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Weizmann Defends Demand for “free Hand” in London; Ben Gurion Fights Weizmann Stand

December 22, 1946
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Chaim Weizmann today appeared before the political committee of the World Zionist Congress — and before a meeting of the General Zionists — and reiterated his demand for unconditional participation in the London Conference on Palestine.

David Ben Gurion, Laborite chairman of the World Zionist Executive, meanwhile, continued his fight against Dr. Weizmann’s policies in the course of an address before the World Federation of Zionist Laborites. He asserted that the majority of the Congress is opposed to unconditional participation in the London parley. However, he agreed to give Dr. Weizmann an opportunity to form a Zionist executive, emphasizing that he was certain that the leader of the World Zionist movement would fail.

Should Dr. Weizmann not succeed in forming an executive, the mandate would automatically pass to Ben Gurion, who believes that he could successfully negotiate with leaders of the various delegations to form a coalition executive reflecting the sentiments of the majority of the Congress delegates. A compromise between Ben Gurion and Dr. Weizmann was sought today by some of the Zionist Laborite leaders, but without success.

The Laborites, of whom Ben Gurion is the leader, are reluctant to sacrifice Dr. Weizmann, even though many of them disagree with him on specific issues. They feel that with all due respect to Ben Gurion’s achievements for the Zionist cause, the movement has no peer to Dr. Weizmann.

A similar situation prevails among the World Confederation of General Zionists where Dr. Weizmann is encountering strong opposition led by Dr. Moshe Sneh. Dr. Sneh charges that Dr. Weizmann cannot be trusted, because he changes his position too often. He points to the fact that Dr. Weizmann, when testifying before the Anglo-American inquiry committee, stated that a Jewish state can and must be established in the whole of Palestine; later, in a letter to the Colonial Secretary he said that the Zionists would attend the London parley providing that the talks were based upon the principle of a Jewish state in a partitioned Palestine; now he is ready to attend the London conference without setting any conditions.

However, Dr. Weizmann has staunch supporters among the General Zionists, who state that the political situation throughout the world is such that Dr. Weizmann’s stand is the only feasible one. These circles point to the fact that the displaced Jews cannot remain in camps very much longer, if they are to be rehabilitated.


The executive today submitted a resolution to the political committee of the Congress asking that the Biltmore Declaration, which demands the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth, be the official program of the Zionist movement.

The resolution is supported by all the Laborites and the General Zionists, but is opposed by the Hashomer Hatzair faction which is for the establishment of a bi-national state.

The attitude of the Hadassah delegation with regard to partition and the question of participation in the London Conference was outlined here at a press conference by Mrs. Judith Epstein, Hadassah president. She said that her group feels that if the Congress approves Zionist participation in the London conference, its representatives should be rigidly bound by pre-arranged conditions — namely, that there should be no discussion of the Morrison-Grady “federalization plan,” and that negotiations should lead to the establishment of a Jewish state.

Asked about the size of the Jewish state, she declared that if the British present a partition plan similar to that of the Jewish Agency, it should be given the “most careful, serious consideration.” She revealed that the Hadassah delegation has not yet reached a decision as to whom it will support for the presidency.


The colonization committee was today presented with a Jewish National Fund plan for the establishment of 85 new settlements at a cost of $32,000,000 within the next two years. Last night Abraham Harzfeld, director of the Histadruth colonization department, told the Congress that 35 new agricultural settlements could be established immediately, provided the Congress gave its approval and found the funds for the projects.

Reporting that 83 settlements had been sot up since the last Congress, in 1939, including 17 since the beginning of Oct., 1946, Harzfeld described what he called the “epic of the Negev.” He said that sources of water sufficient for irrigation as well as home use had been unearthed in the desert, and pictured for his audience a flourishing area with all the conveniences of modern society. Insisting that settlement in the Negev has become a practical possibility, he declared that every day lost in expanding the settlements already in the area is a “sin against the Jewish people.”


Jewish National Fund leaders, led by Judge Morris Rothenberg and Dr. Abraham Granovsky today vigorously opposed the demand of Eliezer Kaplan, Agency treasurer, that the Agency be given control over the J.N.F., during testimony before the finance committee.

Moshe Shertok urged the committee to recommend a 150 percent increase in the Agency budget, pointing to the fact that the Agency’s activities have spread over a large portion of the world and its political department is three times the size it was before the war.

Dr. M.R. Moses, of the Aliyah Hadasha (the New Settlers Party in Palestine), challenged the right of the Agency’s Treasury Department to make all allocations. He urged that more funds be assigned to “middle-class settlements.” M. Bader of the Hashomer Hatzair appealed to the committee to recommend increased settlements of all types.

The next plenary session will be held on Sunday evening. From present indications, there seems to be little possibility that the Congress will conclude on Monday, which was its scheduled termination date.

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