Mufti Demands Free Arab State; Sees Holy Places Menaced

Demands for national independence coupled with allegations that Jews had designs on Moslem holy places were voiced before the Royal Commission today as Haj Amin al Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and president of the Arab Supreme Committee, initiated presentation of the Arab case.

Failing independence, the Mufti indicated, the Arabs would have preferred to remain under Turkish rule.

With the entire membership of the Arab Supreme Committee in attendance, the Moslem religious leader outlined the committee’s constitution and aims.

Declaring national independence to be the aim of Palestine Arabs, the Mufti pointed out that they had enjoyed full military and civil rights under the Ottoman constitution.

He said Palestine Arabs, to gain full independence, participated in the revolt against Turkey and entered the World War as allies of the Allied Power. As a result, he emphasized, following the war the Arabs were made certain promises which are embodied in Article 20 of the League of Nations Covenant.

Asked by Lord Peel to specify the obligations under Article 20, the Mufti could make no direct reply. Pressing the point, Lord Peel stated the Balfour Declaration (which committed Great Britain to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine) was issued five years before the Covenant was ratified.

Continuing his testimony, the Mufti complained that the Palestine Government was endangering Arab national aims and that five Arab delegations to London had proved vain.

The Moslem leader, turning to the question of Jewish immigration, expressed fear that the Jews would greatly harm the Arabs were they to become a majority. Demanding that fullest freedom be guaranteed the Arabs, he asked that a treaty be concluded between them and the Mandatory Power, by which Palestine Arabs would achieve the same independent status accorded Iraq. Under such a status, he declared, the Arab Government would give Palestine Jews the same rights as Jews enjoy in Iraq.

The Jewish population, he complained, had multiplied eight times in the last two decades and Jewish land holdings fifteen times in the same period.

The Mufti charged the Jews planned to deprive the Moslems of their holy places and intended to restore Solomon’s Temple.

Asked by Lord Peel to substantiate his charges, the Mufti promised to do so at a later date.

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