Geneva (Sep. 4)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
A heated debate marked yesterday’s session of the Council of the League of Nations when it came to consider the report of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations on the situation in Palestine.
Charges of overstepping its authority were formulated against the Commission and counter charges were made by the representative of the Commission that the limitations imposed and asked by the representatives of France and England might render the work of the Commission ineffective.
The controversy centered around the question of the proposal of the Commission that inhabitants of mandated territories may be allowed to submit their complaints against the mandatory governments not only through written petitions, but also by word of mouth.
Sir Austin Chamberlain, British Foreign Secretary, and Aristide Briand, French Foreign Minister, describing the effect which such a decision might have on the situation in Syria and Palestine, angrily accused the Permanent Mandates Commission of exceeding its powers. The Permanent Mandates Commission probably assumes that the mandated territories are governed by the Commission instead of by the mandatory powers, the Council members charged. The Commission is putting questions to the mandatory governments in a newly compiled questionnaire which is outside of the authority of the Commission and shows a desire on the part of the Commission to interfere in the actual business of governing the mandated territories. The business of the Commission is only to control and supervise the policy of the mandate powers, they contended.
Sir Austen Chamberlain, Aristide Briand, Count Ishii of Japan, M. Vandervelde of Belgium, insisted that the examination of complaints against the mandatory powers must proceed very cautiously.
An opposite view was held by M. Unden, representative of Sweden, who submitted the report of the Commission to the Council, and M. Van Rees of Holland, vice-chairman of the Permanent Mandates Commission.
They angrily replied to the charges of Briand and Chamberlain, declaring that the Permanent Mandates Commission is within its right. They quoted the League of Nations Covenant, the text of the various mandates and the international treaties, showing that the Commission is justified in its attitude.
Chamberlain and Briand then hastened to pay tribute to the important work of the Permanent Mandates Commission. M. Van Rees, however, refused to be pacified by these statements and declared that such criticism in the Council of the League of Nations may render the work of the Permanent Mandates Commission impossible.
The Council, following this discussion, decided to adjourn the decision on the report of the Permanent Mandates Commission on Palestine for the next session, in order to consider the objections raised by Sir Austen and M. Briand.
At today’s session, the Council accepted a new resolution on M. Unden’s report. The clash between the Permanent Mandates Commission and the Council on the proposal of the Commission concerning the hearing of petitioners was settled by the decision of the Council to ask the Secretary General of the League of Nations to obtain the opinions of the various mandatory powers on the questionaire issue.