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Mussolini’s Pact with Vatican to Affect Italy’s Stand on Palestine and Near East

The consummation of the agreement reported to have been reached between the government of Italy and the Vatican to recognize the latter as a power with sovereign rights, official announcement of which is expected to be made on February 12 on the Pope’s coronation anniversary, will introduce a new influence into the international situation insofar as it affects the Near East in general and Palestine in particular.

It is reported here in well informed circles that the agreement which will solve one of the vexing questions in Italian policy since 1870, will create new problems of international significance. With the Vatican as a sovereign state, working hand in hand with the Fascist government, Italy’s foreign policy in the Near East will be strongly influenced by the traditional policies of the Vatican in this direction. Though no official information is available, it is stated on good authority that it is not limited to the inter-relation of the government of Italy and the Pope. The first result of the new situation in all likelihood will be the demand that the independent Vatican, having been recognized as a temporal state with sovereign rights, be given representation in the League of Nations.

Those interested in the development of Palestine as a Jewish national home, (Continued on page 4)

as is provided in the Mandate of the League of Nations entrusted by the League to Great Britain, declared here today that if anywhere it will be in this direction that the new policy of the Italian government will be manifest. The interest in Palestine, common to the Italian government and to the Vatican, it was pointed out, was one of the factors which facilitated the conclusion of the agreement. Italy’s desire to acquire the Mandate over Palestine has recently been emphasized in news despatches which originated from sources close to the Italian government, Italy considering Palestine a desirable outlet for Italian emigration and colonization.

It is feared that the aspirations of the Italian government in the Near East will now be doubly intensified due to the agreement with the Vatican as it is alleged, the Vatican has never been thoroughly satisfied with the settlement of the Palestine question by the League of Nations following the world war. Its opposition to the aims of the Zionist movement, though never expressed officially has been a matter of deep concern in some quarters.

Some connection is seen between the present development in the rapprochement and an article recently published in the Italian newspaper. “Populo di Roma” Mussolini’s organ, believed to have been written by II Duce himself.

In this article II Duce took exception to the terminology employed by the leaders of the Zionist movement in Italy and raised the question as to whether one could be simultaneously a Zionist and a loyal member of the Fascist state.

So much importance was ascribed to this article and such influence was seen to be at work in this connection that a number of Jewish communities in Italy as a united body submitted a memorandum to Mussolini in which the patriotism of Italian Jews, without regard to their affiliation. Zionist or non-Zionist, during peace and war times, was emphasized. The Jewish communities, pointing to the bravery of Jewish youth during the world war, declared that any doubt as to their loyalty to the State was impossible. Simultaneously, the memorandum pointed out that the Jews of Italy are devoted to the land of their ancestors. Palestine, where God manifested Himself to them.

Fear was expressed here in well informed circles that notwithstanding this assurance, with the coming into effect of the agreement with the Vatican, the Zionist movement in Italy may be declared illegal, and those engaged in work in its behalf may be subjected to arrest and prosecution.

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