LONDON (Jan. 27)
Negotiations between the British Government and the Jewish Agency for Palestine for formation of a Jewish army to serve in Palestine and else where are expected to be successfully concluded soon, it was reliably learned today.
According to unconfirmed rumors, recruiting of 16,000 Jews in Palestine and 4,000 in Britain will be started as soon as the negotiations are consummated.
Zionist leaders have been seeking establishment of a Jewish legion since the outbreak of the war. The force would be recruited principally among Palestine Jews and those in Allied countries, as well as in neutral countries, so far as compatible with local legislation.
Approximately 8,000 Palestine Jews are now serving in the British forces, including 1,500 in the Royal Air Force, 900 in infantry companies, 1,600 in engineer, technical and transport corps, and more than 2,500 in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. Some are stationed in Egypt and Greece.
At the outbreak of the war, the Jewish Agency held registration of Palestine Jews between the ages of 18 and 50 willing to offer their services for the Allied cause. More than 136,000 men and women volunteered.
Sir Norman Angell, the author, recently predicted that the British Government would accept the Jewish Agency’s offer to establish an army 100,000 strong.
In the early days of the war the Government took an unfavorable attitude towards the proposal for a separate Jewish force. On May 24, 1940, Capt. Anthony Eden, then War Secretary, said: “In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government the raising of separate Jewish formations would present difficulties and it would be of more advantage if Jews who are anxious to serve would enlist in His Majesty’s forces in the ordinary way.”
One reason for former official opposition to the Jewish army plan, it was learned, was that the Government did not desire to make any commitments to Zionist leaders in return for such assistance. Presumably this difficulty has been cleared away during the current negotiations.
Precedent for a Jewish army was set during the last war when a Jewish Legion, composed of Jews from Palestine and other countries, served under Marshal Allenby’s commend in the British Near Eastern forces.