– in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 12 Rhagfyr 1947.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. William Whiteley.]

11.6 a.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Yesterday, I listened to not quite all but nearly all of what I cannot help describing as a very dull and dreary Debate. From the speeches on both sides of the House one would have thought that we were in attendance at a rather poverty stricken funeral. I cannot understand the air of despondency, tragedy and misery which seemed to enshroud all the speeches. That the situation in Palestine and the Middle East is almost desperate is true. But what is there new in that? It has been desperate for a long time. The one thing, the first and almost the only thing that the country required was a policy. I do not say for the moment what policy; a good policy, a bad policy, an indifferent policy, a just or an unjust policy—any kind of policy is better than none, or carrying on as we have been carrying on in Palestine for the past two and a half years.

The first element of relief in the present situation is that, at any rate, a plan has been adopted; a plan has been accepted, and some attempt will be made to carry it out. I should have thought that at any rate that was something about which all of us could rejoice. I do not know whether anyone thinks that there could have been a better plan; I do not know myself; but I do not think that it lies in the mouth of either the Government or of the Opposition to complain of this plan, in the absence of any word of advice or any idea of their own as to what else should have been done. I will return to that point in a moment or two.

Let me come to the second point which seems to me a thing about which to rejoice—and where there is so little about which to rejoice, let us not neglect what there is. Since the end of the war, a situation has developed—and I am not talking now of Palestine but of the world as a whole—which, in one important respect, is far worse than the situation during the war. During the war, even if imposed only by the exigency of the immediate situation and the necessity of victory, at any rate some kind of concerted policy and action by the great, and, indeed, the small Powers of the earth—so far as they were able to make themselves heard—was maintained. Since the end of the war that has broken up. For 2½ years the attempt to set up a society of nations has been abortive. Yet every one has known that unless that society of nations could be set up, and could work, there was no hope for the peace of mankind or the future of the world. In that situation, problem after problem, requiring international consideration and international solution, has been submitted to the United Nations organisation, where no agreement has been reached and no solution has been offered.

Palestine was not the least of such international problems. Indeed, one of the major difficulties in dealing with it was that we could not confine ourselves—and no one complains that the Government did not confine themselves—to the claims of the people on the spot, or those for whom they were immediately responsible. One of the major difficulties was the widespread international repercussions that might follow upon any policy adopted by any Government in that matter. It bristled with international complications, difficulties, and dangers. Many and serious as have been the international problems which have divided the great and small Powers since the end of the war, I daresay that no one will dispute that this problem of Palestine was as great, as difficult and as dangerous as any. What has happened?

For the first time the United Nations have registered a success. I am not begging the question of what the ultimate result may be; no one knows; but I say that for the first time the United Nations organisation, on which the peace and future of mankind rests, has been able, in a very difficult and dangerous situation, to reach an agreement which was virtually a unanimous agreement. People have said "No, do not regard this as a United Nations' triumph." My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who accused my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) last night of making a speech full of fallacies, but who himself is the prince of paradox, suggested that this was the end—I have not his exact words in front of me—of the United Nations. Why? Because he disagrees with what they did?

How many times have we heard my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich complain of the rule of unanimity in the Security Council? When Russia could not agree with all the other nations and imposed the veto that showed how wicked an enemy of international democracy the U.S.S.R. was. But my hon. Friend reserves the right of veto to himself, to his own, individual, self, and because he does not agree with the solution, says that because the United Nations came to that view they have done something wrong. Presumably, it would have been the salvation of the United Nations if they had failed to agree, and had left the situation as it was when it was presented to them——

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Perhaps my hon. Friend will study my speech, and acquaint himself of the fact that what I said was that the United Nations, in arriving at this decision, under American pressure, and in an unfair manner, had committed political suicide.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I suppose that if a man commits suicide, political or otherwise, he dies? What I said of my hon. Friend's speech was correct. I am coming to the reasons he advanced for that view in a few moments, but first let us agree that he thought that when the United Nations with virtual unanimity, had agreed on a plan, in this difficult and dangerous situation, they had committed political suicide.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

That is not what I said.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. Friend said there was a lot of pressure and bargaining. I do not know, but what did he expect would take place when the matter was referred to the United Nations? Did he expect that others in the world would do otherwise than Great Britain did, and try to reconcile conflicting views and forget altogether their own national interests? Would he expect all others to do that while Great Britain reserved the right to put her national interests first? What nonsense. They all looked at their own national interests and their own place in a difficult and dangerous world. Why not? But when all allowance is made for that, what was the result? American pressure? Five of the South American States, who are usually regarded as belonging to the American bloc, abstained from voting in this matter in spite of American pressure, if there was any. For the first time, the American bloc was broken; five South American States did otherwise than the United States. Is that an example of greater pressure than before, or less?

That is one side; let us come to the other. The Slav bloc, which had always maintained a united front on issues of this kind—"ganging up" on the one side or the other, as some of my hon. Friends call it—showed no united front. Yugoslavia, a very important member of that bloc, abstained. Of course, there were reasons for abstaining one way and the other way, and reasons for voting against and for. But we do not look for reasons when considering the result. In politics, the most dangerous thing is to reject a good result because the motives of some people who supported that result are disliked: not that I see any grounds for such suspicions myself. So far from this being an example of agreement reached by an unusual degree of political chicanery and pressure of various kinds, there was, on the contrary, less than ever, and agreement resulted for the first time in the history of the United Nations. Does anybody doubt it?

What about the British Commonwealth of Nations? Every one of our Dominions voted for this solution except Great Britain. Great Britain was the only member of the British Commonwealth of Nations who abstained from taking any part at all in that decision.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I am coming to the Moslem States in a moment. I say that with the exception of Great Britain and, if my hon. Friend wishes, Pakistan, every member of the British Commonwealth of Nations voted for this solution. When my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich says, "American pressure," does he mean that there was pressure on New Zealand, Australia, or Canada? What nonsense, and my hon. Friend knows that it is nonsense.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

If my hon. Friend will study my speech he will see that I mentioned five nations which he has not referred to yet.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I cannot mention all the nations at once. At the moment I have got this far, that American pressure resulted in this: that the U.S.S.R. voted for partition; is that American pressure? That Canada did—American pressure? That Australia did—American pressure? That New Zealand did—American pressure?

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

There was some pressure there, yes.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Five of the American bloc abstained. Was that American pressure, calling upon them to abstain? No, Sir. I do not want to prolong this part of the matter too far, but if we look at the voting we get the very remarkable result that, except for the Moslem States who surely cannot be regarded as impartial in the matter—they were parties to the dispute though they sat in the judicial tribunal and had a direct interest in it——

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

Was Hindustan a Moslem State?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I still say that Hindustan, which, after the Act of Parliament that we passed a little while ago, is not a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, while Pakistan is—[HON. MEMBERS: "India."] I meant to say "India." If we leave out the Moslem States, who were parties to the dispute and had a direct interest in its result and who, nevertheless, voted against partition, naturally from their own point of view—I am not complaining—the only nations in the whole wide world who voted against this solution were Cuba and Greece. That is a remarkable result, a very remarkable result.

One is entitled to say that, leaving out the abstainers, who after all do not count on either side, and leaving out those nations who had a direct private interest in the result, this solution by the United Nations was reached with virtual unanimity. It is idle as well as mischievous to say in those circumstances that the decision has no authority because it was the result of somebody's pressure, One ought to take some pride and pleasure in the fact that at last the deadlock between the two most powerful nations of the postwar world has been broken, and that, under the joint leadership of the Soviet Union and the United States, unfortunately without our participation, most of the nations of the world have followed, in order to get a plan and a policy upon which the future handling of the problem of Palestine can be based.

So far from surrounding that very important incident of postwar history with funereal speeches, gloom and misery, we ought to have some pride and pleasure in it and to regard it as the first triumph of our United Nations organisation. Let us look at the result. People say that partition is a very bad solution. What other solution was possible? Nobody ever recommended any other solution.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

There was a minority report.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Yes, there was a minority report of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. Perhaps I might give it its full title, because I dislike conglomerated initials. That minority report was produced, but was there anybody who regarded it as workable? Nobody in the Foreign Office or in the Colonial Office regarded it as workable. The principal advisers to the right hon. Gentleman did not think it was workable. It had no friends or supporters anywhere. It was a totally unworkable, unrealistic thing. There had been, at one time, another unanimous recommendation, other than partition. My hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) was a member of the Commission and so was the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller). They indeed reached a unanimous series of recommendations, within a unitary Palestine, a little while ago. It was unanimous, but it was rejected by His Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

It was rejected by the Jews.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I do not know. My right hon. Friend interrupts me to say that the Report was rejected by the Jews. I am not considering now the attitude of either party to the dispute. I do not think it is quite true that it was rejected by the Jews; but be it so, for the purposes of the argument. I am not concerned with that. I am saying that it was rejected by His Majesty's Government, and rejected by the Prime Minister in this House almost before the ink was dry on the paper, and before anybody could have any chance to say whether they would accept it or reject it. My information is that the Arabs would have accepted it, if it had been firmly presented.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. Friend again says "No." Very well, then. Whichever way we have it, it was the only alternative solution ever offered by anybody impartial, looking at the matter judicially, after having examined the evidence culled from the two nations and from many quarters. It was a unanimous recommendation of a solution for a unitary State. It was rejected, let us say, by everybody, by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich for the Arabs and by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Government. I take the word of my right hon. Friend that the Jews rejected it. So everybody rejected it, and that solution was not open. Apart from that, what other decision could the United Nations have reached? If there is one, if the Government knew of one or the Opposition knew of one, or if anybody knew of one, was it not their plain duty to put it forward to the United Nations and to let the United Nations consider the suggestion on its merits? Nobody ventured to do it. Nobody had sufficient confidence in any other solution.

The present solution has held the field since 1937 when it was first recommended by a British commission of inquiry under Lord Peel. My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who spoke yesterday, said he did not like this solution. He did not like it in 1937. He was a member of the so-called fact-finding commission, which went out to Palestine after the Peel Commission had recommended partition, to see whether it could find workable boundaries. He has come here, and I have heard him boast since: "I killed partition." His view yesterday was therefore hardly an impartial one.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I do not suppose the hon. Member's is either.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I am doing my best. I would rather have a good solution of this problem than a bad solution. I am prepared to consider any solution. I certainly do not like partition. I was against it in 1937, and I am against it now, in principle. People talk as though partition was a Jewish solution. It is nothing of the kind. Partition is a compromise solution, a very severe compromise for the Jewish State to make; but that is not my point. Suppose there is nobody impartial in the matter. Suppose everybody rejects the solution for prejudiced and partial reasons. Be it so.

What else was the United Nations to do? What other plan was before them? What other solution could they have reached? Let it be said further that not merely was this solution proposed in 1937, but there was a period—was it in July of last year?—before ever this matter was referred to the United Nations at all, when it was being canvassed in this House and in the newspapers. Everybody decided that though it was not a good solution and there were obvious injustices and even more obvious dangers involved in it, nevertheless partition offered the only practicable hope of any solution at all. Every newspaper in this country said so—"The Times," the "Telegraph," the "Manchester Guardian" and the "News Chronicle." I cannot recite them all, but I cannot think of any newspaper that did not commit itself before this went to the United Nations; that is, committed itself to the view that partition offered the only hope of a way out. What we are looking for is not for ways out, but hopes for a way out—something on which to base a policy with a hope of it meeting with some kind of success.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

May I draw the hon. Member's attention to an historical fact? There has been no hope of any way out without bloodshed since the Government of the day in their infinite unwisdom, committed themselves to the Balfour Declaration on the one hand, and on the other hand gave orders to some of us in that country to make promises to the Arabs which were in conflict with that decision.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

What would the noble Lord do about it now?

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

It is not my business.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

It is our business. How can it be said now that this ought never to have happened?

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham

I say that these conflicting declarations should not have been made, and that every Government has been cursed with that ever since.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The noble Lord need not burst any blood vessels to convince me that anyone who makes conflicting promises and is then called upon to fulfil them will find himself in trouble. Certainly a large part of the trouble arises out of the conflicting promises which were made, or at least the conflicting interpretations which have been placed upon them. But how does it help to go on repeating that? The thing has happened, and we are in this position as the result. What we are considering is how to get out of it. It is no good repeating that the Balfour Declaration or the McMahon letters were wrong. That does not help us now. For 30 years people have been coming in and out of Palestine on the basis and on the strength of these conflicting promises. The question is how we can now meet that situation—not with complete justice to both sides, because that cannot be done—the question is how we can, somehow or other, work out a plan which will offer the greatest common measure of justice to both sides. Everyone who has looked at that question from 1937 onwards has come to the conclusion that the only thing that can be done, since Palestine cannot be given to the Arabs, and since it cannot be given to the Jews, is to divide it between them. There is really no other way out, and everyone knows it.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

There it is, "No" again. With every proposal we hear the word "No". With every suggestion it is "No", and when the question is asked, "will you advance some alternative solution of your own", again we hear "No". There cannot be a solution by one side having its way.

Let me say this to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), with whose speech I found myself largely in agreement. I am bound to say that he was a little ungracious when he taunted the Government with all the troubles they had caused by their handling of the Palestine situation during the past two and a half years. I have repeatedly said that myself in this House, but it is not for the right hon. Gentleman to say it. What troubles did the Government get into in Palestine? They got into trouble in Palestine because of their mistaken belief that they were bound to go on carrying out the policy imposed by Mr. Chamberlain's Government in 1938. It is not for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Government were wrong. He talked about not imposing a solution by force which is not agreed upon by both parties. That is a tautology in itself. If a thing is agreed by both sides, why is there need to impose it by force? In 1938, the solution was imposed by force. The White Paper solution was imposed by force, and this party said that they would not be bound by it. The solution was wrong, and the Mandates Commission said that it was not in accordance with the Mandate; everyone gave notice that they would resist it.

