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UN Mediator Asks US For Marines to Protect Jerusalem

(July 20, 1948)

[ Rhodes ?,] July 20, 1948.

I am deeply appreciative of assurance of your support conveyed in your cable of 20 [19] July.

I am greatly concerned about the situation in Jerusalem. As you know an agreement between the Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem for the neutralization of Mount Scopus and Victoria Augusta Hospital had been negotiated during the four week truce on condition that the United Nations as a bulk provide guards for these places. At present I am able to dispose of one Swedish colonel, one senior member of the UN secretariat and eight untrained and unarmed UN guards for this purpose. I have most urgent and immediate need of 250 armed guards for this purpose. The function of these guards does not involve any risk of engagement with regular Arab or Jewish forces. Their function is a police function consisting primarily of protecting these areas against possible activities of irresponsible irregular elements from both sides.

My understanding is that the French Government is willing to provide 80 armed guards from their armed forces immediately if the USA and Belgium each would make a similar number available. These guards from the three states, members of the Truce Commission, would be required only until such time as the United Nations would be able to recruit and make available an internationally recruited guard force.

I understand that there is one reinforced US Marine engineer battalion combat loaded aboard the Marquette now in Rhodes harbor. Since the hoped for demilitarization of Jerusalem and permanent peace in Palestine generally depend largely upon the United Nations demonstrating its ability to discharge its obligations with regard to Mount Scopus and Victoria Augusta Hospital, I appeal to you urgently to permit the temporary assignment of this Marine unit to the United Nations for employment on the above mission until they are relieved by the 80 man contingents from the three states members of the Truce Commission.

If this unit can be made available as I earnestly hope, it would, of course, be with the understanding that it could be immediately withdrawn by your government without prior notice should any emergency require its deployment elsewhere.

Count Folke Bernadotte

Source: The United Nations Mediator in Palestine ( Bernadotte ) to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, (July 20, 1948).