WASHINGTON (May. 17)
A Jewish delegation visited British Ambassador Sir Ronald Lindsay immediately the Palestine White Paper was published and presented a memorandum protesting against its terms.
OFFICIAL SUMMARY OF WHITE PAPER
Following is an official summary of the British White Paper on Palestine:
It has been urged that the expression “a national home for the Jewish people” offered the prospect that Palestine might in due course become a Jewish State or Commonwealth.
His Majesty’s Government do not wish to contest the view which was expressed by the Royal Commission that the Zionist leaders at the time of the issue of the Balfour Declaration recognized that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of that Declaration. But, with the Royal Commission, His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. That Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State might be held to be implied in the passage from the Command Paper of 1922. (C d. 1700) which reads as follows:
“Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become ‘as Jewish as England is English’. His Majesty’s government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated, as appears to be feared by the Arab Delegation, the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded in Palestine.”
But this statement has not removed doubts and His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past that the Arab population of Palestine should be made subjects of a Jewish State against their will…….
His Majesty’s Government adhere to this interpretation of the Declaration of 1917 and regard it as an authoritative and comprehensive description of the character of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. It envisaged the further development of the existing Jewish community with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world. Evidence that His Majesty’s Government have been carrying out their obligation in this respect is to be found in the fact that since the statement of 1922 was published more than three hundred thousand Jews have immigrated to Palestine and the population of the national home has risen to some four hundred and fifty thousand, or approaches a third of the entire population of the country. Nor has the Jewish community failed to take full advantage of the opportunities given to it. The growth of the Jewish national home and its achievements in many fields are a remarkably constructive effort which must command the admiration of the world and must be in particular a source of pride to the Jewish people.
In recent discussions the Arab Delegations have repeated the contention that Palestine was included within the area in which Sir H. McMahon on behalf of the British Government in October, 1915 undertook to recognize and support Arab independence. The validity of this claim, based on the terms of the correspondence which passed between Sir H. McMahon and the Shereef of Mecca was thoroughly and carefully investigated by British and Arab representatives during the recent conferences in London. Their report which has been published states that both the Arab and British representatives endeavoured to undertake the point of view of the other party but that they were unable to reach agreement upon an interpretation of the correspondence. There is no need to summarize here the arguments presented by each side. His Majesty’s Government regret the misunderstandings which have often arisen as regards some of the phrases used. For their part they can only adhere for the reasons given by their representatives in the report to the view that the whole of Palestine west of the Jordan was excluded from Sir H. McMahon’s pledge and they therefore cannot agree that the McMahon correspondence forms a just basis for the claim that Palestine should be converted into an Arab State.
His Majesty’s Government are charged as a mandatory power “to secure the development of self-governing institutions” in Palestine. Apart from this specific obligation they would regard it as contrary to the whole spirit of the Mandate system that the population of Palestine should remain for ever under Mandatory tutelage. It is proper that the country should as early as possible enjoy the rights of self-government which are exercised by the people of the neighboring countries. His Majesty’s Government are unable at present to foresee the exact constitutional forms which government in Palestine will eventually take but their objective is self-government and they desire to see established ultimately an independent Palestine. It should be a State in which the two peoples in Palestine, Arabs and Jews, share authority in Government in such a way that the essential interests of each are secured.
The establishment of an independent state and the complete relinquishment of mandatory control in Palestine would require such relations between Arabs and Jews as would make a good Government possible. Moreover the growth of self-governing institutions in Palestine as in other countries must be an evolutionary process. A transitional period will be required before independence is achieved throughout which the ultimate responsibility for the government of the country will be retained by His Majesty’s Government as the mandatory authority while the people of the country are taking an increasing share in the government and understanding and cooperation amongst them are growing. It will be the constant endeavour of His Majesty’s Government to promote good relations between the Arabs and the Jews.
DECLARATION OF INTENTIONS
In the light of these considerations His Majesty’s Government make the following declaration of their intentions regarding the future Government of Palestine.
(1) The objective of His Majesty’s Government is the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestinian State in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries in the future. This proposal for the establishment of an independent State would involve consultation with the Council of the League of Nations with a view to the termination of the Mandate.
(2) The independent State should be one in which Arabs and Jews share in the Government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.
(3) The establishment of the independent State will be preceded by a transitional period throughout which His Majesty’s Government will retain responsibility for the government of the country. During the transitional period the people of Palestine will be given an increasing part in the government of their country. Both sections of the population will have an opportunity of participation in the machinery of government and the process will be carried on whether or not they both avail themselves of it.