The trouble this Government have been in has been due to their endeavour to continue to apply, in the absence of an agreement, the unworkable and unjust policy imposed in 1938, in the vastly changed conditions of 1945, 1946 and 1947. In 1938 we had not had 6 million Jews massacred in Europe. The world was different in 1938, and if the policy was wrong in 1938, it was a hundredfold more wrong in 1945. I do not wish to deal with that, but merely to say that it is not for the Opposition to complain about the Government's handling of the situation in Palestine. They have only done what they have been told to do, and have continued the policy which was nothing more than Mr. Chamberlain's policy of appeasement at Munich.

I was relieved to hear my right hon. Friend say yesterday that the Government accepted the solution now offered. I was equally pleased to hear the hon. and learned Member for Daventry say, on behalf of the Opposition, that he accepted the solution proffered by the United Nations. If we do accept this solution, let us accept it generously, not grudgingly, not half-heartedly and not regretfully. The Government are perfectly entitled to say that they will not implement that policy alone. The Government are perfectly right to say that they will do no more than their fair, proper and legitimate share. I do not think, however, that they are entitled to say that they will have no part or lot in it, but will merely give a formal, verbal acquiescence on the United Nations decision. They are called upon to do a little more than that.

When they talk about preserving law and order in the meantime, it is, I think, a reasonable question to ask what law and order they are going to preserve. Whose law and order? Is it the law and order which flows from the United Nations decision, or is it the law and order which has been applied under the White Paper since 1945, or since 1937. How long is it possible to allow a large community to defend itself, and still pretend that the institutions by which it defends itself are illegal? Can we really do that? How long can we continue this nonsense that the Haganah is some sort of infernal conspiracy? An answer was given the other day by the Under-Secretary to the effect that the Haganah is not "recognised." There was a time during the war when we were glad enough to recognise it, and I see no reason in the world, when we hand over functions to be performed by it, that we should hesitate to recognise it now.

Let us take our part in a United Nations, Force to guard frontiers, if guarding frontiers is necessary, or, if we will not do that, and if we will not take any part or lot in it at all, then I agree with those who have spoken on the opposite side of the House that we should get out as quickly as we can. But I would rather we did not do that. I would rather we did it with dignity, and not regard it as a failure and not look at it with regret. This is no failure: dangerous as the situation is, this is no failure: this is triumph. What else did we go into Palestine for? Has it really been so dismal? In 1917 Palestine was part of the Middle Eastern desert, as it had been for 20 centuries; today, it is the coveted vineyard of the world.

It is said that there are 500,000 more Jews in Palestine today than there were at the beginning of this great adventure. So indeed there are, and there are 500,000 more Arabs, too. The whole country has been transformed. Its level of civilisation is 50 times higher than it has been at any time in the last 20 centuries, and it is still growing, and everybody has shared in it. The standard of living of the Arabs in Palestine is far higher, not merely than it has ever been before but also than in any other part of the Middle East. This is not failure, this is success. We looked, even in those days, to the time when we would retire from the country and hand it over to its inhabitants as an independent State. All that is happening now is that whereas everybody hoped we could hand it over to one independent State, we are handing it over to two independent States because it works better that way. What tragedy is there in that?

All the Middle East is desert. It is said that the Arab is the son of the desert. That is not so. The Arab is the father of the desert. In ancient times and in medieval times all this land was rich and fertile. It was as fertile on the Southern side of the Mediterranean as the similar land in similar climatic conditions on the Northern side of the Mediterranean. And so it can be again. So it will be again. I agree with one thing said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich, that what the Arabs dislike is not Jews coming in, but Europeans coming in. They fear that, somehow or other, this is the spearhead of a new European colonising invasion of Arab lands. They need not fear. The Jews will not repeat all the social and economic mistakes of Europe in the Middle East. They will not exploit anybody. They converted the desert of Palestine into garden land by the labour of their own hands, by their own efforts—young students, doctors, lawyers, engineers, rabbis, going out into malaria-infested districts and converting them, at the cost of their lives into places that grew produce and flowers, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, and all the other things that make the country now a garden of the Middle East.

And what has been done in Palestine can be done by the Arabs themselves under proper leadership—their own leadership—all over the Middle East. It cannot be done by the feudal landlords whom my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich prefers alone in the Middle East out of all the world. Nowhere else would he defend the landlordism that he defends in Palestine. No, there is a social revolution there and, out of it is coming wealth, out of it is being won back into civilisation the 20 centuries-old desert, and what has been done in Palestine is only an example of what can be done all over the Middle East. We are beginning here, not a retreat, but a great advance to a new era of human civilisation and, for my part, I am proud and happy that my own race will take a leading part in that great collective adventure.

11.45 a.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

The House is, of course, aware of the deep interest and concern which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) takes in this matter, but I failed to follow some of his arguments. He did not agree with partition and yet he argued for partition, he did not like partition and yet the whole point of his speech was in favour of partition——

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

Well, that may be an alternative solution, but I want to make a few suggestions which will show that there is at any rate one other alternative solution. However, I will not follow the hon. Member in the various points he made. In considering this vexing and troublesome and, indeed, tragic problem of Palestine, my mind is inevitably driven back to almost similar conditions which existed in Ireland some quarter of a century ago. An almost similar situation to that which the Government of today have to face, had to be faced by the Government of 25 years ago. The size of the territory concerned is not dissimilar, the number of British troops involved is somewhat similar, and I hope to show that other conditions also are alike.

I should explain that I am using this as an example because I believe it may lead us to the alternative solution which I would like the House to consider, if it is not too late. I was sent to Dublin as a staff officer when the rebellion broke out in 1916, and I saw that tragic tale unfolded. I then was sent back in 1920, when the "troubles" became more acute, and so I had some little experience. During that second period, two incidents occurred which I think have a bearing on our present difficulties. At a conference held in Dublin in 1921 it was decided that the rebel force could not be subdued unless some far greater military operation was undertaken, and that operation was not considered advisable by Mr. Lloyd George or the British Government of that day, who were unwilling to undertake the further obligations involved. The second incident was a confession made to me by the rebel leader, Michael Collins, some time afterwards. He said that when the Treaty negotiations—almost exactly the position we are in today—were undertaken, the rebels were reduced to an insignificant number of rifles and revolvers and still less ammunition.

Why, therefore, it might be asked should this vast British Army—supported by a powerful British Government, exalted with recent victory, with easy bases in England from which to draw supplies and support—give way, and why should they be unable to crush this insignificant rebel force, ill-armed, hopelessly out-numbered, hopelessly equipped and with no reserves on which to draw? The answer is simple: it was because the rebel movement was backed by the vast majority of Southern Irish people. Every hotel, every pub, every club had its underground movement, as we call it now, where true information was given to the rebels, false information to the British authorities. To put the matter quite bluntly, in order to save our faces, and to save our men's lives, we capitulated and got out, not in retreat from a superior enemy, but in retreat from a nationwide hostility.

That, as I see it, is our position in Palestine today. Our soldiers are not fighting the Jewish terrorists, whether on equal or unequal terms; they are fighting, or rather opposed by, practically the whole Jewish community in Palestine. They are opposed by practically the whole Jewish community in Europe; they are opposed by practically the whole Jewish community in America, and even in this country too. There are, of course, exceptions, very honourable exceptions, and in this connection we must never forget those vast numbers of Jewish soldiers who willingly and generously gave their lives that Britain might live—these points are sometimes omitted—and those other Jews, doctors, technicians and scientists who night and day laboured for the freedom of humanity and suffered intolerable indignities and humiliations and tortures in that cause. We must not forget that.

But, taking all the factors into consideration, for us now there is only one policy, already advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) last night, which has been frequently referred to by other hon. Members, and that is the same as it was in Ireland—get out, and get out quickly. The Colonial Secretary has told us that the Mandate will expire on 15th May next year, and that our British troops will get out by 1st August. That, in my view, is too long. We have no responsibility there, we have no obligations there. The situation is not like that in India or Burma, where we hastened our departure by several months when it appeared right and proper for the Government to do so. We accepted this Mandate from the League of Nations. The League of Nations is dead, and we are not wanted in Palestine by anyone, at least not now. We may be later; I hope not.

It is now our immediate duty, not alone to our soldiers who are carrying out this disagreeable and dangerous task in Palestine, not alone to their relatives and friends who are spending tortured days waiting for bad news, not alone to our great productive industries which are clamouring for fresh sinews of effort; it is our duty to ourselves to free ourselves from these unscrupulous, vicious, and continuous attacks from outside countries. Those same outside countries seem very unwilling to shoulder the distasteful task we are carrying out today. I wonder why we are staying on in Palestine until 1st August. Is it because we have left our bases in Egypt hurriedly, thoughtlessly, and we have to build up and strengthen a possible base in Cyprus? Is that the reason? If so, why does the Colonial Secretary not tell us that we must have time, that it is necessary for the future protection of this country, and that time is the essential factor? If so, we would recognise the reason for delay, and the necessity for holding on until these purposes have been fulfilled. I repeat, let us get out, and let that going be quick.

Speaking for myself, and as one who recognises and has recognised the part both Jews and Arabs can play in building up a happy, contented and prosperous Middle East, I am not happy. In fact, I am very unhappy at the solution of partition. I believe it would be possible to see a federal system of government for all that vast area in the Middle East, where a Jewish State in Palestine, and an Arab State in Palestine, would form contented parts of a federal structure, embodying all those adjacent states—I will not mention them—with mutual interests and complementary economies. Is it too late even now for the Colonial Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to follow that line, and see whether, with the agreement of the states concerned, the two conflicting elements in Palestine might be brought together?

But, in any negotiations, or any considerations of this problem, there is one thing we must not forget, or allow others to forget. That is that it was British soldiers who released the Holy Land from bondage in 1918, and it was they who handed over that land as a home to both Arabs and Jews to live, as they thought, in amity and contentment. That is the hope we all want to see translated into reality. I do not believe it will be translated into reality by partition. Partition is not the solution for a small country. We have seen some of the results of it in Ireland and elsewhere. It is not a happy solution, and does not lead to a prosperous community, or a prosperous economy. So, in my last word, I ask the Colonial Secretary to take a fresh view of this decision reached by the United Nations. I am not going into the reasons why it was reached, and what pressure was brought on various states to take the decision, or to reverse their previous decision, but I hope he will find some method on the lines I have indicated of bringing peace to this torn and tortured land.

11.57 a.m.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I am sorry my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson & Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is not in his place, because I have a few bones to pick with him. He devoted a great part of his speech with great forensic eloquence, of which he is a master, to what I may term very special pleading. He twitted us first with having no alternative to this plan. "What can you suggest? There is no other plan," he seemed to say. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) that there is an alternative along the lines of what is sometimes called the Morrison plan, the federal plan. That may be difficult to carry out in the heated atmosphere prevailing at the moment, but let us keep that plan in our minds. I believe that there is an alternative, and that is my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne. He said we cannot get a solution by one side having its own way. Indeed, I agree, and that is just why I disagree with this partition proposal, for it is one side having its own way.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

Mr. Mikardo (Reading) Which side?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

The Zionists' side is getting all its wants. It has not got all Transjordan and Syria——

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

Will my hon. Friend be good enough, in making that statement to explain why he suggests that the Zionists or the Jews in Palestine have it all their own way, when they have conceded the question of Transjordan—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—Oh, yes, that was intended by the Mandate—and half of Palestine, which is three-quarters, or more than the amount intended?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I presume they have realised the full effect of reculer pour mieux sauter, withdrawing to spring again.

Photo of Mr Moss Turner-Samuels Mr Moss Turner-Samuels , Gloucester

Would the hon. Gentleman say if it is his solution that the Jews should get nothing at all?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I would be obliged to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) if he would allow me to make my own speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne is fearful that, in the process of our withdrawal from Palestine, we may not maintain law and order in the way in which he thinks we should. I know we have a very difficult task in withdrawing our troops from Palestine, but I maintain that we ought to do it with the utmost fairness to both sides. My hon. Friend talks about having a force ready to prevent an Arab invasion coming in from outside. I agree, but I think we ought also to have a force ready to prevent Jewish invasion by illegal immigration from outside, too. Does he agree to that? [An HON. MEMBER: "We have."] I am not so sure. I hope the Zionists will not, in the interim period, try to force the issue by illegal immigration, but that it will stop from now onwards until our troops are withdrawn.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend thought fit to make a disgraceful and ignorant aspersion on the Arab world by describing them as the "fathers of the desert." I will not waste the time of the House in refuting an argument of that kind. My hon. Friend became a little more definite later on, when he cast that aspersion on the Arab world as being feudal landlord-ridden. There, again, he shows grave ignorance. I was in Palestine two years ago, and I saw the Zionist colonies, and I also did what most people of his point of view do not do. I went to the Arab villages and looked to find that feudal landlordism to which he referred. The facts are that all along the coast of Palestine, Syria and the Lebanon, there are no large landlords. There are small landlords owning a tract of land, part of which they let and part of which they work themselves. I went to an Arab farm in the Jordan Valley, half of which was worked and half of which was let out. The big feudal landlords are not here, but far away, and no doubt in time there will be reforms there. Here, the country is behind the Western world, but there is a great Arab awakening going on and it is about time that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne realised it.

I pass on to more general views. During yesterday's Debate, some hon. Members, who support the idea of the U.N.O. decision, gave the impression that it is our duty to stay and carry out that U.N.O. decision or to assist in doing so. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) produced arguments for having an international police force in which, I understood him to say, we ought to be compelled to join. While he was speaking, I thought that it seemed to him that man was made for laws and not laws for man. It is not enough for us to hand over Palestine in good order to U.N.O. We must help to do the job, however much we feel it to be wrong and unjust. My hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) wanted, under the aegis of U.N.O., the small nations to be organised to provide a force to carry out this partition plan. I am sure that the Swiss and the Norwegians will be thankful to him for the suggestion that they should pull chestnuts out of the fire for Zionists. All the hon. Members who have spoken in this sense seemed to think that, once a decision is taken by U.N.O., we have no right to a view of our own. This is a very serious matter, because it lies at the base of political democracy.

The League of Nations failed because there was not sufficient cohesion amongst its members, or agreement on essential issues, and I say that U.N.O. will fail, too, if it comes to decisions which are violently partisan and which force minorities who feel strongly on these issues to take part in carrying out those decisions. It is grossly unfair to suggest that, by refusing to help to carry out the partition decision on Palestine, we are wrecking U.N.O. as Germany and Italy wrecked the League of Nations before the war.

