fire agreement for Jerusalem gave the following account of his meeting with the two parties:
"It's all in a day's work," Colonel R. T. Carleson, senior U.N. observer in Jerusalem, told a UN press officer here. "We were all just fed up by this nonsense of shooting and shooting and shooting without any purpose," the US Army officer said. "So I tried to put an end to it. That's all there is to it."
Colonel Carleson explained that it was particularly difficult to prevent breaches of the UN-imposed truce in Jerusalem, where in many places the lines were so close together that the opposing troops literally threw stones at each other.
"Finally, I put it up to the Arab commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Abdullah el Tel, and the Israeli commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Moshe Dayan, that this sort of thing can't go on indefinitely. They agreed to a meeting in my presence in order to talk things over," Colonel Carleson said.
Describing the first meeting at Government House in a neutral area of Jerusalem after a week of preparations, Colonel Carleson related:
"The Jewish and Arab commanders arrived on the morning of 28 November via different roads, each from his side of the front and each escorted by United Nations observers. Representatives of the three Truce Commission countries (Belgium, France, and the United States) and I were already waiting at Government House, the former residence of the British High Commissioner.
"When they arrived, the Jews and the Arabs were taken to two different waiting rooms, which flank a huge dining room. We served them tea and coffee in those separate rooms and then, after they had relaxed a bit, we took them into the dining room, which was specially decorated for the meeting with big United nations flags covering the walls.
"The Jewish delegation entered first from one side and then the Arabs from the other, both escorted again by observers.
"When all were seated, I made a few introductory remarks, pointing out that in my opinion both Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem need peace and really want peace and that there was no good reason why they shouldn't have peace. Thereafter, talks on specific points of the agreement began."
Asked whether he thought that the two groups of opposing soldiers felt uncomfortable about the direct meeting, Colonel Carleson remarked: "Well, it was perhaps a bit stiff in the beginning. But they soon thawed out and then the talks were quite friendly and at ease."
Both of the two meeting which resulted in the cease-fire, Colonel Carleson said, were conducted in the English language, since both commanders had a perfect command of that tongue. The first conference, he said, went over the entire ground of complex questions in a general way and ended in a most optimistic atmosphere with an agreement to meet again as soon as possible to bring negotiations to a conclusion.
The second meeting, Colonel Carleson said, was held less than 48 hours later on the morning of 1 December at the same place with the same protocol. At this second meeting, he said, the atmosphere was much more relaxed from the very beginning and a complete agreement to cease-fire was reached after four-and-one-half hours of intense discussion.
All those present at the conference felt the significance of the fact that the agreement had been reached and signed at Government House in the neutralized area, established by the United Nations in its effort to pacify an increasing area of the Holy City. Thus, the area which already signified one United Nations effort toward peace became the site of yet another success toward the same goal.
"The peace meeting ended with smiles and handshakes," Colonel Carleson declared, adding, "I can't help hoping that those smiles and handshakes will usher in a period of badly-needed peace for the Holy City."
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