London (Sep. 10)
Prime Minister Clement R. Attlee, addressing the opening session of the conference on Palestine attended only by representatives of Arab states, today emphasized that no settlement of the Palestine problem is possible unless Jews and Arabs are prepared to make concessions and to take into account each others interests.
The “federalization plan” offered by the British Government remains the first item on the agenda of the conference, he told the 16 Arab delegates present, but added that the government is not committed to this proposal. Each delegation is free to forward amendments and different proposals, he declared.
The Palestine problem, he pointed out, cannot be treated in isolation, but against a wider background of world policy. “Palestine,” he stated, “is a tiny country, but everything that happens in it has reactions in a far wider sphere. For a Palestine plan to ignore these reactions would be to shut its eyes to realities.”
The Arabs and Britain, Attlee continued, are associated in a natural partnership. The danger for this partnership can be removed by seriously searching for a solution of the Palestine problem “to which you and we can honorably agree.”
The British Prime Minister recalled that the Arab national revival would have been much slower if the Ottoman Empire had not been broken up by the British armies in World War I. He also stressed the fact that since the last round-table conference on Palestine in the St. James Palace in London in 1939, three more Arab states have received their independence. The British Government, he promised, will support the promotion of economic expansion and social progress in the Arab countries. He went out of his way to welcome Abdul Raham Azzam Bey, secretary-general of the Arab League.
DEPLORES UNREST IN PALESTINE; SAYS IT CANNOT BE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE
Deploring the disturbances in Palestine, Attlee said that they can no longer be permitted to continue. He called upon all groups to attempt “to promote such settlement of the underlying issues as will establish peace and prosperity in the land.” He emphasized that he is quite convinced that a solution of the Palestine problem can be found in a spirit of realism and understanding.
The Prime Minister expressed regret that the Arabs of Palestine have decided not to send representatives to the conference. He spoke for half an hour while Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin and Colonial Minister George Hall listened attentively to his address. The delegations were arranged around the table in the following order: United Kingdom, Transjordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Yemen.
Faris Bey el Khouri, Syrian delegate, who was selected by the Arab delegations to reply to Attlee’s address, announced that he hopes to make it at tomorrow’s session which will be public. Today’s session, held at the Lancaster House, was also public.