The first 150 immigration certificates granted yesterday by the Palestine government to Arabs from Egypt and Syria to enter Palestine for permanent settlement will provoke a good deal of discussion in Palestine. This precedent opens the doors for Arabs from the neighboring countries to enter Palestine legally, in addition to those thousands entering the country illegally.
It has already been reported on many occasions that large numbers of Arabs from countries outside Palestine come to Palestine in order to benefit from its superior economic conditions. While it is difficult to quote exact figures for this immigration, recent returns from Syria, supposed to emanate from authoritative sources, state that as many as 25,000 Arabs from Hauran, Syria, went to Palestine in the past year.
Even if this figure is exaggerated there can be little doubt that many thousands of Arabs have actually entered Palestine and have remained, while many others cross the frontiers from time to time to take up seasonal employment and then return. The latter, from the standpoint of Jewish labor, is almost as bad as their settling permanently in the country.
PREVENTING A JEWISH MAJORITY
Government officials, apparently disturbed by the growth of Jewish immigration into Palestine and fearing that the Jews may eventually outnumber the Arabs there are trying to balance the Jewish influence by instituting a legal immigration of Arabs into the country.
This new policy of the Palestine government will no doubt provoke resentment on the part of the Jews, since it affects the principle of Palestine’s absorptive capacity. It is to this principle that the Palestine government always refers when it comes to granting immigration visas for Jews. The demands of the Jewish Agency for immigration certificates are always cut down by the government, under the pretext that the absorptive capacity of the country does not justify the granting of the full number of visas requested by the Jewish Agency.
VIOLATING THE ABSORPTIVE CAPACITY
In admitting Arabs from Syria and Egypt for permanent settling in Palestine, the government is practically violating this principle of absorptive capacity. If more labor is required for the Haifa harbor or for any other works in Palestine, there is no reason why more labor visas should not be granted to Jews. If the country can absorb Arabs from Egypt and from Syria, countries which have no connection with the Palestine Mandate, why not more Jews, the admission of whom is provided for by the Mandate under the League of Nations.
The precedent now set by the Palestine government in issuing immigration visas for Egyptians and Syrians while checking Jewish immigration, can only mean that the British administration has definitely made up its mind that the Jews must be prevented from becoming a majority in Palestine. The precedent is dangerous because it is a result of careful planning. The Jews must be on their guard if they wish ever to become a majority in Palestine.