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British Still Unprepared to Release Jewish Leaders, Colonial Minister Tells Commons

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The British Government is not yet ready to make any statement on the release of the members of the Jewish Agency executive now detained at the Latrun camp in Palestine, the House of Commons was told today by Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech-Jones.

Echoing the suggestion made by Winston Churchill, Lord Altringham, a Conservative, demanded in the House of Lords today that Britain should turn over the Palestine Mandate to the United Nations, if the United States continues to insist on increased Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Palestine, he said, could take only a small proportion of the displaced Jews in Europe, and it was a “most urgent matter of duty” for civilized states to see that something was done for the Jewish refugees. In this respect he welcomed the “signs of initiative” by the United States Government and asked whether Britain was also acting vigorously.

A solution of the problem, he pointed out, was “essential” to any workable compromise in the Middle East. Lord Altringham said he believed Britain could still carry out the task she undertook in Palestine, provided she had international agreement and support. Otherwise, he declared, it would be wrong to sacrifice British lives in Palestine.

In answer to a question from the floor, Creech-Jones stated that it was impossible for the British Navy to return visaless immigrants intercepted near Palestine to the country from which they set sail because, among other reasons, the immigrants were usually in the country of embarkation illegally, having been smuggled in without travel permits and visas. He revealed that the government had intensified its recruitment campaign for the Palestine police force this year and that 737 policemen were appointed during the first nine months of 1946.

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