Jerusalem (Oct. 24)
Sir Walter Shaw opened the first session of the Commission of Inquiry in the Jerusalem District Court at four o’clock this afternoon.
“The tragic events which recently occurred in Palestine have shocked the conscience of the whole world and has threatened to arrest the peaceful development of this country,” Sir Walter declared in opening the sessions over which he will preside. “The events are deplored by every section of the people who are united in the demand that the causes be impartially investigated and a recrudescence of the disturbance be avoided.
“With this object in view, the Secretary of State for the Colonies appointed this Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the immediate causes which led to the outbreak and make recommendations of steps necessary to avoid a recurrence.
“Our duty is to hold a full, complete and impartial inquiry. We are precluded from considering questions of major policy. Such questions do not fall within the scope of our reference. It is a matter of satisfaction to this Commission that the inquiry into the immediate causes of the recent troubles is welcomed by all parties, and the Commissioners therefore feel justified in expecting to receive in the investigation the fullest assistance of all those desiring that these causes be ascertained and wish to contribute to the future peace and prosperity of the country.
“The Commission observes that charges of a serious character have been made by the Arabs against the Jews and the Jews against the Arabs, each attributing to the other responsibility for the events which both deplore. Charges have also been made against the administration. All these allegations, from whatever quarter, will receive the most careful examination in our appointment, which is to ascertain the truth and restore confidence, upon which contentment and progress depend,” he declared.
With the opening of the Commission
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of Inquiry’s session today and the accompanying discussion as to its functions, comparison is made with the Haycraft Commission, which investigated the Arab outbreak in 1921. At that time there were only two parties to appear before the investigation commission, the Arabs and the Jews. In the present investigation, the Palestine government is the third party and will be represented by counsel. While the Haycraft Commission was appointed by the Palestine government, Sir Herbert Samuel, then High Commissioner making the appointment, the present Commission was appointed by London at the request of the Palestine administation.
While the Arabs seem still undecided as to what attitude to adopt to ward the Commission, talk of boycotting and sabotaging the work of the Commission going on, although the Arabs have named counsel to represent them, the Jewish newspapers display an attitude of respect and reserve, but not a negative attitude. Two facts have had a dampening influence, first, the late arrival of the Commission and second, that two members of the Commission are former officials of the Colonial Office.