Jerusalem (Jun. 23)
The international Wailing Wall Commission here to investigate Moslem and Jewish claims to the Wall, held its first session today. The Arabs proposed fourteen representatives at the hearings and Emil Loefgren, the chairman, informed the press that after the first meeting the Jews will probably have an equal number.
YELLIN APPLAUDS NEUTRALITY
At the opening session, after the speech of M. Loefgren, David Yellin, one of those representing the Jews, welcomed the Commission, applauding the neutrality of its composition. He emphasized that the Jews ask only unrestricted right of worship at the ancient Wall. Auni Bey, of the Arab counsel, said that the Moslem world is anxious to assist but he declared that he is not entitled to undertake to agree in advance to the Commission’s verdict.
Although the government is not a party to the proceedings, S. S. Davis, treasurer of Palestine, Norman Bentwich, attorney-general and M. Marvogordato, police superintendent, were present. Rabbi Blau, Mordecai Eliash and David Yellin, as the Jewish representatives, were present. Five representatives of the Moslem Supreme Council, including Jamal Husseini who was accompanied by Auni Bey were present. The Jewish case will be formally opened by Mr. Eliash Wednesday.
PRESS FACILITIES NOT LIMITED
The Commission intends to sit twice daily, four days in the week. M. Loefgren, replying to a memorandum from the Press Association, stressed the importance of publicity and said that the rights and claims are a matter of public knowledge and agreed not to limit the press facilities. He also said that the hearings would not be characterized by an emotional element such as pervaded the Inquiry Commission’s sessions.
In his address opening the Wailing Wall Commission’s hearings, M. Loefgren mentioned the Shaw Commission’s recommendations to appoint a Commission for an early determination of the rights and claims to the “so-called Wailing Wall”. He cited the resolution of the Council of the League of Nations appointing the Commission entrusted with a settlement.
He said “our Commission was constituted by the British government with the full agreement of the Council of the League of Nations to which the government is solely responsible in all matters connected with the Mandate. The members of the Commission belong to countries absolutely independent and do not have any part in the interests at question in the issue. The British government and the Council thereby emphasized that they both expect to be prepared to carry out the Mandate and expect us to make an impartial and complete inquiry resulting in a verdict exclusively based on an honest understanding of law and equity of the case.
HOPES FOR GOOD WILL
“We hope that both interested parties will look upon our work with good will, giving us the necessary assistance in choosing an authorized representative to hear witnesses, procure the most expert advice, documentary evidence, cross-examine witnesses and plead the case, reserving to the different interests on the same side the right to produce declarations and resolutions and other material.
“The Commission’s duty is not only to investigate but to give a verdict. Therefore, we propose that the representatives of the press and public have access to the sittings of the Commission”.