JAFFA, Palestine (Jan. 8)
Fantastic details are given by Falastin, Arabic daily, of the proposed Jewish and Arab cantons in Palestine, which the paper declares was the subject of Arab leaders’ conversations with A. C. C. Parkinson, of the Colonial Office, and other officials when they were here some time ago.
Jewish leaders reject the plan, says the paper, particularly Labor leaders, since it establishes a limit for Jewish immigration.
Arab leaders conducting the negotiations demand an early settlement of the problem before Jewish colonization “captures” the whole country.
The Arab proposals for the canton system were:
(1) Division of Palestine into two independent political units, of which the Arab canton would cover Beersheba, Gaza, Mejdel, Jaffa, Ramleh, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkeram, Acre, the Jordan Valley and Beisan.
The Jewish canton stretch would be from Tel Aviv north along the coast to Haifa, i.e., west of the present railway line which is a demarcation of Jewish and Arab areas, and from Haifa to Beisan north of the Hedjaz railway line, and thence up to Tiberias and the Huleh marshes.
(2) Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Safad would be regarded as international religious zones, and would not fall within these closed areas. Haifa would be regarded as the fre port of Palestine.
A similar scheme was advanced years ago by Ittamar Ben-Avi, the prominent Hebrew journalist, who, however, proposed Judean colonies as far as Gedera in his plan. His name for the proposed Jewish canton was “Judea.” The Arab paper does not mention the Ben-Avi plan.
Falastin advances two conditions for the cantons system. Jews would not be allowed to buy land or dwell in the Arab canton, and would be required to submit to its laws if they did. The same would affect Arabs in the Jewish zone. There would be a central government composed of Arabs and Jews on their numerical representation in both zones.
The government would be responsible for national legislation, posts and telegrams, customs, communications, currency, public security, and frontier defence.
Each zone would have autonomy in education, health, local police, and administration. The Hebrew language would be official only for the Jewish canton and Arabic in their zones. English would be an alternative language. The present Palestine government would be replaced by two separate local administrations, and the High Commissioner would be the liaison officer between the two Jewish and Arab cantons. Each area would use a certain number of British officials as advisers for a limited period, since their perpetual employment is contrary to the spirit of the mandate.
There would be an Arab parliament in that zone and a Jewish parliament in their canton.
An Executive Council would be set up by appointment of representatives from both parliaments. The body would be charged with administering the general and joint interests of both sections of the land. The Commissioner would be the link between the two parts of the Council. If any question is not settled after reference to the Commissioner, it would be subject to arbitration by the League of Nations or the Privy Council.
The Mandatory government would endeavor to secure the accession of Transjordan to the Arab canton.
The Arab zone should be called “Southern Syria” and the Jewish canton “Eretz-Israel.”
Falastin states that this was only one of two proposals which were submitted for consideration by the Colonial Office authorities and the Mandatory government.
From a Jewish point of view this whittling down of the territory of Palestine to a mere handful of colonies will never be accepted.