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Britain Suspends Immigration to Palestine in Move to Halt Illegal Entry

In a drastic move to stamp out smuggling of Jews into Palestine, the British Government today announced suspension of the six-month Jewish immigration quota for October 1, 1939, to March 31, 1940. Announcing the suspension to the House of Commons, Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald warned that it might become permanent if Palestine Jewry continued “organized attempts” to encourage the extra-legal immigration. Jewish refugees who have been smuggled into Palestine in recent weeks were to be deducted from future quotas.

The present immigration schedule, announced on June 14 and covering the April-October period, called for issuance of 7,850 certificates to Jews. The total Jewish quota for the period was 10,350, but 1,200 certificates were deducted for immigrants who entered in April and 1,300 for illegal immigrants who arrived in the Holy Land prior to May 25.

“As the House knows,” Mr. MacDonald declared, “His Majesty’s Government have announced their readiness to facilitate immigration of Jews into Palestine up to the figure of 75,000 during the five years from April 1 last. We are particularly anxious to help the settlement of Jewish refugees of Central Europe, and special provisions therefore have been made for admission of these. But during the last months, there has been an organized attempt to defeat the proper regulation of immigration by traffic in illegal immigrants, and as many of these illegal immigrants are Jews from Poland and Rumania, the movement even threatens to some extent our effort to help the refugees.

“His Majesty’s Government are determined to prevent this attempt to defeat the law of Palestine, an attempt which in any case is perpetuating bitterness in the country. As the House is aware, the numbers of illegal residents remaining in Palestine are being deducted from the future quotas of legal immigrants. These numbers have been such lately that I have now authorized the High Commissioner (Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael) to announce that no immigration quota will be issued for the next quota period, that is for the six months from Oct. 1 to March 31 next.

“Whether there will be a resumption of immigration quotas after that date must depend on the circumstances then prevailing regarding illegal immigration.”

Earlier, Mr. MacDonald had rejected demands for a second debate on the new British policy for Palestine. Replying to a question by Laborite Arthur Greenwood, the Colonial Secretary declared that the Government was preparing to carry out the proposals outlined in the White Paper as soon as they had been approved by the League of Nations Council. He said that the House would be consulted again only if the Council suggested modifications in the policy.

Mr. MacDonald, replying to a query by Liberal Geoffrey Mander, denied published reports that five out of seven members of the Mandates Commission had condemned the British policy at the recent Geneva session. “Obviously,” he said, “I have no authority to speak in behalf of the Permanent Mandates Commission or foreshadow what is in their report All I venture to suggest is that when Mr. Mander has a chance of studying the report after publication (scheduled for next month), he will very likely find that his information is incorrect.”

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