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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
29 November 1948

Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York

Press Release PAL/386
29 November 1948


(The following has been received at UN Headquarters from the UN Press Officer
in Haifa, relayed through the United Nations in Paris.)

Direct Arab-Jewish negotiations aimed at bringing about a complete and effective cease-fire for Jerusalem, began yesterday (28 November) in the Holy City under the auspices of the United Nations.

At the invitation and in the presence of UN Observers and of the Security Council's Truce Commission, the meeting was held at noon GMT at the Government House in the neutralized area between Arab commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Abdullah El Tel and Israeli commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Moshe Dayan.

Excellent progress is reported to have been made and it is expected that a complete and sincere cease-fire arrangement for the entire Jerusalem area will be reached in the near future.

Meanwhile, the arrest of two UN Observers and one enlisted man by Israeli forces on 9 November has been termed by the Chief of Staff as "a flagrant violation of the truce." In a decision released yesterday (28 November) the Chief of Staff stated that "despite both their published assurances and the resolution adopted by the Security Council on October 19, Israeli authorities appear to sanction the discourteous, obstructive treatment accorded United Nations military observers by members of the Israeli forces."

The decision points out in this connection that the Israeli Government in letters on 1 and 7 November, promised that observers would be treated "as respected guests and honorable representatives of the United Nations and that the maximum effort would be expended to facilitate their mission" and that despite these assurances there have since occurred numerous instances wherein the observers were obstructed and discourteously treated by members of Israeli forces.

Concerning the specific incident of 9 November, the decision reveals that the observers involved were Lieutenant-Commander Samuel Libbard, USN, Adjutant Joseph Van Wassenhove of the Belgian Army, and Pfc. Bernard Bailey, USAF. The three were enroute with Israeli Liaison Officers in the Gaza area when they witnessed a Jewish attack on a police station in Irak Suweidan. The observers demanded a halt in order to observe the developments by the liaison officers refused and departed saying they would not remain because they did not want to be killed. Jewish Military Police arrived at the spot 45 minutes later, arrested the three observers and took them to a nearby village where they were kept under guard until finally taken to Tel Aviv where they were released at UN offices.

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