Light was thrown by the Egyptian ex-Khedive Abbas Hilmi himself on the various speculations which were recently rife regarding his plans in the Near East.
In an interview which he gave to the Egyptian daily “Al Ahram”, the ex-Khedive is supposed to have admitted that there is some truth in the rumors as to his pretensions to the kingdom of Syria. A certain State, it says, which is interested to maintain friendly relations with its neighbor Syria, has suggested to him that he should put forward his candidature to the Kingdom of Syria, and this state has promised him its support.
Since, however, the ex-Khedive explains, he has never given this possibility a thought, although he has always taken an interest in matters in the Near East, he has decided to express his opinion only after he has considered the problem on the spot, and for this reason he went to Constantinopole last December, where he consulted Mustapha Kemal Pasha and Tewfik Ruchdi Ismet Pasha. He subsequently visited the French Commissioner in Syria, M. Ponsot, and from there proceeded to Palestine, where he received a very cordial welcome from the High Commissioner and the Emir Abdullah.
Referring to the “Islamic Bureau” which he has established in Geneva, the ex-Khedive said that the aim of this bureau is to work in the interests of Islam all over the world. Many Europeans, including Englishmen, Frenchmen and Germans who have been converted to Islam, have assisted him in the establishment of the Bureau, which should serve as a connecting link between Moslems the world over. The actual plans, however, will only be decided upon after the various conferences in Near Eastern countries which are taking place now.
The ex-Khedive denied having given the Emir Abdullah Â£15,000, in order that he should assist him with his plans. Relations of a most friendly nature, he said, had existed between them for some time.
A heated discussion was provoked some time ago when proposals for the establishment of Jewish cantons in Palestine were circulated as emanating from Abbas Hilmi. In a letter to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the ex-Khedive, however, denied any connection with these proposals.
I was recently in Palestine merely in transit, the ex-Khedive wrote. I certainly saw the Mufti of Jerusalem there, the members of the Zionist Executive and also the British authorities. But my visits to all these gentlemen were but visits of courtesy.
You will easily understand my astonishment at seeing these propositions attributed to me, as I have seen them for the first time through the medium of your letter. These proposals, which have never emanated from me, deal with Palestine, and are a matter for the Palestinians themselves.
Having full confidence in the Mufti of Jerusalem and the members of the Arab Executive Committee (who are defending the cause of the Palestine Arabs), and appreciating the wisdom of the leading Zionists and the members of their Executive, he added, I have the firm hope that everything will be concluded by finding a ground of mutual agreement for the prosperity of Palestine and the happiness of the Palestinians, for which I hope with all my heart.