LONDON (Feb. 28)
Three members of a four-man “Palestine Partition Commission” were named in the House of Commons today by Colonial Secretary William Ormsby Gore.
The commission, scope and duties of which were defined in a White Paper issued Jan. 4, will be headed by Sir John Woodhead, veteran of the Indian Civil Service, as chairman. Serving with him will be Sir Alison Russell and A. P. Waterfield, with the fourth member to be named at a later date. S.E.V. Luke, of the Colonial Office, will act as the commission’s secretary.
The four-man body, whose dispatch to Palestine was authorized by the League of Nations Council last Fall, will start work in England in the middle of March and will leave for the Holy Land about a month later. According to the White Paper, it will act as a technical commission whose “functions will be confined to ascertaining the facts and to considering in detail the practical possibilities of the scheme of partition.”
Mr. Ormsby-Gore’s announcement was made in reply to a question by Sir Percy Harris, Liberal. Replying to a further question on how long the commission’s inquiry will take, the Colonial Secretary said: “I certainly cannot say. It is entirely a matter for the commission, who will be engaged in complicated, delicate work.”
The Jan. 4 White Paper set forth the commission’s duties as follows:
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; administration 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.
The partition proposal was originally made by the Palestine Royal Commission, headed by the late lord Peel, after a three-month survey of the situation in the Holy Land in 1936 following a six-month Arab rebellion. Contained in a 404-page report issued in July, 1937, the scheme provided for tripartition of the Holy Land into independent, sovereign Jewish and Arab states and a Jerusalem-Jaffa corridor under permanent British mandate.
Sir John Ackroyd Woodhead, chairman of the commission, is 56 and has been in the Indian Civil Service since 1904. For five months in 1934, he was Acting Governor of Bengal. Since 1932 he has been Finance Member of the Bengal Government.
Sir Alison Russell, 63, is a jurist and legal expert who has had long colonial experience, having served as legal adviser to the Malta Government, Attorney General of Uganda, and Chief Justice in the Tanganyika territory. Alexander Percival Waterfield, 49, is Principal Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, which department he entered in 1911.