Photo of Mr Henry Usborne Mr Henry Usborne , Birmingham Acock's Green

Since the hon. Member for Luton is not in his place, I think I might say, having heard his speech, that what he was advocating was the use of an internationally mobilised force, a U.N.O. police force, not one in which there would be a British contingent, but a force composed of individuals recruited by U.N.O., and that is very substantially different.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I am sorry if I misunderstood my right hon. Friend the Member for Luton, and, if that is what he said, I admit that it is a much more reasonable proposition, but I should strongly resent this country being compelled to take part in a plan of this kind. A minority has no right to obstruct a decision of U.N.O., it has a right to refuse to carry out what in its conscience it feels to be unjust, and failure to recognise this will wreck U.N.O., as the League of Nations was wrecked before. Let hon. Members who advise that course go down to their constituencies and tell their electors that their young men ought to be sent out there to enforce that decision of U.N.O. I know what the reply would be in my constituency.

The statement of the Colonial Secretary yesterday has done much to make the situation clear as to the role of the British Government and the U.N.O. Assembly. It was an impressive story of untiring work to try to bring about a peaceful solution to this intractable problem. I am sorry, however, that the impression has been created in the Arab countries that the British Government, at the U.N.O. Conference, had no policy and was weakly acquiescent in everything that was said and done there. I should like it to have been made plain to the world that they regard this partition scheme as iniquitous and unjust.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

The Colonial Secretary has said—and I am paraphrasing him—that, having asked for advice, we could not give advice. That is true, but at least we could have said what we think is the best solution, having regard to our great experience in administering Palestine for the past few years.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I have no doubt that the British delegation at Lake Success said, in private, many things that were unexceptionable, but my point is whether that will be understood in the bazaars of Cairo and Baghdad, the oases of Saudi Arabia and the hill villages of the Lebanon. I have seen and have felt the Arab reactions to our policy over recent months. In general, I can tell the House that our refusal to stay in Palestine, and to implement a decision which is not acceptable to either party, has enormously raised our prestige in the Middle East as a whole, and in the Arab world in particular. There are, of course, a few hotheads among the Arabs who, having first denounced British Imperialism, then want to use it to carry out an Arab solution; but the bulk of the Arab world, on this issue, is calm, levelheaded, and terribly in earnest.

Another thing which I rather regret is that we do not seem to have given a lead to the Commonwealth and Empire. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, although for altogether different reasons, that it is not an edifying spectacle to see the overseas Dominions voting in one lobby, the Moslem Dominions in another, and ourselves remaining neutral. That is a most disastrous preliminary to the careers of the two Indian Dominions, which we hope will always stay with us. I think we might have done something by way of giving a lead to the Commonwealth and Empire in this matter.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I do not know what was done behind the scenes——

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

Plenty was done behind the scenes.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I will have plenty to say on that in a few minutes, but not, perhaps, to the edification of the hon. Gentleman. Whatever it was, I think we should have given a lead, and should have avoided this situation which will have very bad effects throughout certain parts of the Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations. I feel that the whole story of what happened at Lake Success is so dreadful that it is about time there was some plain speaking. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) did some plain speaking yesterday, and I might do a little more. If Russia had wanted an example of irresponsibility in international affairs, and had wanted to pillory it as American imperialism, she could not have found a better opportunity than that. Of course, Russia will now be silent on this issue for, like the Greek soldiers at the siege of Troy, she is inside the wooden horse, which is being dragged inside the citadel of the Middle East. Here we have an example of an irresponsible Congress angling for the Jewish vote next year, of Zionist wire-pullers with millions behind them in New York, and, last but not least, the U.S.S.R. hoping to realise the dream of the Tsars of establishing naval bases in the Mediterranean. What an unholy trinity it is, and what unholy methods this unholy trinity uses.

I am informed that the Philippines' delegate was instructed to vote with the Arabs, but was spoken to by a high authority in the course of a direct telephone call to Manila—I do not know who it was; at least I must not say who it was—and, within a few hours, the decision was reversed. The Republic of China also wanted to vote with the Arabs. It was hinted to her that the prospects of her loan might be endangered if she did not vote in the other lobby. Within a very short time, the vote of China went the other way. The wiser heads of the United States administration who know the facts, are against this partition, but Congress intervened and stampeded the United States executive into this position. By its action, it has endangered the whole future and stability of U.N.O., for U.N.O. was not allowed to make a decision in cool and calm judgment. I am afraid that the States in Southern Asia and in the Middle East, who have seen what is going on, will regard these developments with contempt.

During my visit to the Arab lands, I had, more than once, to argue, sometimes violently, with the Arabs to make use of U.N.O. They said that U.N.O. was no use, that we should not bother with it, and that it was only a backstairs way of getting views expressed and decisions made in favour of great Powers. What will be my position now if I meet those people again?

Photo of Mr Benn Levy Mr Benn Levy , Eton and Slough

The hon. Gentleman has made some very grave and loose charges against China and the Philippines. Would he not, at least, think it suitable to let the House know on what substantial evidence he bases those irresponsible charges?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I am not bound to state to this House the source of my information.

Photo of Mr Benn Levy Mr Benn Levy , Eton and Slough

They are just rumours.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

No, Sir, the information comes from very good sources. That is quite enough for my hon. Friend besides, I am not going to be tempted to get out of Order. There are certain Rules of this House which prevent me from making certain statements.

Photo of Mr Benn Levy Mr Benn Levy , Eton and Slough

The hon. Gentleman should not go halfway.

Photo of Mr Moss Turner-Samuels Mr Moss Turner-Samuels , Gloucester

On a point of Order. When an hon. Member makes allegations, Mr. Speaker, is it out of Order for him to provide proof of such allegations?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I am not quite sure what the point is, but I think that, if the hon. Member likes to say that he is not prepared to disclose the source of his information, he is quite in Order in saying so.

Photo of Mr Moss Turner-Samuels Mr Moss Turner-Samuels , Gloucester

Further to that point of Order. Does that mean, Mr. Speaker, that an hon. Member might say that, whereas he would be in Order if he made allegations, he would be out of Order if he gave the proof of those allegations?

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

I think I might be out of Order if I made certain statements about the person about whom these statements are made. I intend to leave it at that.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

One thing which impressed me during my visit to the Middle East was the vital interest which this country has in maintaining good relations with the Arab world. We are dependent on their consent and co-operation with all the peoples of the Middle East for any position, political and economic, which we hold out there. I refer particularly to economic developments and regeneration which are going on all over the Middle East, and particularly in the Arab lands. I conceive it to be our duty, now that Empire in the old sense of the word has gone, to be guide, philosopher, and friend to these States, many of them young ones, some, like the Arab States, struggling out of the Middle Ages, others like India and Pakistan who have grown up under our tutelage, and still others who, like the ancient Kingdom of Persia, are ready to work with them. We can be their helper and guide. I feel that rôle ought to be played by us, and that is why I feel all the more bitterly the catastrophe of this decision over Palestine, and the irresponsibility of the Congress of the United States in this matter.

While I hope that the Arabs will, in spite of grave provocation, do nothing desperate, I am satisfied that this whole scheme is unworkable. Has anyone in this House studied it? Villages will be separated from their cultivated lands and towns from their food areas—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, hear, hear. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are agreeing with you."] I am sorry. Ports will be separated from their hinterland. Sixty per cent. of the area of Palestine will go to the Jews, who are 33 per cent. of the population today. Half a million Arabs will be put in the Jewish State, and only 20,000 Jews in the Arab State. It is obviously a deliberate attempt to make it impossible for the Arab State to live and to put Palestine under Zionist domination—and later, if possible, to extend that to Syria and Transjordan.

I have never liked the partition, and I accept it only as a second best. I much prefer what is known as the Morrison plan—autonomous areas of Jews and Arabs with a Jewish-Arab federal government at the centre. That pre-supposes a certain degree of readiness to co-operate, which unfortunately, at the moment, seems to be hard to obtain, but even if we cannot do it now, I think we ought as soon as possible to declare that this is the only really workable solution. In spite of the terrible impasse in which we now are, we must continue to work for good relations between Jews and Gentiles—I do not say Zionists—I say Jews and Gentiles. The possibility of the horror of racialism getting abroad, with the state of the world as it is today, is too terrible to contemplate. If ever that does happen then Hitler will indeed have won the war.

Meanwhile, at all costs we must extract our forces and stores and ensure that the evacuation is carried out safely, and that we keep law and order in those regions where we actually are. It is essential that we do nothing during our evacuation to favour in any way this disgraceful partition. It is, in any case, unworkable and any period of chaos which may supervene—I hope it will not and that the Arabs will keep their heads—will show the unworkability of this plan. Then, perhaps, an opportunity may come to put forward a sensible alternative. It will be the time then for the federal scheme, because men's hearts will not stay forever at white heat. Zionist imperialism will meet its Waterloo, and then, on its ruins, reason can reign supreme.

12.24 p.m.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

May I say how much I appreciated and admired the speech of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price). It was a typical House of Commons speech. He spoke from his heart and with sincerity. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said that the position in Palestine had been desperate for a long time. It has been getting increasingly desperate for 2,000 years and I want to put forward something which I hope will mitigate what I think will be a terrible catastrophe in Palestine.

I am glad to see the Foreign Secretary in his place, because, if he has the time to listen to my few remarks, I think he can help to carry out the policy I am trying to indicate, which is this. Even if Palestine is to be partitioned, and that seems inevitable, I do make a plea for an international enclave for Jerusalem and surrounding districts. I know that the responsibility now does not rest entirely with His Majesty's Government. It is a matter for U.N.O. But we are still members of U.N.O. and I would ask that the strongest efforts should be made to try and implement the policy which I am venturing to outline. The Oxford Dictionary defines "enclave" as: a piece of territory entirely shut in by foreign dominions. It is about the enclave round Jerusalem that I want to speak. If the Colonial Secretary and the Foreign Secretary would he good enough to look up the letter of the Archbishop of York in "The Times" of Saturday, 6th December, on the subject of the enclave of greater Jerusalem, I think they would find summarised what I am about to say.

I wish to make three short quotations to bring into perspective what I want to put before the House. These quotations relate to the boundaries or the proposed boundaries of the enclave. The first is by the Palestine Royal Commission of 1937. They said: An enclave should be demarcated extending from a point north of Jerusalem to a point south of Bethlehem, and access to the sea should be provided by a corridor extending to the north of the main road and to the south of the railway, including the towns of Lydda and Ramie and terminating at Jaffa. That is at page 381 of the Report.

The second quotation is from the partition Commission of 1938 who (1) moved the northern boundary to the north of Ramallah to include landing ground for aircraft at Qalandiya and the road from Ramallah to Latrun regarded as an essential military line of communication for the defence of the Enclave. and (2) Widened the corridor between Jerusalem and Jaffa, and more particularly between Jaffa and the Jewish State because the Commission felt that with the over-riding necessity of keeping Jerusalem and Bethlehem inviolate and of ensuring free and safe access to them for all the world— and these words are very important— the necessity of protecting the Holy Places must over-ride the needs of the Jewish State, and if the Mandatory were to be entrusted with the protection of the Holy Places it was essential that the Enclave should have boundaries capable of being defended. The third short quotation comes from the majority plan of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine accepted by the United Nations Assembly: The city of Jerusalem shall include within its borders the present municipality of Jerusalem, plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which is Abu Dis, the most southern Bethlehem, the most western Ain Karim, the most northern Shu'fat. That is the geographical outline I wish to give.

Now we come to the administration. The Royal Commission of 1937 said this: The Royal Commission regards the Mandate of a Jerusalem enclave as a sacred trust of civilisation— That is why I am pleading that if Palestine is to be partitioned, there should be this international enclave of the Holy Places. The Report of the Commission goes on to say: —a trust on behalf not merely of the peoples of Palestine but of multitudes of other lands to whom Jerusalem and Bethlehem, one or both, are Holy Places, and all the inhabitants of the enclave should stand on an equal footing. It then says: The U.N.O. majority plan envisages the administration of the City of Jerusalem as placed under the international trusteeship system by means of a trusteeship agreement designating the United Nations as the adminis- trative authority. The Governor of Jerusalem"— this, again, is a very important point— is to be appointed by the trusteeship council of the United Nations. He will be neither Arab nor Jew, nor a citizen of the Palestine State, nor at the time of his appointment a resident in Jerusalem. The protection of the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in the City of Jerusalem is to be entrusted to a special police force, the members of which shall be recruited outside Palestine and shall be neither Jew nor Arab. There now comes a big "but" to which I would respectfully draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary. There has been a plea for the inclusion of the Jewish part of Jerusalem in the Jewish State. This plea was brought to the attention of the Partition Commission and dealt with by them fully in Chapter 9 of their Report. They made it clear that political and religious objections to such a plan were even more insuperable than the actual administrative difficulties. According to the letter written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to which I have referred, this plea has now been revived, and representatives of the Jewish Agency are claiming that only the ancient City of Jerusalem should be under international control. As the Archbishop points out in his letter, not only would this mean that a large number of long-established Christian churches, schools, hospitals and institutions would be within the Jewish State, but for the sake of the "peace of Jerusalem" and the security of the Holy Places, it is vital that the Holy City and its immediate neighbourhood should be under international control.

There is a further important point which applies to all the monotheistic religions. It is not only Christian opinion which is to be considered in this matter. As was pointed out in Chapter 9 of the Palestine Partition Commission Report, Jerusalem is sacred to Moslems as well as Jews and Christians. The whole idea of limiting the territory under international control to the old city is fantastic. It would be impossible to administer the trust under such conditions. There seems to be a danger that the need to emphasise the sacred nature of the Jerusalem enclave, as apart from a mere neutral territory or a museum piece, may be lost sight of. It is not only a matter of guardianship of the specified places in the Royal Commission's Report, but the establishment of a permanent Holy Place for the adherents of the three great monotheistic faiths throughout the world, because Jerusalem as a Holy City is as important to religious-minded Jews as to religious-minded Moslems and Christians, and the increasing commercialisation of the Holy City strikes at the heart of our hope to form a Jerusalem from which the word of God may go forth yet again to an exhausted and dying world.

