British Say Ultimate Fate of Refugees is Up to France; Question Raised in Commons
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British Say Ultimate Fate of Refugees is Up to France; Question Raised in Commons

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The British Foreign Office said today that the ultimate fate of the Exodus refugees rested with the French Government, since for purposes of international law France was considered their country of origin, and had agreed to the return of the immigrants to its territorial waters.

He said that although it would not be accurate to state that the deportation of the visaless Jews meant a return to Britain’s pre-war policy of sending unauthorilzed immigrants back to their countries of departure, the government had found that “deportation to Cyprus was found to have an insufficient deterrent effect on the organizers of this traffic.”

Simultaneously, several Members of Parliament sharply questioned Colonial Minister Arthur Creech-Jones during a brief discussion in the House of Commons. He refused to give assurances that the deportees would not be compelled to go to South America, stating that the situation was “purely hypothetical” at the present. He told a questioner that the 4,500 Jews had not been sent to Cyprus because the accom?odations there were limited and “there are great difficulties in getting a consider?ble body of Jews into Palestine.”

The Colonial Minister also said that ultimate destination of the refugees was up to France. “What will happen in France is a matter entirely for the French,” he added. Laborites Samuel Silverman and Barnett Janner pointed out the Exodus passenners had suffered inhuman brutalities and could not be expected to wander for years on the high seas.

The Foreign Office spokesman said that agreement with France had been reached only on this particular incident. He did not know whether France would permit the refugees to land, whether quarters had been prepared for them, or whether the French Government was in contact with the Colombian Government.

He described the present Palestine immigration quota of 1,500 Jews monthly as not unreasonable contribution to the solution of the immigration question,” which described as the crux of the problem. He pointed out that the Peel Commission report of 1937 recommended the admission of 1,000 monthly.


The government deplored “tendencies to represent this as an Anglo-Jewish struggle,” he added, declaring that it was an Arab-Jewish struggle, with Britain’s role {SPAN}##fined{/SPAN} to preserving law and order; since immigration was at the bottom of the Arab-Jewish conflict, it was essential that Britain regulate immigration.

It was reported tonight that British naval forces are keeping under surveil(##)ce two vessels in the French port of Bayonue, which are believed waiting for an opportunity to slip into the Mediterranean to pick up visaless Jews. They are the 73-ton Northland and the Pahduca, both allegedly owned by New York shipping firms.

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