London (Jul. 1)
The British Government has evidence of a close link between the Jewish Agency and the Haganah, Prime Minister Clement Attlee said today in Commons, adding that the “Agency cannot be a cover for an illegal army.” There is evidence that the Haganah is working under the direction of some members of the Agency–”I do not say all,” he charged.
The Prime Minister said that the present events will not “distract from consideration of the inquiry committee’s report.” He added that he hoped that in con- ferences with American officials who are due here July 15 a just and lasting settlement will be arrived at.
Attlee, however, brusquely replied “certainly not” to a question by Samuel Silverman, Laborite, as to whether he proposed to allow the 100,000 Jews to enter Palestine without further discussions with Americans.
Although the U.S. Government was kept fully informed of events in Palestine, it was not consulted, he continued. “The Government must take the responsibility for its actions as the mandatory power. It would be unfair to place the onus on another government.”
Reviewing the various incidents which have occurred in Palestine in recent weeks, which he said had caused damage estimated at $16,000,000, the Prime Minister said that as the holder of the mandate, Britain has an international duty of maintaining order, and full authority to take all necessary steps.
SAYS KIDNAPPERS ADOPTED WORST METHODS OF NAZIS
Referring to the kidnapping of British officers, three of whom are still held, he said that the Jews’ experiences at the hands of the Nazis did not justify their adopting the worst methods of their oppressors, such as taking hostages. Attlee disclosed that some of the 2,000 persons arrested over the week-end in Palestine have been released, but he gave no detailed information.
He said the action against the Jewish Agency was motivated by the fact that in recent months it has become increasingly clear that the sporadic outbreaks throughout the country are “part of a concerted plan executed by a highly developed military organization.”
The Prime Minister said that military and civil authorities in Palestine had shown the greatest forbearance in the face of sabotage and terrorism. Up to this weekend, he continued, official action had been on a local basis, directed against those believed mainly responsible for a particular incident.
After describing the equipment allegedly available to the Haganah, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Group, Attlee said that the Haganah was responsible for many of the incidents in which property was destroyed and armed resistance was shown. He said that the Jewish Agency had been repeatedly warned of the gravity of the developments and the danger to which they might lead.
CHARGES AGENCY IGNORED APPEALS TO COOPERATE WITH GOVERNMENT
He recalled that the Anglo-American inquiry committee had stressed the dangers of private armies and said that the Agency had been urged to resume cooperation with the mandatory government. Despite these warnings, the Prime Minister concluded, the situation did not improve, and, on the contrary, in the last three weeks roads and rail lines were sabotaged, bridges blown up and railway yards attacked.
Mr. Silverman, who precipitated Attlee’s statement, asked for public evidence of the Jewish Agency’s responsibility for the terror. The Prime Minister replied that the evidence will be published after documents seized during the raid on the Agency’s headquarters are studied.
Attlee’s stand was praised by spokesmen for the Conservative and Liberal par- ties. Col. Oliver Stanley, former Colonial Minister, pledged the support of the Conservatives and urged speedy publication of all evidence unearthed.
At a morning session of the Cabinet today, prior to the convening of Parliament, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, who has just returned from a tour of Palestine and the Middle East, discussed the situation in the Holy Land with members of the Government. A reliable source said that Attlee encountered stiff opposition from several members of his government who oppose the present course being followed by the Labor Government.
(See later report on Palestine debate in Commons on page 5.)