Britain Refuses to Release Jewish Agency Members to Attend London Conference

The possibility of Jewish participation in the conference on Palestine grew dimmer today when it was learned that Colonial Secretary George Hall had informed the Jewish Agency over the week-end that “under present circumstances” it would be impossible to release the imprisoned members of the Agency executive to enable them to attend the parley.

(In Tel Aviv, a spokesman for the Palestine Government told a press conference today that the government has received no instructions to release Moshe Shertok and other leaders of the Jewish Agency from the Latrun camp.)

Hall’s action is expected to have an adverse effect upon the Small Zionist Actions Committee, which is meeting tomorrow to decide on participation.

Meanwhile, it was learned that David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, has charged the members of the executive in London with reversing the decision taken at the executive session of the Agency in Paris with regard to the question of joining the London conference.

Ben Gurion is reported to be insisting that the Agency participate only if the British Government accepts the terms of the Weizmann letter. This letter said that participation of the Agency would be possible only if partition is the basis for discussion and if the detained Agency members are released and accepted as delegates to the conference.

In maintaining this position, Ben Gurion made it clear that he is abstaining from voting on the revised terms of participation, since he is anxious to avoid precipitating a crisis within the ranks of the executive. He is, therefore, leaving it to the Actions Committee to make the final decision.

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