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U.N. Makes Public Bernadotte’s Recommendations; Existence of Jewish State Recognized

September 21, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Seven “basic premises” for the settlement of the Palestine question are contained in the report to the U.N. Security Council drawn up by the late Count Folke Bernadotte and made public here today on the eve of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. The seven conclusions are:

1. Peace must return to Palestine and every feasible measure should be taken to ensure that hostilities will not be resumed and that harmonious relations between Arabs and Jews will ultimately be restored.

2. A Jewish state called Israel exists in Palestine and there are no sound reasons for assuming that it will not continue to do so.

3. The boundaries of this new state must finally be fixed either by formal agreement between the parties concerned or, failing that, by the United Nations.

4. Adherence to the principle of geographic homogeneity and integration, which should be the major objective of the boundary arrangements, should apply equally to Arab and Jewish territories, whose frontiers should not, therefore, be rigidly controlled by the territorial arrangements envisaged in the partition resolution of November 29.

5. The right of people uprooted from their homes by the ravages of the present war to return to their homes should be affirmed and be made effective, with assurance of adequate compensation for the property of those who may choose not to return.

6. The city of Jerusalem, because of its religious and international significance and the complexity of interests involved, should be accorded special and separate treatment.

7. International responsibility should be expressed where desirable and necessary in the form of international guarantees as a means of allaying existing fears, and particularly in regard to boundaries and human rights.

The report urges that the existing indefinite truce in Palestine should be superseded by a formal peace, or at least an armistice which would involve either complete withdrawal and demobilization of armed forces or their wide separation by creation of broad demilitarized zones under United Nations supervision.


With regard to the frontiers between the Arab and the Jewish states, the report of the slain U.N. mediator recommends that in the absence of an agreement between Arabs and Jews, these frontiers should be delimited by a technical boundaries commission appointed by and responsible to the United Nations. The report suggests that the boundaries defined in the United Nations partition decision should be revised along the following lines:

1. The area known as the Negev should be considered Arab territory. The frontiers should run from Faluja, north northeast, to Ramleh and Lydda (both of which places would be in Arab territory), the frontier at Lydda then following the line established in the General Assembly resolution of November 29.

2. Galilee should be defined as a Jewish area. The disposition of the territory not included within the boundaries of the Jewish state should be left to the governments of the Arab states in full consultation with the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, with the recommendation, however, that in view of the historical connection and common interests of Transjordan and Palestine, there would be compelling reasons for merging the Arab territory of Palestine with the territory of Transjordan. This could be subject to such frontier rectifications regarding other states as may be found practical and desirable.

3. The port of Haifa, including the oil refineries and terminals, and without prejudice to their inclusion in the sovereign territory of the Jewish state or the administration of the city of Haifa, should be declared a free port. Free access should be assured for interested Arab countries. On the other hand, the Arab countries undertake to place no obstacle in the way of oil deliveries by pipeline to the Haifa refineries.

4. The airport of Lydda should be declared a free airport with assurance of access to it and employment of its facilities for Jerusalem and interested Arab countries.

5. The city of Jerusalem should be treated separately and should be placed under effective United Nations control with maximum feasible local autonomy for its Arab and Jewish communities. The protection of the Holy Places and sites, as well as free access to them, should be safeguarded.

6. The right of the Arab refugees to return to their homes in Jewish-controlled territory at the earliest possible date should be affirmed by the United Nations. Their repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation, and payment of adequate compensation for the property of those choosing not to return, should be supervised and assisted by a United Nations conciliation commission.

7. The political, economic, social and religious rights of all Arabs in the Jewish territory of Palestine and of all Jews in the Arab territory of Palestine should be fully guaranteed and respected by the authorities.


The report urges the creation of a Palestine Conciliation Commission, to be appointed for a limited period for the purpose of fostering the cultivation of friendly relations between Arabs and Jews. This Commission should be responsible to the United Nations and act under its authority. It should supervise the observance of such boundary, road, railroad, free port, free airport, minority rights and other arrangements as may be decided upon by the United Nations.

The report of the U.N. mediate emphasizes that “the most significant development in the Palestine scene since last November is the fact that the Jewish state is a living, solidly entrenched and vigorous reality. That it enjoys de jure or de facto recognition from an increasing number of states, two of which are permanent numbers of the Security Council, is an incidental but arresting fact. The provision: government of Israel is today exercising, without restrictions on its authority or power, all the attributes of full sovereignty.”


Declaring that “the Arabs find it difficult to accept even the fact of a Jewish state in Palestine,” Bernadotte says in his report: “That the Arab states made a tragic mistake in employing force in Palestine cannot be questioned. But the very fact that they resorted to this extreme action and were willing to run the risk of thus offending the international community is in itself a measure of the intensity of their feeling on the question.

“It is fruitless to conjecture whether Arabs or Jews might have won a decisive victory in Palestine had international intervention not brought the fighting to a halt,” the report continues. “Jewish forces might have won more territory in Palestine or even all of Palestine, but they could not have conquered the Arab states nor won peace with them. Arab armies, by sheer force of numbers, might in time have pressed the Jews to the wall of the sea but there is no indication that they could muster sufficient strength to deliver a mortal blow, and it may well be doubted that this could have been accomplished in view of probable international intervention.

“Had the war continued it would most likely have ended in a stalemate, which in itself would amount to a Jewish victory. But the United Nations had firmly determined that the war could not go on and that the Palestine dispute must be settled by peaceful means. And that is the Arab dilemma. The Jewish state, established under the cloak of United Nations authority, can be eliminated only by force. The United Nations, however, has decreed that force must not be employed. Therefore, the Arab states must resign themselves to the presence of the Jewish state or pursue the reckless course of defying the United Nations and thereby incurring liabilities, the full burden and danger of which cannot be calculated in advance,” the report points out.

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