JERUSALEM (May. 18)
The Palestine subcommittee of the Zionist General Council decided today to permit both Zionist leaders favoring the partition of Palestine and those opposing it to appear before Britain’s Palestine Partition Commission. The conference approved the Zionist Executive’s policy in regard to the commission and elected a political advisory committee of six.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann and the entire Zionist Executive attended the meeting, which was opened by Menachem M. Ussishkin. Moshe Shertok reported on the political situation, followed by a debate.
Among the first expected to testify, and probably the first of all, will be Pinchas Ruttenberg, electric power magnate. Mr. Ruttenberg’s Palestine Electric Corporation has important interests at stake. Its principal generating plant on the River Jordan south of Lake Tiberias lies in the territory of Transjordan and, under the tentative scheme of partition proposed by the Pell Royal Commission would be included in the Arab State. One suggested alternative to the Royal Commission would add a strip of territory in Transjordan, including the power plant, to the Jewish State. It is understood that Mr. Ruttenberg was set down as an early witness in deference to his plans to go abroad. In view of his general aversion to publicity, it is assumed his testimony will be given behind closed doors.
The list of Government witnesses has not been made public but is expected to include many who appeared before the Royal Commission — heads of departments, land and fiscal experts, with the possible addition of military witnesses.
The principal witnesses for the Jewish Agency, it is understood, will be Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Shertok and Dr. Arthur Ruppin. These and other Agency witnesses will represent the point of view of the “ja-sagers,” the wing of the Zionist movement which favors negotiations with Great Britain on the partition plan.
Chief among those from within the Zionist ranks who will speak against partition is expected to be Mr. Ussishkin. While it is generally recognized in Jewish Agency circles that Mr. Ussishkin cannot be expected to refrain from testifying as to his grounds for opposing the division of the country, and expressing his intense feeling on the subject, there appears to be some disposition to press him to limit his testimony to this specific point, while he is insisting on a free hand to take up any subjects he wishes. Other anti-partition witnesses will be Professor Benjamin Akzin, representing the New Zionist Organization, and Rabbi Moshe Blau, president of the World Agudath Israel Organization, orthodox non-Zionists.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency is informed that when the commission returns to London it will conduct further hearings, and at that time it is understood that non-Zionists opposing partition will be among those heard.
It seems unlikely, from the present state of affairs, that any representative of the Arabs will testify. A number of Arab politicians told the J.T.A. that there is no likelihood this time of abandonment of their boycott at the last minute, as occurred in the case of the Royal Commission. They said they felt they had nothing to gain, adding that in any case they were positive partition would never eventualize.
Still, there are undoubtedly a number of moderate Arabs who would at least come forward to address the commission with their objections to the plan if it were not for the campaign of terror by which the Arab boycott is being enforced. the effectiveness of this campaign, plus the political pressure accompanying it, may be judged from the fact that Emir Abdullah of Transjordan felt constrained to issue a public denial that he had submitted a memorandum to the commission.