24 SEPTEMBER 1948, Page 1


THE assassination of Count Bernadotte is the direct responsibility of the Jewish Provisional Government. For years the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvai Leumi waged a campaign of murder and sabotage against the British authorities inside and outside Palestine, but when- ever the assistance of the Jewish Agency was asked for in suppressing terrorism or capturing the terrorists it was always refused on the grounds that this was a domestic Jewish problem which would be dealt with effectively by the Jews themselves when they achieved their independence. They have had independence for four months and done nothing to deal with it. So far from being suppressed, the terrorists were allowed, until recently, to maintain their identity as military formations, they were allowed complete, indeed privileged, freedom of movement, recruitment and propaganda, and have won for themselves a position as the darlings of public opinion in Jewish Palestine. The fact that their political doctrines are incompatible with peace in the Middle East, and their social doctrines with any ideas of law or humanity, has not acted to their disadvantage. Even the open boast of their intention to kill Count Bernadotte and other representatives of the United Nations brought no official action against them. It is all the more essential that the belated action now being taken by the Jewish authorities against the terrorists should be thorough, because their failure to act in the past is as easily attributable to complicity as to weakness. The main bene- ficiaries from terrorist activity have been the Jewish Agency and Jewish Government. The Jewish Agency wanted the mandate to end ; the terrorists made Britain's position untenable. Terrorist conquests in Jaffa and elsewhere were disowned by the Jewish Government, which then accepted the proceeds. The Jewish Govern- ment maintained that Count Bernadotte's mediation was working against them ; the terrorists shot him. This, surely, is at last an occasion on which pious expressions of regret will not be considered adequate absolution for murder.

Count Bernadotte was a great as well as a good man, as reasonable is he was humane. He has left as his testament a long report to the United Nations on his stewardship in Palestine which contains recommendations for future action. It must earnestly be hoped that the circumstances in which the report is published will spur the Assembly in Paris to act on it, for its arguments are sound and its conclusions sensible. A good start towards action has been made by the prompt support which has been given to the report by the British and American Foreign Ministers, who thus most fortunately find themselves reunited on Palestine. There can be little dispute about the main points of Count Bernadotte's thesis ; the Jewish State in Palestine exists, the partition boundaries suggested in November no longer have any real meaning, but any new boundaries which are drawn up should be backed by an international guarantee, and Jerusalem should be accorded special and separate treatment. These are among what Count Bernadotte considered workable bases for a settlement. This is not the same as saying that he expected either the Jews or the Arabs to accept them, but that he believed that they were the terms which the United Nations could force through with the minimum resistance from either side, if they chose. Will they choose to do so ? The semi-truce has survived the mediator's assassination only because the opening of the Assembly was so close at hand. If the Assembly misses the chance which the Count's brief has given it, Palestine will lapse into worse chaos than ever, and the terrorists will have won.