One of the methods I would suggest of implementing what I have tried to explain, is this. One great deterrent to crime in the Holy City might be if it was known that the punishment for any deliberate act of violence would be banishment for life from the Holy City, as the person who committed that deliberate act of violence would be unworthy to live within its precincts. Here is a chance to provide some centre for healing and possibly reconstruction and revival of religious thought, not only in the Holy Land itself but throughout the world.

I wish to refer to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) who, I am sorry, is not in his place, because his speech was one of those which went to the heart of this trouble and impending catastrophe in Palestine. He referred to the events of 2,000 years ago and expressed the hope that we should hear for ever over the wireless the bells of Bethlehem at Christmas. I want to pay a personal tribute to the hon. and learned Member because I think his remarks were influenced by his dear old father who was a respected and loved Member of this House. "The Times" in its leader this morning refers to the danger of turning the Holy City into a cockpit. I believe it will be a cockpit, because these days have been foretold.

There are chaotic and anarchic conditions all over the world, and it is possible that the battle between good and evil will be fought out in the cockpit of Jerusalem. It will be a holy war. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke), whose speech was a major contribution to this Debate, said that the question was much bigger than Palestine, and that the seeds of the next world war of power politics were being sown. The conditions in Palestine in the coming months may easily and, I think, will provide a harvest for the atheistic and materialistic Soviet Communist propaganda which is threatening to engulf the world.

I would make one final appeal to the Foreign Secretary and the Colonial Secretary: Do let us try to keep Jerusalem and the surrounding country with a corridor to Jaffa and the sea. Let us try to keep those places free from desecration. History is repeating itself.

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitudes, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. It looks to me as if that saying is about to be fulfilled.

12.39 p.m.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Vernon Mr Wilfred Vernon , Camberwell Dulwich

For the first time since I have been in this House I have found some measure of agreement with what the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) has said. I think his last phrase was most peculiarly apt, that in the rapid retreat from Palestine which has been advocated by hon. Members yesterday and today, there is a parallel with the Biblical reference of washing our hands and keeping ourselves free and clear of this trouble. The other feature of his speech with which I agree was that he was putting international loyalty superior to local and national loyalty and even superior to religious loyalty, and in that I agree with him.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

I do not want to be misunderstood. I do not want to put international loyalty against national loyalty. As things are at present we cannot help ourselves. What I was appealing for was international control over the Jerusalem enclave.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Vernon Mr Wilfred Vernon , Camberwell Dulwich

I am sorry the hon. Member did not agree with me when I was trying to agree with him, but we will leave the matter there.

It was rather the procedure mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) which encouraged me to intervene. He said it was a very well known military fact that armies are often beaten when they fight peoples. Armies are designed to fight other armies similarly armed. There are many examples in history—the Irish was one—where tanks and artillery were no match for a united people, and that has been our trouble in Palestine. There have been shops set alight, disturbances and troubles here and there, and tanks have rumbled into the streets and the whole military machine has been set in motion. It was just fantastic; they could not get at the seat of the trouble because they were not the, right apparatus to deal with that kind of disturbance. That is one of the simple facts of the case.

The hon. Member for Ayr Burghs and many other Members have advocated a very rapid retreat from Palestine. The Colonial Secretary said it is the intention of the Government to get out of Palestine as quickly as possible and that is a military decision. If you have to shift so many hundred men, so many tons of stores, and you have certain roads, vehicles and ships available, the whole process is one of arithmetic. It is an arithmetical problem which is connected with this operation. I understood from what the Colonial Secretary said that that was the problem. It is not a political problem of getting out as quickly as we can because no one can see the political future very far ahead, and for Members to urge us to get out quicker than is possible is to confuse things. You must expect to have things like roads being blocked and your timetable out of order in these areas, and I do not understand what is in Members' minds in trying to speed up this operation.

In these difficulties which face us—and I would be the last to belittle them—there are two methods of approach. One is to steer the way through intermediate obstacles. Another method is to look far ahead and pick out something to steer for, then to find an intermediate point and approach that way. What is our ultimate objective? Reading the speeches of Parliamentary spokesmen all over the world, we find them saying that world government is the end they have in mind; they even say that in that backward area, the United States Senate. The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have all said that our object is world government. How are we going to achieve it? We must always keep our ultimate object in mind as we try to solve the intermediate problem. The United Nations is the intermediate step.

Are these measures we are discussing today likely to strengthen the United Nations or weaken it? Our ultimate object must be to strengthen the United Nations, as of supreme importance, to accept decisions loyally and carry them out is a reasonable thing to do. How are we going to do our share in carrying out the decisions of the United Nations? We certainly have responsibility for doing our share. Was it not Britain, who took a leading part in establishing the League of Nations? Was it not among the British populace that the League of Nations Union was founded, and has not that Union been the largest voluntary society we have ever had? All through the period between the two wars there was tremendous loyalty to the League of Nations among the ordinary people of Britain, and in these days loyalty to the United Nations among the ordinary folk is stronger than it is among Governments. Governments have a vested interest in national sovereignty, and it is the people who are looking beyond national sovereignty. We are told by some people that the Foreign Office are somewhat cynical about the United Nations. It may be so—I do not have the inside information that so many of our friends seem to have—but, judging by the result, one detects less enthusiasm among the people in authoritative positions than among the general populace.

Coming nearer home, it may be that Governments will not support the United Nations sufficiently to establish it. If that is so, what is going to be done about it? There is a move springing up spontaneously in many parts of the world to by-pass the United Nations altogether and go at one step to world government. It is a move which will grow if the Governments disappoint us in the support they are giving to the United Nations. Coming again to our immediate problems. There is a danger of disorder in Palestine. How is it going to be put down? Will it be checked by tanks and heavy weapons or will it be checked by a force appropriate to the job? What force would be appropriate to the job? Clearly, one beyond suspicion and the one which is not partisan.

There has been a tendency to pour scorn on the small nations comprising a commission in Palestine, but I think that is wrong. If they have an im- partial approach they stand a chance of getting the trust of the people, and it is that impartiality in the force which is needed to implement partition; that is our only hope. Members have said that we should not send our troops into Palestine and into danger. Toops have always been sent into danger. That was so in the old imperialistic days when expeditions were sent on projects we did not like at all, but we did not grumble a great deal. I am not proposing that, our troops should be sent to Palestine, but I do say that here is a magnificent job of work and it is one of the most heroic enterprises we could have—to go into the disturbed country with no ulterior object but only to restore order.

I am certain that there are plenty of fellows in the world who would volunteer for that difficult job because they think it is a right and honourable thing to do. There would be no difficulty in getting recruits for a real United Nations force to check disturbances in that part of the world. When it comes to the defence of frontiers, as Members have said, it might be that a United Nations contingent could deal with that. It is possible that they could have contingents detached from regular armies and they could each take a section of the frontier to prevent armies and warlike expeditions crossing in either direction. Clearly, however, that is an international job and not a national one, and I hope the Foreign Secretary will give us some support and encouragement for this idea, that we shall see this plan for a United Nations force encouraged and that Britain will play her part in support of that line of action.

12.49 p.m.

Photo of Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker , Banbury

I am sure the House will agree in general with the hon. and gallant Member for Dulwich (Major Vernon) in his suggestion that some sort of federal authority would have satisfied many in this House—possibly a majority—rather than the present position where we see Palestine cut in half, and I am very glad he has taken this opportunity once more to mention the project of world government. How far ahead in the future it may be we do not know, but many people see it as the ultimate solution to many of our problems. I am not sure whether I agree with the statement that an international force would have an appeal to the right sort of idealists to go into the disturbed area in order to restore peace. I am afraid that in a force of that sort the roughneck who might go in might increase, rather than decrease, the difficulties of the disturbed area. I should like to feel that the hon. Member is right, and that it would attract idealists to go there to hold the pass during the critical period ahead.

I want as strongly as I can to support the plea made yesterday by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), that His Majesty's Government should use their influence with the Arab States to localise this problem. No other hon. Member has stressed the importance of this as clearly as did the hon. Member for Ipswich. It is most important that the trouble in Palestine should not spread to the neighbouring Arab States. All of us who, like myself, have been sympathetic with the Arabs have found among them a genuine fear of what might happen if a Jewish State were set up in Palestine. There has also been a fear that reprisals might be taken against the unfortunate Jews in those countries, many of whom were horn there and have lived there all their lives, whose ancestors settled there centuries ago. It would be a great disaster if the Arab States sought to take it out of those Jews. I support the plea of the hon. Member for Ipswich that we should do all in our power to appeal to the Arab States not to take it out of those Jews who have been there so long.

Equally we must appeal to the Zionists to restrain those hotheads among them who are appealing to forces inside and outside Palestine not to regard this present settlement as permanent. On page 8 of the "Manchester Guardian" today there is a statement by the Hebrew Legion that this settlement should not be regarded as final, and they state that they aim at the whole of Palestine and not just the awkward, truncated part allotted to them under partition. If such ambitions are to be stirred up on the one side, I must take the opportunity of warning those Zionists that there will be reprisals and that reprisals can be taken against those unfortunate Jews, as the hon. Member for Ipswich pointed out, who are amongst the Arabs in such numbers and have nothing to do with the present quarrel.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

I am sure everyone would wish to associate himself with the appeal that the hon. Gentleman is making to the Arab countries with regard to their behaviour to the Jews within their boundaries, but I think we should not blind our eyes to the fact—and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree—that the only anti-Jewish pogrom which has so far taken place in an Arab country has taken place in a British Colony.

Photo of Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker , Banbury

I quite agree, and it is most unfortunate that that should have taken place; but I am warning the Zionists that there is a very genuine fear, which has existed for a long time, that the Zionist claim is not to be limited to Palestine—that they may prepare a movement on the lines of the Volkdeutsche movement when Hitler came to power, and which stirred up German minorities living in countries across the world from Patagonia to the Volga. There is a fear there might be a movement which would suggest that because, say, there are 100,000 Jews in Baghdad, the Jews had a claim on that city and to other regions outside the present boundaries of Palestine. We heard an hon. Member say yesterday that Transjordan is part of Palestine, and so the claim has already gone forth for land outside the boundaries of Palestine as they are today. I ask the Foreign Secretary to bring all his influence to bear upon the Arab States, who can be such good friends to this country, and have been hitherto, to see that they do all that is possible to limit this trouble to the boundaries of Palestine.

I do not feel that there is very much use at this moment in going over the Balfour Declaration and the history of the time since it was made. What we have to do now is to try to make the best of the situation that will face us in the future, particularly the situation during the next few months. I am one of those who believe that now the decision has been taken that we are to get out of Palestine, we should get out as soon as we possibly can. I am certain that the military authorities will do their very best to implement the decision. Having had a certain amount to do with them, I think they tend to go rather too slow than too fast. However, we know that there is a large amount of stores in Palestine, and that it will take some time to shift them. If we can move out faster, especially from the disturbed areas, so much the better. The Foreign Secretary was good enough to make clear last night that 15th May is the latest date. It will be generally agreed by the greatest number in this country and in Palestine that the sooner we move out the better, and I would join my voice to the plea that has been made for a speedy withdrawal.

There are one or two points I should like to put to the Foreign Secretary. Our intention must now be to maintain as far as possible the goodwill of the future Arab and Jewish States in Palestine. The Government have said that they would not enforce partition on the Jews and Arabs if the Jews and Arabs were unwilling to accept it. If that is so, will the Foreign Secretary give an assurance that no advantage will be given to either side during our withdrawal? The operation of evacuation is going to be extremely difficult. I do not expect him now to go into details of how he will carry out such an intention, but if he can give a general assurance that the withdrawal will be on such lines that no advantage will be given to one side as against the other, I think it would meet with general approval in this House and outside. It will be a very difficult thing to do in practice. There is a danger that in the future we shall be charged with having so withdrawn that we left one party armed and another defenceless to be slaughtered. If we can be given some such assurance as that for which I now ask from the Foreign Secretary—that no unfair advantage will be given to either side by our withdrawal—it will do much to set at rest certain fears that exist outside the House.

The next point I put to the right hon. Gentleman is that of the position of the Arab Legion in Transjordan. It is in a difficult position. It is officered by British officers, whose loyalty, of course, is not in question. I ask him to see that there shall never be any strain put upon their loyalty, either on the one side to Britain, or on the other side to the King of Transjordan, whom they are at present serving.

My next point is rather a matter for the United Nations Organisation than for His Majesty's Government. I should like to know what the attitude of the Government would be if there were an invasion of Palestine. What, for instance, would be their attitude if troops from other Arab States moved into the Arab State of Palestine? There would, of course, be a strong hostile reaction in the Jewish State of Palestine. We should make clear to both sides that any infraction of the States of Palestine as set up by the United Nations organisation would be a matter to go before the Security Council, and would be tantamount to war. If that is made clear to both sides, it will clarify the situation and, no doubt, will do much to ease it. Will the Foreign Secretary bring all his influence to bear on the United Nations organisation to see whether it is not possible, even at this late stage, to do something about Jaffa? It may be regarded as a comparatively small point in the circumstances, but it is one of significance to the Arab world, and the Arabs want to retain Jaffa if it is at all possible. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, to use his influence to see that Jaffa is retained in the Arab part of Palestine.

All of us in this House wish to retain the friendship of both sides in the troubled years ahead. Such friendship will depend very much on what we do in the next few months, and I would once again urge the Foreign Secretary to make clear what our intentions are and the way in which our forces are to be withdrawn, and to see that they are withdrawn as soon as possible.

1.0 p.m.

Dr. Santo Je{er:

I want to speak today as one who has never subscribed to the Zionist point of view, because I have never been able to define for myself the exact nature of the word "Jew." We are told that the Jews are a religious community; yet there are many Jews who do not hold the Jewish religion—or at least the orthodox side of it—to any extent; also, there are many Jews who do not regard themselves as Jews at all, who have broken completely with the faith of their forefathers, have intermingled and intermarried with people who are not Jews, have taken their place in non-Jewish communities, and have completely cut themselves off from any kind of connection with Jews.

