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Palestine Questions Get Thorough Airing in House of Commons

February 11, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Zionist leaders studied today the Palestine discussion in Commons yesterday during which Colonial Secretary William Ormsby-Gore reiterated the Government’s determination to partition Palestine, declared future immigration policy had not been determined, and avoided commenting on the plan for a Palestine Jewish dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Replying to a series of interpellations from all sides of the House, the Colonial Secretary said the British Government still adheres to partition as the best solution of the Palestine problem. He announced that “the new technical commission has been appointed to work out a definite scheme, as required by the resolution passed by Commons the twenty-first of July.”

When Captain Victor Cazalet (conservative) asked if the mandate would remain in force until partition was operative, Mr. Ormsby-Gore said: “Certainly! Until the mandate is ended by the Council of the League of Nations, it cannot be altered by the Government.”

Sir Percy Harris (Laborite) interposed, pointing to the consternation caused by the delay. The Colonial Secretary deplored the delay, but referred to the League Mandates Commission’s request that an adequate interval exist between the existing mandate and any future arrangement.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore evaded giving a direct reply to Geoffrey Mander’s (Liberal) request for a statement on the resolution of the Board of Deputies of British Jews favoring a Jewish dominion. He said that “the declared policy of the Government regarding Palestine has been communicated to the House.”

Mr. Mander asked whether the “gratifying resolutions” favoring a Jewish dominion would be communicated to the League and its Mandates Commission. Mr. Ormsby-Gore replied “I am sure they will. I don’t know, however, whether they will regard them with the same enthusiasm as the honorable member.”

He did not reply to the assertion of William Gallacher (Communist) that the resolutions represent “a complete betrayal of the Jews of Germany and the East of Europe.”

The immigration issue was raised by Tom Williams (Laborite) , who declared the imposition of a political high level was injuriously affecting the economic life of Palestine. He asked whether, in view of the Colonial Secretary’s statement in Geneva that this was a temporary measure and the Mandates Commission’s declaration that it constituted a departure from the principle sanctioned by the Council, Mr. Ormsby-Gore would give assurance that the high level would not be extended past March 31 (when the current entry schedule expires).

Mr.Ormsby-Gore replied that arrangements for immigration after March were still under consideration and he was not in a position to make a statement yet. Mr. Williams intersected that the uncertainty was having a distressing effect and urged a speedy decision.

The Colonial Secretary expressed the hope that a decision would soon be reached. “I realize that until it is reached the flood of propaganda and counter-propaganda I am receiving will continue,” he said.

D.L. Lipson (Independent Conservative) asked Mr. Ormsby-Gore to bear in mind that increased severity of anti-Jewish measures in Rumania and elsewhere necessitated a large Palestine immigration. The Colonial Secretary retorted: “All that has to be taken into consideration, but the economic conditions of the Jews in Palestine must also be considered.”

The Colonial Secretary told the House that two murders, two serious woundings, eight slight casualties, one bombing and six cases of sabotage occurred in Palestine from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7.

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