(4) As soon as peace and order have been sufficiently restored in Palestine, steps will be taken to carry out this policy of giving the people of Palestine an increasing part in the government of their country, the objective being to place Palestinians in charge of all the departments of government with the assistance of British advisers and subject to the control of the High Commissioner. With this object in view His Majesty’s Government will be prepared immediately to arrange that Palestinians shall be placed in charge of certain departments with British advisers. Palestinian heads of departments will sit on the Executive Council which advises the High Commissioner. Arab and Jewish representatives will be invited to serve as heads of departments approximately in proportion to their respective populations. The number of Palestinians in charge of departments will be increased as circumstances permit until all heads of departments are Palestinians exercising administrative and advisory functions which are at present performed by British officials. When that stage is reached consideration will be given to the questions of converting the Executive Council into a Council of Ministers with a consequential change in the status and functions of Palestinian heads of departments.
(5) His Majesty’s Government make no proposals at this stage regarding the establishment of an elective legislature. Nevertheless, they would regard this as an appropriate constitutional development and, should public opinion in Palestine hereafter show itself in favour of such a development, they will be prepared, provided local conditions permit, to establish the necessary machinery.
(6) At the end of five years from the restoration of peace and order an appropriate body of representatives of the people of Palestine and of His Majesty’s Government will be set up to review the working of constitutional arrangements during the transitional period and to consider and make recommendations regarding the constitution of the independent Palestinian State.
(7) His Majesty’s Government will require to be satisfied that in the treaty contemplated in sub-paragraph (1) or in the constitution contemplated in sub-paragraph (6) adequate provision has been made for: (A) The security and freedom of access to the Holy Places and the protection of the interests and property of various religious bodies. (B) The protection of the different communities in Palestine in accordance with the obligations of His Majesty’s Government to both Arabs and Jews and for the special position in Palestine of the Jewish national home. (C) Such requirements to meet the strategic situation as may be regarded as necessary by His Majesty’s Government in the light of circumstances then existing.
His Majesty’s Government will also require to be satisfied that the interests of certain foreign countries in Palestine for the preservation of which they are at present responsible are adequately safe-guarded.
(8) His Majesty’s Government will do everything in their power to create the conditions which will enable the independent Palestinian State to come into being within 10 years. If at the end of 10 years it appears to His Majesty’s Government that contrary to their hopes circumstances require the postponement of the establishment of the independent State they will consult the representatives of the people of Palestine, the Council of the League and the neighboring Arab States before deciding on such a postponement. IF His Majesty’s Government come to the conclusion that postponement is unavoidable they will invite the cooperation of these parties in framing a plan for the future with a view to achieving the desired objective at the earliest possible moment.
During the transitional period steps will be taken to increase the powers and responsibilities of municipal corporations and local councils.
POSITION ON JEWISH IMMIGRATION
Under Article 6 of the Mandate the Administration of Palestine “while insuring that the rights and position of the other sections of the population are not prejudiced” is required to “facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions.” Beyond this the extent to which Jewish immigration into Palestine is to be permitted is nowhere defined in the Mandate. In Command Paper of 1922 it was laid down that for the fulfilment of the policy of establishing a Jewish national home it is necessary that the Jewish community in Palestine should be able to increase its numbers by immigration. This immigration cannot be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals. It is essential to ensure that the immigrants should not be a burden upon the people of Palestine as a whole, and that they should not deprive any section of the present population of their employment.
In practice from that date onward until recent times the economic absorptive capacity of the country has been treated as the sole limiting factor and in the letter which Mr. Ramsay MacDonald as Prime Minister sent to Dr. Weizmann in February, 1931, it was laid down as a matter of policy that the economic absorptive capacity was the sole criterion. This interpretation has been supported by resolutions of the Permanent Mandates Commission. But His Majesty’s Government do not read either the statement of policy of 1922 or the letter of 1931 as implying that the Mandate requires them, for all time and in all circumstances, to facilitate the immigration of Jews into Palestine subject only to the consideration of the country’s economic absorptive capacity. Nor do they find anything in the Mandate or in subsequent statements of policy to support the view that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine cannot be effective unless immigration is allowed to continue indefinitely. If immigration has an adverse effect on the economic position in the country it should clearly be restricted; and equally if it has a seriously damaging effect on the political position in the country, that is a factor that should not be ignored. Although it is not difficult to contend that the large number of Jewish immigrants who have been admitted so far have been absorbed economically the fear of the Arabs that this influx will continue indefinitely until the Jewish population is in a position to dominate them has produced consequences which are extremely grave for Jews and Arabs alike and for the peace and prosperity of Palestine. The lamentable disturbances of the past three years are only the latest and most sustained manifestation of this intense Arab apprehension. The methods employed by Arab terrorists against fellow-Arabs and Jews alike must receive unqualified condemnation. But it cannot be denied that fear of indefinite Jewish immigration is widespread amongst the Arab population and that this fear has made possible disturbances which have given a serious set back to economic progress, depleted the Palestine exchequer, rendered life and property insecure and produced a bitterness between the Arab and Jewish population which is deplorable between citizens of the same country. If in these circumstances immigration is continued up to the economic absorptive capacity of the country regardless of all other considerations a fatal enmity between the two people will be perpetuated and the situation in Palestine may become a permanent source of friction among all the peoples in the Near and Middle East. His Majesty’s Government cannot take the view that either their obligations under the Mandate or considerations of common sense and justice require that they should ignore these circumstance in framing an immigration policy.
