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Between the Lines

Are American Jews in Palestine subject to the laws of that country?

This question may involve the American government in serious international complications, in view of the new laws which the Palestine administration has issued, restricting rentals in Tel Aviv to a maximum of twelve and a half dollars a month for each room.

Curious as it may seem, American Jews who are landlords in Palestine claim that these restrictive laws cannot be held applicable to them. The United States government, they assert, not being a member of the League of Nations, gave its approval to the granting of the Palestine mandate to Great Britain on the express condition that property of American citizens in Palestine is not to be in any way affected.

CASE IN COURT

Armed with this argument, an American Jew, owner of a building in Palestine, has challenged the Palestine government in court. He declares that the agreement existing between the United States and the British government will be directly violated if the law restricting rent is enforced upon him, an American citizen. He maintains that his property is not to be interfered with, on the basis of the American-British agreement on Palestine.

Experts on international law in Palestine, though they consider the case curious, are nevertheless of the opinion that the argument advanced by the American Jew against the Palestine government cannot be disregarded. The case will come up within this month in the district court in Jaffa, and two lawyers will argue in favor of the American Jew.

INTERNATIONAL COMPLICATIONS

Complications in this case are even more serious because of the existing provision under the mandate, that no distinction in the rights of citizens of various countries can be made in Palestine, as a mandated territory. Once special privileges are enjoyed by American citizens with regard to the rental law, on the basis of the British-American agreement, then this privilege cannot be denied to citizens of other countries, on the basis of the above provision of the mandate.

The case is provoking great interest, since its outcome will affect all Jews who are citizens of other countries. Jew, citizens of Palestine, may also benefit by the outcome of this case, since the mandate provides that Palestinian citizens are to be treated on an equal basis with citizens of other countries residing there.

AMERICAN COLONY EXCITED

The American colony is especially interested in the outcome. Should the court decide that American citizens in Palestine are not subject to the Palestinian commercial laws, more than one of the statutes may have to be revised for Americans who have investments in Palestine.

The complaint lodged against the rental law may be followed by another against the law of increased taxation on land used for plantations. The last is certainly affecting the property of American citizens in Palestine. Thus is can be definitely considered a violation of the pact between Great Britain and America on the Palestine mandate.

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