Some people claim that the Jews are a race. I have already referred to a number of Jews who have intermarried, and I am quite sure that there is no people which has intermarried more. They have a larger percentage of intermarriage than any other peoples, because they have been scattered all over the world and married wherever they have lived or passed. If we cannot regard the Jews as a religious or a racial group, can we treat them as a national group? That is a little difficult when one remembers that there are British Jews, Russian Jews, German Jews, and Jews in every country of the world. It is very difficult to conceive that these various national groups could meet together in one small country —Palestine.

On the political aspect of the Jewish people, we have been told that Jews, as one group, have exerted a great deal of pressure on the decision of the United Nations. In this country we have had Jews in the Labour Party, in the Liberal Party, and, I believe, there was one Jew who attained the leadership of the Tory Party. They have never been confined to one political group in this country, and it is sheer nonsense to talk about the Jews in America forming one group which has applied political pressure, when, as we know, there are Jews in every section of American life. They are in the trade union movement, in the Labour movement, in the Democratic Party, in the Republican Party; they are Communists and they are capitalists; they are scattered throughout the whole of the American people in one way or another, as they are scattered and divided throughout the different sections of the British people. Therefore, it is impossible to regard Jews anywhere as being of one nature.

Historically, this question might have been solved no later than 1920, from which period I think the rise of some sort of consciousness of Arab nationalism dates. At that time the question might have been settled without very much strife, and certainly without all the trouble that has happened since. Whatever decision the United Nations had come to on this matter, there would have been trouble; there is no question about that. All the solutions which have been put forward would have led to trouble of one kind or another. Therefore, up to now the attitude of the Foreign Secretary has been a perfectly correct one. The hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) gave us a great deal of secret history for which he could not, or would not, produce any kind of verification, so I think we can dismiss that as of no account. If, and when, his evidence does arrive we can consider it, but until that time we cannot. I, for one, refuse to consider it——

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

Mr. Philips Price rose——

Dr. Jeger:

And I refuse to give way.

Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

Surely, the hon. Member will permit me a short reply? Would he read the reports of the discussions which are to be found in the Library of this House? He will get all he wants there.

Dr. Jeger:

If the hon. Member has the evidence it is a great pity he did not produce it before, when he was categorically challenged on the Floor of the House a few minutes ago, and when he refused to state the source of his information.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

He suggested it might he out of Order.

Dr. Jeger:

If he suggests that to refer to documents in the Library of this House is out of Order, I think he is wrong.

Photo of Mr Morgan Price Mr Morgan Price , Forest of Dean

It was a certain person, or two persons, to whom I said I could not refer in this House. The other material is in the Library.

Dr. Jeger:

The hon. Member could have referred to the documents, but he just did not want to; he declined to do so, preferring to make a sort of super-mystery of the whole thing.

The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke)—I am sorry he is not here—spoke of the great natural wealth of Palestine, saying that there were all sorts of things under the surface. He talked about gold under the Dead Sea, but he did not mention uranium, although I am pretty sure there is uranium in Palestine. The hon. and gallant Member seemed to regard the attitude of everybody, Jews included, towards Palestine as being another great hush-hush mystery. He seemed to suggest that there was a great conspiracy to keep everything in the dark. The only thing lacking in his great mystery story was the old exploded Protocol of the Elders of Zion, which to my great surprise has not yet been introduced in this Debate.

We have had a series of outrageous attacks upon the decision of the United Nations. When we go to law and put a case before a legal court, we have to accept the decision of the court whether it be in our favour or against us, and it is hardly in accord with the tradition of British Conservative policy to counter a decision which, for the moment, happens to be against us. We ought to accept the decisions which are made, because we are part of the United Nations organisation; we subscribe to it, and we helped to create it; we helped to create the Charter, and we ought to accept any decision at which that organisation arrives, especially when we have submitted the question to them for their decision.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

Does the hon. Member suggest that my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) or I suggested for one moment that we should not accept the decision of the United Nations?

Dr. Jeger:

No, I was not referring to the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) or to his right hon. Friend, but there are hon. Members opposite, as well as on this side of the House, who are not exempt from my castigation. If we appeal to Caesar we must accept Caesar's verdict. We have appealed to Caesar, and we have had the verdict.

I see a number of dangers in the present situation. I have already indicated that I do not accept, and never have accepted up to now, the nationalistic solution of this problem. There is danger, first of all, of inter-Arab struggle. Those who speak for Transjordan have proclaimed that they are not in complete sympathy with the attitude of the Arab Higher Committee, and they have not contributed to some of the discussions which that Committee has just had. It is possible that the rulers of Transjordan are considering whether they will incorporate the districts of Palestine which are now to be given to the Arabs, as distinct from the districts given to the Jews. Then we have the Jewish-Arab struggle—although it is significant that in the country districts, where there are Jewish argicultural settlements, there has been no fighting; the Arabs who live and work there, for and with the Jews in those settlements, have not tried any violence, because their standard of life is very much higher than it was in the days before the Jewish settlements were built.

The Jews themselves differ in all sorts of ways, and I think that their biggest differences are probably the religious differences. There are orthodox and unorthodox Jews, and these two groups are already talking of their differences—as we see from Zionist publications. I feel that that is a great danger to the future life of Palestine. If my words carry any weight at all I would beg of them not to accentuate these differences; if my words carry any weight with the Arabs I would beg of them, also, to accept the decision of the United Nations without any further violence.

I have become convinced that this solution is the only one possible at this time, because of what has happened to the displaced Jews of Europe. Millions of people were scattered throughout Europe, some of whom were orthodox Jews and others not, as they thought, Jews at all. Between the two there were various gradations of feeling and opinion. The whole lot have been swept away. Many have been murdered. Hitler made the decision as to whether to call them Jews or not, and of the survivors there are a few hundred thousand who are living permanently in concentration camps which, I am sorry to say, have been perpetuated in one form or another since the end of the war. We do not want hundreds of thousands of people living permanently in camps with their families, and with their children being brought up in them. That is not the sort of life for these once highly civilised people.

What are we to do with these people? The Foreign Secretary has said that the various nations ought to come to an agreement each to take a quota, but agreement has not been reached. We may suggest that they should go to a Palestine which is not a Jewish Palestine, but if we do that we come up against Arab opposition. The Arabs will not have Jewish immigration. If these people are not to be exterminated which, I suppose, is an alternative solution, which no one has yet suggested, the only other solution is that they should go among their own people, where they will be accepted, housed, fed, and clothed, and where they will be pro- tected by a certain amount of national sovereignty. I think that a portion of Palestine should be Jewish under Jewish control, so that these people should have a home to which they can go.

There has been a good deal of talk about Jewish immigration, but no one has mentioned in this Debate Arab illegal immigration. It is possible for Arabs to cross the Jordan from Trans-Jordan into Palestine as and when they wish, without let or hindrance. I understand that they often do that when extra help is needed during harvest time. The Arab population of Palestine can rise or fall freely, but it does not fall. It grows continuously, and no one questions the Arab illegal immigration. That is a distinction between the two peoples which, I think, ought not to have been made. I would have liked those Members of the House who have put the Arab point of view to tell us a little more about the Arab war effort, about which we have heard nothing so far. We have not been told that the Arabs staged a revolt against us, that the Grand Mufti, who is Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee, actually broadcast Nazi propaganda from Berlin during the war. That sort of consideration ought to have a place in the minds of those who have been advocating the pro-Arab position in this Debate.

British Governments of the past, and the present, have, I believe, a very great record of achievement in Palestine. After all, it was a British Government which originally worked out the Mandate, and made it possible for any kind of immigration to take place into Palestine. I hope that those who control Jewish opinion and Jewish policy at present will remember that they owe a great deal to the British Government. It is true that we have certain interests in Palestine. It is no secret, of course, that the oil pipelines terminate there and that we have certain strategical interests in the Middle East. These things which are of common interest to ourselves and the Jews who will have to rule that part of Palestine in the future, plus the democratic ideals which are common to us both, make an association between Jewish Palestine and Great Britain absolutely necessary in the future. I hope, therefore, that when present passions have died down, when there has been a settling down of the semi-explosive elements, favourable consideration will be given to the idea of Palestine becoming a British Dominion, I would commend that idea to the Foreign Secretary, and I hope he will bring it before the proper quarters.

But whether Members are pro-Arab, pro-Jew, or neutral, what matters, in the long run is that Arab and Jew must learn to live together in peaceful harmony and without any kind of trouble. In this country it has been shown that people of diverse races and origins can live together without murdering one another. That has been shown in New Zealand, in Canada, and in Belgium—where the Flemings and the Walloons live together. This idea of all people of differing origins, although related, living together in harmony is not a new idea in the history of the world. I hope that, once more, we shall be able to see Jews and Arabs living together in an economic and political relationship that is harmonious and just. There is no reason why in an economically federated Palestine, Arabs should not be part of their Greater Arab Federation, while the Jewish part of Palestine should not be a British Dominion, living in harmony within the British Commonwealth.

1.18 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

I found it a little difficult to follow the argument of the hon. Member for South-East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger). He started by saying that this problem could have been settled in 1920, which was only another way of saying that it is easy to settle a problem before it becomes a problem. In 1920, there were fewer than 100,000 Jews in Palestine and the problem of active Zionism had not become acute. The Jews at that time had not suffered the appalling horrors of Hitler's persecution; they had not the same urge to leave Europe behind, as they have today.

Dr. Jeger:

The hon. Member has confirmed ray argument. At that time there was no persecution, the population of Palestine was extremely small, and the Arabs were not conscious of their historic destiny as an Arab federation. It would, therefore, have been easy to partition a country in which there were few Arabs and Jews.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

That is another way of saying that it is easy to solve a problem before it has arisen.

Dr. Jeger:

When it is a small problem.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

The hon. Member pointed out that many Jews wanted to leave Europe behind them. I would remind him that Palestine cannot solve, by itself, the problem of displaced Jewry. We cannot ask the Arabs to do what the rest of the world is not prepared to do—take a certain percentage of displaced persons in Europe, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. I do not want to enter into that controversy, nor into the general controversy which has been thoroughly aired on both sides of the House and within both political parties. I want to ask the Foreign Secretary four or five questions. I am sorry he is not here to answer them, but probably the Colonial Secretary can put them to him. I regard this as a sad and sorrowful occasion. We are being asked to endorse a course of action the repercussions of which nobody can predict. In the course of the next few months we may see civil war in the Near East which may not only devastate Palestine but may lead to persecution and butchery in every country in the Near East where there is a Jewish minority. From that situation may arise what the world so much fears, a third world war.

Today, in contrast to the end of the first world war, there is a Power which is prepared to try to disturb the rehabilitation of the stricken world. In every country, Russia is trying to further her own ends, and she believes that her influence can best be extended by unrest and chaos. We may find that Russia, by one means or another, will try to fill the vacuum which we are leaving behind us. I would refer to a speech which was made by Mr. Henderson of the State Department in New York, in which he said: The Middle East is a prize most tempting to an aggressive and ambitious great Power. Such a Power might be able, if in possession of strategic facilities and economic resources, to decide the destinies of at least three Continents and to cast dark shadows over the whole world for many years to come. I am sure that that feeling is in the minds of many hon. Members today when we contemplate what we regard as this inevitable course of action. We feel a sense of failure in our trusteeship. It is a new thing for the British to walk away from their responsibilities and for us to wash our hands of what may happen when we go. It was not that sort of action which made us a great Power and gave us a great influence in the world. We have failed; perhaps our failure was inevitable, but we must all deplore it all the same.

I am glad that hon. Members have made reference to the British record in Palestine, especially at a time when we have been abused by Jew and Arab alike and when there has been so much deliberate misrepresentation in the United States of America about our motives. There never would have been a Palestine at all, or a Zionist cause to consider, if it had not been for the fact that Great Britain and the Empire poured out blood and treasure in the first world war. It was the troops of ourselves and the Dominions who liberated Palestine. What a sad commentary, when we think of those beautiful cemeteries on the hills of Palestine and the men whom we are leaving behind, to realise that it should all end in this sordid way.

Let us, however, take some pride in our material achievements. The Jewish population has risen very substantially, the Arab population has doubled, and the import—export trade has multiplied itself anything from 10 to 14 times. That is not a bad record of trusteeship in those 25 years. Under our rule, we have built up roads, schools and education generally of which we have every reason to be proud.

Photo of Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin , Stretford

The hon. Member has just said that the Arab population had doubled. Would he enlighten the House with the actual figures?

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

I shall be delighted. The Arab population was 589,000. It has gone up to 1,101,000. That is roughly double. Palestine did not enjoy those advantages of sound rule before we went there. It remains to be seen whether she will enjoy them when we have gone.

I do not wish to discuss the rival claims of Jews and Arabs. I can see both points of view. I can understand why the Jew, after all he has suffered in Europe, should long for a homeland of his own. In these days of horror it is difficult to find words to describe what the Jew has suffered in Europe during the last 10 or 15 years. No one who has been brought up upon the English Bible can fail to appreciate the emotional appeal of Palestine 10 the Jew. I can understand, too, the point of view of the Arab, who regards Palestine as his home as well. The Arabs fear, rightly or wrongly, that the Jewish State may overgrow its present boundaries and may threaten the Arab way of life and culture.

I do not blame the Government for the Palestine problem. I do not blame them for the course of action which they feel compelled to take today. I realise the difficulty under which the Colonial Secretary has laboured in the past two years. I imagine that he would like to have had a settlement, and a Cabinet decision, much earlier than he got them. I do not know whether it would have been possible to get an amicable settlement two years ago. It is certainly true that as time has gone on it has been much more difficult to get any agreed settlement at all. I agree also that the right hon. Gentleman has not been helped by some of the things said by his own supporters at the General Election. I know American public opinion reasonably well. During these past two years some of the pledges which have been made, recklessly as I think, have done nothing but harm. They have excited Jews and given Arabs cause to fear, and they have made American public opinion believe that the Palestine problem was capable of easy solution. Those facts should be a warning to us all that we should not take the temptation to make party politics out of international issues.

