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Commons Airs Partition; Labor Party Urges Probe by Joint Parliament Body

SOLEMNLY WARNED BY COLONIAL SECRETARY WILLIAM ORMSBY-GORE THAT EVERY WORD SPOKEN WOULD BE SCRUTINIZED BY JEWS AND ARABS THE WORLD OVER, A PACKED HOUSE OF COMMONS TODAY ENGAGED IN A FORENSIC BATTLE ON THE ISSUE OF PROPOSED TRIPARTITION OF PALESTINE.

OPENING THE DEBATE, WITH PRIME MINISTER NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN AND LEADING CABINET MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE, MR. ORMSBY-GORE DECLARED: “REMEMBER THAT PRACTICALLY EVERY WORD SAID IN THE DEBATE WILL BE SCRUTINIZED WORD BY WORD, BY BOTH JEWS AND ARABS NOT ONLY IN PALESTINE BUT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, AND THERE IS IN THIS PROBLEM OF PALESTINE A PROBLEM NOT CONFINED TO PALESTINE BUT ONE THAT INVOLVES THE WHOLE OF JEWRY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND THE WHOLE MOSLEM WORLD AS WELL.”

THE LABOR PARTY’S OPPOSITION AMENDMENT TO SHELVE THE PARTITION PLAN UNTIL AFTER A JOINT PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE HAS “CLOSELY EXAMINED” IT WAS INTRODUCED BY MORGAN JONES, WHO SUGGESTED CALLING OF AN ARAB-JEWISH ROUND-TABLE CONFERENCE SIMILAR TO THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED IN THE CASE OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION.

MR. JONES DISPUTED THE GOVERNMENT’S CONTENTION THAT PALESTINE’S TROUBLES WERE DUE TO INCONSISTENCIES IN THE MANDATE, CHARGING THE CAUSE WAS MALADMINISTRATION. HE DECLARED THE PROPOSED JEWISH STATE WOULD NOT HAVE ANY SECURITY, AND CRITICIZED THE OMISSION FROM IT OF JERUSALEM AND THE RUTTENBERG ELECTRIC POWER STATION.

EXPRESSING SKEPTICISM AS TO WHETHER THE PARTITION PLAN WOULD WORK, MR. JONES URGED THAT PARLIAMENT SHOULD NOT BE COMMITTED TO THE SCHEME AT THIS EARLY STAGE. SIR ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR, LIBERAL, SUPPORTED THE DEMAND FOR AN ARAB-JEWISH ROUND-TABLE CONFERENCE. HE DESCRIBED PARTITION AS A DANGEROUS EXPERIMENT IN POLITICAL CHEMISTRY WHICH MEANT SITTING ON THE SAFETY-VALVE OF THE JEWISH PROBLEM IN EUROPE.

TRACES ARAB CLAIMS TO PALESTINE

TRACING CLAIMS THAT PALESTINE HAD BEEN PROMISED TO THE ARABS, MR. ORMSBY-GORE DECLARED THE BALFOUR DECLARATION HAD BEEN APPROVED BY THE CABINET AND THE ALLIED POWERS WITH THE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF MACMAHON’S (SIR HENRY MACMAHON, THEN BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR EGYPT) PLEDGE TO THE SHERIF OF MECCA.

MR. ORMSBY-GORE ASSERTED, HOWEVER, THAT HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT NEVER ADMITTED THAT PALESTINE WEST OF THE JORDAN WAS INCLUDED IN THE PLEDGE (MADE IN 1915 BY SIR HENRY). THE UNIQUE CHARACTER OF PALESTINE, HE SAID, WAS RECOGNIZED BY THE ARAB DELEGATES TO THE PEACE CONFERENCE.

NO SETTLEMENT OF THE QUESTION, HE DECLARED, WAS POSSIBLE WITHOUT RECOGNIZING THE INTERESTS OF ARABS, JEWS AND CHRISTIANS.

REFERRING TO THE BALFOUR DECLARATION (PROMULGATED IN 1917) MR. ORMSBY-GORE STATED, “THE PLEDGE OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THE OTHER ALLIED POWERS WAS NOT PALESTINE AS A HOME FOR THE JEWS, IT WAS A JEWISH NATIONAL HOME IN PALESTINE, AND THERE IS A DISTINCTION.”

THE COLONIAL SECRETARY ASSERTED THAT THIS HAD BEEN POINTED OUT TO THE JEWS AT THE TIME.

“THE UNITED STATES WAS NOT AT WAR AT THE TIME,” HE DECLARED, “BUT NONE THE LESS PERMITTED RECRUITMENT OF JEWS IN THE UNITED STATES AND ALLOWED THEM TO BE BROUGHT OVER TO FIGHT IN THE BRITISH ARMY ON THE BASIS OF THAT PLEDGE.” MR. ORMSBY-GORE THEN REMINDED THE ARABS THAT BUT FOR THE TEN THOUSAND BRITISH GRAVES IN PALESTINE, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE THE INDEPENDENCE THEY NOW ENJOY.

MANDATE DEEPENED ARAB-JEWISH BREACH

REFERRING TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS MANDATE OVER PALESTINE, HE DECLARED THE “WHOLE EFFECT OF THE MANDATE HAS BEEN TO DEEPEN THE BREACH BETWEEN JEWS AND ARABS.”

CITING GROWTH OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, THE COLONIAL SECRETARY SAID PALESTINE AS A RESULT HAD BECOME NOT MERELY THE HOPE OF THE JEW TO BUILD A NATIONAL HOME, BUT A HOPE OF REFUGE FOR THE JEWS OF EUROPE.

THE GOVERNMENT WAS CONVINCED, HE ASSERTED, THAT CONTINUANCE OF THE MANDATE HELD OUT NO HOPE THAT PALESTINE AS A WHOLE COULD EVOLVE INTO A JEWISH STATE, NO HOPE FOR THE ARABS OF REALIZATION OF THEIR ASPIRATIONS FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT.

HE ADDED THAT THE “INTOLERABLE BURDEN” OF GOVERNMENT COULD BE RESOLVED ONLY BY GIVING ARABS AND JEWS SOVEREIGN INDEPENDENCE, NOT FOR THE WHOLE OF PALESTINE BUT EACH FOR A PART.

“ONLY PARTITION,” THE COLONIAL SECRETARY AVERRED, “CAN REESTABLISH PEACE BETWEEN THE TWO NATIONALITIES WHO IN THE FUTURE WILL BE ABLE TO HELP ONE ANOTHER WITHOUT FEAR OF DOMINATION. I BELIEVE OUR CONTINUOUS PRESENCE IN PALESTINE IS VITAL TO AN AMICABLE SETTLING DOWN OF JEW AND ARAB.”

AS THE HOUSE OF LORDS RESUMED ITS PARTITION DEBATE, LORD READING DECLARED THE ROYAL COMMISSION, IN RECOMMENDING THE PLAN, HAD EXCEEDED ITS TERMS OF REFERENCE.

CONSIDERABLE RESENTMENT WAS EXPRESSED HERE OVER THE KEYNOTE SPEECH OF THE GOVERNMENT ADVOCATES OF PARTITION IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, DELIVERED BY LORD DUFFERIN AND AVA, BOTH BECAUSE OF WHAT WAS FELT TO BE HIS SUPERCILIOUS ATTITUDE AND HIS ACCUSATION THAT JEWS WERE EQUALLY GUILTY WITH ARABS OF TERRORISTIC ACTS IN PALESTINE.

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