Commentary Magazine


Bernadotte's Testament:
An Analysis of the Mediator's Recommendations

Robert Weltsch, life-long Zionist and one of Palestine’s most distinguished journalists, here analyzes the recommendations of the Bernadotte Plan, which are now being debated in the United Nations Security Council, and the issues they pose for the settlement of the Arab-Jewish conflict, and the future of Israel. Dr. Weltsch needs little introduction to COMMENTARY readers: his several articles on the developing Palestine situation at various critical junctures during the past two years have established his expertness, sensitivity, and fairness as a political analyst. 

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Paris

The first document from Palestine to reach the UN Assembly in Paris after Bernadotte’s Report—or testament—was a cable from Dr. Bunche, the acting Mediator, charging the government of Israel with responsibility for the Count’s assassination. The crime had been committed in territory explicitly assigned to Israeli jurisdiction. This cable was greatly resented in Israeli circles, but it is difficult to imagine what else Bernadotte’s temporary successor could have said. The fault did not lie with him—he had to do his duty by making a report—but in the outrage itself.

The Stem gang claimed the “merit” of the murder, and the Israeli government took vigorous action against it, but people in the UN still wondered whether the local authorities on the spot had not shown negligence in face of the open threats made against Bernadotte by the terrorists. And surprise was expressed that the government had not accompanied its condemnation of the crime with some immediate and drastic gesture such as the suspension—at least temporarily—of the officials responsible for public safety in the area affected, or an investigation of responsibility on higher levels. In some UN delegations it was even murmured after a while that the measures taken to seek out the assassins were perhaps inadequate.

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So far as the Palestine issue was concerned, four new facts confronted the UN Assembly as it began its session in Paris: Bernadotte’s death; the report he had signed before he died; the general understanding that partition was an accomplished fact, with the state of Israel a firmly established reality; and the apparent understanding reached by the British and American governments on a common line of policy in Palestine.

An excellent analysis, based on apparently reliable high sources, of this newly achieved Anglo-American harmony was given by Hal Lehrman in the September COMMENRARY. Two months later, as far as we know in London or Paris, there is hardly anything to add to it. The ten points of the agreement, as enumerated by Mr. Lehrman, roughly correspond to the policy outlined in the Bernadotte plan. This could, however, be pure coincidence; if a compromise had to be found, it would obviously have had to be on approximately these lines. The close correspondence between the agreement and the Bernadotte plan need not be taken as evidence that Bernadotte himself was a mouthpiece of Anglo-American policy. And even if this were so, it would be no crime. No lasting settlement of any kind can be effected in Palestine without the support of the two great powers that for the time being are more or less responsible for the maintenance of political stability in the Middle East. Palestine cannot be isolated, and it was only realism to reflect in recommended policy the fact that the new state needed active aid as well as Platonic recognition from America and Britain.

Both Marshall and Bevin hurried to declare their acceptance of the Bernadotte Report in its entirety. The London Times hailed “the new broad understanding reached by Britain and the United States on team-work to secure the common Anglo-American interest of peace in the Middle East.” And “this understanding,” the Times added, “is hardly second in importance to the emergence of Israel as one of the factors that make the prospects of a peaceful solution in Palestine more hopeful now than at any time since last November.” Anglo-American harmony has from the first been an essential requirement for the successful settlement of the Palestine conflict, and much of the misfortune that has visited Palestine during the past two or three years must be ascribed to the discord between these two powers. Thus it would be a considerable step forward if Anglo-American differences over Palestine were definitely ironed out. This is all the more true in view of the present impotence of the United Nations.

The main paradox underlying the present stage of the Palestine conflict—as, indeed, it does the whole world situation—is the fiction that the final decision rests with the UN. While all participants, and especially the great powers, are under no illusion as to the efficiency of UN procedure, and nobody feels that it can exert real power, they cling nevertheless to the principle of using its machinery. Yet events cannot always wait for a UN decision, and still less for the necessary means to be provided for carrying it out once it is reached. This has created a danger—foreshadowed by some increasingly contemptuous Jewish statements about the UN—that the conviction will take root in the minds of the peoples most concerned that the UN is utterly helpless and will yield finally to whoever proves the stronger force in Palestine. It is easy to draw the conclusion—and it is apparently a popular one in some Jewish circles—that a fait accompli is the only argument that counts.

But this state of affairs cannot go on for ever.

