Fight to Reopen White Paper Issue Seen Brewing in Commons
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Fight to Reopen White Paper Issue Seen Brewing in Commons

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A strong fight to secure re-opening of the Palestine issue and reconsideration of the new White Paper policy by the House of Commons is predicted in Parliamentary circles.

Members of Parliament have been pressing Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald to secure publication of the League of Nations Mandates Commission’s observations on the White Paper before Parliament adjourns on July 28 and to give Commons an opportunity to discuss the question further before the Government goes to the League Council for ratification of its new Palestine policy.

Opponents of the new policy state that if the report of the Mandates Commission holds that the White Paper is not consistent with the Mandate, the Government may not be able to retain the slim majority which approved the White Paper after a two day debate in May. Many Government supporters voted in favor of the new policy then, they assert, under the Government’s assurances that the White Paper conformed to the Mandate. Should the Mandates Commission go on record as stating that the new policy is not in accordance with the Mandate, they declare, it will have a strong effect on these M.P.’s.

According to reports from Geneva, however, the Mandates Commission is reported to have taken the view that approval of the White Paper was beyond their competence and the question would have to be passed on by a higher organ of the League– the Council itself. This is taken here to mean that the Commission actually considers the White Paper to be incompatible with the Mandate, and according to some quarters, was unable to formulate this decision owing to the opposition of the British and French members of the Commission.

Should the Commission’s report to the Council sidestep a definite declaration on the compatibility of the new policy, the British Government will not have to ask the Council at its next session in September to amend the mandate to conform with the policy, but will only have to ask approval of the policy. Under present conditions, such approval by the League Council is considered practically a foregone conclusion.

Chief opposition to amendment of the mandate is not expected from the Council but from the House of Commons. Zionist circles here had anticipated that had the Mandates Commission rejected the White Paper, the Government would have had to seek approval of Parliament before going to Geneva to ask the League Council to modify the mandate. Failure of the Mandates Commission to take the expected stand, it is now feared, may give the Government the excuse it is seeking to avoid further debate on Palestine in Parliament, since the major question of formal modification of the mandate would not be involved.

Government spokesmen have in recent weeks parried requests by Opposition members for assurances that the House would have the opportunity to discuss Palestine before the Government goes to the League Council with its new policy. They have, since publication of the White Paper, denied strenuously that the new policy did not conform to the mandate and in the absence of an authoritative ruling to the contrary, would maintain that since there is no question of modification of the mandate, there is no reason for devoting more of the already fully occupied time of Parliament with another debate on a subject already debated fully.

The Government has also rejected all requests that it postpone implementation of the new policy until after the Mandates Commission and the Council have passed on its validity.

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