London (Oct. 1)
Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin and Colonial Secretary George Hall today met with leaders of the Jewish Agency for a preliminary exchange of views aimed at bringing Jewish participation in the conference on Palestine now taking place here.
The meeting, which started at noon, adjourned without reaching any concrete decisions, but it was stated that the chances for the participation of the Jewish Agency in the conference are “increasingly good.” The Jewish Agency was represented at the talks by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Prof. Selig Brodetsky, Berl Locker, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Eliezer Kaplan, Rabbi J. L. Fishman and M. Linton, the Agency’s political secretary.
Agency circles said later that no further meeting with government representatives has as yet been arranged. However, informed British sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that another meeting may be held on Wednesday or Thursday, after Bevin and Hall report to Prime Minister Attlee on today’s exchange of views, and after the members of the Jewish Agency make a similar report to their colleagues.
During today’s discussions, both the Jewish and the British representatives displayed the desire to have the Jewish Agency participate in the London parley. The British indicated that they are ready to mediate as far as possible between the Jewish and the Arab viewpoints.
QUESTION OF RELEASING DETAINED JEWISH LEADERS IS MAIN ISSUE
It is understood that the terms and conditions of Jewish participation in the conference were the principal points discussed at the meeting today. Hitherto the government’s attitude was that it cannot accept detained leaders of the Jewish Agency or those liable to detention – because it must consider carefully the general attitude of the Arabs. The argument of the government was that if these leaders are accepted as delegates to the conference, the Arabs are likely to raise the question of admitting the ex-Mufti to the parley also.
It is still the opinion of the government that the conference has a better chance of succeeding if the Jewish Agency delegation does not include those of its members who are suspected of implication in terrorism. However, this does not exclude the possibility of granting an amnesty before long under which the detained Agency leaders, as well as those marked for detention, might be available for consultation with the Jewish delegates.
Asked whether such an amnesty would also affect the present position of the ex-Mufti, a British source replied: “The ex-Mufti is in a different category since he actively cooperated with the enemy. Under no circumstances would the government allow his presence at the conference.”
Following the session between the British representatives and the Jewish Agency delegation, Eliezer Kaplan flew to Paris to consult David Ben Gurion. The informal talks with the British will not be resumed until, he returns.