Question of Palestine home
28 July 1948
CABLEGRAMS FROM THE UNITED NATIONS MEDIATOR DATED 22 AND 27 JULY 1948
TO THE SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTAINING INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO
OBSERVERS AND PLANS OF ORGANIZATION OF TRUCE SUPERVISION
I. INSTRUCTIONS TO UNITED NATIONS OBSERVERS ENGAGED IN THE
SUPERVISION OF THE TRUCE IN PALESTINE
The Role of the Observer.
(i) Primary function of observer is to supervise observance of terms of truce in area to which he is assigned. To discharge this function properly observer must be completely objective in his attitudes and judgements and must maintain a thorough neutrality as regards political issues in the Palestine situation. Fundamental objective of terms of truce is to ensure to fullest extent possible that no military advantage will accrue to either side as result of application of truce. Observer is entitled to demand that acts contrary to terms of truce be not committed or be rectified but has no power to enforce such demands and must rely largely upon his ability to settle disputes locally by direct approaches to local commanders and authorities and where possible by bringing the commanders and authorities together. It is responsibility of the observer to call promptly to attention of appropriate local commanders and authorities every act which in his opinion is contrary to letter and spirit of truce.
(ii) Observers acting on behalf and under orders of United Nations Mediator are official representatives of United Nations. They are under command of Mediator who is represented by a General Officer acting as his Chief of Staff in connection with truce supervision. This Chief of Staff is assisted by American, Belgian and French liaison officers of senior rank who will be assigned to Chief of Staff at truce supervision headquarters.
(iii) Truce applies to seven Arab States (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan and Yemen) and to all of Palestine.
(i) Each observer must become thoroughly familiar with (a) provisions of resolutions of Security Council of 29 May and 15 July 1948, (b) terms of truce, and (c) list of items banned for import as coming under heading ‘war materials’. (Copies of these documents are contained in the folder provided each observer).
(ii) Each observer will report daily as instructed and on forms prescribed. Reports should cover each incident in particular locality relating to application of truce and should include other information pertinent to function of Mediator.
(iii) Any failure to comply with conditions of truce on part of either party shall immediately be reported by observer. Report to extent possible shall fully explain each such failure and shall clearly fix responsibility therefor. Questions relating to disputed interpretations of terms of truce or their application shall be referred through chain of command to Chief of Staff.
(iv) Observer shall investigate and report on as instructed all complaints of alleged violations of truce occurring within area to which he is assigned.
(v) In dealing with local incidents observer shall make clear to parties concerned that full responsibility will be borne by them and by their Governments for failure to comply with ruling of observer in connection with actions and incidents relating to application of truce. Observer should exercise reasonable discretion in each instance in order to minimize unpleasant incidents and local friction.
(vi) Observer is entitled to inspect all military positions and installations and other premises which might reasonably be connected with application of truce as well as ships, aircraft and convoys. Purpose of such inspection shall be to ascertain that no activity is carried on in any such place which will result in any military advantage accruing to either side during truce.
(vii) Observers shall be entitled to request and receive from both parties armed protection for himself, his staff and material and safe conduct whenever necessary in discharge of his duties.
(viii) Observers assigned to coastal areas where landing of immigrants and war material can be expected shall maintain effective observation involving reconnaissance by air, land and sea and securing fullest possible information about any violations suspected or alleged of truce conditions. All fighting personnel which shall include persons identified as belonging to organized military units and all persons bearing arms shall be denied entry.
(ix) Men of military age (i.e., in the age group 18 to 45) among immigrants shall be permitted entry during truce only in such limited numbers as the Mediator in the exercise of his discretion may determine with a view to ensuring that no military advantage will accrue to either side. No men of military age shall be disembarked until they have been registered by local authorities in presence of United Nations Observers, given identity cards and their destinations, intended places of abode and occupations are clearly indicated and recorded. Men of military age thus gaining entry are not to be mobilized in armed forces and cannot participate in any military or para-military training activities. Such men are not to be assigned to particular area or areas which shall be approved by observers who shall periodically check on whereabouts and activities of such men.
(i) All observers will be provided with per diem advances at rate of $15 per day. Those funds are intended for defrayment of costs of meals, lodging, laundry and incidental expenses. Observers will not be paid second time for expenditures in these categories. However personnel forced by official duties to maintain accommodations in different locations simultaneously may claim for reimbursement for excess costs involved provided reasonable judgment is exercised in releasing accommodations and person in charge of administration at observer’s duty station is notified immediately. In no circumstances are dual accommodations to be held for more than two days.
(ii) Each observer will be provided with a pay card which will contain record of all per diem payments made to him. Pay-masters have been instructed that per diem payments are to be made to observers personnel only upon presentation of pay card.
(iii) Expenditures for purposes of official business not falling in categories outlined in paragraph (i) above (such as use of taxicabs when no other transportation is available or purchase of supplies when previously authorized by administrative officer) may be reimbursed upon submission of authenticated claim by observer together with receipts covering expenditure. Claims for expenditures for personal expenses paid on behalf of some one other than the payer will be honoured by United Nations.
(iv) Observers are not authorized to employ local personnel nor to purchase equipment for account of United Nations without prior authorization of chief administrative officer except in clearly demonstrated emergencies. When emergencies require such action without prior approval, the chief administrative officer must be notified at once.
(v) Any observer who is custodian of United Nations property is personally liable therefore and must return or account for property assigned to him prior to his departure to his regular duty station.