If Anglo-American accord on Palestine, now deemed possible, survives the discussion of the Bernadotte Report, then it will undoubtedly, as the Times said, become one of the most important factors of all towards a solution of the problem. Britain and the United States together could put the house in order even though the United Nations continued its inactivity. The Bernadotte Report, described now as a “basis for discussion,” may be the first step toward reviving that sense of basic responsibility which for too long languished behind the curtain of endless UN discussions.

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The most striking feature of the Bernadotte Report is, in essence, the admission that “mediation” in the strict meaning of the term has failed. Mediation means the exploration of the views and demands of both sides, and then the bringing together of both parties on a common compromise program. Bernadotte was in search of what he called “a common denominator,” but he had, alas, to report that “there was, at least for the time being, no prospect of voluntary agreement between the disputants.” This is a clear statement of failure. But quite rightly Bernadotte did not draw the conclusion that his whole mission had failed. “Mediation” had not worked, but the precarious truce still persisted and the advantages to both sides of avoiding large-scale hostilities seemed to be tacitly understood. The restoration of peace in Palestine now depended on the intervention of a third factor with undisputed authority and possessing the means to impose its decision. Bernadotte declared that he sensed “a more moderate and reasonable atmosphere in all quarters,” which he apparently took to confirm his view that a settlement could be achieved by tacit agreement “if the General Assembly should reach firm and equitable decisions on the principal political issues.” This “if” is, however, the crux of the whole matter.

Count Bernadotte rediscovered an old truth—that a peaceful solution in Palestine would be possible only if a settlement based on equity and a true evaluation of the realities, and regarded as bearable by the majority of the people—though not necessarily by extremists—were imposed by an outside power. All the old proposals—a bi-national state, federalization, cantonization, partition—assumed the presence of a third force willing to supervise, guarantee, and, if necessary, enforce these schemes. Without such a force, the whole of any one of them breaks down. Now Bernadotte had to appeal for that third force to the UN, who had sent him as the British had sent Peel, Woodhead, and the Singleton-Hutcheson Committee. True, the UN has a far less clear-cut responsibility than did Britain. But if the way is not found for the UN to respond to the call, then the philosophy of the fait accompli will receive full sanction.

Count BeRNadotte seems to have been completely aware of the weakness of his position. He had to form his opinion on a possible settlement as he went along and in accordance with the facts at any given moment. In his first proposals, submitted to both parties on June 27, he still based his hopes on the principle of union, which had been an essential part of the decision of November 29. He made the fatal mistake of suggesting the inclusion of Jerusalem in Arab territory, instead of insisting on its preservation as a corpus separatum, and possibly as the capital of the proposed union. However, he had not yet envisaged the division of the country into two separate parts without common links. But then, when the Security Council did not act to make union a reality, Bernadotte rightly came to the conclusion that it was an unfeasible scheme that had to be dropped. It became clear to him that “any plan based on the essential assumption of immediate cooperation between Arabs and Jews must ignore the harsh facts of the existing relationship there.” In another section of his report he added: “ . . . however desirable a political and economic union might be in Palestine, the time is certainly not now propitious for the effectuation of any such scheme.”

By abandoning this essential point of the resolution of November 29 as unfeasible, Bernadotte practically relinquished the whole previous Assembly scheme—a scheme that had always been regarded as an indivisible entity. Here he concurred with all those who do not want to stick to the letter of the old resolution.

Count BeRNradotte’s attitude was the result of painfully acquired experience. It can be criticized by those who still believe that some kind of union or federation will prove the most desirable solution in the long run (though some hold the view, too—and it is a sadder one—that union may be created later, not by voluntary federation, but by the dictation of a conqueror). The dropping of “union” does not mean that the idea was originally ill-conceived; but even the most ardent champion of Jewish-Arab cooperation will have to admit, however reluctantly, that at the present juncture hope for a settlement based on Arab-Jewish cooperation and on union or federation is mere quixotry.

There was no prospect that the Arabs would recognize the Jewish state, and on the other hand Bernadotte himself reached the conclusion that abolition of the Jewish state was unfeasible. His tempered “optimism” was founded on his impression that prominent and influential leaders of the Arab League had begun to realize the true situation. They made him believe that a peaceful adjustment would be possible if a plan were proposed that could be represented to the Arabs as embodying an improvement or concession and which would at least meet in some respects what the Arabs call “the requirements of justice.” At the same time strong pressure in support of the scheme would have to come from the United Nations, so that Arab leaders could say to the Arab masses that overwelming international pressure had compelled them to submit. Although the Arab leaders could never admit safely that they had lost the war with the Jews, they could, with far less loss of prestige, explain that they were unable to wage a war against a united front of the strongest organizations, and one, moreover, of which the Arab states themselves were members.

