Thursday, 3 June 2010

Count Folke Bernadotte

(2 January 1895 – 17 September 1948)

Fifty-eight years ago today, members of the Lohamei Herut Israel/LEHI militant Zionist group assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat who was appointed by the U.N. to mediate peace between the new state of Israel and its Arab neighbours. Bernadotte was shot six times at point-blank range as his convoy drove through Jerusalem, one day after he offered his second mediation plan which, among other things, called for the return of - and compensation for - the Palestinian refugees displaced by the creation of Israel.

On 16 September 1948, Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations Mediator for Palestine, submitted his progress report to the United Nations. It contained what he described as "seven basic premises" regarding the situation in Palestine. In the one headed "Right of Repatriation," he declared: "The right of innocent people, uprooted from their homes by the present terror and ravages of war, to return to their homes, should be affirmed and made effective, with assurance of adequate compensation for the property of those who may choose not to return.... [N]o 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. It will be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right of return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine..."

On 17 September 1948, the day after he submitted his progress report to the UN, Count Folke Bernadotte, along with his French aid [sic], Colonel Serot, was assassinated in Jerusalem by men wearing uniforms of the Israeli army who were subsequently discovered to be members of the Stern Gang, a Jewish terrorist group headed by among others, Yitzhak Shamir, a future prime minister of Israel.

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