Jewish Bodies in Palestine Reject Govt. Ultimatum Warn Against Collective Reprisals

The Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council today rejected the ultimatum presented to them last Monday by the Palestine Government.

A few hours before the expiration of the seven-day waiting period specified in the ultimatum, the Agency told Chief Secretary Henry Gurney that any appeal by it to the Jewish population, asking them to inform on the extremists, would not only be ineffective, but would be likely to cause more harm than good.

“The Agency desires to point out the grave responsibility the government would be assuming by resorting to reprisals and collective punishments against an entire community for acts committed by a small minority who are flouting the authority of that community,” the reply said.

“The executive is fully alive to the dangers threatening the Jewish people from the growth of the terrorist movement in Palestine,” it continued. “It holds, however, that restoration of peace and order is inextricably bound up with a solution of the political problem of the country.

“It therefore came as a painful surprise to the executive that at the very time of discussions between His Majesty’s Government and the Jewish Agency, aiming at a satisfactory settlement, the Palestine Government should have precipitated this issue by addressing to the Agency a communication which could but cause grave concern, and may lead to further deterioration of the situation.

“As you are aware, representatives of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish community have on numerous occasions condemned bloodshed and terrorism as a method of political action. This condemnation has been expressed in terms which should have ruled out any doubt of their sincerity such as was implied in your letter. In addition to denouncing terorism, the Zionist Actions Committee called on the Yishuv to isolate terrorist groups and deny them all encouragement, support and assistance.”

The Agency then pointed out that “however determined to oppose terrorism, it cannot ‘make use’ of the resources of a government which is enforcing a policy regarded by the community as a breach of the fundamental law of the country.”

The Jewish National Council said that it “finds itself unable to call upon the Yishuv, engaged as it is in its struggle for its rights and freedom, to accede to the government’s request.”

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