London (May. 28)
The British government accepts generally the findings of the Palestine Inquiry Commission on the nature of last August’s outbreaks and with regard to the Zionists’ complaints against the Grand Mufti, the Palestine administration and the Arab Executive. This is the keynote of a White Paper issued yesterday by the government in which it outlines the British policy in Palestine in view of the forthcoming session of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations.
While the White Paper is not a clear statement of the British government’s policy for the future of the Palestine administration, the statement indicates broadly which point of the Commission’s report the government considers the most important for further investigation or action.
ACCEPTS ZIONIST COMPLAINTS
After reproducing Premier MacDonald’s statement in Parliament April 3 the White Paper discusses at length the difficulties of “conflicting interests” in Palestine and the dual obligations of the Mandate between which a balance must be held. The statement points out that while the government is not in a position to formulate concrete proposals regarding all the points which the Commission raised, it generally accepts the findings of the commission on the nature of the outbreak and the Zionists’ complaints against the Grand Mufti, the Palestine government and the Arab Executive as well as the minor Arab grievances.
IMMIGRATION UNDER EXAMINATION
The question of the temporary suspension of immigration, the White Paper states, is under examination and legislation is to be introduced with the object of “controlling the dispossession of the indigenous agricultural population.” The final decision, however, will be made after the receipt of the report of Sir John Simpson.
DEFENSE SCHEME BEING CREATED
The White Paper also says that a measure of self-government for Palestine cannot be considered, which is incompatible with the requirement of the Mandate. On the subject of defense the statement declares that a scheme of defense including the establishment and control of sealed armories in the colonies is being created. The White Paper declares, too, that the High Commissioner has under consideration the enactment of legislation to provide for better control of the press in Palestine.
Mandates Commission has from the first displayed an active interest. Article 2 of the Mandate makes the Mandatory power responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economical conditions as will secure the development of self-governing institutions. Article 3 requies the Mandatory power, so far as circumstances permit, to encourage local autonomy.
NO CHANGE THAT INFRINGES MANDATE
“The steps taken for the establishment of the municipal and local councils in Palestine are well known to the Mandates Commission and it is not necessary to refer in detail to the attempts that have been made in the past to introduce a measure of self-government for the country as a whole. The absence of any measure of self-government in Palestine is not due to any lack of goodwill on the part of the Mandatory power. It must be a primary condition of any constitutional change in Palestine that the Mandatory power should reserve to itself the power of carrying out the obligations imposed upon it by the Mandate.
“The question formed the subject of conversations with the delegation of Palestinian Arabs which lately came to England. It has been made clear to the delegation that no measure of self-government could be considered which was not compatible with the requirements of the Mandate. The matter is of course, one which also deeply concerns the Jewish Agency.
CLEAR STATEMENT TO COME
“The Commission’s report also expresses certain views on the difficulties inherent in the Mandate. Their recommendations on this point include the issuance of a clear statement of policy containing, first, a definition in clear and positive terms of the meaning which the government attaches to passages in the Mandate for safeguarding the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and secondly the laying down for the guidance of the Palestine government, directions more explicit than any that have yet been given as to the conduct of policy of such vital issues as land and immigration.
“A statement of the British policy in Palestine was issued in 1922. The administration of the country has since been conducted on the general lines laid down in that statement, except that for reasons already explained, the proposed legislative council has never been brought into being. The government does not challenge the view that a further and more explicit statement of policy is required, and it is its intention in due course to issue such a statement.
“Since, however, no such statement could be adequate or complete which ignored the vital questions of land settlements, immigration and development, it will be necessary to await Sir John Simpson’s report before giving effect to the Commission’s recommendation.
STUDYING PALESTINE GARRISON
“Its further recommendations relating to the functions of the Zionist Organization and the Palestine Zionist Executive will also be adopted when the proposed statement is drawn up. As regards defense and security, the commission expressed the view that the policy of reducing the garrison in Palestine was carried too far, but as the commission pointed out, large numbers of police in August, 1929, would not necessarily have prevented the outbreak.
“The experiences of April, 1920, and May, 1921, when racial disturbances occurred despite the strength of the garrison points the other way. The government has at present under its earnest consideration the composition and strength of the garrison to be retained in Palestine in the future. Arrangements have also been made ensuring the dispatch of reinforcements to Palestine with the least possible delay if the need should arise.
SEALED ARMORIES CREATED
“The establishment of sealed armories is being brought into force. The government is fully satisfied as to the need for sealed armories. Without them adequate defense of the colonies can be ensured only at a prohibitive cost.
“The question of improving the intelligence service and forming a reserve of special constables has also been considered. The High Commissioner’s attention will be drawn to the remarks on incitement in the press in Harry Snell’s reservations and the Commissioner’s recommendation.”
MANDATES COMMISSION COMMENT
One of the observations made by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations at its fifth session in Geneva, October 23 to November 6, 1924, reads as follows:
“It is not in any way for the Commission, whose duty it is, according to Article 22 of the Covenant, ‘to advise the Council on all matters relating to the observance of the Mandate,’ to offer any observations whatever concerning the actual contents of the Mandates the application of which it is called upon to examine, or to contrast the two principles which the Council sought to embody in the terms of the Mandate for Palestine. But, as this Mandate of necessity reflects the dual nature of its inspiration, and as its application has given rise to complaints by persons basing their case on one or other of these principles to the exclusion of the other the Commission would not be fulfilling its task if it refrained from making any reference to the facts which have come to its notice in this connection. In order to define and illustrate its meaning with greater clearness, the Commission desires to draw the particular attention of the Council to the problem of immigration, which is, perhaps, the dominant issue of the present situation in Palestine.
“The Commission has noted that, according to the Annual Report and the statements made by the accredited Representative of the mandatory Power, there has, during the last few years, been a considerable stream of Jewish immigration into Palestine. This stream of immigration which comes mainly from various regions of Eastern Europe, is providing the territory of Palestine with a new population, the elements of which, however great their ardour and Zionist zeal and their desires to contribute to the establishment of the Jewish National Home, are as a general rule not prepared, either by technical training or by family tradition, for manual, and particularly agricultural work which is necessary in the present state of Palestine.
“According to the terms of Article 6 of the Mandate, ‘the Administration of Palestine…shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage…close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.’ Those provisions, therefore make it the duty of the Palestine Administration to encourageâ€”as well as to regulateâ€”Jewish immigration into Palestine.
DISSATISFACTION WITH POLICY
“The Commission is bound to observe that the policy of the mandatory Power as regards immigration gives rise to acute controversy. It does not afford entire satisfaction to the Zionists, who feel that the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home is the first duty of the mandatory Power and manifest a certain impatience at the restrictions which are placed in the way of immigration and in respect of the granting of land to immigrants. This policy is on the other hand, rejected by the Arab majority in the country, which refuses to accept the idea of a Jewish National Home and regards the action of the Administration as a menace to its traditional patrimony.
“A twofold duty is thus imposed on the Administration of Palestine by the actual terms of the Mandate. It is obvious that if the mandatory Power had to take into consideration the interests of the population, its immigration policy ought to be dictated primarily by considerations of the economic needs of the country.”
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