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Exit of Foreign Minister Bevin’s Statement on Palestine in House of Commons

The text of Mr. Bevin’s address on the British Government’s Palestine policy reads as follows:

His Majesty’s Government have been giving serious and continuous attontion to the whole problem of the Jewish community that has arisen as a result of Nazi persecution in Germany, and the conditions arising therefrom. It is unfortunately true that until conditions in Europe become stable the future of a large number of persons of any races, who have suffered under this persocution, cannot finally be determined.

The plight of the victims of Nazi persecution, among whom were a large number of Jews, is unprecedented in the history of the world. His Majesty’s Government are taking every step open to them to try and improve the lot of these unfortunate people. The Jewish problem is a great human one. We cannot accept the view that the Jews should be driven out of Europe and should not be permitted to live again in these countries without discrimination and contribute their ability and talent towards rebuilding the prosperity of Europe.

PALESTINE DOES NOT PROVIDE SOLUTION OF WHOLE JEWISH PROBLEM

Even after we have done all we can in this respect it does not provide a solution of the whole problem. There have recently been demands made upon us for large seale immigration into Palestine. Palestine, while it may be able to make a contribution, does not by itself provide sufficient opportunity for grappling with the whole problem. His Majesty’s Government are anxious to explore every possibility which will result in giving the Jews a proper opportunity for revival.

The problem of Palestine is itself a very difficult one. The mandate for Palestine required the mandatory to facilitate Jewish immigration and to encourage close settlement by Jews on the land, while con(##)uring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced thereby. His Majesty’s Government have thus a dual obligation, to the Jews on the one side and to the Arabs on the other.

The lack of any clear definition of this dual obligation has been the main couse of the trouble which has been experienced in Palestine during the past twentyfive years. His Majesty’s Government have made every effort to devise some arrangement which would enable Arabs and Jews to live together in peace and to cooperate for the welfare of the country, but all such efforts have been unavailing. Any arrangement acceptable to one party has been rejected as unacceptable to the other. The whole history of Palestine since the mandate was granted has been one of continual friction between the two races, culminating at intervals in sericus disturbances.

SAYS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND COMMON GROUND BETWEEN JEWS AND ARABS

The fact has to be faced that since the introduction of the mandate it has been impossible to find common ground between the Arabs and the Jews. The differences in religion and in language, in cultural and social life, in ways of thought and conduct, are difficoult to reconcile. On the other hand, both communities lay claim to palestine, one on the ground of a millenium of occupation and the other on the ground of histeric association coupled with the undertaking given in the first World War to establish a Jewish home. The task that has to be accomplished now is to find means to reconcile these divergencies.

The repercussions of the conflict have spread far beyond the small land in which it has arisen. The Zionist cause has strong supporters in the United States, in Great Britain, in the dominions and elsewhore. Civilization has been appalled by the sufferings which have been inflicted in recent years on the persecuted Jews of Europe. On the other side of the picture, the cause of the Palestinian Arabs has been imposed by the whole Arab world and more lately has become a matter of keen interest to their ninety million co-religionists in India. In Palestine itself, there is always serious risk of disturbances on the part of one community or the other, and such distances are bound to find their reflection in a much wider field. Considerations at only of equity and of humanity, but also of international amity and world peace are this involved in any search for a solution.

STRESSES ANGLE-AMERICAN INTEREST IN SOLUTION OF PALESTINE ISSUE

In dealing with Palestine all parties have entered into commitments. There are the commitments imposed by the mandate itself, and, in addition, the various statements of the last twenty-five years. Furthermore, the United States Government themselves have undertaken that no decision should be taken in respect to what, in their opinion, affects the basic situation in Palestine without full consultation with both Arabs and Jews. Having regard to the whole situation and the fact that it has caused wide interost which affects both Arabs and Jews, His Majesty’s Government decided to invite the Government of the United States to cooperate with them in setting up a goint anglo-American committee of enquiry, under a rotating chairmanship, to examine the question of European Jewry and to make a further review of the Palestine problem in the light of that examination. I am glad to be able to inform the House that the Government of the United States have accepted this invitation.

