Jerusalem (Feb. 29)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Whether Palestine is to become Great Britain’s strategic base for the defense of the Suez Canal is now greatly agitating public opinion in Palestine as well as in Egypt, as a result of the political developments in Egypt.
According to the forecasts of the Egyptian press, particularly the Cairo “Alahram”, the proposed new treaty between Great Britain and Egypt provides for the withdrawal of the British troops from the interior of Egypt to the Suez Canal, possibly to the Palestine side of the Canal.
It is stated that the matter will be left in abeyance for 5 years, after which time the British Government will agree to effect a transfer if nothing has in the meantime occurred which would render the transfer impossible. Some newspapers assert that the immediate transfer is proposed in the draft agreement. While it is impossible to say what lies beneath these anticipations, it is asserted that these forecasts contain a sub-stratum of the facts. Already the late Zaglul-Pasha, the Egyptian nationalist leader and Prime Minister, demanded the withdrawal of all British forces from Egypt. If the treaty is concluded and Britain withdraws its military forces from the country the significance of Palestine for the protection of the Suez Canal will grow immensely. This question was in the forefront of the considerations during Allenby’s campaign in Palestine, and at the present juncture raises the entire issue of Palestine’s strategic value to the British Empire which originally moved the British statesmen to support the Zionist movement.
It is believed that the British troops, after the new treaty with Egypt is concluded, will be stationed along the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal without having a hinterland for a base. Palestine will then become essential to provide this base, which will be Katara.