Jewish Agency Will Seek Direct Negotiations with Arabs Palestine Assembly Hears
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Jewish Agency Will Seek Direct Negotiations with Arabs Palestine Assembly Hears

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The Jewish Agency for Palestine will directly approach Arab leaders for negotiations with a view of reaching an agreement satisfactory to both sides, it was announced here today at the session of the Jewish Constituent Assembly (Assefath Hanivcharim) by Moshe Shertok, head of the Agency’s political department.

“We believe in an agreement between a strong Jewish Community which is to be created in Palestine and the Arab people who have always been living in the Middle East,” Shertok stated. His announcement provoked exceptional interest among the more than 100 members of the Assembly, many of whom posed questions which were clarified by Shertok in subsequent replies.

Representatives of the enslaved Jewish communities of Poland, Germany, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Holland addressed the session of the Assembly describing the Jewish sufferings in their respective countries. The Assembly eulogized the “tens of thousands of known and unknown brothers and sisters” who have perished in Nazi-dominated Europe as well as the Jewish victims who sank on various “wandering steamers,” including the Struma.


Greetings to the Jews of Soviet Russia and to the Red Army were read from the Assembly platform by Issac Ben-Zvi, president of the Jewish National Council of Palestine. “Russian Jewry was for years cut off from us,” the greetings stated, “but during all these years the Jews in Palestine did not lose sight of this far near Jewry. We were hoping that the wall separating us would fall and that brotherly union would be re-established for the common building of Zion. From the platform


In his report to the Assembly on the political situation, Shertok dealt at length with the Struma disaster and said that “no one knows whether the Struma was the last tragedy.” He disclosed that about 800 Jewish refugees from Rumania and Bulgaria are at present held by the Palestine authorities in the Athlit camp “with the sword of deportation still over their heads.” He added that the Jewish Agency is anxious over the fate of the several hundred Jews who were deported for the duration of the war from Palestine to the island of Mauritius as “illegal immigrants.” While from a humanitarian point of view there is a difference between Mauritius and the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau, there is no such difference among those concentrated from a national point of view, he said.

Reporting on the Jewish industrial war efforts, Shertok stated that during 1941 Jewish industry in Palestine delivered to the British Army $16,000,000 worth of commodities. This will be doubled in 1942, he assured. Twenty-one members of the Assembly who participated in a discussion which followed Shertok’s report urged the Jewish Agency not to remain silent on the Struma case. Some criticized the Agency for “showing weakness” while others demanded that the Agency resign. All, however, welcomed the fact that Jewish enlistment in Palestine is constantly increasing and that the conditions of the Jewish soldiers and their dependents are improving.

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