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Mandates Commission Members Questioned Practicability of Palestine Legislative Council

January 11, 1933
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

learned, endeavored to explain that once the Arabs were convinced that the British government was determined to introduce the Legislative Council, cooperation would be gradual.

In this connection Sir Arthur expressed satisfaction with the relations between the government and the Supreme Moslem Council, declaring that the relationship had been strengthened in recent months.

The question was raised by Professor Rappard as to why the Jewish members of the Municipal Council of Jerusalem had resigned. He inquired how it came about that though the Jews in Jerusalem constituted a majority of the population, they were a minority in the City Council.

In reply Sir Arthur stated that elections would soon take place under the new municipal ordinance and that changes would thus be effected.

Dealing with the subject of the projected Legislative Council, the High Commissioner said that the Arab extremists would not be satisfied by this constitutional change, though the moderates would approve of it.

The discussion on the Legislative Council also evoked the information from Sir Arthur that the Council would be introduced only after the municipal ordinance was in operation. Negotiations would then be set on foot between the Palestine leaders of the various sections with a view to arriving at some adjustment which would make possible agreement on the question of the Council.

Further questions by members of the Commission and replies by the High Commissioner dealt at length with the problem of land in Palestine, since these questions had been adjourned at the last session of the Commission, pending the information which would become available after the completion of the report by the Director of Development, Lewis French.

In this connection the High Commissioner reiterated that the State lands and waste lands referred to in the Mandate and which were to be put at the disposal of Jewish settlement, were not available for colonization. The only possible area in which such settlement could now be carried out was the district of the Huleh marshes, where the situation was complicated by the existence of a pre-war concession. In addition there was the problem of drainage costs which was estimated at £3,000,000.

Replying to the question of the Mandatory relations with the Jewish Agency, which is a regular part of the Commission’s annual questionnaire, the High Commissioner said that relations with the Agency were excellent.

Of particular interest is the High Commissioner’s reference to the quality of the Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland which were described by him as a diligent element which was working successfully—a tribute which is of special importance in view of the fact that in the anti-Zionist propaganda rampant after the 1929 outbreak serious and baseless aspersions were cast on the quality and value of immigrants from Eastern Europe.

On the question of the immigration quota, the High Commissioner said that immigration was governed only by considerations of the country’s absorptive capacity and might even have to be reduced if the economic position should worsen.

On the subject of defense and security, he said that improvements had been introduced in the Jewish share in the police forces. He admitted, however, that dissatisfaction continued regarding the Jewish share in the Transjordan Frontier Force, from which Jews were practically absent. He declared that this Force was open to all but the fact that a knowledge of Arabic was essential in the Transjordan Frontier Force interfered with recruitment of Jews.

In reply to a question by Lord Lugard, Sir Arthur stated that he was unaware of the intention of the Revisionists to set up a political bureau in Jerusalem and to transfer their headquarters to Geneva.

The examination of the British Government’s annual report on Palestine, which is the subject of these Minutes, occupied three sessions of the Mandates Commission. The chairman, in his closing remarks, noted with satisfaction that the economic condition of Palestine formed a welcome exception in the general world crisis. The High Commissioner concluded his report with an expression of satisfaction and confidence in the future. Nevertheless, he emphasized it should not be forgotten that great difficulties were involved in the carrying out of the Mandate and in reaching a situation in which both peoples would live and co-operate side by side.

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