In the view of the Royal Commission the association of the policy of the Balfour Declaration with the Mandate system implied a belief that Arab hostility to the former would sooner or later be overcome. It has been the hope of British Governments ever since the Balfour Declaration was issued that in time the Arab population, recognizing the advantages to be derived from Jewish settlement and development in Palestine, would become reconciled to the further growth of the Jewish National Home. This hope has not been fulfilled. The alternatives before His Majesty’s Government are either (1) to seek to expand the Jewish National Home indefinitely by immigration against the strongly expressed will of the Arab people of the country or (2) to promote the further expansion of the Jewish National Home by immigration only if the Arabs are prepared to acquiesce in it. The former policy means rule by force. Apart from other considerations such a policy seems to His Majesty’s Government to be contrary to the whole spirit of article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations as well as to their specific obligations to the Arabs in the Palestine Mandate. More-over the relations between the Arabs and Jews in Palestine must be based sooner or later on mutual tolerance and good will; the peace, security and progress of the Jewish National Home itself requires this. Therefore His Majesty’s Government after earnest consideration and taking into account the extent to which the growth of the Jewish National Home has been facilitated over the last twenty years have decided that the time has come to adopt in principle the second alternative referred to above. It has been urged that all further Jewish immigration into Palestine should be stopped forthwith. It would damage the whole financial and economic system of Palestine and thus affect adversely interests of Arabs and Jews alike. Moreover in the view of His Majesty’s Government abruptly to stop further immigration would be unjust to the Jewish National Home. But above all His Majesty’s Government are conscious of the present unhappy plight of large numbers of Jews who seek a refuge from certain European countries and they believe that Palestine can and should make a further contribution to the solution of this pressing world problem. In all these circumstances they believe that they will be acting consistently with the Mandate obligations to both Arabs and Jews and in the manner best calculated to serve the interests of the whole people of Palestine by adopting the following proposals regarding immigration.
NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY
(1) Jewish immigration during the next five years will be at a rate which if economic absorptive capacity permits will bring the Jewish population up to approximately one third of the total population of the country. Taking into account the expected natural increase of the Arab and Jewish populations and the number of illegal Jewish immigrants now in the country this would allow of admission as from the beginning of April this year of some 75,000 immigrants over the next five years. These immigrants would be, subject to the criterion of economic absorptive capacity, admitted as follows:
(A) For each of the next five years a quota of 10,000 Jewish immigrants will be allowed on the understanding that a shortage in any one year may be added to quotas for subsequent years within the five years period if economic absorptive capacity permits.
(B) In addition as a contribution towards the solution of the Jewish refugee problem 25,000 refugees will be admitted as soon as the High Commissioner is satisfied that adequate provision for their maintenance is insured, special consideration being given to refugee children and dependents.
(2) The existing machinery for ascertaining the economic absorptive capacity will be retained and the High Commissioner will have the ultimate responsibility for deciding the limits of economic capacity. Before each periodic decision is taken Jewish and Arab representatives will be consulted.
(3) After the period of five years no further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in it.
(4) His Majesty’s Government are determined to check illegal immigration and further preventive measures are being adopted. The number of any Jewish illegal immigrants who despite these measures may succeed in coming into the country and cannot be deported will be deducted from the years’ quotas.
His Majesty’s Government are satisfied that when immigration over five years which is now contemplated has taken place they will not be justified in facilitating nor will they be under any obligation to foster the establishment of the Jewish National Home by further immigration regardless of the wishes of the Arab population.
The High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land. These powers will come into force from the publication of this statement of policy and the High Commissioner will retain them throughout the transitional period.
The policy of the Government will be directed towards the development of land and the improvement where possible of methods of cultivation. In the light of such development it will be open to the High Commissioner, should he be satisfied that the “rights and position” of the Arab population will be duly preserved, to review and modify any orders passed relating to the prohibition or restriction of transfer of land.