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

Press Release PAL/290
17 September 1948


Count Folke Bernadotte, President of the Swedish Red Cross, was unanimously appointed United Nations Mediator for Palestine on 20 May by the representatives of the Permanent Members of the Security Council (China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States), sitting as a committee of the General
Assembly in accordance with the Assembly resolution of 14 May.

Count Bernadotte's functions as Mediator, as specified in the General Assembly resolution of 14 May, were:

First, "to use his good offices with the local and community authorities in Palestine to arrange for the operation of common services necessary to the safety and well-being of the population of Palestine; to assure the protection of the
Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in Palestine; to assure the protection of the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in Palestine, and to promote a peaceful adjustment of Palestine."

Second, to cooperate with the Security Council's Truce Commission for Palestine.

Third, "to invite, as seems to him advisable, with a view to the promotion of the welfare of the inhabitants of Palestine, the assistance and cooperation of appropriate specialized agencies of the United Nations such as the World Health Organization, of the International Red Cross, and of other governmental or non-governmental organizations of a humanitarian and non-political character."

He was instructed to render "progress reports" monthly, or more frequently if necessary, to the Security Council and to the Secretary-General, and to conform in his activities with the provisions of the resolution under which he was appointed, and with such instructions as the Assembly or the Security Council might issue.

The resolution also provided that the Mediator was to receive an "emolument" of $26,000, a salary equal to that paid to the President of the International Court of Justice, and that he was to be given the necessary staff to carry out his duties.

On 21 May Count Bernadotte telephoned Secretary-General Trygve Lie his acceptance of the post of Mediator. The Secretary-General, in reply, expressed pleasure at the Count's acceptance of "this challenging mission."

Count Bernadotte then went directly to the Middle East and established headquarters at Rhodes.

The first Palestine truce was negotiated by the Mediator on the basis of the Security Council's 29 May cease-fire resolution. It went into effect on 11 June, and lasted for four weeks until 9 July.

The resolution provided that during the four-week period the parties were to cease "all acts of armed force" and undertake not to introduce fighting personnel or war materials into Palestine and its neighbor states. They also were to take every possible precaution to protect the Holy Places and the City of Jerusalem, including access to shrines for all those with an established right to visit them. The Mediator was to supervise observance of the truce, with the aid of military observers. He also was to make weekly reports to the Security Council, and as soon as the cease-fire went into force, he was to "make contact with all parties" with a view to carrying out his functions under the original Assembly resolution.

On 28 June, the Mediator submitted suggestions to the Arabs and Jews, aimed at laying a basis for a permanent settlement of the Palestine problem, under his function of using his good offices to "promote a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine."

The Mediator told newspaper men at his Rhodes headquarters at that time that the suggestions were simply a framework for possible discussions, nothing "marvelous" or even" ingenious." "Many commissions have worked on the (Palestine) problem," he said, "and it is difficult to develop new thoughts regarding it. We have done our best. That is all I can say."

The suggestions, however, were rejected by both parties.

On 5 July the Mediator told the Security Council that, "on the whole, the truce has worked well." There had been some complaints of truce violation from both sides, but "all fighting on a major scale has been stopped ... much bloodshed and destruction have been avoided, and many lives spared." He urged an extension of the truce, so that mediation efforts could continue, and on 7 July the Security Council adopted a resolution appealing to the parties to accept in principle the prolongation of the cease-fire. Israel agreed, but the Arabs did not, contending that the truce was to the advantage of the Jews.

The Mediator came to Lake Success on 12 July to appear before the Security Council in person to report on the Palestine situation, and to urge extension of the truce. Then, on 15 July, the Council adopted a new, and stronger, cease-fire order, which was agreed to by both Arabs and Jews.

The resolution called on the parties to cooperate with the Mediator in the maintenance of peace in Palestine, in conformity with the earlier 29 May resolution and stated that this second truce was to remain in force, subject to further decision by the Council or the General Assembly, "until a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine is reached."

The Mediator was instructed to continue his efforts toward the demilitarization of Jerusalem, without prejudice to the future political status of the City, and to supervise observance of the truce. The parties were urged to continue conversations with the Mediator "in a spirit of conciliation and mutual concession" to settle peacefully all points at issue between them.

The Mediator left for Palestine again on 17 July, and began a round of visits to Arab and Jewish leaders throughout the Middle East to discuss such matters as the demilitarization of Jerusalem, the problem of the estimated 300,000 Arab refugees in and around Palestine, and truce observance.

On 12 August, he left for Sweden to attend an International Red Cross conference, returning to Rhodes on 3 September. He resumed his talks with Arab and Jewish leaders, and told a press conference in Tel Aviv on 9 September that he thought Palestine was nearer to peace than at the beginning of the truce.

This week, the finishing touches were put on his report to the Secretary-General, to be presented to the General Assembly next week in Paris. The completed document arrived in Paris today almost simultaneously with the news of the Mediator's assassination.

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A nephew of King Gustav of Sweden, Count Bernadotte was born in Stockholm on 2 January, 1895. His father, Prince Oscar, son of King Oscar II and a brother of King Gustav, renounced his rights to the throne when he married Ebba Henriette Munck of Fulkila, a daughter of an old Swedish noble -- but non-royal -- family.

After completing his early education, Count Bernadotte attended and was graduated from the officers' military training school of Karlberg. In 1928, he married an American, Estelle Romaine Manville, of Pleasantville, New York, whose father, H. Edward Manville, headed the Johns-Mansville Asbestos Co. In 1933, he represented his country at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition; and during the New York World's Fair in 1939-40, he acted as Commissioner General of the Swedish Pavilion.

As vice-chairman of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II, Count Bernadotte aided in the exchange of disabled British and German war prisoners, a service described by Britain's then Foreign Minister Anthony Eden as "a major humanitarian effort." An estimated 20,000 persons were saved from prison by his direct intervention.

In April 1945, Count Bernadotte played a brief, spectacular role as intermediary between Heinrich Himmler and the United Kingdom and the United States in what was the Nazis' most definite (although unsuccessful) bid for peace up to that time.

Countess Bernadotte worked with her husband in many of his philanthropic activities. While he headed the Swedish Boy Scouts, she headed the Swedish Girl Scouts. They had four sons, two of whom survive, Ockie, aged 16, and Bertile, aged 12.

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