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Karpf Cites Contradictory Views on Balfour Phrase by Colonial Secretaries

Flatly contradictory interpretations of the meaning of the disputed “Jewish national home” phrase in the Balfour Declaration have been made by Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald and his predecessor, William Ormsby-Gore, before the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, it was pointed out today by Dr. Maurice J. Karpf, American non-Zionist member of the Jewish Agency Executive.

Commenting on Mr. MacDonald’s statement to the Mandates Commission last Thursday, in which he said the phrase should be interpreted to mean “something less than a Jewish State,” Dr. Karpf called attention to a declaration made to the Commission in July, 1937, by Mr. Ormsby-Gore following publication of the Royal Commission’s report recommending partition of Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab states with a British-mandated buffer area.

At that time, Dr. Karpf said, Mr. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech) declared that the Balfour Declaration “was still a binding obligation, and would remain so until replaced by an independent Jewish State.” The declaration by the then Colonial Secretary was incorporated in the January, 1938, White Paper issued by the British Government outlining the terms of reference for the Woodhead Partition Commission, which ultimately brought in a report declaring that the partition scheme was not feasible. The declaration, taken from the minutes of the 32nd session of the Mandates Commission (p. 182), follows:

“(Mr. Ormsby-Gore) had certainly had no intention of conveying the impression that the Balfour Declaration was not still a binding obligation on both the League and the United Kingdom. Obviously, like the mandate, it was still a binding obligation, and would remain so until replaced by an independent Jewish State. It was only if the suggested plan of partition were accepted, and eventuated in the creation of a Jewish State, that the Balfour Declaration would reach its fruition and cease to be binding Similarly, the mandate was binding until it was replaced by another regime in Palestine.”

Dr. Karpf issued the following statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency “Although I have not changed my view opposing a Jewish State as recommended by the Royal Commission, I feel that this kind of diametrically opposite interpretations by successive British Colonial secretaries in two years, serving in the same Government, should not be permitted to go unchallenged”