London (Sep. 9)
Informal discussions on questions of procedure marked the first meeting here today of British representatives and delegates from the Arab states who are participating in the conference on Palestine which is to open here officially tomorrow with an address by Prime Minister Clement R. Attlee.
At the same time, leaders of Jewish groups in Britain, as well as Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog of Palestine, today met separately with Colonial Secretary George Hall and discussed the question of Jewish representation at the conference. Among the former were Leonard Stein, head of the Anglo-Jewish Association, and Neville Laski, former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Chief Rabbi Herzog refused to reveal the nature of his talk at the Colonial Office, but it is understood that he told Secretary Hall that all the Jews of Palestine are behind the decision of the Jewish Agency, which has so far abstained from participating in the conference.
A joint communique issued by non-Agency Jewish groups here says: “Upon the invitation of Acting Chief Rabbi Lazarus of the British Empire, a meeting took place this afternoon of representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Agudas Israel which, in addition to the Acting Chief Rabbi, have been invited by the government to attend the Palestine conference. Consideration was given to the proposition arising from the invitation. Representatives of the Jewish Agency also attended the meeting at the invitation of the Acting Chief Rabbi.”
It was officially announced today that two refusals have so far been received from Jews in Palestine, while no reply has yet been received from any of the Jewish groups in Britain who were invited to attend the parley.
JEWISH GROUPS IN BRITAIN WISH TO ATTEND THE PARLEY, BRITISH SAY
Informed British quarters today said that Jewish organizations in Britain not affiliated with the Jewish Agency are anxious to accept the invitation to the conference. “They feel that if they can come to an agreement among themselves, they will be in a stronger position to act independently of the Jewish Agency,” these sources stated.
With regard to the possibility of further consultations between leaders of the Jewish Agency and Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, it was officially indicated here today that any further initiative for conversations would have to come from the Agency itself.
Arab circles in London were waiting today to see whether the Palestine Arab Committee will send an “observer” delegation to the conference as a result of appeals from the Arab rulers of Transjordan and Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Government. It was also learned here today that the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem who is now in exile in Egypt has summoned the executive of the Palestine Arab Committee to meet with him in Alexandria “immediately” to review the question of Palestine Arab participation in the conference.
“FEDERALIZATION PLAN” CHANGED TO “PLAN FOR PROVISIONAL AUTONOMY”
The British-proposed “federalization plan” which is to serve as the basis for the conference discussions was today officially changed to the “Plan for Provisional Autonomy.” Tomorrow’s session will be confined to Prime Minister Attlee’s address of welcome and to a reply from a spokesman of the delegates of the seven Arab states. The U.S. Government will be kept informed of the proceedings.
A plan providing that each country should admit a certain number of Jewish refugees, according to its size and population, will be laid before the conference tomorrow by the representatives of the Arab states, it was announced today by Emir Feisal, leader of the Saudi Arabian delegation. “Should this plan be accepted by the conference, the Arab states are prepared to take their fair quota of Jews,” he declared, adding that the Arab delegates will oppose the admission of 100,000 Jews to Palestine as well as the partitioning of the country.