TEL AVIV (Sep. 9)
The surest way to secure peace in Palestine is through a United Nations decision which the Jews and Arabs should be called upon to accept, U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte today declared. Speaking to a press conference here after a two-hour meeting with Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok, the mediator revealed that his report to the forthcoming meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in Paris would contain his “conclusions” on a workable basis for peace in Palestine.
During the meeting Shertok voiced strong opposition to continuance of an indefinite truce, insisting that a definite term be set to the cease-fire. The Foreign Minister, expressing complete confidence in the country’s staying power, told Bernadotte that a protracted truce could not force Israel to abandon its principles.
Bernadotte told newsmen that peace was nearer today than at any time since the truce began, but refused to give reasons for his belief. He said he came to Tel Aviv to seek Israeli agreement to his plan to demilitarize Jerusalem and specifically the Mt. Zion area. The Israeli Minister expressed strong reservations on the demilitarization of Jerusalem, pointing out that since the city was virtually ringed by Arab forces the Jews could not agree to withdraw their armed forces unless and until they were assured of an adequate U.N. force to prevent the Arabs from seizing the demilitarized city at will.
Even if the U.N. had the will to protect Jerusalem, Shertok declared, there was still a serious doubt of its ability to provide the necessary force. The Israeli Minister pointedly reminded Bernadotte of his earlier proposal that the city be turned over to the Arabs. Discussing this issue with the press later, Bernadotte complained that the Jews were approaching the problem from the wrong end, since the question of a U.N. force to defend Jerusalem could not be considered until there was agreement or demilitarization.
SHERTOK ARGUES WITH U.N. MEDIATOR ON WITHDRAWAL FROM MT. ZION
On the Mt. Zion problem, the mediator told Shertok that the Arabs were prepared to withdraw from the eastern slopes of the height if the Jews evacuated their positions on the other side. Shertok pointed out bluntly that the Jews had occupied their positions before the truce, while the Arabs had seized theirs by violating the cease-fire and that it was the U.N. is duty to force the Arabs to withdraw. To make the Arab withdrawal conditional on a Jewish evacuation would be to reward the Arabs for a truce violation and thus make future enforcement impossible, he emphasized.
Reporting on the talks to the Israeli State Council, later this afternoon, Shertok said that when Bernadotte asked him what solution there was for the Jerusalem problem, he replied: “It depends on a general Palestine solution.” Shertok said he understood that Bernadotte, himself, believes that if the U.N. Assembly makes no decision on the truce, the mediator will not remain in his post after the close of the Assembly session.
Shertok also delivered an attack on the central truce supervisory board, during his talk with Bernadotte, for the recent decisions they announced on the strength of Arab statements and without giving the Jews a hearing. He reportedly enumerated many cases wherein Israel challenged the truce board’s decisions.
It is understood that the Immigration question was not discussed, but Bernadotte told the press conference that his views on the Cyprus refugees remain unchanged–that they be treated like all other Jews seeking to enter Palestine. He also told the newsmen that he did not consider that his duties ended with the presentation of his report to Secretary-General Trygve Lie, but that he did not know that his position would be if the Assembly did not accept his recommendations.
Bernadotte declared that he had not raised the question of the position of in Arab countries during his talks with Arab leaders. He discussed lengthily the Arab refugee question au the press conference, asserting that this problem must settled simultaneously with the peace negotiations. He also Insisted that these refugees be allowed to return to their former homes. In a further comment in Danish a Scandinavian newsman, the mediator indicated that he meant only women and children refugees. However, he did not convey this impression to the other correspondents.