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Says Mandate Unthankful Task, but Britain Will Fulfil Obligations

September 9, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

There can be no question of reconsidering the section of the mandate making Palestine the national home of the Jews. This statement was made by Lord Passfield, British Colonial Secretary, in an exclusive interview with the United Press in London on Friday.

“What happened in Palestine,” he said, “is, of course, terrible. The calamity is extremely regrettable, and deserving, as MacDonald stated before the League assembly, of our greatest sympathy. However, that is no reason for losing all sense of proportion or allowing ourselves to be guided in our judgments by our sympathies alone, as many of all religions and political parties are inclined to do without knowing the true causes of the trouble or the real conditions in the field of action.

“The mandatory Power is in a most awkward position, being constantly criticized and denounced by Jews and Moslems alike. Britain’s problem has been to deal with all religions and all races impartially. We have always welcomed the views of those attempting to settle in Palestine according to the provisions of the mandate. However, we also simultaneously felt duty bound to protect the rights of the original Arab settlers. Thus, we only allowed Jews to settle when they regularly purchased land from the Arab owners.

“Of course, this resulted in the Jews settling in Palestine at a much slower rate than the Zionists desired, yet at the same time this rate at times has been such as to excite violently the Moslems.

“The whole thing is complicated by the rival claims of Moslems. Jews and Christians to holy places. The result of all this has been to produce in the last ten years repeated outbreaks to which we Westerners are not accustomed. Every effort has been made to prevent such outbreaks, but neither the presence of the British troops nor the police force sufficed to prevent the boiling up of religious fanaticism. I am glad to say, however, this was the only serious outbreak since 1921 and it strikes me as significant that the last outbreak which caused almost as many casualties as the present one occurred despite the presence in Palestine of 13,000 troops.

“In 1921, as now, order was promptly restored, though unfortunately not until hundreds were killed or wounded. However. Britain does not intend to abandon its duties despite the unthankful character of the job. We will continue the difficult task of maintaining order and upholding the national Jewish home in Palestine in the hope that when peace is restored and the mutural grievances are satisfactorily settled the Jews and Arabs will continue to live together in a friendly spirit and perform their share in the development of the country.”

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