A Geneva dispatch to the New York “Times” says that in informed circles there great doubt is expressed that the so-called “second Balfour Declaration” of February 8, 1918 in which Lord Balfour is supposed to have promised the Arabs independence, a photostatic copy of which has been submitted to the League of Nations as part of a petition from the Syrian-Palestine Congress, will have any favorable effect on the Arab’s plea for a revision of the terms of the Palestine Mandate.
According to the “Times’ ” story even Arab supporters are of the opinion that the document will not have much of a real effect and some even believe that the document does not establish the hard and fast juridical case that the Arabs think they have. Lord Balfour’s letter was written to King Hussein, former ruler of the Hedjaz, in confirmation of promises of independence made to the Arabs by Sir Henry MacMahon.
It is pointed out that in Lord Balfour’s letter he gives no indication of just what the promises were or whether Palestine was included in the territory promised to the Arabs. It is also pointed out by neutral observers that the British government officially stated in 1922 that Palestine was excluded from the promise.
Jewish circles in Geneva are not inclined to attach much weight to the Balfour letter and it is pointed out that the Jews too have some new documents which are said to prove that in 1915 the British were planning a special regime in Palestine when they made promises to the Arabs. The “Times’ ” correspondent also says that the Jews have documentary evidence showing that on March 13, 1916 Viscount Grey submitted to Russia a British plan for an international regime in Palestine, giving the Jews the right to colonize there and eventually to take over the internal administration of the country and that this plan was agreed to before the end of the year by Russia, France and Italy.