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

Press Release PAL/236
5 August 1948


For President of the Security Council:

"The resolution on the Palestine Question adopted at the three hundred and thirty-eighth meeting of the Security Council on 15 July 1948 reiterated the appeal to the parties contained in the last paragraph of its resolution of 22 May and urges upon the parties that they continue conversations with the Mediator in a spirit of conciliation and mutual concession in order that all points under dispute may be settled peacefully.

"One of the points under dispute which is particularly acute in terms of human suffering is the number of persons -- extremely large for a population the size of Palestine -- who have been displaced from their normal places of abode and their communities by the conflict, even thought its duration has been short. The vast majority of these displaced persons are Arabs.

"In my view, taking into consideration all the circumstances, all of these refugees should be assured of the right to return to their homes, if they desire to do so. I recognize, however, that the strife in Palestine has created conditions which might well make it impracticable, for security and other reasons, the return of all or the preponderance of these innocent victims of a needless conflict. Nor am I able to say with any degree of accuracy, at the moment, how many of these persons may wish to return before peace is permanently restored to Palestine.

"With these considerations in mind, and following an exploratory conversation on the matter with Mr. Shertok on the 28th of July at Tel Aviv, I submitted to Mr. Shertok by cable from Rhodes on the same date the following proposal: 'The resolution of the Security Council of 15 July urges the parties to continue their conversations with the Mediator in a spirit of conciliation and mutual concession in order that all points under dispute may be settled peacefully.' As indicated in my conversation with Mr. Shertok in Tel Aviv on 26 July, one of the points under dispute is the return to their homes in Jewish controlled area of Palestine of Arab refugees who fled because of war conditions.

"I am deeply concerned with the plight of some three hundred thousand Arab refugees scattered in Arab countries and Arab controlled areas of Palestine. Their suffering will be intensified when winter comes. Most of them left practically all their possessions behind and have no means at their disposal.

"I recognize the basis for the misgivings which the Provisional Government might have with regard to the return of large numbers of these refugees during the war. These misgivings derive from security as well as economic and political considerations. But I must point out that the existing truce in Palestine is of indefinite duration and that the Security Council resolution has ordered the governments and authorities concerned to desist from further military action.

"For humanitarian reasons and because I consider the principle sound and the danger to Jewish security slight, I make the following proposals:
"Following is substance of Jewish reply on Arab refugees received 1 August.
"Notwithstanding this reply, having in mind the real meaning of the Truce which is that fighting is not be resumed in Palestine and in the interest of this vast number of peoples who are suffering and will suffer increasingly from dislocation, I am of the firm view that the right of the refugees to return to their homes at the earliest practicable date should be affirmed.

"I am now taking active steps to develop a program of action designed to give prompt aid to the refugee victims of this conflict and which will call upon all appropriate international organization and agencies for assistance. A full report on this aspect of my work will be submitted in due course.

Count Folke Bernadotte"

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