Secret Papers Reveal That Churchill Pressed for Rapid Palestine Solution
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Secret Papers Reveal That Churchill Pressed for Rapid Palestine Solution

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Secret Cabinet papers just released here revealed that Prime Minister Winston Churchill pressed for a rapid solution of the Palestine problem through partition before the end of World War II and clashed sharply over the plan with his then Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. The plan was disclosed in papers relating to the final period of the British Mandate in Palestine (1943-45). Papers of this type are now permitted to be released after a period of 30 years.

They showed that Churchill and Leo Amery, then Secretary of State for India, strongly pushed for the partition plan against the advice of Eden and other Foreign Office officials and serious reservations by the military chiefs of staff. A partition report was nevertheless approved by the war Cabinet on Jan. 25, 1944 but the need for continued secrecy and deferred action was accepted. In June 1944, Eden asked for reconsideration of the plan.

According to the Cabinet papers, Churchill declared at one point, “It is well known I am determined not to break the pledges of the British government to the Zionists, expressed in the Balfour Declaration (1917), as modified by my subsequent statement at the Colonial Office in 1921.”

In face of Eden’s opposition, a second report was completed by the Cabinet’s Palestine Committee in Oct. 1944 which proposed the establishment of three separate states in Palestine to meet the chiefs of staff strategic and defense requirements.


This plan, the Cabinet papers revealed, called for a Jerusalem state with British responsibility for its foreign relations and defense; a Jewish coastal state; and a state of South Syria, compris-

In face of an apparent deadlock, Churchill referred the issue to Field Marshal Jan Smuts, the South African Prime Minister. Smuts declared on April 13, 1945: “There is a consensus of opinion of men on the spot that partition is not a practical policy. I believe that partition is strategically dangerous, economically and geographically most difficult and that the racial and political tangles will remain, perhaps become worse.” He recommended that the Palestine Mandate should be maintained under British control.

At that point, Churchill deferred all discussions of the Palestine problem. It fell to the Labor government of Clement Attlee, elected right after the war. In Oct. 1945, Attlee called for a United Nations trusteeship of Palestine and controlled Jewish immigration, a plan attributed to his anti-Zionist Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin.

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