LONDON (Mar. 13)
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain presided today at a special session of the Cabinet to consider the British Government’s final proposals for a settlement of the Palestine question.
Following the meeting, Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald met representatives of the Arab states and communicated to them more details of the independent Palestine state plan which had been roughly outlined to them last week. Asked by Mr. MacDonald for their comments and observations on the plan, the Arab delegates are understood to have voiced their approval.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency Executive met to hear a report by David Ben Gurion on last night’s session with the British representatives when Mr. MacDonald failed to give satisfactory assurances that the Jewish national home would be safeguarded under the new plans, insisting instead that it was protected under the proposals and advising the Jews to await final details before drawing conclusions.
Mr. MacDonald, it was learned, likewise declined to accept alternative proposals made by the Jews as a basis for further discussions, although the meeting, largely at Mr. Ben Gurion’s insistence, discussed partition and other projected alternatives. Discussion on the question of immigration was long protracted, the Jewish delegation insisting that the absorptive capacity principle must be retained, Mr. MacDonald replying that this was out of the question and that there would have to be some restriction.
Mr. MacDonald repeated that the length of the transition period could not be fixed and would depend upon the extent of Arab-Jewish cooperation. On the score of immigration when the transition period was ended, Mr. MacDonald intimated that it would be restricted to an undisclosed figure for an undisclosed number of years following which the question of an increase would depend upon an agreement with the Arabs, thus introducing a principle which the Jews have already declared unacceptable.
On the other hand Mr. MacDonald, who throughout the session spoke in terms of general policy rather than specific details, gave some of the delegates the impression that actual termination of the transition period and establishment of an independent state would be contingent upon acquiescence of all parties– British, Arab and Jewish. During discussions on this point in Zionist circles today, the viewpoint was widely held that this meant that a state would not be established without Jewish consent. Most of the delegates, however, are reserving judgment in view of the vagueness of Mr. MacDonald’s statement, pending receipt of the written proposals, which are expected on Wednesday.
Arab circles are expecting Mr. MacDonald to summon a full meeting of all the conferees tomorrow to reveal the Government’s plans. The Palestine Arabs, meanwhile, are threatening to reject the proposals if no definite transition period is fixed. Emir Seif al Islam, of the Yemen delegation is returning tomorrow morning. The Egyptians are leaving. Friday.