LONDON (Feb. 6)
As final preparations were made for the opening of the Palestine conferences tomorrow morning, Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, who will head the British negotiators, tonight broadcast a statement expressing hope for an Arab-Jewish settlement but admitting the difficulties involved in the question.
Mr. MacDonald also paid tribute to American Jewry, which, he said, had “played a powerful role in the creative work going on in Palestine,” and stressed the approval of the Palestine mandate given by the United States Government.
“No problem is insoluble, however I admit that this one is rather difficult,” said the official who has gained a reputation as a Government “trouble-shooter” and who has had his hands full in recent weeks in insuring participation of all parties in Britain’s latest attempt to end the long strife in the Holy Land.
Condemning attempts to solve the problem by violence, he declared that the delegates would “have an opportunity to gain a great victory for that other method of free discussion and reasoned negotiations, ending in an agreed settlement, under which alone can be founded just and happy relations among men.”
The Colonial Secretary undertook to defend Britain’s procedure in inviting the Arab states to attend the conferences, as well as the Palestine Arabs and the Jews of the world. The Arab states, he said, comprise peoples who have long been friendly to Britain and “naturally and necessarily” are interested in Palestine’s progress. In this connection he pointed out that Britain was dealing not only with the Palestine Jews, but with the Jews of the world.
It appeared today that the British Government would have to conduct not only separate discussions with Jews and Arabs, but also separate talks with Palestine Arab extremists and moderates. The Government has failed to reconcile the dominant faction controlled by the exiled ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, who is now in Syria, with the representatives of the moderate Arab National Defense Party, led by the Nashashibis. Only today The Times published a statement of the Palestine Arab Committee in Cairo protesting against the representation of the Nashashibi party at the conferences, and in Jerusalem, some Arab shopkeepers launched a strike in support of this protest.
Mr. MacDonald’s emphasis on the difficulties was shared by The Times, often a reflector of official sentiment, which said editorially that chances for an agreement were not promising, although there were grounds to expect that the influence of the Arab states would be exercised in favor of moderation. With all attention centered on what kind of solution can emerge from the conferences. The Times discussed the possibility of a federal solution. The task of the British Government, the editorial declared should not prevent the preparation of diplomatic ground for a wider scheme which would do much to ensure political stability and territorial integrity of the Arab East.