Question of Palestine home
1 October 1948
CABLEGRAM DATED 30 SEPTEMBER 1948 FROM RALPH BUNCHE
TO THE SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNING TRUCE SUPERVISION
For President Security Council:
“One. The assassinations of Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot have thrown a tragic light on an increasingly serious situation in Palestine as regards the authority, prestige and even the safety of the personnel engaged in the truce supervision work.
Two. During the truce ordered by the Security Council in its resolution of 15 July 1948 (Document/S/902), there has been a disturbing tendency on the part of both Arabs and Jews to withhold co-operation from the truce supervision organization and to place obstacles in the way of its effective operation.
Three. The following may be cited as illustrative of current practice and attitudes which greatly hamper the conduct of the truce supervision: A) Requiring advance clearance of twenty-four hours or longer for flights of United Nations aircraft, all of which are painted white with highly visible United Nations markings; B) Imposing conditions for access of United Nations observers to airfields or to be stationed there, which in practice have proved tantamount to refusal of access; C) Refusal to allow observers free access to certain ports and strategic areas; D) Reluctance and delay in extending essential co-operation to observers engaged in investigations of specific incidents, particularly as regards witnesses and vital testimony; E) Failure to implement, by issue of necessary orders to commanders in the field, agreements reached at the governmental level through the good offices of the mediator and observers.
Four. The evidences of disregard for the authority of the United Nations, its personnel, credentials flag and markings on vehicles, find most serious reflection in actual assaults upon truce supervision personnel. To date, six lives have been lost in the truce supervision work including that of the mediator himself, and seven men have been wounded. The unarmed United Nations personnel engaged in this work and their aircraft and vehicles have been frequently subjected to sniper and other types of fire, particularly in the Jerusalem area, and on two recent occasions individual observers have been waylaid and have had their cars and personal funds taken from them at gun-point. There is little evidence that up to now the authorities on either side have regarded incidents involving attacks on United Nations personnel as demanding any extraordinary effort toward apprehending the disciplining the guilty individuals. That the truce supervision personnel, civilian and military alike, all of whom are unarmed, carry on their hazardous work under these circumstances is eloquent testimony to their high sense of duty.
Five. The current attitudes of both parties toward the truce supervision involve a serious tendency to disregard the provisions of the resolution of the Security Council of 29 May (document S/801) and 15 July, (document S/902). The resolution of 29 May quote called upon all concerned to give the greatest possible assistance to the United Nations mediator unquote while the resolution of 15 July quote calls upon all government and authorities concerned to continue to co-operate with the mediator with a view to the maintenance of peace in Palestine in conformity with the resolution adopted by the Security Council of 29 May 1948 unquote.
Six. There can be little doubt that appropriate action by the Security Council at this time would be helpful to the effort to ensure the maintenance and the effective supervision of the truce in Palestine. In this regard it might well be called to the attention of the disputing parties that the Security Council resolutions of 15 July and 19 August (documents S/902 and S/983) remain firm, and that all of the obligations on the parties therein set forth with regard to the maintenance of truce in Palestine are to be fully discharged.
Seven. In particular it would seem desirable to give special emphasis to the following obligations and liabilities of the parties with regard to the Truce Supervision; A) The obligation to allow duly accredited United Nations observers and other truce supervision personnel bearing proper credentials, on official notification
ready access to all places where their duties require them to go including airfields, ports, truce lines and strategic points and areas; B) The obligation to facilitate the freedom of movement of truce supervision personnel and transport by alleviation of burdensome flight clearance restrictions on United Nations aircraft now in effect, and by assurance of safeconduct for all United Nations and other means of transport; C) The obligation to co-operate fully with the truce supervisor personnel in their conduct of investigations and incidents involving alleged breaches of the truce, including the making available of witnesses, testimony and other evidence on request; D) The obligation to implement fully by appropriate and prompt instructions to the commanders in the field all agreements entered into through the good offices of the mediator or his representatives; E) The obligation of each party to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety and safeconduct of the truce supervision personnel and the representatives of the mediator, their aircraft and vehicles, while in territory under its control; F) The liability of each party for any assault upon or other aggressive act against the truce supervision personnel or the representatives of the mediator in territory under its control, including the obligation to make every effort to apprehend and promptly punish the guilty.
Eight. Since the question of reparations for injuries incurred in the service of the United Nations is now under consideration by the General Assembly it has not been included among the obligations and liabilities suggested in the preceding paragraph.