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Britain Rejects Plea to Admit 10,000 Child Refugees to Palestine; Fears Effect on Parleys

December 15, 1938
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The British Government today ruled out Palestine as an immediate haven for 10,000 German-Jewish refugee children, whose admission to the holy Land was demanded by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, but indicated that they could be brought to England instead on a temporary basis. The Government’s decision was made known in the House of Commons by Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, who declared that any alteration in the existing rate of immigration to Palestine at this time would “prejudice” the forthcoming British-Arab-Jewish negotiations.

Mr. MacDonald disclosed that “strong suggestions” had been made to the Government from Arab quarters that immigration should be completely stopped pending the discussions. He asserted that the request for admission of the children was not “permanently refused” since immigration was one of the topics to be discussed at the conferences, which are scheduled to open next month.

Meanwhile, the Colonel Secretary added, if it was desirable to remove the children from Germany they could be brought to Britain under guarantees by organizations. The Government has already approved admission to England, on a temporary basis, of 5,000 children for Germany. More than 700 of this quota have already arrived.

A spokesman of the Jewish Agency Executive, announcing that a meeting had been called for Friday to consider the situation with regard to Mr. MacDonald’s statement, said the Executive had received messages from all over the world urging it to reconsider its decision to participate in the conferences called by the British Government on a solution of the Palestine question.

Criticizing the Colonial Secretary’s statement that ‘refugee children would not be admitted to Palestine but to England, the spokesman declared that organizations in the United Kingdom had limited means for caring for refugees and the Government’s decision preventing Palestine Jewry from sheltering 10,000 children deprived them of the prospect of escape from the Reich.

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