ROME (Jan. 10)
On the eve of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s visit here, diplomatic circles expressed confidence today that the British statesman, in his discussions with Premier Benito Mussolini, would continue to develop the subject of a general solution of the refugee question along the lines advanced recently by United States Ambassador William Phillips.
The British and American governments, working in close cooperation, are hopeful of obtaining cooperation of the Rome-Berlin axis toward a feasible solution. It is believed here that a role similar to that which Il Duce played in the Munich peace-making should not be overlooked. This belief has its genesis in Mussolini’s well-known ambition to be regarded as an arbitrator of international problems.
Any United States Government proposal for Jewish colonization in Ethiopia will preclude the possibility of racial persecution, the American Embassy advised foreign Jews who expressed opposition to plans for settlement in Italian possessions on the ground that Jews would be under the domination of an anti-Semitic government. Even though a habitable section of Ethiopia were designated for Jewish colonization, there could be no sense of permanence or tranquillity under the anti-Jewish Rome regime, said Jewish circles in commenting on the suggestion for Ethiopian colonization reported to have been made to Premier Mussolini by Ambassador Phillips on behalf of President Roosevelt.
It was authoritatively learned that Mr. Phillips proposed to Premier Mussolini the settlement of Jews in the fertile hills 300 miles south of Addis Ababa, near the frontier of the British colony of Kenya. He was said to have suggested that foreign Jews, who face expulsion from Italy under a Fascist decree, be allowed to bring their capital from Italy to Ethiopia since they would not be leaving Italian territory. Premier Mussolini’s refusal of the plan was prompted, it was reported, not so much by opposition to the colonization as to concessions which Mr. Phillips asked along with it, since development of Ethiopia by Jews is thought to be within the scope of the Premier’s plans.
It is believed here that the Rublee negotiations, opening in Berlin tomorrow, will have a great effect on Italy’s attitude toward the Jews, since amelioration of the plight of the Reich Jews would be expected immediately to influence the southern end of the Berlin-Rome axis.
(CORRECTION: In the London dispatch quoting the Evening Standard, on page two of yesterday’s JTA NEWS, a line was dropped out in typing, causing a distortion of fact. The dispatch should have read “……..by creation of a Jewish State in Harar, Ethiopia, in exchange for French cession to Italy of Jibouti, in French Somaliland, and British cession of Zeila, in British Somaliland………”).