Jerusalem (Nov. 1)
All motor traffic in Palestine will be stopped tomorrow (Monday) at midnight, in accordance with a unanimous decision adopted at an all-day meeting held to-day to declare a motor-car strike throughout the country as a protest against the refusal of the Government to cancel the licence fees for the new year, and insisting on retrospective payment of the fees since July, although the Official Enquiry Board under the chairmanship of Mr. Abramson, the Commissioner of Lands, has recommended other alternatives than the enforcement of the licence fee.
Jews and Arabs are united on the matter and the Arab-Jewish front is complete, even those small groups of Arabs who have hitherto opposed Arab-Jewish co-operation having now decided to come into the general movement.
The strike was to have taken place on June 30th., but was averted by an eleventh-hour announcement by the Government that it was suspending for the time being the payment of the licence fees. The strike was thereupon called off pending the Government’s examination of the demands of the car-owners that it should cancel the licence fees, reduce the import duty on petrol and modify the traffic regulations.
In August, the Government wrote to the motor-car drivers’ union that it was prepared to reduce the licence fees, but could not agree to the other demands. The strike was then called for August 6th., but again at the last moment the Government agreed to postpone the payments of motor licence fees, and it was decided to establish the Commission under Mr. Abramson’s chairmanship which has been examining the question.
It had been generally hoped that the creation of the Commission would avoid a strike, since that would bring about a complete stoppage of vehicular traffic all over the country. Over 4,000 families, both Jewish and Arab, are involved. Jewish life in Palestine, which depends largely on communication between the various centres, would be particularly affected, and Jewish quarters have been urging the Government to accede to the demands of the drivers to prevent the danger of a strike.