I come to the questions which I would like to put. What did the Colonial Secretary mean by some phrases he used yesterday? He said: The Mandate will, therefore, be terminated same time in advance of the campletion of the withdrawal, and the date we have in mind, subject to negotiation with the United Nations Commission, is 15th May."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1219.] What does "subject to negotiation with the United Nations Commission" mean? Does it mean that the Commission can, if necessary, make us stay longer or if they are not ready—and they do not show any sign of being half ready by that time—they can compel us to go on? Does it mean that, in those circumstances, we shall wait after 15th May? I will give way if the right hon. Gentleman cares to answer the question.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

It is the desire of the British Government that the Mandate should, quite definitely, be surrendered by 15th May. The United Nations Commission has been appointed. While it will have a number of duties to perform before it proceeds to Palestine, it will undoubtedly wish to go to Palestine at a very early date. The British Government take the view that there should be only a short period before the termination of the Mandate when the United Nations Commission should arrive. It is a time schedule which has to be worked to. We have made it clear to the United Nations that, as far as the British Government are concerned, 15th May is the time-limit to which Mandate can last. So there is no ambiguity about it. We have to discuss the time schedule with the United Nations Commission, because they are charged, under the decision of the United Nations Assembly, as quickly as they can, to enter into their responsibilities in regard to Palestine. It is merely a question of agreeing to a time-limit, and 15th May represents our furthest date.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

It would have been better if the Colonial Secretary had made his statement yesterday on that point in other words, because I read this as being a date about which we were prepared to haggle. I gather from him that this is the final date, and that although we may go before, it is clear that we are not going to go at any time after 15th May. The second question, which I hope the Foreign Secretary will deal with, because it concerns him more than the Colonial Secretary, is how will this evacuation affect our whole balance of strategy in the Near East, and how will it affect what I would call "the home economy" of these islands? The Foreign Secretary, in a Debate in this House on 10th May this year, said that if our interests in the Middle East were lost to us the effect on the life of this country would be a considerable reduction in the standard of living. Other parts of the world would suffer too. The British interest in the Middle East contributes substantially not only to the prosperity of the people there, but also to the wage packets of the workers in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 1964.] We are clearing out of the Near East, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman should comment on his former speech made only eight months ago in this House. Does he still believe that to be true? Does it mean that we are going to suffer a loss in our standard of living, which heaven knows is low enough now? Does it mean this is something which will affect the working classes and all other classes of the community? If that is so, in fairness to the House and to the country, he should say so.

What about strategy? We have cleared out of Egypt, and have given a sort of one-sided promise to evacuate the Canal Zone. Now we are leaving Palestine. Does this mean that we are virtually abandoning the Near East? How does this fit in with Imperial strategy, and have the other members of the Commonwealth been consulted, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, New Zealand and Australia, in regard to this decision? Do they realise what the abandonment of the Near East may mean to them? Do they realise that from now on we may have to regard our lines of communication as permanently being via the Cape of Good Hope? We ought to be told about that, because this is more than a problem merely affecting the Colonial Office.

The next question I wish to ask is in regard to security for British property in Palestine. A lot of people have invested money in Palestine because of the British Mandate. Are these people to be abandoned? Suppose their property is destroyed, pillaged or burned, can they come to the Government and ask for any sort of redress? What about the oil interests? There is a lot of British money there. It is more than a question of the investment of British money, because this part of the world is one of the vital sources of oil supply to this country and to the Royal Navy. What is to happen about that, and have we made arrangements for its protection, or have we abandoned that, too? If it has been abandoned, can the Government assure the House that adequate supplies of oil would be forthcoming from other sources?

I wish to ask a question about immigration. The Colonial Secretary skated over that question rather lightly. Between now and our handing over, what is to be our policy towards immigration? Suppose that a ship sets out for Marseilles tomorrow, shall we stop it, and if so, what about the people on board? Are they to be carted off to Cyprus? What if a dozen ships set off? Do we take them to Cyprus, and then on 15th May let out all the people who are there? If that is to happen, there will be a great temptation for Jews to build up a source of strength ready for actual warfare should it break out. It is that sort of provocation which may lead the Arabs to take the sort of action we hope they will not take.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

Has the hon. Member read the recommendations of the United Nations Organisation? If not, I suggest that he does. It will satisfy him that facilities for immigration are proposed by them.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

That is not what I am arguing. I am not arguing about what happens after 15th May, when, if the Zionists charter the Queen Mary, it is no concern of ours. I am concerned with what happens before that date. If ships set out, will they be stopped, and shall we put those on board in Cyprus, or shall we dump the wretched people back in Germany? The Government must say what they are going to do, because this is the sort of tinder which may set the whole of the Near East alight.

Someone has to say a little more than was said yesterday about these loyal civil servants of the Crown. Are they to be pensioned off if they have earned a pension? I hope no one will get up and say that a special branch of the Ministry of Labour has been set up to try to get these people jobs. That is all very well but if a man has spent 15 or 20 years of his life abroad looking forward to a long and honest career under the Crown, it is not much good dumping him back here and trying to find him a job which will provide him with nothing like the income he has been receiving. The Government have a special responsibility for these men, and should see whether these people cannot continue their careers somewhere in the Civil Service at home or in the Colonial Empire. It will be a shabby and shameful act if we just bring them back, giving them either a gratuity or some small pension, and expecting the Ministry of Labour somehow or other to absorb them into employment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

I thought I made it clear that an indication of Government policy in this matter had already been announced, both in Palestine and in this country. We are as concerned as the hon. Member is in regard to the position of the Services, and also, of course, in regard to the Colonial administrators. Very considerable discussion has already taken place, and it is hoped that I shall be in a position to make an announcement very shortly as to our final decision. Meanwhile, I think their apprehensions have been removed. We shall behave generously, and I do not think anyone will have cause to complain that the Government have not behaved properly.

Photo of Mr David Gammans Mr David Gammans , Hornsey

That is all very well, but we heard that about Burma and India. I do not want the Government to turn round and merely say that they will behave generously, but to come forward with something better than a platitude of that sort. Here we are at home taking on a large number of people in nationalised industries and in the Civil Service generally, and we have vacancies in the Colonial Service. I want to see those men being able to continue their service under the Crown, not merely being given a small pension and then handed over to the Ministry of Labour which is asked to do the best it can for them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say what he is going to do. We have to treat these men not merely with justice but with some generosity.

Those are the five questions I wanted to ask, and the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to answer two of them during my speech. I hope, however, that the Foreign Secretary will deal with the larger aspect of the statement he made about the standard of living of the people of this country being tied to our prestige and influence in the Near East and also to wider questions of Imperial strategy.

Finally I would repeat what has been said by almost all hon. Members who have spoken, that, now this decision has been made, let there be no going back on it. I am quite sure that perhaps even up to this Debate there has been a feeling in the minds of some Jews and Arabs, and also the United States, that there was an element of bluff in what we were saying, that we did not intend to clear out, that we were prepared to hold the Mandate baby a bit longer. I hope that as a result of this Debate no misapprehensions on that point will exist any longer.

1.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Hackney Central

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South-East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger) as to the deplorable anti-British feeling that exists on both sides. I have recently come back from Palestine and have experienced it there. It is indeed deplorable, in view of the record of the Government in this matter, and in view of the settlement that has now been made, a settlement which I regard as the best solution in the light of all the circumstances. Also I think it is a great pity that this settlement has met with so little enthusiasm on the part of the Arab representatives. After all, the Arabs are getting another state out of this. People talk all the time about the new Jewish State, but there is a new Arab State, and while they take up the attitude that they are being deprived of something, we must bear in mind that the last independent Arab State in that part of the world was in 63 B.C. and, up to the first world war, it was under Turkish domination——

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Hackney Central

At the time, at any rate, of the first world war.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Four hundred years ago.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Hackney Central

Then they were liberated by British Forces. The whole of this Debate, quite rightly, seems to have revolved about what is to happen now in the transition period and that, after all, is the vital issue. I regret that I have not heard anyone so far suggest that there will be direct consultation immediately between the Government and the two States concerned. It is essential that they should begin to discuss the details of the handing over of power, and in that connection I must reinforce what has been said by several hon. Members, that the Government might just as well make up their minds now to recognise, on the one hand, the right and the power of the Arab authorities to maintain order in their part of the country, and of the Haganah to maintain order in the Jewish part of the country. I am not at all attracted by the proposals for some kind of a new international police force. It reminds me far too much of the Black and Tans. Why not use the force which everybody recognises exists already? In that connection, too, I think recognition of the Haganah might be valuable in controlling the extremist Jewish Forces in Palestine.

When I was there the other week I was told that, while over 90 per cent. of the Jews were living in terror of the Irgun and the Stern gang, Haganah could control them quite easily if it had half a chance. When hon. Members talk about the Jews in Palestine being antagonistic to the British Forces, I think their tacit acquiescence in what has been going on has been the result of the terroristic methods used by those extremist forces. I suggest that we should recognise Haganah, recognise the right of the Arabs to maintain order also, and withdraw the British members of the Palestine Police Force to the Jerusalem area, the new area that is to be under international control.

The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) tried to draw an unfortunate parallel between the situation in Ireland in 1920 and the situation in Palestine today. Dangerous and wrong deductions might be drawn from such a parallel, for the situation is not the same at all. In Ireland it was a question of that country being part of the United Kingdom, and there was a big split amongst the Irishmen themselves as to what should be done. In Palestine we are there primarily under a Mandate from the League of Nations, with the responsibility of some day putting Palestine on its own feet. I will not follow that any further except to point out that it is quite wrong to base any deductions on such a comparison.

One point which has not been followed up as it might have been, is the possibility expressed in the Press of recruitment for the Forces of either side from this country. Would the Foreign Secretary tell us whether the conditions of the Foreign Enlistment Act will be applied in this case, and whether steps will be taken to prevent recruitment in this country for either the Jewish or Arab forces? Also, will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to say whether it is true, as reported in the Press, that the Transjordan Frontier Defence Force took part in a certain incident in Palestine yesterday? If that is the case, or if there were any suspicion of that happening in the future, I suggest that the Transjordan Force should be withdrawn immediately beyond the frontier of Transjordan.

My hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price) remarked on the necessity for keeping illegal immigrants out of Palestine, and asked who will keep them out when the new State is set up. He need not worry about that. Whatever we may feel about our Jewish friends, we never say that they are not businessmen and realists, and I feel that when the new Jewish State is set up, restrictions on immigration are likely to be even more severe than they are under the present regime. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) asked yesterday whether Jews and Arabs would have full voting rights under the new set-up. That is covered by the Report of the ad hoc Committee on the Palestine question adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 29th November which says: The election regulations in each State shall be drawn up by the provisional council of government and approved by the Commission. Qualified voters for each State for this election shall be persons over 18 years of age who are: (A) Palestinian citizens residing in that State and (B) Arabs and Jews residing in, the State, although not Palestinian citizens who, before voting, have signed a notice of intention to become citizens of such State. This should clear away any dubiety on that point.

The hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) seemed to be suggesting some kind of a new body of crusaders, or some military force to protect the Holy Places. Do we really need to anticipate that there is going to be any difficulty in that direction? The Holy Places have been respected in recent outbreaks, and I see no reason to believe that there will be any danger when the new Arab and Jewish States are set up. My own experience was that most of these Holy Places are in the charge of Arabs or Jews, and are very well respected. Indeed a young Arab who showed me through the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth made a rather surprising remark. "There are no Jews in Nazareth," he said "we are all Roman Catholics." The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans), who happens to represent me in Parliament, much against my will, seemed guilty of one contradiction. He said it was a sad commentary that it should all end in this sorry way. Then he contradicted himself by going on to point out the great advances made in Palestine when he talked about the improvement in exports, and the rest. I suggest that that shows our policy has been successful, and that we have nothing to apologise for in what has happened there.

I will conclude by expressing the hope, which has been expressed by other speakers, that all this partitioning of the country will settle down after the initial sporadic outbreaks, which I am afraid are inevitable, and that the Jews and Arabs will become good neighbours. Indeed, they have got to become good neighbours, because, in such a small country, it will be impossible for them to live in perpetual antagonism. It is too small economically for that. They will have to get together sooner or later, and the sooner the better. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South-East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger) when he expressed the hope that in settling down they would reach the decision to remain within the British Empire as one of our Dominions. That would be the best possible solution.

1.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

As I have listened to this Debate, which has now lasted for nearly two days, I have felt, and other hon. Members, I think, have felt, that each of us taking part in it had a difficult and responsible task. We all recognise that we have before us, whatever our view of its present phases, a problem as bafflng as any that statesmanship has had to face in recent years. We know it is one that arouses not only sentiment but passion. I, for one, also believe that it is a problem which is not susceptible to a solution which both sides could be expected to welcome. As was well said by the Royal Commission of 1937, this is a case of deciding not between right and wrong, but as between right and right.

I think that on one issue there will be general agreement; that the Mandate has proved unworkable. For the space of a generation a British administration, consisting of some of the ablest brains and stoutest hearts in our Colonial service, has endeavoured to further the ideal of a Palestinian State, has endeavoured to reconcile conflicting interests and, following the words of the Mandate to secure the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities. We have to admit that that endeavour has failed. In trying to hold the scales evenly between the two parties we have pleased neither side, which may after all, perhaps, be the best tribute to our own impartiality.

I would like to associate myself with the tributes paid to those in the public service in Palestine who through all these years have undertaken an unenviable task with courage, with integrity, and with single mindedness. When the history of this period comes to be written there will be many names which will stand out. I have in mind particularly that of Lord Plumer, in the early years of this endeavour, and later that of Lord Samuel who won the complete confidence not only of Jews but of Arabs also, and finally, in these last years, of Lord Gort, who remained, a sick man, at a post in which he had undertaken to serve only from the deepest sense of duty.

There are others in all walks of official life who rendered equally devoted service, especially the officer, and men of the Palestine Police, who performed one of the most ungrateful tasks under conditions without parallel in any other British administered territory. At intervals throughout all this period, especially in the last few months, an intolerable strain has been placed on all ranks of H.M. Forces. They have shown a remarkable restraint and forbearance in conditions as exacting as those which any troops could be called upon to face. They have won the admiration of us all.