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One of the striking features of the Bernadotte Report, as distinguished from his earlier recommendations, is its unequivocal recognition of the Jewish state. This is a decisive change that opens the way to the universal recognition of Israel, and as a result, to her membership in the United Nations. The Report shows that its author was deeply impressed by the Jewish achievement and received what he calls a “convincing demonstration of their [the Jews'] skill and tenacity.” This statement led to one of the most sensational turnabouts in the Palestine situation: Mr. Bevin declared in the House of Commons that Great Britain would accept the judgment of the Mediator and recognize Israel if the United Nations Assembly endorsed his report. Moreover, the British government and press have now begun to try to persuade the Arabs to reconcile themselves to the fact of the Jewish state. All this amounts to a moral victory for Israel. The London Economist believes that “a great majority of the Jews would have thought themselves lucky if they had been offered as much at any time before military success turned their heads.”

Zionism has in fact achieved a complete victory as far as the principle of the Jewish state is concerned. The result has been bitter Arab criticism of British policy. Nor is this the first time, say the Arabs, that the British have completely betrayed them; though outwardly professing opposition to partition, it was Britain that actually contributed most to its implementation, they complain. And they go on to say that there is one thing “which a British recognition [of Israel] would do, and do irremediably, and that is to destroy what remains of friendly relations between Britain and the Arab world and to slam the door violently on any hope of future improvement in these relations.” The Arabs oppose the Bernadotte Report above all because of its failure to place any limitations on the sovereignty of Israel. If the British government subscribed to such a settlement, “they would be doing the very thing which they said they would not do, and once more the Arabs would feel that Britain had deceived them by their words and betrayed them by their actions.”

Count Bernadotte apparently believed that the acceptance of the first partition plan would have been the best policy for the Arabs. This is implied in his remark that the Arab states “made a tragic mistake in employing force in Palestine.” In this respect he accepts the Jewish view. As the Jewish state could only be eliminated by force and as the United Nations decreed that force must not be employed, there remains no other course for the Arabs than to accept the Jewish state. Bernadotte stated in strong terms that this issue had now been decided. The Arab idea of a “unitary Arab State” in Palestine he called “unrealistic.” He dismissed equally, as impracticable under present circumstances, all cantonal or federal schemes and other forms of unity.

On the other hand, he made a strong plea for a better understanding of the Arab attitude. He appealed to the Jews of Israel to appreciate Arab views and fears—especially their fear of violent Jewish expansion as the result of pressure created by unlimited immigration. He also pointed out that the Arabs look upon the Jews as interlopers and aggressors who want to deprive them of the country in which they have lived for centuries. However, under the present political tension, with Arab bombs and shells falling on the Jewish civilian population of Jerusalem and with military victory seemingly the only decision, one could hardly expect readiness for such heart-searching on the Jewish side. As a matter of fact, the only notable answer to Bernadotte’s plea that I saw in the Hebrew press was a fervent article by Martin Buber, in Baayot Ha-zman, warning Jews rather wrathfully not to overdo their talk of Arab “aggression” and to realize that the average Arab regards the Jews as intruders and therefore the aggressors. This hostile feeling is perhaps inevitable in view of the objective situation, Dr. Buber writes; but it could have been avoided if the Jews had in the past created a more substantial community of interest with the Arabs than they did, or really tried to do.

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The Bernadotte Report was a surprise to the Jewish side because of its unreserved support of the Jewish state. Those who had expected something on the lines of his earlier proposals of June 27 noticed a change of mind outspokenly favorable to the Jews. One even heard the occasional remark that “he did not deserve death for this report.”

As a realist Bernadotte interpreted his task as an effort to help both parties find a solution in accordance with the given realities. What could not be changed had to be accepted as a decisive factor even though one did not like it; otherwise programs would float in the air like desert mirages. Neither wishful thinking nor the rigid application of cleverly devised schemes, however just they might appear, could lead to a solution if realities were disregarded. This is the fundamental conviction and underlying philosophy of the Bernadotte Report and it is this that the report tries to impress on the parties concerned. The Mediator’s political realism was such that several times, when he became aware that the realities themselves had changed, he did not hesitate to change his own views.

