British Government Rejects Proposal to Surrender Palestine Mandate to America
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British Government Rejects Proposal to Surrender Palestine Mandate to America

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The British Government today rejected the proposal that it surrender its twenty-year-old mandate over Palestine to the United States, in an acrimonious debate in the House of Lords raised by Lord Wedgwood of Barlaston on the issue of arming the Jews of the Holy Land.

Viscount Cranborne, British Colonial Secretary, spurning Lord Wedgwood’s suggestion that Britain admit its failure in Palestine and give the United States a chance there, told the House of Lords that Wedgwood’s broadcast in which he made the proposal was “an incitement to civil war in Palestine.” He vehemently denied allegations made by Wedgwood in his broadcast to the United States two weeks ago that the British administration in Palestine was biased against the Jews and described as “fantastic” the idea that officials of the Palestine administration and the Colonial office were a “sinister gang of Fascists.”

In a speech scathingly critical of the whole British policy in Palestine, Lord Wedgwood today made three demands of the government: that it organise a home guard in Palestine, that it recruit a Jewish military force from among refugees who had escaped from Hitler, and that it arm and militarily train the Jewish volunteers “now ignominiously serving in the Pioneer Corps.” He denied Lord Cranborne’s charge that he was inciting the Jews to violence.


Lord Listowel repudiated Lord Wedgwood’s broadcast. The Labor Party, he said, did not support the views which Lord Wedgwood expressed in his broadcast to the United States and did not support a policy which might lead to civil war in any part of the British Empire.

Lord Cranborne, speaking for the government, declared that the question of arming the Jews of Palestine was essentially a military matter. He indicated his belief that such action might lead to civil war “which can hardly be regarded as a satisfactory solution of the Palestine problem.” He was supported by Lord Moyne, former Colonial Secretary, who denied that Britain had broken its pledges over Palestine. He asserted that it had never been intended to convert Palestine into a Jewish State against the will of the Arabs.

The tragedy of Palestine, Lord Movne said, lay in the conflict between the two rivals, Jew and Arab. “Surely it is time that the Zionists abandoned an appeal to force and sought a negotiated settlement with the Arabs,” he added.


Lord Moyne pointed out that the war would leave millions of Jews in Europe homeless and accused the Zionists of narrowly looking only at Palestine, which is only a fraction of ancient Syria. He suggested settlements by Jews north of Palestine and expressed the hope that the British government would “seriously consider” negotiations with Arab states bordering on Palestine to admit Jewish settlers. He added that a federation of northern Arab states might assist in a solution of the Palestine issue.

The former Colonial Secretary concluded by voicing the belief that no one in the United States would be misled by Wedgwood’s broadcast and assume that Britain would surrender the mandate. He denounced the broadcast as “an incitement to the Jews to seize political domination of the land.”

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