For More than a generation we have endeavoured to fulfil an obligation upon which in the last two years we have lavished vast sums of money, and in which many lives have been lost. To those who criticise from a distance the work of the Mandatory Power, I would say, "Could you have done any better?" Now at last we are laying down the burden. We are handing it back to that body on which has fallen the mantle of the League of Nations. With that decision I agree, however much I regret the circumstances which have made it necessary. There is indeed, in my judgment, no alternative. Of course we must do our best to facilitate the transfer of the burden. That is only right and proper. But that we should do more than our share, and particularly that we should continue to carry the burden of transfer unaided until it suits the convenience of others—such a claim is neither just nor reasonable. If there is general agreement over the conclusions of the United Nations Committee that the Mandate is unworkable, there is on the other hand no unanimity in the United Nations, as there has been no unanimity in this House, over this recommendation of partition as a solution, although a majority, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) rightly said, a substantial majority, favour it.

Personally I had always hoped that it might be possible to achieve an independent Palestinian State in which Arab and Jew would live and work in harmony. If I have had misgivings in the past about partition, and I have had such misgivings, it has been in part at least because it has always seemed to me to be a matter of the utmost difficulty to create out of Palestine a Jewish State in which the Jews had a real chance to live—what our French friends call un Etat viable—to make such a State for the Jews, without at the same time placing within that State considerable areas which had overwhelming Arab majorities. That has always seemed to me one of the fundamental difficulties of partition, and it is certainly what has happened in the scheme before us now.

I think that if we are to be fair we must also realise that while partition gives the Jews something they have always wanted, that is, an independent State as opposed to a National Home in the Holy Land, it does not give them all they want, since the Zionist ambition has been to spread over the whole of Palestine. But, I think the House will agree that partition, certainly this scheme of partition, bears more hardly on the Arabs who will not only lose a portion of the land they regard as their own but will see included in that Jewish land, a large Arab population. There is the position, and at this late hour there are certain realities which we all have to face—Arabs, Jews and those of us who have no wish but to see harmony between the two races.

Partition has the backing of two-thirds of the nations of the world, who have given their decision as the outcome of the initiative of the British Government. This seems to me to be the inescapable fact. However little we may like this decision, and I must say that I, for one, am far from happy about it, I cannot see that we have any choice but to conform to it, though I must confess that I do not think I altogether followed the argument of the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) last night in his conclusion of what was evidently a very sincere speech. It was, after all, His Majesty's Government who took the initiative in asking the United Nations to pronounce upon this matter. As members of that organisation, it really is not open to us to seek to repudiate their decision because we do not like their conclusions. If we thought there was a risk of that and a risk we were not prepared to resist, we ought never to have placed the proposition before them.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

I am afraid I did not make myself clear last night. I did not suggest that the Government should repudiate the decision, but that we should refuse to take any part in implementing a decision of which we do not approve.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I did not understand that that was the hon. Gentleman's view, and I am glad that he has pointed that out. That brings us to another point which we have to face, and I am glad to carry the hon. Gentleman with me so far. This applies equally to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). I have heard this argument that we should use our efforts to bring Arabs and Jews together. I would say that, to attempt now, at this rather late hour, to try and bring Arabs and Jews together, after all our previous efforts have failed, seems to me to be a policy which holds out no hope whatever. Unhappily, it is only necessary to read what was in "The Times" yesterday from their correspondent to show how far our authority had already vanished. I, for one, could not possibly, in these conditions, agree to an indefinite and increasing military commitment upon ourselves to keep order in a State against the wishes of both sides in the State.

So I say that we have no alternative, in my judgment, but to accept this decision of the United Nations, but this does not mean that these proposals do not require some elaboration and some modification in detail. I think, for example, that the boundaries suggested require more careful examination, and some of the criticisms made earlier in the Debate on that score seem well deserved. I am by no means convinced that there is a case for including the Negeb in the Jewish area. There was also the extraordinary decision to include in the Jewish State Jaffa and its environs, which would have resulted in placing about 100,000 Arabs in the Jewish area. I gather that the sub-committee of the United Nations have agreed to rectify this anomaly, and that the Jewish Agency will readily grant freedom of transit between the Jaffa enclave and the main part of the Arab State. If so, that would indeed be something gained.

I believe also that the most categorical assurance must be given by the United Nations as to the inviolability of the frontiers, once they are determined. Without such assurances, both sides are going to rest uneasily for an indefinite period. Apart from the psychological effect of this uncertainty, it would place an intolerable burden on both these small States, and especially on the new Arab State, if they had to maintain defences against the fear of encroachment.

This brings me to one of the essential conditions of any solution which has a real chance to endure. There must be a measure of economic unity between the two States, for only chaos can result if they each go their separate ways in Customs, in currency and in communications. Nor should we altogether abandon the hope that co-operation in matters of common interest may, in the course of time, bring together the Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine. This would, to some extent, ease the inevitable difficulty which must arise from partition, whatever the final plan may be, because there must remain in a large number of Arabs in the Jewish State and some Jews, at any rate, in the Arab State.

Here I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary whether he or the United Nations have given any consideration to a planned transfer of minorities? The House will remember that this point was not overlooked by the Royal Commission of 1937, and, no doubt, they had in mind the successful transfer of a million Greeks and a smaller number of Turks in 1922. The difficulty of the Peel Commission was that they were dealing only with Palestine, and, therefore, they had the problem of whether there was room for the transfer of 300,000 Arabs to other lands in Palestine. I should have thought that the question which now arises is whether, with the co-operation of the adjoining Arab States, room might not be found to absorb seine part of the Arab minority which will be left in the Jewish State. I should have thought that this was a question worth pursuing.

There is one other comment which I should like to make, and it concerns the appointment of the members of the Commission that U.N.O. is going to set up. Six countries, I understand, have been chosen to nominate representatives, and I also understand that not one of them has yet done so. I hope that that does not mean that U.N.O. is inclined to think that there is no particular urgency in the matter, because we can always carry on until they are ready, for that is truly not the position. There are, indeed, several important points on which, if I may say so, we have been left in the dark, and which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will desire to clear up. There seemed to me to he too many references in the Colonial Secretary's speech to matters which would be "explored by the United Nations Commissioners at an early date." That phrase had an ominous ring to me.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us, for example, whether the United Nations have any kind of timetable before them at all? Can he give us any information as to what are their ideas, if they have any ideas, as to the force, if any, which the United Nations propose to make available for Palestine when the Mandate comes to an end? It may be that they have decided that they do not want one, or, perhaps, that they do. If so, what is the force, and when will it be ready to operate? There has also been mentioned the vital matter of Jewish immigration between now and the time when we surrender the Mandate. Have the British Government made up their minds as to what they propose to do with Jewish illegal immigrants now detained in Cyprus? I think that is a point upon which the House ought to be informed.

I want to put one more point to the right hon. Gentleman on this question of the date of the surrender of the Mandate, because the Colonial Secretary, earlier this afternoon, when not so many hon. Members were in the House, referred to this question of date and gave further clarifications, but we want to be assured that the date of 15th May is not a date which is subject to negotiation with the committee of the United Nations; that is that we say that it is our definite date on which we shall go, and that it is up to the United Nations to work out plans up to that date. I think we should all like to be assured about that.

There is one further matter to which little reference has been made, though it was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers), and to which I must make reference, and that concerns the future of the Holy Places in Palestine. I would like to ask the Government whether they are satisfied that the proposals of the United Nations in this respect are adequate and workable. I have heard it suggested, for example, that the area to be set aside for the City of Jerusalem might with advantage be larger. I am not in a position to judge this matter, which, obviously, must be decided in the light of expert knowledge, but it is one upon which I should have thought that our 30 years' experience in Palestine would have qualified us to advise. I should have thought that, provided the area includes the Holy Places round Jerusalem, and also includes Bethlehem, there was something to be said for keeping the boundaries of Jerusalem as small as possible. The Jewish and Arab States are going to be small enough anyhow, and we do not want to encroach upon them more than is absolutely necessary; but it is important for the sacred character of the Holy Places, over which, I would remind the House, there have been disputes enough in the past, that they should be fully safeguarded, because their preservation is a matter of lively and abiding interest, not only to Christians, but also to Jews and Arabs, not only in Palestine, but throughout the world.

Let me sum up. To the Jews, I would say, "Now that you will shortly achieve the goal for which, through centuries, Jewish hearts have yearned, we ask you to exercise moderation in this moment when your hopes, in a great measure at least, are to be realised. Remember that this change of status is going to carry with it heavy responsibilities, responsibilities towards the United Nations for the maintenance of the settlement and for the respect of your new frontier; responsibilities towards your Arab neighbours, as well as towards a large Arab minority in your midst, to calm spirits and to avoid provocation of any kind, now or in the future." I have particularly in mind anything in the nature of an attempt to penetrate beyond the frontiers which are now to be established. The plan adopted by the United Nations has been generous—some may think over-generous—in the territory assigned to the Jewish State. Jews must understand that this is, in fact, the last word, and that no swamping of their new State by immigration can justify claims or propaganda for the acquisition of further territory outside the boundaries now allotted to them.

Finally, a word to the Arabs, which I feel, perhaps, justified in uttering because, in 1940, I had something to do with proposals which led to closer unity between the Arab States. I would say this to them. If, at the twelfth hour, the Arabs were prepared to submit to the Assembly a plan for a Federal State—as they were—composed of Jewish and Arab cantons, is it too much to ask of them, in the interests of peace and humanity, to go a step further and accommodate themselves to the new situation, and put an end, once and for all, to the strife and bloodshed which for TO years have torn asunder this land which, to Christian, Moslem and Jew alike, is sacred? I make a solemn appeal to all my Arab friends, sore at heart though they must be, to make this great effort in the interests of mankind.

2.14 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevil):

I join with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in that great appeal. Both of us have had a good deal to do with this vexed and difficult problem. His appeal, which I endorse, and to which I will make reference again later—and, possibly, to things that might be done—will, I believe, be paid great regard in Palestine and in the neighbouring countries. May I express the hope that it will be paid the same regard in Great Britain, in New York, and outside; that they will not exacerbate and make more difficult the task that has to be seen through. The discussion which has taken place on this Debate has been very helpful, and I admire its temper and its responsibility in the task we now have to see through.

I will, first of all, deal with the questions which have been raised both by the last speaker and by many others about the termination of the Mandate. We have fixed, after the most careful consideration, the date of 15th May. That date was arrived at having regard to all the negotiations that have to be conducted. The transfer of power to the United Nations is not simply a matter of walking out of Palestine. They are members of the sterling area. There is the whole question of currency, trade, and a variety of economic things, which I will not enumerate, but which have to be dealt with with very great care. In addition to the mere transference of power, one does not want to add to the chaos by economic disorder as well. When we examined all the things—which, I am sure, the House will not want me to go into in any detail—that had to be done to carry out an orderly transfer, we felt that if we fixed a date any earlier than 15th May, we might fall down on it, and that the transfer would not be complete. I must remind the House that, whatever one may think of the Government, there is in foreign affairs, to use the colloquial, "a pretty big plateful" of problems going on at the same time, and Palestine is only one of them. There are the East and Europe.

May I just put in a word for our officials? All the officials of the Government, particularly the higher officials, who have to deal with these intricate problems, are just being worked to death at the present moment. We had to take into account all these things—available staff, experts, and everybody we could call on—in order to try to see whether we could make an orderly arrangement. If it is found that the negotiations on all these matters with the United Nations move more quickly than we think, and we can fix an earlier date, we shall do so. We should like to have accepted the suggested date in February, but we found it was physically impossible to do so, and we have had to tell the United Nations that fact. On the other hand, we have indicated to them—and this deals with the point about setting up the Commission—that they must get on with the Commission because 15th May is the last date. We are definite on that, and, therefore, there can be no misunderstanding of our position. I think that clears up the point which the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) raised last night.

Then, I have been asked whether the withdrawal of troops can be completed more speedily. Here, again, I know it is the usual method to have a shot at the War Office and other people about these things, but we really went into it with very great care, and we could not fix a date about which we could be definite without very great loss. After all that we have put into Palestine for the last 30 years, I cannot see why we should have a loss. I do not think we are entitled to lose anything at all. I do not believe there is any need. I must remind the House that we did build up great communications and, as everyone knows, there was a great base in Palestine. We cannot, and we ought not, to waste the taxpayers' money unnecessarily. Therefore, I do not anticipate trouble over that side of it. We think that by 1st August we can do it.

One of the things we have had to take into account is that we are pledged to this House to bring home 258,000 men, independent of these men, by 31st March. Shipping is a very great problem and the re-deployment of these great forces is an enormous thing. I must say this, that in our balance of payments position one of the great handicaps which have been hindering our restoration is that this war was so world-wide, and we have had to use our shipping so long to get our stores back, and to get our men back, that we have not got our shipping back into an earning capacity as fast as we had hoped to do. This country is going through it a little, and having to turn extra shipping on to this problem in order to meet this date—together with what we are already committed to—does mean a very grave loss of earnings for the economy of this country in consequence.

Having told our Forces that we were going to take them out under the demobilisation plan of 1948, and the dates having been given to the House, we had to try and work this scheme in without disappointing those we had already told we were going to take out. If it had been otherwise we would have had trouble in the Army, because of the pledges given. So that 1st August, bearing all these facts in mind, and the associated facts and circumstances—the transport and the rest—was the very best date to which we could absolutely pledge ourselves. But here again, if circumstances arise in which we can speed this thing up to bring it earlier, we shall do it. The trouble was that we had to give a date to the United Nations. We had to give them a date which we could reasonably feel we could keep, and that is the reason for 1st August.

I have been asked to give fuller details of our plan for the various stages of the withdrawal. This is a military operation. It is a very delicate operation, and I am sure the House will agree with me that the detailed arrangements now being made to carry this out with the minimum risk of disturbance, and consequent loss of life, are not a proper subject for discussion. We may vary our arrangements. We have a plan at the moment, but I was asked only yesterday if I could vary that plan, and I have referred to the Chiefs of Staff for advice. It may be varied as we go along. I do not know, and I would ask the House not to press me for any details as to what we are going to do under the military circumstances.

