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Non-partisan Conference on Palestine Economic Problems Opens in London

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The participation of European non-Zionists in the economic task of upbuilding Palestine as the Jewish national home came closer to realization when the Palestine economic conference was opened here last Monday in the conference room of the Zionist Executive at 77 Great Russel Street. Prominent European bankers, industrialists and economists are engaged in the deliberations of the conference.

Sir Herbert Samuel, former High Commissioner of Palestine and candidate for the leadership of the British Liberal Party, was in the chair. He was assisted by Deputy Leon Blum, leader of the Socialist party in France and Senator Della Torre, director of the Bank of Milan.

The conference, which was scheduled to be opened on Sunday was delayed due to the fact that several of the expected participants were delayed in their journey from the continent because of the bad weather.

A message was read from the Marquis of Reading, who regretted his inability to attend, due to his absence from England, but he wished the conference every success. In a message Armand Dreyfus, banker of Switzerland, deplored his absence because of illness, but promised his cooperation. A similar message was received from Mr. Belisha.

Prior to the formal opening of the conference, Sir Herbert Samuel at a preliminary meeting held on Sunday suggested that several sub-committees be formed for the purpose of starting the work immediately. These sub-committees were formed consisting of Sir Herbert Samuel, James de Rothschild. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Bernard Feiwel, Dr. Arthur Ruppin, Senator Della Torre, Dr. Ernest Kahn, financial authority of the Frankfurter Zeitung, Mr. Harold Laski, prominent banker of Manchester, Dr. George Halperin, director of the Anglo-Palestine Bank and Mr. Pollak of the Nesher Cement Company of Palestine.

Although no official statement was issued concerning the subjects under discussion by these committees, it was learned that the quesion whether or not and under what conditions the Zionist Organization is to acquire concessions of certain new areas of land for Jewish colonization in teritory adjacent to Palestine was debated. The situation of the Zionist financial institutions was examined. The operation of the Keren Hayesod and the Keren Kayemeth were discussed and the possibility of providing larger resources for the upbuilding of Palestine through a loan were taken up.

Among those who have arrived to participate in the conference are Herr Oscar Wassermann, director of the Deutscher Reichsbank, Judge Visser of the Supreme Court, Holland, and Mr. Adler, banker of Rome.

The Monday morning session was opened by Dr. Weizmann who welcomed the gathering on behalf of the Zionist Executive and expressed his gratitude to Sir Herbert Samuel for assuming the chairmanship of the conference.

Sir Herbert joined Dr. Weizmann in welcoming the visitors to England and in his adress described the outstanding facts of the present situation in Palestine. The Jewish population of Palestine has increased from 50,000 to 150,000 and a marked increase is also seen in the Jewish agricultural population of the country, he stated. Pointing to other developments in the country, Sir Herbert stated that this conference, although it takes into regard the political aims and the sentiments concerning the establishment of a Jewish national home, must concentrate its attention on the economic development, to seek ways and means of facilitating the agricultural and industrial conditions in Palestine. This can be done by the conference either jointly with the Zionist Organization or separately, he stated. Palestine, he continued, will become self-supporting in time, but there are numerous difficulties in the way. In a way, it is well that there are difficulties, because if Palestine had been fully developed already, the Jews would have had no opportunity for developing the country and creating a home there. He concluded his address with an expression of hope that the deliberations will be of great service to Palestine.

Dr. Weizmann, whose address followed Sir Herbert’s outlined the Zionist position. The pace of upbuilding Palestine could have been forced, but there was a lack of means, he said. He showed how the development could be advanced through the provision of agricultural and industrial credit. Although this conference is a very sober gathering, dealing mainly with facts and figures, beneath it lies the aspiration to build up the Jewish homeland, he stated.

A variety of financial and economic subjects were then debated in the general discussion which followed and in which M. Blum, Herr Wassermann, Dr. Kahn, Judge Visser, Sir Herbert, Dr. Weizmann, Dr. Ruppin and Dr. Feiwel participated. Following the discussion, the committees to which were added Dr. Wassermann and Dr. Blum retired for their deliberations. The committees worked all through Monday evening and early Tuesday morning with a view to arriving at certain definite proposals which will be placed before the conference.

At the noon session on Tuesday, Herr Wassermann submitted his report on behalf of the finance committee, reporting progress in the work of the committee. The various other proposals are still under discussion.

The conference will last until Wednesday evening or Thursday, when definite decisions will be made. A luncheon in honor of the visiting experts and bankers will be given by Dr. Weizmann at the Ritz Hotel on Wednesday.

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