JERUSALEM (Feb. 3)
The Palestine Government today informed the Jewish Agency that it must decide immediately whether it will agree to cooperate with the authorities in hunting down terrorists or accept the consequences. The implication of the ultimatum was that martial law would be imposed if the Agency refused.
Should the Agency agree, it has seven days in which to begin operations against the extremists. Meanwhile, it is learned that official proclamations of martial law have already been prepared by the government’s printing office.
The official note sent to the Agency this afternoon by Chief Secretary Sir Henry L. Gurney declared that despite the recent resolution of the Jewish National Council, there have been no indications that the Jewish community planned to cooperate with “security forces” in maintaining order. It added:
“I am now to invite your attention to the extrems gravity of the situation which has been created by these continued refusals and to ask you to state categorically at once whether the Agency and Vaad Leumi are prepared within seven days to lend their aid to the government by cooperating with the police and armed forces in locating and bringing to justice members of terrorist groups.”
The ultimatum to the Agency follows the first open clash between the Hagannah and the dissidents, although there have been reports recently that the Palmach, the Haganah’s striking force, had thwarted several extremist operations. Haganah members posting placards informing drivers to defend themselves against terrorists seeking to use their cars clashed last night in Tel Aviv with Irgunists who attempted to remove the posters.
GRUNER EXECUTION DATE UNCERTAIN; WILL NOT BE HANGED TODAY
Dov Gruner, on whose fate the peace of Palestine seems to rest, will not be hanged tomorrow morning, as had been believed earlier, it was reported tonight. One report said that the execution would take place on Wednesday, if he persists in refusing to sign an appeal to the Privy Council, while another source said that no date has been fixed for the hanging.
The Palestine Supreme Court this morning turned down an appeal by Max Kritzman, Tel Aviv attorney acting for Gruner’s uncle in New York, which would have prohibited prison officials from proceeding with the hanging without a signed confirmation of the death sentence from High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham. The attorney immediately made another motion on behalf of the uncle, Frank Gruner, asking permission to file an appeal with the Privy Council without Gruner’s approval. No action was taken on the latter motion.
Gruner’s sister, Mrs. Helen Friedman, of Lancaster, Pean., tonight spoke by telephone with Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, who urged her to proceed here immediately. She is leaving by air tomorrow and is expected to arrive on Thursday. Earlier, she cabled to Asher Levitzky, another of Gruner’s attorneys, asking him to appeal to the High Commissioner to delay the execution until she could arrive here and personally plead with her brother to sign an appeal.
Gruner, who has remained adamant despite the entreaties of Jewish leaders who pointed out that he was endangering the entire Jewish community, is understood to have stated that he will not act without orders from the Irgun chiefs. So far, Menahem Begin, Irgun commander, has refused to instruct Gruner to sign an appeal.
The central committee of the Histadruth, meeting in Tel Aviv tonight, also urged Gruner to appeal. Simultaneously, it appealed to labor organizations throughout the world to intervene with the British Government to halt the projected military measures against the Jewish community. At the same time, it urged all Jewish trade unionists in Palestine to implement the Jewish National Council’s resolution against terrorism.
The government, meanwhile, was going ahead with plans for the evacuation of British women and children. Latest figures say that 1,621 persons will be affected by the order. King Abdullah of Trans jordan today informed the High Commissioner that his country would welcome some of the evacuees.
All the inhabitants of the “protected area” which is to be set up in Jerusalem to accommodate essential civilians received notices this afternoon to evacuate their premises. The order affects several hundred Jewish and Arab families and Jewish institutions. Located in this section are the Jewish Agency’s youth immigration and technical and search departments. Barbed wire has been thrown around the entire area.