Yet it is clear that such an approach has its own inherent weakness. It arouses a great temptation to create faits accomplis by force or other means, so that new, realistic facts may influence the final decision. This diminishes the effectiveness of moral claims and of international judgment. But the fault here did not lie with the late Mediator. His attitude simply reflected the fact that the United Nations is not actually what it is supposed to be. As long as the decisions of the United Nations remain mere Platonic recommendations and no machinery exists for their implementation, the sole deterrent to a policy of faits accomplis will be the fear of encountering insuperable force on the other side. And as things are, conquest (and defeat) is still the shaping force of political reality.

It is, therefore, only logical that one of the first paragraphs of the Bernadotte Report should say that the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947, had been “irrevocably revised by the actual facts of recent Palestine history.” This is an enlightening and undoubtedly true estimate of the situation, but it also implies the admission that accomplished facts are stronger than any verbal decision by an international authority. The Mediator pointed out that the Jewish state had become “a living, solidly entrenched and vigorous reality,” and he added that the state was born “like many another state in history, in violence and bloodshed.” He made it clear that the Jewish state was a reality that could be eliminated only by a superior force-a force such as all the Arab states together could not muster. He also seems to imply that if such a force were available to the other side, the destruction of the Jewish state would become a real possibility. But, in effect, the Mediator viewed the likelihood of international intervention as almost negligible.

So, on the whole, Bernadotte accepted the decision of the sword as a natural event with many precedents. His proposed boundaries were more or less based on what was then the actual division of the country by force of arms. Apart from Jerusalem, he drew the map roughly according to the military frontlines. Consequently, he gave the Jews Galilee and the Arabs the Negev. There is no indication as to whether Bernadotte regarded this partition as “just” or “unjust.” As a mediator seeking a way out of an impasse without employing force, he had to start from the status quo. It would have been futile, for example, to suggest that certain armies evacuate areas they actually held, if you could not expect them to do so voluntarily and at the same time there were no military force available prepared to drive them out.

Contrary to his own earlier viewpoint, the Mediator also accepted the Jewish suggestion that immigration was a matter subject solely to the sovereign jurisdiction of the Jewish state. He confined himself to a very mild and vague appeal to the Jews “to take carefully into account the basis of Arab fears, and to consider measures and policies designed to allay them.” He did not specify what these measures might be. He considered the Arab fears extravagant but demanded that “every reasonable reassurance possible” be afforded them, not only by Israel, but also by the United Nations.

The only issue on which Bernadotte used strong language was the Arab refugees. He regarded it as undeniable that “no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged.” A denial of this right would be “an offence against the principles of elemental justice.” And Israel’s obligation to restore Arab property and indemnify Arab owners for property wantonly destroyed is taken as a matter of course (although the procedure for reclaiming such property might in many cases frustrate that effort). But Bernadotte knew that the content of this statement of principle and recognition of right was only theoretical. The majority of the refugees no longer have homes to return to. Although he seemed reluctant to admit it, the Count apparently could not escape the conclusion that the resettlement of the refugees in other Arab countries with the help of UN might be the only practicable remedy.

Nevertheless, it is refreshing to hear Bernadotte assert the “unconditional right to make a free choice,” whether to return or to find a new home. In our present world, where in many places the individual has again become a helpless slave of the state, his “free choice” is not always taken for granted.

Whatever the original intentions of Zionism, with its frequent proclamations of the equality of all citizens without difference of race or religion, and whatever the reasons for the Arab flight, the practical result has been such as to confirm the warnings of Arab nationalists that Zionism would drive the Arabs out of Palestine. This is an experience not easily forgotten and it is capable of breeding racial hatred for generations. Thus, aside from the humanitarian obligation to remedy a horrible tragedy, prudence would seem to dictate that Israel do everything in her power to alleviate the situation of these Arab victims of war.

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While the Arabs concentrate their opposition (quite unrealistically, in Bernadotte’s view) on the principle of the Jewish state, Jewish criticism is mainly directed against the Count’s proposed frontiers. The most important points of controversy are Jerusalem and the Negev. Jewish spokesmen invoke the UN decision of November 29, which in Bernadotte’s view has been “outrun and irrevocably revised by the actual facts of recent Palestine history.” Although, according to his report, the Provisional Government of Israel has modified its attitude to the resolution of November 29, even in respect to the fixing of boundaries, it still firmly contests the validity of the resolution as far as the Negev is concerned.

