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Department of Public Information (DPI)
27 September 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/313
27 September 1948
STATEMENT BY DR. RALPH BUNCHE AT RHODES
(The following is a text of a statement by Dr. Ralph Bunche, head of the UN Mission in Palestine,
broadcast today from Rhodes and picked up here by the UN short wave facilities.)
I am certain that I express the views of every member of the late Mediator's staff, military and civilian alike, when I say that our continuing tribute to Count Bernadotte is to do our utmost to carry on the work for which he laid down his life. We have lost an irreplaceable leader, a man of greatest good will, but his inspiration remains with us.
The threats and ruthless violence of criminal terrorist bands in Palestine will not be permitted to frustrate the determination of the United Nations to achieve a peaceful adjustment of the Palestine situation.
There was irony as well as tragedy in Jerusalem on that fateful day on September 17 when Jewish terrorists struck down those two gallant servants of peace. Just twenty-four hours before, Count Bernadotte had signed his report to the United Nations, which had accepted without question the existence of the State of Israel and which had strongly urged that the truce in Palestine must be promptly superseded by a permanent settlement. After the assault, the bodies of the two victims laid in state during the night in the very room of the Y.M.C.A. in Jerusalem in which UNSCOP, which first put the indorsement of the United Nations on a Jewish state in Palestine, had held its opening meeting.
The immediate pre-occupation of the United Nations Mission in Palestine, following the assassination, has been to ensure continuity in the policies which had been formulated by the late Mediator to maintain the truce and the truce supervision machinery, and to push ahead full speed with the refugee program. This program becomes more urgent than ever in view of the imminence of the rains in Palestine and the fact that in some sections of the country the nip of approaching winter is already in the air.
On my trip to Jerusalem to Haifa last Wednesday, I saw at Ramallah and Nablus many thousands of pitiful, homeless victims of the hostilities, their shelter consisting of olive trees -- many of them without possessions; their food, what little there was, came from no one knew where.
The assassination of Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot was a tremendous shock to Palestine as it was to the world at large. Along and behind the fighting lines tension increased. Since that day there have been two serious incidents involving the loss of seven innocent lives -- the massacre by armed Arab civilians of 4 civilians in a Jewish convoy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the shooting down of an Arab airways civilian plane on a regular commercial flight by Jewish fighter planes, costing the lives of 3 civilian passengers. But if it had been thought that the assassination of Count Bernadotte would end the truce, shatter the truce supervision organization, and terminate the mediation efforts, then this cowardly murder was indeed futile and senseless. The truce in Palestine endures, the truce supervision organization continues to function as effectively as ever and with the morale of its personnel unshaken.
The question of the Palestine settlement is on the agenda of the Third Session of the General Assembly, and the report of the Mediator is the key document on that issue before the Members of the United Nations. That report and the conclusions of the Mediator set forth in it have already received strong endorsement from some Members of the United Nations including France, the United Kingdom and the United States. I am convinced that the time is ripe for a settlement of the Palestine dispute and that the conclusions in Part I of the Mediator report will provide the most sound and practical means of achieving this end.
I endorse those conclusions in their entirety and without qualification. I earnestly hope that the General Assembly will at an early stage in its deliberations take that decisive action which alone can assure that Count Bernadotte's life and the lives of the five other gallant men who have fallen in Palestine in the service of the United Nations will not have been wasted.
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