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Britain Pondering Palestine Refugee Quota for 1940 Under White Paper

Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald is now discussing with Sir Harold MacMichael, High Commissioner for Palestine, establishment of a Jewish immigration quota for the forthcoming year, the Government member told the House of Commons today.

Under the recent White Paper, 10,000 Jews are to be admitted annually over the next five years, plus an additional 25,000 refugees to be distributed over the five-year period as authorities deem wise. How many in this latter category will be admitted next year is the question now being discussed, MacDonald explained.

Asked by Col. Josiah C. Wedgwood, Laborite, whether the additional quota would be composed exclusively of German or Polish or Rumanian refugees, the Colonial Secretary replied that they would comprise refugees of all classes within the domain of the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee.

Queried on the fate of persons entering Palestine illegally, MacDonald said they would be returned to their countries of origin whenever possible, but would be deducted from the annual immigration quota in cases where there was nowhere to send them.

Earlier, MacDonald replied to questioning on the Palestine situation with this statement: “During the past fortnight several outrages, some of a serious nature, have been perpetrated by Arabs and Jews in Palestine. These incidents have been fully reported in the press. There is Jewish opposition to the Government’s decision in general but there is no evidence that Jewish opinion as a whole favors a policy of violence and forcible obstruction.

“On the Arab side, the opinion about the Government’s practical policy is divided. There are indications that in some areas fear of reprisals by terrorists still prevails. With Arab terrorism on the one hand and the continued flood of illegal immigration on the other feeding the flames, there is a risk of continued violence.”

The statement was in reply to a query by Tom Williams, Laborite, who asked further whether in view of the fact that the Government had invited Arab terrorists to the London conference and had negotiated with that body since the conference it could not exercise some influence with that section of the community. MacDonald replied:

“The fact that a section of Arab opinion which Mr. Williams has referred to rejected outright our proposals does not help us to draw any encouragement that the Government might be able to influence that section. I must correct the statement that we have negotiated with the representatives of that section since the conference. We have had no such negotiation. As a result of military and police activity during recent months we have reduced to a very small scale Arab terrorism in Palestine. No one has ever claimed that the policy we have announced would bring an immediate stoppage to such terrorism but we certainly are steadily gaining control over these activities.”

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