TEL AVIV (Aug. 5)
The Israeli Government today officially invited the Arab League states to sit down at a peace table and negotiate a settlement directly. The invitation to the Arab states was transmitted by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok to U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte at a meeting between the two here this afternoon.
An official version of the interview reported that Shertok declared: “I approach you as mediator officially on behalf of the Provisional Government of Israel with the request that you transmit to the belligerent powers an invitation to meet Israel’s Provisional Government for peace negotiations.”
The attitude toward Israel in the Arab countries themselves is undergoing a change, a reliable neutral source declared today, summing up the situation in the major Arab League states. The source, who stated that the Arab leaders are more reasonable now in their feelings toward the Jewish state, pointed to the fact that the Cairo newspapers reported the statement by King Abdullah of Tran Jordan yesterday to the effect that compromise with the Jews may be necessary. In addition, the Cairo French-language newspaper Egypt has quoted Arab leaders who also indicated that a compromise night be necessary.
U.N. personnel who have talked with Arab refugees dispersed throughout the Middle East reported today that universally the refugees have an overwhelming desire to return home. Most of them are simple peasants deprived of their livelihood and anxious to return to their fields as soon as possible. The majority do not care whether the Arab League states recognize Israel or not, they are willing to go home and recognize the authority of the Jewish government.
ISRAEL REMAINS NON-COMMITTAL ON DEMILITARIZATION OF JERUSALEM
During the course of the three-hour talk, Shertok told Bernadotte that Israel is not prepared to state whether it accepts the demilitarization of Jerusalem in principle, since the circumstanced under which the suggestion was originally made no Longer exist, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned.
Shertok also demanded that the mediator act swiftly on the Arab Legion’s refusal to permit the free flow of water to Jerusalem. Touching on the problem of the Arab refugees, the Israeli Minister said that his government does not agree to their return under the present conditions, but is prepared to consider individual cases on compassionate grounds. (See page 4 for Bernadotte’s objections to Shertok’s stand.)
After the Shertok-Bernadotte parley, the mediator’s press officer George Barnes told a press conference that “Bernadotte does not feel himself bound in the slightest by the November 29th partition decision, and it would be a shock to him to learn that Israel still sticks to this decision.” He pointed out that the subject under discussion was the demilitarization of Jerusalem, not its internationalization as visualized in the original U.N. partition decision. Barnes also stated that Bernadotte has no plan yet for demilitarizing the city, but is discussing the matter with both parties in an attempt to evolve such a plan.
Bernadotte, who left here for Haifa where he will spend the night, is flying to Rhodes tomorrow and returning to Jerusalem on Monday. Meanwhile, the Israeli military governor for Jerusalem, Bernard Joseph, will enter preliminary discussions with U.N. staff members.
U.N. COMMISSION PROTESTS ARAB REFUSAL TO PERMIT WATER FOR JERUSALEM
The U.N. Truce Commission in Jerusalem yesterday reported to the U.N. that it considers the Arab Legion’s refusal to permit the flow of water from the coast to Jerusalem via the Latrun pumping station a serious breach of the truce, it was officially announced here. The announcement also pointed out that Bernadotte has twice protested to the Arabs on this point.
Another government communique revealed that truce violations by Iraqi forces at Tirat Zvi, in the Beisan Valley, continued for three days despite the assurances of U.N. observers that they would do something about it. The first breach occurred Sunday when the Arabs fired on the Jews and later on the observers themselves. At the request of the U.N. personnel the Jews have refrained from retaliation. It is also known that observers touring the northern fronts to nark off the official positions of each belligerent force have been fired on by Iraqis in the Gilboa Mountains and the Lajjun area.