LONDON (Feb. 28)
Jewish leaders failed this afternoon to obtain from the British Government any modification of its plan for an independent Palestine state and accordingly summoned a meeting tonight to consider breaking off the three-week-old negotiations.
British circles, however, did not give up hope for continuation of the Anglo-Jewish talks. They said another informal meeting would take place, on a date not yet fixed, at which Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald would be the only British representative. Meanwhile, the British will meet the Arab delegates tomorrow to hear their views on the Government plan.
At this afternoon’s informal session, an hour and 40 minutes devoted to a point-by-point exposition of the Jewish objections to the British plan did not succeed in eliciting from the Government any modification or new interpretation of its plan or even further details of the proposal.
After yesterday’s categoric rejection of the British plan, the Jews did not see any basis for continued formal negotiation. In entering this afternoon’s meeting they took the position that while the underlying principles of the British plan were unacceptable, regardless of the details, they were willing to listen to further explanations. Mr. MacDonald was said to have told Dr. Chaim Weizmann after his rejection statement yesterday that the Jewish attitude was based on a major misunderstanding which he would attempt to clear up in the informal talks.
The informal Anglo-Jewish meeting came as a movement for walking out of the conference was growing among Jewish leaders. The question of bolting was debated extensively this morning by the Jewish delegates.
Serving to intensify the mounting Jewish sentiment for leaving the discussions was the fact that, in addition to the written proposals for a Palestine constitution, Mr. MacDonald was understood to have orally informed Dr. Weizmann on Saturday that the Government contemplated restriction of Jewish immigration during the five-year transitional period envisioned before the establishment of the independent state.
Pressed for the figure he had in mind, Mr. MacDonald was said to have indicated a possible total of 10,000 immigrants annually. He was also understood to have suggested that in the first year an additional 10,000 refugee children might be admitted. He added that the immigration total and other points were not rigid and were subject to further discussion.