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June 17, 1948 Arab League: U.N. Needs to Shelve Partition Plan

Count Folke BernadotteClick here to view the original article.

CAIRO, June 16 (AP)-The Arab League indicated today it was willing to participate in negotiations for a permanent Palestine settlement on condition that the United Nations partition plan is shelved.

Count Folke Bernadotte, the U. N. mediator, said the League promised to send four experts on June 21 to his headquarters on the Island of Rhodes. He added- “These experts are just consultants who will help us in our work for a short period but, will take no decisions.”

Bernadotte said he did not know whether Israeli authorities are prepared to send a similar group but he expected to find out when he gets in touch with Jewish leaders in Tel Aviv tomorrow. He plans to return to Rhodes Friday.

(At Lake Success, the United Nations was informed the United States would furnish three vessels to assist in a Palestine truce patrol. Bernadotte asked the U. S. for the vessels last week. He also asked France for two vessels and Belgium for one. No reply has been received from France and Belgium.)

Palestine’s fighting fronts remained quiet on this sixth day of the four-week truce while Bernadotte conferred in Cairo with the Premiers of Egypt, Lebanon and Trans-Jordan and Abdel Rahman Azzam Pasha, the Arab League’s Secretary General.

Bernadotte was said to have submitted several verbal proposals to the Arabs concerning Palestine. One League informant described the Swedish count’s suggestion as “partition presented in a new envelope.”

Upon emerging from the meeting with the U. N. mediator. Azzam Pasha said- “We notified Count Bernadotte that we shall accept no solution based on establishment of a Jewish State or partition.”

Thus the basic deadlock remains. The Jews have made it equally clear that they do not intend to give up their new State of Israel.

The Arabs also rejected Bernadotte’s proposal to declare Jerusalem an open city. Trans-Jordan Foreign Minister Fawai Mulki Pasha said the League told Bernadotte that if Jerusalem was declared an open city, Arab troops would be asked to evacuate positions they conquered there last month. This would be a contradiction of the cease-fire terms, he said.

Arab soldiers now hold the mile square old city in the heart of Jerusalem. Most of the larger modern city is occupied by the Jews.

A Jerusalem dispatch quoted the commander of the Stern Group, a Jewish extremist organization, as saying today that Sternists do not recognize the cease-fire.

“The Jewish government has agreed that Jerusalem will be international,” he said. “To this we do not agree. It must be a Jewish city. Jerusalem will again be the capital of the Jewish state. We will conquer all of Jerusalem as we will conquer all of Palestine.

He said the Sternists regard Trans-Jordan as a part of Palestine and do not recognize Abdullah as King of Trans-Jordan.

A delayed Jerusalem dispatch said Arab and Israeli commanders signed maps two days ago which gave the positions in the Jerusalem area that each side will maintain during the truce.

The American Consulate is advising American citizens wishing to return to the United States to register at once. There will be no forced evacuation, but safe passage is being arranged for those wishing to return home.

Syrian and Jewish army officers met under a flag of truce in a noman’s land in Galilee yesterday to discuss conflicting claims with U. N. mediators.

Damascus newsmen, who visited the same general area saw the Syrian flag flying at Mishmar Hay-Yarden, a Jewish settlement just south of Hula lake. Fighting had raged there for some time after the truce went into effect last Friday.

The Israeli government charged Britain was “imposing oil sanctions” against the new Jewish state by shutting off the oil pipeline to Haifa and diverting fuel to the Arab countries.

A Jewish spokesman in Tel Aviv said Israel may appeal to the U. N. Security Council to prevent the British from removing remaining Haifa oil reserve stocks to refineries in Lebanon.

Earlier British, Israeli and Arab authorities reached a satisfactory agreement on the handing over of two British military camps in Tireh inside the Haifa enclave. Israeli authorities had said a disagreement there could threaten the whole truce arrangement. The Jews declared the British had planned to give the Arabs one of the camps in Israeli territory.

U. N. Representative John Reedman told newsmen in Haifa that under the agreement the British will be responsible for the camps while their troops remain there. When the British withdraw, a U. N. commission will require the Israeli government to provide normal police protection for the area.

Abdel Moncim Mustafa Bey, chief of the political section of the Area League secretariat, will head the group of Arab experts who will go to Rhodes, Azzam Pasha said.

The others are Abdel Rahman Al Salahi, an official of the Iraqi Foreign Office, and two Arab lawyers from Palestine, Henry Kattan and Ahmed Al Ahukeiri.

The league secretary general said the experts will not represent Arab countries but will merely supply Bernadotte with data and documents he may need.

One Arab source said the league’s political committee rejected an invitation to sit at the same conference table with the Jews in negotiations for a permanent settlement. There has been no indication thus far, that Bernadotte’s staff plans to use such a method in the negotiations.

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