London (Feb. 29)
Much excitement has been caused during the last few weeks by rumours of an attempt to bring about a Jewish-Arab agreement on the basis of a division of Palestine into Jewish and Arab districts or “cantons”, Dr. Brodetsky said in the course of his statement to the press to-day. In spite of categorical statements made by the Executive that these rumours emanated from sources on which little reliance could be placed, he pursued, that the British Government had denied all knowledge of any such proposal, and that the Executive had not been approached in any way, officially or unofficially, directly or indirectly, with regard to a Round Table Conference with the Arabs, nevertheless some sections of the Jewish press and of Jewish public opinion have persisted in referring to these rumours in a manner which suggests that they believe that something is happening behind the scenes, and that the Executive is engaged in secret discussions with regard to some such proposal. Every utterance or move on the part of a member of the Executive, and even of men not associated with the Executive, is being twisted in order to lend plausibility to this theory. Mr. Sokolov’s visit to Washington, Mr. Neumann’s visit to Paris, Colonel Kisch’s Journey to Palestine, my own projected visit to that country, and even Lord Reading’s illness, -all these things have been represented as meaning that something is happening, and that the Jewish people will be confronted with a fait accompli. A statement of mine which referred to the Development Scheme, and which was made the night before the rumours in question reached me, has been declared to mean literally that the Executive was discussing the proposal, and was preparing to take important decisions. The declaration made on behalf of the Executive that no importance should be attached to the rumours in question, and that, in any case, no decisions could be taken on matters of this kind except by the highest authorities of the Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency, has been interpreted to mean the very reverse of what it says. The attitude seems to be that, if there is talk, there must of necessity be something behind it-no smoke without fire.
I would like to take this opportunity, Dr. Prodetsky said, of once more declaring categorically that the Executive is absolutely unaware of any discussions on any such proposal as that which forms the subject of these rumours. The Executive has never been engaged, and is not at the present moment engaged, in any conversations with any Arabs, or Moslems, or with the Mandatory Power, on this or kindred subjects; the Executive is not aware of any Jew, representing the Jewish Agency or not representing the Jewish Agency, being engaged in any such discussions. The Colonial Office has again informed us to-day that it has no knowledge of any such proposal.
BASIS OF EXECUTIVE’S POLICY REMAINS AND WILL REMAIN THAT ANNOUNCED BY PRESIDENT AT LAST CONGRESS: EXECUTIVE INTERPRETS ITS FUNCTIONS IN SENSE THAT IT HAS NO POWER TO DEPART FROM THIS POLICY: ANY PROPOSALS AFFECTING JEWISH-ARAB RELATIONS MUST BE IMMEDIATELY PLACED BEFORE ACTIONS COMMITTEE AND ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE: NO REASON WHY JEWISH PUBLIC OPINION SHOULD BE EXERCISED ABOUT MATTER
Finally, I would add, on behalf of the Executive, Dr. Brodetsky said, that the basis of its policy has been, and will remain, that announced by the President at the last Congress, and that the Executive interprets its functions in the sense that it has no power to depart from this policy, and, indeed, that any proposals of any kind affecting Jewish-Arab relations which may come before the Executive from any responsible source must be immediately placed before the higher authorities of the movement, namely the Actions Committee of the Zionist Organisation and the Administrative Committee of the Jewish Agency. Since no such proposals have at any time reached the Executive from any quarter worthy of attention, there is no reason whatever why Jewish public opinion should be exercised about the matter, and we appeal to the Jewish press to do everything in its power in order to calm public opinion, and not to excite it unnecessarily.
REALLY IMPORTANT POLITICAL PROBLEM BEFORE US IS DEVELOPMENT SCHEME AND LAND POLICY: NOT UNLIKELY SOME TIME WILL YET ELAPSE BEFORE JEWISH AGENCY WILL BE IN POSSESSION OF MR. FRENCH’S TWO REPORTS: CANNOT DEAL WITH ALARMIST RUMOURS CIROULATED ABOUT FIRST REPORT WHICH WE HAVE NOT YET SEEN: EXECUTIVE’S ATTITUDE TO DEVELOPMENT AND LAND LEGISLATION PROBLEMS STRICTLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH INSTRUCTIONS OF CONGRESS AND COUNCIL
The really important political problem before us at the moment is that of the Development Scheme and Land Policy, Dr. Rrodetsky proceeded, and the reports expected from the Director of Development. As already announced by the Government, Dr. French is working on his second report, in which he is to propose a definite programme of development work. According to information received some weeks back, the second report should be ready at an early date, but the Government has not yet been able to state definitely whether this will in fact be the case. There are indications to the contrary, since it seems that the investigations with regard to the claims of the so-called “displaced” Arabs, as defined in the Prime Minister’s letter, are not yet near completion. It is therefore not unlikely that some time will even yet elapse before the Jewish Agency will be in possession of Mr. French’s two reports.
It is in connection with this matter, Dr. Brodetsky said, that I am undertaking my visit to Palestine. In accordance with the Despatch of July 1931, concerning the Development Scheme, the report of the Director of Development must first be submitted in Palestine to the Jewish Agency and the Arab Executive, and then, together with the Jewish and Arab views, sent by the High Commissioner, with his own observations, to the Secretary of State in London. I therefore feel that it is desirable that I should be present in Jerusalem when the reports are received and are under discussion by the representatives of the Jewish Agency. Mr. Farbstein is already in Pales-
tine, and Mr. Heumann will also be in Palestine soon, so that we stall have a considerable majority of the Executive in Palestine in order to discuss these reports. Needless to say, the President, Mr. Sokolov, and other members of the Executive outside Palestine will be #ept fully informed, and their views communicated to us in Palestine. Further, arrangements have been made for consulting the highes authorities of the Zionist movement and of the Jewish Agency without delay if the need for such consultation arises in connection with these reports.
I cannot, of course, Dr. Brodetsky went on, anticipate Mr. Frenoh’s reports, or deal with the alarming, and often alarmist, rumours circulated in connection with the first report which we have not yet seen. We were not able to appoint a Jewish Adviser owing to the threat of land legislation in August 1931, prejudicial to Jewish work in Palestine. The question of an Adviser is not practical polities now that the reports are imminent, and the whole matter is to be discussed with the Government. Nevertheless, I can state that Jewish interests have been watched the whole time, both in London and in Jerusalem. The attitude of the Executive with regard to the problems of development and land legislation is strictly in accordance with the instructions of Congress and Council, and we have made clear to the Government, both in London and in Jerusalem, the principles that we consider indispensable in relation to these matters.
Mr. Emanuel Neumann and Mr. Berl Locker, members of the Jewish Agency Executive, also addressed the press conference on the position of the United States Government in regard to Palestine and the Jewish National Home policy and the work of the Organisation Department of the Executive, which is under Mr. Locker’s direction, respectively.