Rhodes, 20 July 1948
Count Folke Bernadotte
United Nations Mediator on Palestine
II. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SUPERVISION
OF THE TRUCE IN PALESTINE
1. Headquarters is established in Haifa.
2. One group of observers will be assigned to each Arab army and to each Jewish army group. Besides there will be one group of observers for the coast and ports and one for control of convoys between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
3. The commanding officer of each group will:
(a) secure detailed information about the army or army group to which he is assigned;
(b) assign observers to various units and to important crossroads, bridges, airfields, etc.;
(c) supplement the general instructions to observers with special instructions according to local requirements;
(d) ensure that observers are permanently stationed with military units or on sections of the front (generally two observers together);
(e) take decisions on questions referred to him by his observers and on any other questions within his competence which may arise;
(f) refer to headquarters in Haifa any questions which he is unable to solve himself;
(g) submit requests to headquarters in Haifa in respect of his requirements of observers, communications, transportation, etc.;
(h) until such time as his requirements have been fully met, maintain contact with headquarters in Haifa and with his observers by any means at his disposal (it may be necessary to make use of private vehicles, civilian telephone, telegraphic or radio communications, front check posts, etc.);
(i) submit at the earliest possible date to headquarters in Haifa a map showing the exact front line as it was at the commencement of the cease-fire, or, if this should prove impossible, at the time the observers first reached the spot;
(j) act according to his best judgment in any situation which arises.
4. The above rules should also be observed in the supervision of ports, convoys and the coast insofar as they are applicable.
5. Observers may be transferred as necessary from one group to another on orders from headquarters in Haifa. Commanding officers may also be replaced by officers of higher rank or greater seniority assigned to the same group.
III. ORGANIZATION OF THE SYSTEM OF OBSERVATION OF THE TRUCE
(i) Paragraph 7 of the resolution on the Palestine question adopted at the 338th meeting of the Security Council, on 15 July 1948, instructed the Mediator to supervise the observation of the truce; also to establish procedures for examining alleged breaches of the truce since 11 June 1948. In connection with the latter, the Mediator was authorized to deal with the breaches so far as it is within his capacity to do so by appropriate local action. Finally the Mediator was requested:
(a) to keep the Security Council currently informed concerning the operation of the truce, and
(b) when necessary, to take appropriate action.
(ii) The fact that the truce ordered under paragraph 9 of the resolution is to remain in force ‘until a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine is reached’ calls for a methodical organization of its operation. To that effect appropriate machinery for investigating and reporting violations of the truce should be set up. Below is a brief outline of a scheme covering both the supervision of the observation of that truce and the establishment of procedures for examining alleged breaches of the truce.
(i) Chief of Military Staff, Central Truce Supervision Board.
The system of observation will be administered on behalf of the Mediator by the Mediator’s Chief of Military Staff assisted by an Advisory Board to be known as the ‘Central Truce Supervision Board’. Particularly it will be the duty of the Chief of Military Staff to:
(a) organize a detailed plan for land, sea and air observation with the greatest possible dispatch;
(b) assign the observers to their posts and direct their activities;
(c) on the basis of field observations to define on a map the positions of the respective armed forces in the several fighting sectors at the beginning of the truce. Alterations of such positions should be only in connection with local agreements negotiated concerning no-man’s land. Questions of principle relating to the interpretation of the terms of the truce shall be referred to the Mediator for decision.
(ii) Composition and Functions of the Central Truce Supervision Board.
The Central Truce Supervision Board shall function under the chairmanship of the Chief of Military Staff and shall consist of one American, one Belgian and one French Senior Officer to be designated by the Mediator and the political advisor to the Chief of Military Staff. The Chief of Military Staff may designate a member of the Board to act as vice-chairman. The Central Truce Supervision Board shall advise the Chief of Military Staff on all questions relating to the administration of the truce.
(iii) Regional Truce Supervision Boards.
To the extent feasible the area affected by the truce will be divided into zones in each of which there will be a ‘Regional Truce Supervision Board’, the members of which will be designated by the Central Truce Supervision Board. Each regional board will be responsible to the Central Supervision Board for the system of observation to be established in that region.
Establishment of procedures for examining alleged breaches of the truce
(i) Requests by Governments for investigation of alleged breaches of the truce which have not been settled by observers on the spot shall be submitted to the Central Truce Supervision Board, which shall refer them for investigation and report to the appropriate Regional Truce Supervision Board, or to an observer or a special investigation team designated for this specific purpose.
(ii) As circumstances permit, each of the parties may appoint military experts to act as liaison officers with observers in the field, with Regional Truce Supervision Boards, or with the special investigation teams.
(iii) Investigations of alleged breaches shall be undertaken on the spot, shall include the hearing of witnesses and the collection of all available evidence and in general all practicable steps shall be taken toward the clarification and settlement of the incident. The special investigation teams and the Regional Truce Supervision Boards should normally indicate the measures which ought to be taken to preserve the respective rights of either party. The findings of such bodies shall be submitted to the central Truce Supervision Board.
Breaches of the Truce
It must be clearly understood by all personnel dealing with the supervision of the truce that the truce has been ordered by the United Nations Security Council for an indefinite duration and that breaches of the truce by one side do not release the other side from the obligation to comply with the Security Council order to refrain from military action. Breaches of the truce which cannot be rectified by the Truce Supervision organization will be promptly reported by the Mediator to the Security Council for appropriate action.
Rhodes, 23 July 1948
Count Folke Bernadotte