First Bernadotte Plan for Israel-Arab Settlement

June, 28, 1948

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Count Folke Bernadotte was a Swedish diplomat appointed as mediator of the 1948 Israel-Arab war (Israel War of Independence) by the UN. He furthered two plans for resolution of the conflict that were blatantly pro-Arab, and was assassinated by the LEHI group on September 17, 1948. This is the first of two plans, submitted as "suggestions" that Bernadotte prepared. The plans reflected primarily British pressure to annex all the territory of Palestine to Transjordan, and to annex the territory of the Negev in particular to Transjordan, so that Britain could have a base on the Mediterranean.

The first plan called for annexation of Palestine to Jordan, Arab Jerusalem, and a Jewish enclave  under Jordanian sovereignty. Arab Palestine would be incorporated in Jordan. The Jewish enclave would support the Arab area in an economic union, and Jewish immigration would be limited.  The borders of the Jewish enclave might approximate those of the  Peel Commission partition of 1937.

This is almost precisely the plan that King Abdullah of Jordan had proposed to the Jewish representatives in clandestine meetings in November of 1947 and May of 1948. Neither Jews nor Arabs accepted the plans. For the Jews, this plan would have meant, essentially, a return to the  mandatory regime and the end of Jewish aspirations to self-determination.

Count Bernadotte was quite put out when the Israelis pointed out that his recommendations completely ignored the decision of General Assembly Resolution 181 that Palestine was to be partitioned into independent Jewish and Arab states. The Arabs rejected the plan as well.

See also Bernadotte Plan With Map Second plan of Count Bernadotte for settlement of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 

Ami Isseroff

Notice - Copyright

This introduction is Copyright 2008 by the author. The text below is in the public domain.


      Security Council
28 June 1948


The following text was sent by the Mediator to be held by the Secretary-General for transmission to the President of the Security Council at a time to be notified later. The Secretary-General subsequently was requested to release the text at 2.00 p.m., E.D.T., 4 July 1948.

"I have the honour to present for the information of the Security Council the following three papers presented to the Arab and Jewish authorities on 28 June 1948, for their consideration in pursuance of my effort to find a common basis for discussion with the two parties looking towards a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine.

Part I. Introductory Statement

1. The resolution of the General Assembly of 14 May 1948, provides inter alia that the United Nations Mediator is to use his good offices to "promote a peaceful adjustment of the future situation of Palestine".

2. It follows that my prime objective as Mediator is to determine on the basis of the fullest exploration, whether there is any possibility of reconciling, by peaceful means, the divergent and conflicting views and positions of the two sides.

3. The co-operative attitude manifested thus far by both sides has made possible the truce which began on 11 June. This truce has brought a calmer atmosphere, more favourable to the task of mediation entrusted to me by the General Assembly. In this improved atmosphere I have talked with the representatives of both sides and have obtained a very clear impression of their positions on the question of the future of Palestine. I have also profited from the information afforded by the technical consultants whom each side has designated in response to my request.

4. The basic issues arising from the opposing parties relate to partition, the establishment of a Jewish State, and Jewish immigration.

5. I have thoroughly studied, weighed and appraised the positions taken by the two parties. I interpret my role as Mediator not as one involving the handing down of decisions on the future of Palestine, but as one of offering suggestions on the basis of which further discussions might take place and possibly counter suggestions be put forth looking toward a peaceful settlement of this difficult problem. Suggestions at this stage, then, must clearly be of such nature as to provide a reasonable framework of reference within which the two parties may find it possible to continue their consultations with me towards the end of a peaceful adjustment.

6. My analysis has taken into account the equities involved, and the aspirations, fears, motivations of the parties. It has also taken account of the realities of the existing situation. It has convinced me that on grounds of equity as well as on practical grounds it is impossible for me as Mediator to call upon either party to surrender completely its position. In the light of this analysis I see a possibility of an adjustment which would give adequate reassurance to both parties as regards the vital factors in their respective positions. But the realization of this possibility depends upon the willingness of the parties to explore all avenues for a peaceful adjustment and their readiness not to resume armed conflict as a means of settling their differences.

