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Britain Lists Duties, Scope of New Palestine Body; to Name Members Later

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The British Government issued a White Paper today defining the scope and duties of a new commission which will be named in “due courses” to explore the practical possibilities of partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish States and a British mandated area.

Contrary to fears expressed by Zionists the world over, no change in British policy on Palestine is indicated in the White Paper, which reproduces a dispatch from William G.A. Ormssy-Gore, the Colonial Secretary, to Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, British High Commissioner for Palestine, date Dec. 23, containing the commission’s terms of reference.

The Government stresses that it is not committed to the specific partition plan recommended by the Peel Royal Commission, particularly as regards compulsory transfer of Arabs from the proposed Jewish State, and declares a more precise and more detailed scheme is required.

Britain, which holds the League of Nations mandate for Palestine, was authorized at the last meeting of the Council to explore the partition plan. If the investigations, which are expected to take many months, result in a practical, equitable scheme, the Government will submit it to the Council, the White Paper points out.

It may be necessary, the statement adds, for the Government to consider the League Mandates Commission’s suggestion of temporary cantonization of Palestine or separate mandates for Arab and Jewish areas. At any rate, the White Paper points out that “it is obvious, therefore, that for some time to come any action taken will be only of an exploratory nature.”

The new body will act as a technical commission and its “functions will be confined to ascertaining the facts and to considering in detail the practical possibilities of the scheme of partition.” However, it has full liberty to suggest modifications of the Peel plan, including variation of the areas recommended for retention under mandate.

It is officially declared that the new commission will not contain members of political bodies.

The commission’s duties, as set forth in the White Paper, are:

1– To recommend boundaries of the proposed Arab and Jewish areas and the permanent mandated enclaves which afford a reasonable prospect of eventual establishment, with adequate security, of self-supporting Arab and Jewish States, and enabling the British Government to carry out its mandatory responsibilities.

2– To examine and report on economic and financial questions involved in partition, including allocation among the areas of public assets and debts; assurance of the fulfillment of the administrations’ financial obligations; administrations of railways, ports, postal, telegraph and telephone services, currency and customs; ascertainment of the budgetary prospects of the various administrations; protection for civil servants; industrial and other concessions; the possibility of voluntary exchanges of land and population; and provision of effective safeguards for religious and racial minorities.

Nine pages of the White Paper are devoted to summaries of recent declarations and statements of policy by the Government and the League.

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