JERUSALEM (Nov. 18)
Immigration into the Holy Land involves political as well as economic issues, the British Royal Commission was told by Immigration Director Eric Mills today at the first open working session of its investigation into six months of Arab terrorism.
Mr. Mills, who testified for two hours, gave the commission a picture of the technical side of immigration.
He said Palestine’s population includes 940,000 Arabs and 370,000 Jews, the total having doubled itself in the last 14 years.
Explaining to the commission the Government routine preceding issuance of the semi-annual Jewish labor immigration schedule, Mr. Mills said Government officers, cooperating with officials of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, conduct their own inquiry, investigating especially Jewish economic development and activities. Armed with this information, the Government then considers the Jewish Agency’s requirements. The final word rests with High Commissioner Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, he said, who must pass on the number of labor immigration certificates to be issued.
Asked concerning Arab immigration from Transjordan and Hauran, Mr. Mills replied there was no Arab immigration as such, but that the Government was aware that Hauranis were entering the country in unknown numbers.
Mr. Mills denied the existence of unemployment among the Arabs, stating that otherwise there would be no influx of Hauranis and Transjordanites.
Giving detailed information on the various categories of Jewish immigrants, Mr. Mills laid emphasis on the fact that they came from such far-flung districts as China and America.
Mr. Mills failed to touch on the principle of economic absorptive capacity of the country, which in the past has been represented as the basis for immigration schedules.
With his statement that immigration was not only an economic but a political question as well, the commissioners indicated agreement.
Mr. Mills testimony was considered in Jewish circles more or less impartial, although tending to minimize Arab immigration.
Colonel George W. Heron, Director of the Health Department, also testified, emphasizing that the Arabs alone depended on the Government in the matter of health, while the Jews, receiving assistance from abroad, were better equipped in this respect. His testimony was regarded by Jews as definitely anti-Jewish.
Lord Peel showed interest in the position of Jews throughout the diaspora, citing the Palestine immigration records of various countries. He said a Government report showed Jewish immigration from Poland steady, from Germany increasing and from Russia stopped altogether, illustrating the general history of the European states.
The Hebrew daily, Hadashoth Acharonoth, reporting the commission greatly interested in the Jewish situation in the diaspora, particularly Poland, stated Jewish institutions are submitting memoranda to the commission on the position in various countries.
Arab leaders and press continued to boycott the investigation.