The whole question of the frontiers is clouded to a large extent by propaganda. Bernadotte’s suggestion that the Negev be included in the Arab state, while the Jews receive the whole of Galilee, aroused a storm of indignation in the Jewish camp. The protests were, of course, directed against the cutting off of the Negev; but in order to make them more emphatic, the fullest scorn was simultaneously expressed for the “compensation” offered by Bernadotte. The American Zionist Emergency Council complained that “a mere 420 square miles of rocky and hilly Western Galilee” was all that was to be added to the Jewish state. On the other hand, the semi-official Arab News Bulletin vehemently criticized the plan because its “recommendation that the Arabs should have the Negev and the Jews the whole of Western Galilee, means in fact that the Jews would gain a rich, thickly populated new region in return for what is largely a desert.” It must be admitted that the Arab evaluation of Galilee was the more correct one. Western Galilee is one of the loveliest and most fertile parts of the country, abundant in water and vegetation and undoubtedly suitable for the most intensive cultivation. True, the question of Galilee and the Negev is closely linked with the major issue of the “exchange of populations”—generally referred to as “the Arab refugee problem”—but nobody can deny that Galilee is the jewel of the whole of Palestine.

The problem of the Negev is certainly the most complicated of all. No ordinary mortal can honestly decide whether or not a dense colonization of the Negev is attainable in an economical way within a foreseeable time. Some agricultural experts of worldwide fame say yes. But apart from this technical question, there are other important issues involved. There is, for instance, Israel’s “negative” interest in seeing that this vast, if arid, strip of land does not fall into the hands of a power that might use it as a springboard for war against Israel. It is perhaps not a question so much of “living space” as of moving space—a question, namely, of the control of the land-bridge and communications between the Mediterranean and the Dead and Red Seas. And there is also the possibility of deposits of oil and other minerals in the Negev. All these considerations make its possession highly desirable to the Arabs as well as the Jews.

From the point of view of “progress,” a very strong case can be made out for the inclusion of the Negev in Israeli territory. Certainly, the Jews have the willingness and capacity to develop its resources in the most efficient way possible and it is only they who are really interested in turning this desert into cultivable land. The assertion often heard that the Negev would hold “millions” of Jewish immigrants may be exaggerated, but if American Jews, and possibly American Gentiles, were actually prepared to invest for a long term huge amounts of money in a comprehensive irrigation system on the lines of that sketched out in the Jordan Valley Authority project, then the Negev, and particularly its northern part, could probably be made cultivable to a certain extent, although whether such a project, even under state control, could pay its way in the end does not yet seem to be assured. In any event great practical results in a short time are hardly to be expected from the colonization of the Negev. But it is beyond any doubt that if anything in this direction is done, there is nobody to do it except the Jews. That is a very strong argument, especially when the Arabs themselves admit, as the Lebanese delegate, Charles Malik (now chairman of the Third Committee of the UN), did in Paris, that the Middle East is a backward part of the world that urgently needs development.

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The strategic importance of the Negev, except in a limited local sense applying only to Palestine itself, is a matter of controversy. Such importance could be estimated only in the light of a full knowledge of the latest developments in military techniques. It is almost universally assumed that the effective claimant to the Negev as a strategic area is Britain or, more correctly, the Anglo-American or Western bloc. The allocation of this region to the Arabs—who cannot develop it anyhow—under the suggestion that the “Arab part of Palestine” be united with Transjordan, has been interpreted as a way of giving Britain the military bases she needs to protect the Middle East from a possible Russian invasion. Britain would thus return to Palestine through the backdoor of King Abdullah’s realm. But even most Arabs are opposed to this plan, because they consider Abdullah a British pawn. In Paris, some Arabs went so far as to hint that the Zionists—now regarded as violently and irredeemably anti-British—should discourage the aggrandizement of Transjordan in order to weaken Britain’s position in the Near East. In spite of Mr. Bevin’s speeches about eternal British-Arab friendship, the Arabs—with the sole exception of Abdullah—want to be rid of British imperialism. In their objections to Abdullah the Arabs are at one with the Soviet bloc.

A careful analysis of the conflicting interests in the Negev could perhaps show that these are not as irreconcilable as is thought. The Arabs do not want and do not need the Negev for actual colonization; they could easily give the Jews those strips of land that can be colonized by such pioneering efforts as only the Jews in the Near East are capable of. Such concessions would probably apply to the northern part of the Negev. On the other hand, Transjordan might well get the land-bridge across the desert to Gaza, which is now claimed by Egypt as a reward for her contribution to the Arab war effort. The Jews, on their part, have never claimed Gaza for Israel. As for an outlet to the Red Sea, there is no reason why a free port there could not be secured for Israel on the same terms as the free port in Haifa which Israel is being invited to concede to the Arabs. The very fact that Haifa is more important for the Arabs than Aqaba is for Israel may facilitate such an arrangement. Even the question of fishing rights in the Gulf of Aqaba may not pose insurmountable difficulties. But naturally every such solution demands a complete change in the relations between the two peoples.

