LONDON (Oct. 5)
Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald told the House of Commons today that he expects the Woodhead Commission’s report on the proposed three-way division of Palestine before the end of October. He promised the Government’s swiftest consideration for the report, which will climax a six-month investigation by the four-man body here and in Palestine into the feasibility of partition as a solution to the Arab-Jewish conflict.
The Colonial Secretary, who early in August made a secret flying visit to Palestine to assay for himself the troubled state of affairs, described to the House the security measures taken by the government since last July. These included troop reinforcements, an increased British and Jewish police force, handing over of operational control of the police to the General officer in Command of British forces in Palestine, and appointment of Sir Charles Tegart, veteran of the Indian police, to General Robert Haining’s staff to advise on police matters.
Mr. MacDonald admitted that despite those measures and the successes recorded by troops and police against Arab bands, there has been a serious deterioration in the general situation.
Replying to a question by Col. Josiah Wedgwood, Laborite, Mr. MacDonald declared that 17 of 19 Jews murdered Sunday night at Tiberias were private, unarmed individuals. He said the success of the rebels in that raid was due to their “clever, unprecedented infiltration” into the town and the fact that the subsequent attack, upon a prearranged signal, took the defense forces unawares.
The Colonial Secretary rejected a suggestion that 50 Jews be admitted to Palestine for every Jew killed by the Arabs, pointing out that immigration would be regulated by other principles.
Replying to another question, Mr. MacDonald said the object of the Tiberias raid was simply murder and destruction. To another query, he replied that there was no evidence that the terrorism was incited by foreign propaganda.
Mr. Macdonald said he did not know whether the former Mufti of Jerusalem, now in exile in Syria, was the individual who had organized the outrages. He added, however, that the Mufti has always been held by the government as “greatly responsible for what is going on in Palestine today.”
The Colonial Secretary declared it was the Administration’s policy to employ an increasing number of Jews in maintaining order. He said the total Jews now employed was between 5,000 and 6,000.