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Inclusion of Western Galilee in Jewish State Cannot Replace Negev, Epstein Says

September 23, 1948
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The addition of Western Galilee to the state of Israel cannot be regarded as a substitute for the Negev, Eliahu Epstein, Israeli Special representative to the United States, told a press conference here today.He referred to a proposal to that effect made by the late Count Folke Bernadotte in his final report to the U.N. on the Palestine problem.

“By cutting off the Negev,” Epstein said in a prepared statement, “the state of Israel is reduced from 5,500 square miles to a little over 2,500 and reduces the opportunity of resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees which has been and continues to be one of the great objectives of our state.

“We are the only people willing and able to invest energy, money and technical ability to make this desert flower as we did the other swamp lands and hills of Palestine,” he continued. “In the hands of the Arabs this desert has “been and will always remain a desert.”

“On the question of Jerusalem,” he said, “we feel that the hundred thousand Jew of that Holy City should not he cut off from any physical, spiritual or cultural ties that link it so strongly with the rest of Israel. Me cannot abandon so large f community of our own people, with the Hebrew University, hospitals and largest educational and scientific institutions or leave them without the necessary security for their livelihood and their development.”

He said, in. response to questioning on this point, that Israel would by no means object to an international regime for Jerusalem. But, he added, any discussion of the future regime for Jerusalem must include a discussion of what guarantees will be made for keeping a “lifeline” open from the state of Israel to the Jewish community in Jerusalem.

The Israeli envoy emphasized that his remarks were not intended to confirm his government’s attitude toward the Bernadotte’s report, made public Monday at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in Paris. He said he was merely making observations on what he felt were the points most likely to come up for discussion.

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