(At this point Bevin outlined the “terms of reference” of the committee as listed in President Truman’s announcement)

The procedure of the committee will be determined by the committee themselves and it will be open to them, if they think fit, to deal simultanecusly, through the medium of sub-committees, with their various terms of reference.

COMMITTEE WILL ALSO CONSIDER POSSIBILITIES FOR SETTLEMENT IN EUROPE

The committee will be invited to deal with the matters referred to in their terms of reference with the utmost expeditions. Complying with the second and fourth paragraphs of their terms of reference, the committee will presumably take such steps as they consider necessary in order to inform themselves of the character and magnitude of the problem created by the war. They will also give consideration to the problem of settlement in Europe and to possible countries of disposal. In the light of their investigations, they will make recommendations to the two Governments for dealing with the problem in the interim until such time as a permanent solution can be submitted to the appropriate organ of the United Nations.

The recommendations of a committee of enquiry such as will now be set up will elso be of immense help in arriving at a solution of the Palestine problem. The committee will, in accordance with the first and third paragraphs of their terms of reference, make an examination on the spot of the political, economic and social conditions which are at present held to restrict immigration into Palestine and, after consulting representative Arabs and Jews, submit proposals for dealing with these problems. It will be necessary for His Majesty’s Government both to take action with a view to securing some satisfactory interim arrangement and also to devise a policy for pernment application thereafter.

This inquiry will facilitate the findings of a solution which will in turn facilitate the arrangements for placing Palestine under trusteeship.

So far as Palestine is concerned it will be clear that His Majesty’s Government

1. They will consult the Arabs with a view to an arrangement which will ensure that, pending the receipt of the ad interim recommendations which the committee of enquiry will make in the matter, there is no interruption of Jewish immigration at the present monthly rate.

2. After considering the ad interim recommendations of the committee of enquiry, they will explere, with the parties concerned, the possibility of devising other temporary arrangements for dealing with the Palestine problem until a permanent solution of it can be reached.

3. They will prepare a permanent solution for submission to the United Nation and if possible an agreed one.

VIOLENT DEPARTURE FROM PRESENT POLICY WOULD CAUSE REACTIONS IN MIDDLE EAST

The House will realise that we have inherited, in Palestine, a most difficult legacy and our task is greatly complicated by undertakings, given at various times to various parties, which we feel ourselves bound to honor. Any violent departure without adequate consultation would not only afford ground for a charge of breach of faith against His Majesty’s Government, but would probably cause serious reactions throughout the Middle East, and would arouse widespread anxiety in India.

His Majesty’s Government are satisfied that the course which they propose to pursue in the immediate future is not only that which is in accordance with their obligations, but is also that which, in the long view, is in the best interests of both parties. It will in no way prejudice either the action to be taken on the recommendations of the committee of enquiry or the terms of the trusteeship agreement, which will supersede the existing mandate, and will therefore control ultimate policy in regard to Palestine.

His Majesty’s Government, in making this new approach, wish to make it clear that the Palestine problem is not one which can be settled by force and that any attenpt to do so by any party will be resolutely dealt with. It must be settled by discussion and conciliation and there can be no question of allowing an issue to be forced by violent conflict.

We have confidence that if this problem is approached in the right spirit by Arabs and Jews, not only will a solution be found to the Palestine question, just to both parties, but a great contribution will be made to stability and peace in the Middle East.

Finally, the initiative taken by His Majesty’s Government and the agreement of the United States Government to cooperate in dealing with the whole problem created by Nazi aggression, is a significant sign of their determination to deal with the problem in a constructive way and a humanitarian spirit. But I must emphasize that the problem is not one which can be dealt with only in relation to Palestine. It will need a united effort by the power to relieve the miseries of these suffering peoples.”

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