Royal Commission to Probe Palestine Disorders, Commons Told

King Edward will be advised by the cabinet to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the disturbances in Palestine, during which 25 Jews and an estimated 12 Arabs have been slain since April 19, it was announced by Colonial Secretary J.H. Thomas in the House of Commons today.

A similar commission, headed by Sir Walter Shaw, investigated the Palestine riots of August, 1929, in which more than 100 Jews were killed by Arabs. Findings of the Shaw commission were reported in two volumes comprising a total of 1,100 closely printed pages.

The announcement by Mr. Thomas was made in reply to a question by Gordon MacDonald, Laborite, on what steps the Government had taken to inform the Arab leaders that it would not be deterred by threats of violence.

Mr. Thomas revealed that the Government’s attitude had been made clear to the leaders and asserted that it was fully considering the Palestine situation that was resulting from disturbances and continued unrest.

The first necessity, he declared, was establishment of civil order, for which the High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, was taking all necessary steps.

Subject to that, Mr. Thomas disclosed, the Government had decided that the suggested Arab delegation to London would no longer meet the conditions which have arisen and that, in its place, it was desirable that an enquiry be undertaken on the spot.

The Government had therefore decided, Mr. Thomas said, after order had been restored, to advise His Majesty to appoint a Royal Commission which, without bringing into question the terms of the mandate Great Britain holds over Palestine, would investigate the causes of unrest and the alleged grievances either of the Arabs or Jews.

Asked by W. Lunn, Laborite, whether this meant that the Arab leaders were not coming to London, Mr. Thomas replied that the visit was not now looked on as desirable, the first condition the Government had laid down for the visit being restoration of law and order.

Replying to a query by Major Clement R. Attlee, Laborite leader, Mr. Thomas said the Government’s decision on the commission had been taken without consulting either Arab or Jewish leaders in Palestine.

Earl Winterton, Conservative, asked Mr. Thomas whether the commission would not be at liberty to discuss terms of the British mandate and whether it would not be free to consider the extent to which the mandate was being executed.

To this Mr. Thomas replied that “the Commission would be in a position to say whether the mandate was being fairly interpreted, but this would not open to them the opportunity of challenging the mandate itself.”

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