Israeli Government Rejects U.N. Mediator’s “peace Suggestions” in Seven-point Reply

The Israeli Government today flatly rejected the “peace suggestions” offered by Count Folke Bernadette, and notified the U.N. mediator in a seven-point reply that his plan cannot be accepted by the Jews Inasmuch as some of its provisions ignore the partition decision of the U.N. General Assembly.

The reply, signed by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok, was approved last night by the Israel State Council with 27 votes against four abstentions. The rejection of Bernadette’s “peace suggestions” does not mean that the Israeli Government is not inclined to continue peace discussions, if they are conducted on a basis of guaranteeing the sovereignty of Israel.

The Israeli reply emphasizes that the Jews agreed to the U.N. partition decision as a compromise and “an irreducible minimum” and will therefore not accept any further territorial revisions; the Israeli Government will not agree to any limitation of its sovereignty; Israel will consent to the creation of an economic union only with the Palestine Arabs, but with no other Arab state; there can be no question of any interference with the immigration policy of the Israeli Government; Israel will resist any imposition of Arab rule upon Jerusalem which should, under the U.N. decision, be internationalized.

In a statement issued after the release of the Israeli rejection, Bernadette declared that he was doing his duty in drawing up the “peace suggestions” and if his efforts do not succeed then perhaps another mediator will prove to be more successful. He added: “I have the feeling that the doors to further negotiations with both parties are still not closed.”

TEXT OF ISRAELI GOVERNMENT’S REJECTION OF MEDIATOR’S PROPOSAL

The full text of the Israeli Government’s rejection of Bernadette’s “peace” proposal follows:

“1. She Provisional Government of Israel noted with surprise that your suggestions appear to ignore the resolution of the General Assembly of November 29, 1947 which remains the only internationally valid adjudication on the question of the future government of Palestine.

“The Provisional Government also regrets to find that in formulating your suggestions, you do not appear to have taken into account fully the outstanding facts of the situation in Palestine, namely, the effective establishment of the sovereignty of the state of Israel within the area assigned to it in the Assembly’s resolution, and other territorial changes which resulted from the repulse of the attack launched against Israel by Palestinian Arabs and by the neighboring Arab states.

“2. The. Provisional Government of Israel begs to recall that the Jewish people accepted the settlement laid down in the General Assembly’s resolution as a compromise entailing heavy sacrifices on its part, and the territory assigned to the Jewish state as an irreducible minimum. It is indeed the conviction of the Provisional Government of Israel that the territorial provisions affecting the Jewish state now stand in need of improvement, in view both of the perils revealed by Arab aggression to the safety and integrity of Israel and of the results achieved by Israel in repelling this aggression. In this connection, the Provisional Government of Israel desires to point out that the territorial settlement laid down in the resolution was based on partition of Western Palestine between the Jewish people and the Arab population of Palestine. Inclusion of the Arab portion of Palestine in the territory of one of the neighboring Arab states would fundamentally change the context of the boundary problem.

NO POLICY CAN BE IMPOSED WHICH ENCROACHES ON ISRAEL’S SOVEREIGNTY

“3. The Provisional Government of Israel cannot agree to any encroachment upon or limitation of the free sovereignty of the people of Israel in its independent state. While it is the basic aim and policy of Israel to establish relations of peace and amity with her neighbors on the basis of closest possible collaboration in all fields, international arrangements which may be necessary to give effect to this policy cannot be imposed upon Israel, but can only be entered into as a result of an agreement negotiated between the interested parties as free and sovereign states.

“4. The Provisional Government of Israel would be ready to accept the provisions concerning Economic Union as formulated in the Assembly’s resolution if all their, basic premises were to materialize. This is not, however, the eventuality envisaged in your suggestions. The partner state whom the Israelis are invited to join in a Union is both in its political identity and in its geographical dimensions wholly different from the Arab state provided for in the resolution. Jewish consent to Economic Union in the context of the resolution cannot therefore be binding in the new situation. It must now be left to the free and unfettered discretion of the Government of Israel in the exercise of its sovereign rights to determine what arrangements should govern Israel’s relations with her neighbor or neighbors in the field of economic cooperation.

IMMIGRATION TO BE DECIDED BY ISRAEL ALONE

“5. The Provisional Government of Israel must be particularly emphatic in its opposition to any infringement of Israel’s independence and sovereignty as regards her immigration policy. Complete and unqualified freedom to determine the size and composition of Jewish immigration was the very essence of the Jewish claim to statehood. Recognition of the moral validity and the practical urgency of that claim in connection with the issue of immigration lay at the roots of its acceptance by the international world. There can be no question of any Israeli Government accepting the slightest derogation in favor of any Joint or international body from Israel’s sovereignty as regards control of her immigration policy.

“6. The Provisional Government of Israel was deeply wounded by your suggestion concerning the future of the City of Jerusalem, which it regards as disastrous. The idea that the relegation of Jerusalem to Arab rule might form part of a peaceful settlement could be conceived only in utter disregard of history and of the fundamental facts of the problem, which are:

“a) The association of Judaism with the Holy City;

“b) The unique place occupied by Jerusalem in Jewish history and present-day Jewish life;

“c) Jewish inhabitants constituted a two-thirds majority in the City before the commencement of Arab aggression and this proportion has greatly increased since then as a cult of Arab evacuation;

“d) The whole of Jerusalem with only a few minor exceptions is now in Jewish;

“e) And not least the fact that after; an exhaustive study of the problem and as a result of the overwhelming consensus of Christian opinion in its midst, the General Assembly resolved that Jerusalem be placed under an international regime.

“The Provisional Government of Israel must make it clear that the Jewish people in the state of Israel and the Jews of Jerusalem will never acquiesce in the imposition of Arab domination over Jerusalem, no matter what formal municipal autonomy and what right of access to Holy Places the Jews of Jerusalem might be allowed to enjoy. They will resist any such imposition with all the force at their command. The Provisional Government of Israel regrets having to say that your startling suggestion regarding Jerusalem, by encouraging false Arab hopes and wounding Jewish feeling, is likely to achieve the reverse of the pacifying effect which you undoubtedly bad in mind.

“7. The Provisional Government of Israel does not find it necessary at this stage to comment upon the other points raised in your suggestions as it hopes that examination of its present observations on the major aspects of the scheme for a settlement tentatively outlined by you may cause you to reconsider your whole approach to the problem.”

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