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Jerusalem is the second controversial point. After November 29, 1947, most Jews would have readily agreed to the city’s “internationalization,” although nobody had an exact idea of how this should work. In the meantime, however, the objective difficulties of such a scheme became more obvious, as the UN proved unable to save the city from savage fighting, indiscriminate shelling, and the interruption of its communications and water supply. And the emotional interest of the Christian world seemed to have more declamatory than practical value. Even those eager for an international administration for Jerusalem would reject an internationalization likely to remain on paper and unable to prevent the struggle for the actual physical domination of the city from being continued to its finish.

The section in the Bernadotte Report on the demilitarization of Jerusalem is the most pathetic of all. All that has been said above about the UN’s inability to play its expected role applies even more emphatically to Jerusalem. It is, therefore, easy to understand why Israel—though perhaps still ready to consider an international authority for Jerusalem if such authority is armed with sufficient power and provides trustworthy guarantees—demands control of the Jewish areas and a corridor from the city to the coast that would safeguard the city’s Jewish population from the dangers of famine and thirst—dangers they were exposed to for two anxious months and overcame thanks only to the self-sacrificial efforts of other Jews.

The test of the UN’s will to act will come when the late Mediator’s request for an armed force of at least six thousand men to assure the security of Jerusalem comes up for decision. If the UN cannot settle its internal difficulties enough to make internationalization plausible, then it will have to consider some other solution for the Jerusalem impasse. It would have to admit, however reluctantly, that some kind of partition of the city itself would have to be put in effect—if only as a temporary measure until a condominium became possible.

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There are still many unknown factors affecting the Palestine situation. The most important of these is the internal strife in the Arab League. Abdullah’s role offers one of the thorniest problems for Israel. In spite of its small size, Transjordan, with its British-led-and-trained Legion, has emerged from the war in Palestine with the reputation of being the strongest, if not the only, military force in the Arab world; and thus Transjordan has outplayed every other independent state in the Arab League. At the same time, Abdullah is the only Arab ruler likely to gain from the Palestinian settlement now envisaged in the UN, which would join Arab Palestine to Transjordan; and therefore he is more amenable than the other Arab rulers to compromise on the Jewish state, although he cannot openly say so. Many people believe that he would acquiesce to a settlement like the one now contemplated by the Anglo-American accord, which offers recognition to Israel, aggrandizement to Transjordan, and, possibly, the granting to both states of membership in the United Nations provided Russia does not interpose a veto. Even if no explicit agreement were signed between Israel and Transjordan, the result would then be what is called here a “settlement by toleration,” or a modus vivendi.

But such a solution would be met with the resolute opposition of the other Arab states—which seem willing to use even the Mufti as a tool—and of the Russian bloc. This places Israel in an awkward dilemma. If the strange bedfellowship of America and Russia that helped the Jewish state into birth is dissolved and replaced by the antagonism marking the relations of the two giant powers in every other field, then the Israeli Provisional Government may be forced to make a choice for itself. Israeli consent to a form of partition that gave substantial advantages to Abdullah, and which would be subject to the reproach of aiding “British imperialism” or Western strategy, would probably cost Israel a great deal of Russian support. It is even doubtful whether in such an event the required two-thirds vote in the UN Assembly could be obtained. However, it still remains true that the only solution in sight is one that rests on an Israeli-Transjordanian arrangement.

Nevertheless, Israel is determined to preserve a policy of strict “neutrality” as between West and East. It is a position many another country would like to maintain, but it is easier to proclaim it than to carry it out. Israel needs the support of both Russia and the Anglo-Americans; and while it is perfectly possible to accept support from two different sides, it is infinitely difficult to pay the price each of them may demand. It will not be possible to play the one card as trump against the other indefinitely.

The uneasy international background is the main obstacle to a Palestinian settlement, as it is the obstacle to the solution of most of the burning political problems of our time. A renewal of the fighting, which Bernadotte predicted would take place if the Assembly failed to act, and which has in fact already broken out, though still only on a small scale, might bring military success to the Jews; but even then no settlement would emerge that could last without international intervention. It may in the course of time become clear that such intervention need not be by the UN—if the UN is not capable of acting adequately. This should be kept in mind. But in any case Bernadotte’s appeal to the powers concerned to use their resources for the restoration of peace in Palestine should not remain unanswered. Otherwise there will be no peace.

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