LONDON (May. 15)
The menace to Palestine reached a new climax today as Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden announced in Commons that the French were permitting the Germans to use Syrian air bases and asserted that the British Government had authorized “full action” against German planes in Syrian airdromes.
At the same time a British communique in Cairo disclosed that German planes have reached Iraq, bringing “propagandists, agitators and similar specialists.”
Eden’s statement was the first official announcement that Germany had received military rights in French-mandated Syria, which had been rumored for several days since Vichy and the Nazis concluded a new agreement containing secret concessions to Berlin.
Captain Eden said “there is certainly strong force” in a suggestion voiced by a member of Commons whether France’s withdrawal from the League of Nations did not abrogate the Syrian mandate. The reply led to speculation that Britain might ask the remaining League members to nullify French control over Syria, thus opening the way to British action against the Germans there.
A Free French broadcast to France on the British radio denounced Vichy’s action in allowing Germany entry into Syria as a breach of Marshal Henri Petain’s word of honor and the Armistice conditions.
There was also discussion in Commons yesterday of Nazi-inspired Arab agitation in the Middle East. Replying to a question from David Adams, Laborits, Colonial Undersecretary George H. Hall said Jamal el Husseini, Palestine Arab extremist, who was in closest association with the exiled ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, was still in Iraq. (Jamel is the ex-Mufti’s cousin.) He added that George Antonius was still in Palestine but was not suspected of undesirable dealings with the ex-Mufti.