7. Despite the present conflict, there is a common denominator in Palestine which, happily, is acceptable to and affirmed by both sides. This is the recognition of the necessity for peaceful relations between Arabs and Jews in Palestine and of the principle of economic unity.

8. It is with this common denominator especially in mind that I put forth the accompanying suggestions in outline as a basis for discussion. These suggestions, I must emphasize, are submitted with no intimation of preciseness or finality. They are designed solely to explore the possible bases for further discussions and mediation, and to elicit from the parties their reactions and further views. Moreover, any plans which might result from these suggestions could be workable only if voluntarily accepted and applied. There can be no question of their imposition.

9. I should make perfectly clear my intentions as regards future procedure. If it develops that the suggestions herewith presented, or suggestions subsequently presented, which may arise from the reactions to those now put forth, provide a basis for discussion, I will carry on with the discussions as long as may prove necessary and fruitful. If, however, these or subsequent suggestions, if any should emerge, are rejected as a basis for discussion, which I earnestly hope will not occur, I shall promptly report the circumstances fully to the Security Council and shall feel free to submit such conclusions to the Security Council as I may consider appropriate.

(signed) Count Folke Bernadotte
United Nations Mediator on Palestine,
Rhodes, Greece, 27 June 1948.

Part II. Suggestions presented by the Mediator on Palestine

The Mediator advanced the following suggestions as a possible basis for discussion:

1. That, subject to the willingness of the directly interested parties to consider such an arrangement, Palestine, as defined in the original Mandate entrusted to the United Kingdom in 1922, that is including Transjordan, might form a Union comprising two members, one Arab and one Jewish.

2. That the boundaries of the two members be determined in the first instance by negotiation with the assistance of the Mediator and on the basis of suggestions to be made by him. When agreement is reached on the main outlines of the boundaries they will be definitively fixed by a Boundaries Commission.

3. That the purposes and function of the Union should be to promote common economic interests, to operate and maintain common services, including customs and excise, to undertake development projects and to co-ordinate foreign policy and measures for common defence.

4. That the functions and authority of the Union might be exercised through a central council and such other organs as the members of the Union may determine.

5. That, subject to the provision of the Instrument of Union, each member of the Union may exercise full control over its own affairs including its foreign relations.

6. Immigration within its own borders should be within the competence of each member, provided that following a period of two years from the establishment of the Union, either member would be entitled to request the Council of the Union to review the immigration policy of the other member and to render a ruling thereon in terms of the common interests of the Union. In the event of the inability of the Council to reach a decision on the matter, the issue could be referred by either member to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations whose decision, taking into account the principle of economic absorptive capacity, would be binding on the member whose policy is at issue.

7. That religious and minority rights be fully protected by each member of the Union and guaranteed by the United Nations.

8. That Holy Places, religious buildings and sites be preserved and that existing rights in respect of the same be fully guaranteed by each member of the Union.

9. That recognition be accorded to the right of residents of Palestine who, because of conditions created by the conflict there have left their normal places of abode, to return to their homes without restriction and to regain possession of their property.
(signed) Count Folke Bernadotte
United Nations Mediator on Palestine
Rhodes, Greece, 27 June 1948.

Part III. Annex to the Suggestions: Territorial Matters

With regard to paragraph 2 of the suggestions it is considered that certain territorial arrangements might be worthy of consideration. These might be along the following lines:

1. Inclusion of the whole or part of the Negev in Arab territory.

2. Inclusion of the whole or part of Western Galilee in Jewish territory.

3. Inclusion of the City of Jerusalem in Arab territory, with municipal autonomy for the Jewish community and special arrangements for the protection of the Holy Places.

4. Consideration of the status of Jaffa.

5. Establishment of a free port at Haifa, the area of the free port to include the refineries and terminals.

6. Establishment of a free airport at Lydda.
(signed) Count Folke Bernadotte
United Nations Mediator on Palestine,
Rhodes, Greece, 27 June 1948


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