LONDON (Mar. 26)
Strong differences of opinion in Government circles are delaying declaration of the policy which Great Britain is to impose in Palestine, it was reliably learned today. Observers note a growing sentiment among Government supporters in Parliament against an announcement of policy before there is some clarification of the general international situation and see an increasing demand that Government whips be taken off in any vote on Palestine policy, thus permitting Government supporters to speak and vote according to their convictions.
Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, who has been ill for several days and has been ordered to rest, is reliably reported to be opposing any prolonged delay in making a policy declaration. He is anxious that a policy be announced as soon as the Government’s present preoccupation with the foreign situation permits. However, certain Cabinet members, including Foreign Undersecretary Richard A. Butler, are reportedly favoring a delay until the situation clears up. They are supported by a strong Parliamentary bloc which is opposed to any fundamental changes in the mandate at a time when the whole situation is complicated by external affairs.
These circles, as well as the Parliamentary Opposition, would like to see the Government for the present restrict itself to restoration of order in Palestine, deferring measures for a final solution until a future and more propitious occasion. There is also considerable opposition towards solution of the question along the lines of the “appeasement” policy, which the Zionists felt was applied to the Arabs throughout the recent Palestine parleys.
Should Mr. MacDonald succeed in winning the Cabinet to his viewpoint, it is expected here that the policy to be imposed will follow the final proposals for an independent Palestine state, with two important changes. The changes, eliminating concessions to both Arabs and Jews, would provide (1) continued Jewish immigration after the five-year interim period would not require Arab consent, but would be dependent only upon British decision, and (2) termination of the transition period and establishment of the state would not require Arab-Jewish consent but would depend upon British decision.
The Government has reportedly abandoned, chiefly for lack of time, its intention of submitting its policy to a special session of the Permanent Mandates Commission to be held prior to the Council’s session in May.
Meanwhile, Zionist circles are marking time, awaiting intimation of the Government’s next step. The question of the forthcoming immigration schedule, due April 1, is in abeyance pending an indication of policy. It is not believed that the Government will continue the present arbitrary schedule but will delay announcing a new quota until the policy has been announced. Jewish Agency circles have not been informed by the Government as to what its immigration policy will be nor of a departure in practice involved in the Palestine High Commissioner’s reported consultations with the Arabs on the next schedule.
The question of convening the Zionist General Council has also been held up by the delay in announcing the Palestine policy, since the principal task of the Council will be to formulate the Jewish attitude and recommendations to be made to the World Zionist Congress on the basis of that policy. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency, left for Palestine yesterday via Paris. He was preceded by David Ben Gurion, who left for Palestine on Friday. Moshe Shertok is remaining in London until the situation is clarified.