London (Dec. 18)
The terms of the convention signed in London on Dec. 3 between Great Britain and the United States, with reference to the protection of American rights and interests in Palestine have not yet been published. It is understood, however, that it confers on citizens of the United States the same rights in Palestine that they would have possessed had the United States been a member of the League of Nations.
The history of negotiations leading up to this treaty, which has been sent to Washington for ratification, goes back to the period immediately following the submission of the draft mandates for the former Ottoman territories to the Council of the League of Nations at the end of 1920. The American Government stipulated that neither these nor other mandates, whether for former Turkish or former German territory, should take effect until the United States had been consulted.
The League Council invited the American Government to take part in its proceedings, so far as they related to the terms of the various mandates. This invitation, however, was declined. The United States stood firmly by the view that, though remaining outside the League of Nations, they had, nevertheless, a right to be consulted by their associates in the war as to the fixture of the detached territories, and the American Government accordingly entered into direct negotiations with the various mandatory powers.
So far as Palestine was concerned, these negotiations were not brought to a head until May, 1922, when the British and American governments reached an agreement satisfactory to both parties-an agreement based upon the general theory, that the United States should have all the rights in mandated territories which they would have had had they entered the League of Nations.
In the case of the Palestine mandate, for example, it is provided that the commerce and navigation of all the state members of the League shall be on as favorable a footing in Palestine as those of the mandatory. The American Government was naturally anxious that American abstention from the League should not put the United States at any disadvantage in these respects.
It was at first suggested that American interests should be expressly safeguarded in the mandate itself. It was, however, eventually decided that the better course would be for appropriate assurances to be given by Great Britain to the United States, with a view to their eventual incorporation in a treaty to be concluded between the two powers. The assurances given were as follows:
The United States were to have the full benefit of all engagements contracted by Great Britain under the Palestine mandate. American citizens were to have the right to be tried by courts containing a majority of British judges, or, in trivial cases, the right to appeal to such courts. Should the mandate at any time be terminated, the rights enjoyed by the United States under the Turkish capitulations would at once be revived unimpaired. American citizens and companies were to be guaranteed freedom from discrimination, equality of commercial opportunity, and the full enjoyment of their existing legal rights.
On this point, it may be explained that certain oil concessions in Palestine had been obtained before the war by the Standard Oil Company, and bulked large in the Anglo-American negotiations. American missionaries were to be free to pursue their lawful activities. Finally, no alteration was to be made in the terms of the mandate without the consent of the United States, and the American Government was to be furnished with a duplicate of the annual report on the administration of Palestine to be presented by the British Government to the League of Nations.