Another point which has been raised is the question of immigration. I am not mentioning every Member who raised it, because I was not here yesterday and I have had to try to get out the points. There is no obligation upon us to change the immigration quota during the short remaining period in which we shall be responsible in Palestine. Here I want to make an appeal to the Jews. If this were done, or if any attempt were made to bring in numbers of immigrants, in spite of our control, and so cause trouble, in my view this would be another and most important contribution to unrest. At a critical moment of this kind I hope that common sense will prevail.

Our hope is that the question will be considered in a statesmanlike manner, and that we may be able to hand over to the authority which succeeds us without having to deal with any further trouble on this score. My view is that if the British Navy and the British Army, in addition to trying to keep order during the transition period between now and when we go, are called upon to have rows at Haifa and Tel-Aviv with immigrant ships arriving, it will do the Jewish cause more harm throughout the world than anything else that could happen. It will be regarded as a provocative act, and I say to them advisedly that, in my view, they should leave this matter alone until the State is set up, and should deal with it then. Between now and the withdrawal we do expect to clear Cyprus. We must do that. We cannot have illegal immigrants on British territory after that time, and we will negotiate with the United Nations Commission in order to see that all that is arranged.

I was asked a question about the Arab Legion. I should explain that this is a Force which owes allegiance to the King of Transjordan, but units of it have, for some time, been serving under the orders of the British G.O.C. in accordance with a long standing arrangement with King Abdulla. It has been decided that all these units will be withdrawn from Palestine at the same time as the withdrawal of the British Forces. That withdrawal will be completed when the withdrawal of the British Forces is completed. I think that that meets the question raised by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), and also some Members on this side of the House who raised it yesterday. I have been asked also that we should take proper care not to leave materials of war in Palestine. We are giving priority to the removing of implements of war from Palestine. We shall not leave any dangerous toys behind after 1st August.

The hon. and learned Member for Daventry last night quoted the report on the question of voting in the proposed Arab and Jewish States. He did not think that the report clearly established the right of Arabs to vote in the Jewish State or of Jews to vote in the Arab State. I have looked this up again in the revised report—and the document by which the future United Nations Commission will be guided is the revised text approved by the General Assembly on 29th November and this text provides for the elections to the Constituent Assembly of States as follows: The election regulations in each State shall be drawn up by the Provisional Council of Government and approved by the Commission. Qualified voters for each State for this election shall be persons over 18 years of age who are (a) Palestinian citizens residing in that State and (b) Arabs and Jews residing in the State, although not Palestinian citizens, who, before voting have signed a notice of intention to become citizens of such State. So I think the position is quite clear that they all have a vote. In fact, one of my arguments in these discussions about federal States and cantonisation and so on has been much on the lines of that of the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. H. Hynd) this morning. I cannot believe that when these States are set up everybody will vote either as Jews or Arabs. Some of them might even be Conservatives or Liberals, and the rest Socialists or Communists; I cannot tell, but I do not think that ultimately they will vote strictly according to religion or race. I do not think they ever do, certainly not if they follow Western methods. I cannot answer if they follow other methods. The other qualification is that no discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the grounds of race, religion, language or sex. Accordingly, I think we have covered the ground so far as providing a democratic basis for the states is concerned.

I very much welcome the contributions which have been made by hon. Members to this Debate and the tributes that have been paid to the achievements of the British Administration and police in Palestine, a great number of whom have made the supreme sacrifice in the course of their duties. I associate myself and His Majesty's Government with those tributes. Many devoted public servants have spent the greater part of their lives in that service, in building up the country in very difficult circumstances. Certainly those with whom I have been associated have really wanted to make a success of that great task but, owing to racial and religious difficulties, they could not get the roots of the administration into the people. That was not their fault and, in spite of that, they have done a great job. From time to time they have been subject to considerable unjust criticism, and we are under a great obligation to them.

The question has been asked what sort of treatment they will get now that their careers are cut short. I am authorised to say that they will receive adequate compensation. I cannot make a detailed announcement at this stage—the question will have to be gone into—but I assure the House that in winding up the affairs of the Palestine Government, His Majesty's Government will make it their duty to ensure that those whose careers are personally affected will get a square deal. As a member of the Government making this pledge, I am fortified by the knowledge that there will be plenty of hon. Members in this House to hold me to it if there is any attempt to depart from it. In any case, I think it is a case of "penny wise and pound foolish" if, in doing a job of this sort, we are mean in our treatment of people whose careers we have to interrupt. So far as I am concerned, that will be the spirit in which I shall deal with this problem.

One of the criticisms which have been levelled against us has been that we allowed two years to elapse before reaching the decision to lay down the Mandate. I welcome this opportunity of answering that criticism. We have been told that solutions could obviously have been imposed at an earlier stage. I have always believed, and I believe now, that in dealing with other people the method of riding roughshod is wrong. It does not succeed. In Palestine we were faced with an accumulation of bitterness and hostility. If at any time since the present Government came into office, since the end of the war, we had attempted to coerce Arabs in the interest of Jews, or Jews in the interest of Arabs, we should have set alight a conflagration for which we were not prepared to accept the responsibility.

I am quite convinced that in view of the great and difficult problems, which the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) appreciates as well as I do, the starting of a conflagration in the Middle East would have been a disaster for the world. I was not prepared to do it, and I do not apologise for not having done it. I believe that the right thing to do is to try to get agreement. Had the British Administration been left unfettered to handle this problem, as it ought to have been, without interference from others in other countries, I quite believe that we should have been successful. I say that emphatically. Over and over again we got very near to a solution, only to have the cup dashed from our lips. It is bitter to have to face this situation now.

I wish to say this on the subject of war: Any fool can start one. It does not take a very clever man to start a war, but it takes an awful lot of work to clear it up after there has been one. Having been on this job for months and months, and having studied the problem in all its

aspects, I think that the Arab feeling on this question has been underestimated. It has got to be assessed at its correct value by everybody, or we shall not get a peaceful settlement of this problem. It is because I want it assessed at its proper value that I do not want the Arabs to be dismissed as if they were nobody, and as if one has only got to do this, that or the other and everything will be all right. That is not the way to treat this vexed and very serious problem.

Let us assume for a moment that we had gone to the United Nations without allowing the two years to elapse. What would have been said to us? Two conditions would have arisen. First of all, we should have been asked, "Have you tried to settle it yourself as the Charter lays down?" We tried. Secondly, let us assume that we had tried to impose a settlement by force, or alternatively, that we had proposed a trusteeship. The interested States would then have had to be consulted. Either one of them could have taken us to the Security Council for having endangered peace and security in the world, and we should have been before the United Nations not as voluntarily laying down the Mandate in the manner that we have done, but accused of disturbing the peace of the world. Such was the situation as between Jew and Arab that I did not think that course would contribute to a final and satisfactory solution.

The other accusation is that I turned down the Report of the Anglo-American Committee. Was there ever a more outrageous and inaccurate statement than that? Why do hon. Members make that accusation? They know it is not true. What happened was that I got the Cabinet to agree to the Anglo-American Committee's Report. I said that if they came to a unanimous decision I would accept it and would recommend the Cabinet to accept it also. But what happened?

The United States would take only one point—100,000 immigrants—and the Jews would take only one point. And I was not prepared to accept the report of an Anglo-American Commission on one point and discard the other nine which were vital to its success. That any Member of this House—especially a Member of my own party—should make these accusations against his colleague without founda- tion is, I think, most unfortunate. I hope I have cleared that up.

The second thing we did was to convene the conference on the Morrison plan. Indeed, if one takes the majority decision that they are now operating, it will be seen that they have had to have an economic council for the whole territory. I have never yet been able to see how a little country like that, with railways, post, telegraph and the rest, can be economically run and can be made viable if divided. This is not a question of prejudice or anything like that; it is merely a question of how you are going to make a viable State, and the United Nations have had, in an indirect way, to come to the same kind of conclusion as the Morrison plan—or what was afterwards modified and called the Bevin plan. In fact, you have to have something in that form.

I am not going, and His Majesty's Government are not going, to oppose the United Nations decision. The decision has been taken. As someone has said we have tried our best. We have no intention of opposing that decision, but we cannot ourselves undertake, either individually or collectively in association with others, to impose that decision by force. We have been in this country over 30 years and, whatever we do, if we use British forces now, we shall be in a very difficult position. Therefore we have made it perfectly clear, as the Secretary of State for the Colonies said in his statement on the first day, what our position is, and that we adhere to.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

Can we be quite clear on that point? Do I understand from what the Foreign Secretary has just said that if the Security Council were to decide that collective enforcement action was necessary in respect of Palestine, this country would not take its share as one of the members of the United Nations?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

That is what the hon. Member must understand. It is for the Security Council to lay down itself how they will find the forces, and the form of the forces, but I cannot use British organised forces nor can I be a party at the present moment, with security forces as a whole not yet organised in the United Nations, to putting British forces under other commands. When the scheme is finally worked out of what this United Nations force is to be, what its command is to be, and what its obligations are to be, not only in Palestine but as part of the international set-up, then we will take our corner, but to put British forces under another command in this way in an isolated instance is a thing we are not prepared to do.

We feel we have done our best and the problem of enforcement must be left to others. While we remain responsible for the Mandate, we shall do everything in our power to prevent things getting out of hand in Palestine as a result of the bitterness between the two communities there. In addition, I have on behalf of His Majesty's Government—and will continue to do so—impressed upon all those principally concerned, whether Arab or Jew, the grave responsibilities which they have and the necessity to keep their feelings under control, to avoid any form of incitement, to prevent loss of life and unnecessary damage to the economy and future of Palestine. I think in any attempt to fight it out they will do more damage to each other than they will gain. In saying this, I cannot minimise the bitterness, the very real bitterness, in Palestine today. In spite of our efforts, that bitterness has grown over the last 30 years.

Of course, the Palestine problem might have evolved differently and might have evolved to a satisfactory solution if it had not been for Hitler. The Hitler regime, as some one said this morning, naturally created an intensified Jew consciousness because of the persecution and the bitterness that went on. It threw upon the British administration, as a result of that persecution, a task which was multiplied many times. The evolutionary character of the National Home was destroyed and hence the difficulty arose. But I must say this. It could have been easier. It can be eased now by the United Nations if they will take a decision I have pleaded for over and over again. Even now they have taken their decision on Palestine—with which I am not going to quarrel or criticise—that does not solve the Jewish problem in Europe. Yet it requires such a comparatively small effort on the part of the countries of the world, if they took their proper quota and helped to clear this thing up once and for all, in addition to the numbers who might go into Palestine in the ordinary way.

If I may say so, I think this country has been placed in a very invidious position to be lectured and cajoled as to what we ought to do about Palestine, when the doors of other countries had not been thrown open to these people to assist them in this terrible tragedy they have had to go through. Even now, I say it would be one of the contributory factors towards peace and easement and the prevention of blood-letting if the immigration doors are opened. In any circumstances, even when you take the total number that is put forward, Palestine cannot find a way to solving this problem. The task of the Army and the others at the end, when the Mandate is handed over, will be to protect themselves in the withdrawal. They must get out at the date I have mentioned. I think I have dealt with all the questions.

Britain has a great record in the Middle East. Since the first World War these Arab States have been created. I do not give credit to my own party alone for what Britain has done. I believe, after reading all the papers and all the records of the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office concerning this problem, that it has been the great desire of every Government of this country from 1917 till now to create an independent State of Palestine, in the hope that these two Semitic races, different in religion yet common in origin, could find a way to live together, and that within this arrangement, within Palestine, they could find a way to contribute to the new development of the Arab and Jewish organisms in the Middle East. No doubt, the Jews could have brought great abilities and organising capacity. The Arabs, having found their freedom, need it. If only Jews and Arabs could get over this racial difficulty.

This country has found scientists, experts, technicians, all kinds of people to try to build up the Middle East, not merely as a strategic centre, but as a centre in which a new social order and development might take place. Great irrigation schemes now have been worked out, and, I am happy to say, are being started in the various parts of the Middle East, which in time, when completed, will rate with the T.V.A. scheme in America. All this great preliminary scientific, engineering and other work has been going on with our assistance, and in the end will contribute to a higher standard of life for the masses of people, whose life has not changed very much for 1,000 years but who have a new found nationalism, a new impulse urging them on to catch up with Western civilisation. Britain has played a very great part in that work. I can only hope that this difficulty between the Arabs and Jews will not conflict with that beneficent task. I hope the great friendship for both of them, which has been historically associated with this country, will continue and I sincerely hope that the passing shadows may finally he dispelled, and that we can succeed in bringing the Arabs and Jews together.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington that anyone who tries now to go out with some proposal for Arabs and Jews to meet, is bound to be disappointed. On the other hand, there is the United Nations' decision. There it is, with no one intending to challenge it, no one intending to turn back on that judgment. There is that decision of that world organism, whether we agree with it or not. It is on the statute book of that great organisation. May it be possible to implement it. If it is, and if my colleagues or I can render any assistance, with advice, with help, with our officials, with our administrative ability, with our historical knowledge, to smooth out the transition, to try to prevent the divisions from being widened—in other words to do anything possible to promote concord, friendship and amity between these peoples—we shall do it. That is the principle and policy we shall follow. The decision having been taken, I hope that nothing will be said in this country by Press or public which will make more difficult the task of ending this age-old controversy, of bringing these two great peoples together, and of ushering into the Middle East a co-operative effort, instead of the long, long strife that has embittered it in the past.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

The right hon. Gentleman has not been able to give any considered opinion on the enclave round Jerusalem and the Holy Places with access to the sea. Will he give an assurance that he will look into that and do all he can to persuade the United Nations organisation to do so?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I did not refer to that because it is clearly set out in the Report, and it was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I think it is quite clear. I forgot to mention it. I was asked whether we were tendering advice and so on. Sir Alan Burns of the Colonial Office, a great expert, is on the Committee rendering assistance.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

Will my right hon. Friend answer some of the questions I put to him at the end of my speech yesterday? They are practical questions. The first one was whether it is true that the civil guard that is being former is not being given arms, while members of Haganah are being arrested because they have got arms to protect the Jews? Another question was, Does he intend to open a port shortly?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I cannot agree to open a port until we lay down the Mandate. We cannot have two administrations at one time. Really, it is impossible. I had better be quite frank about these things. I do not want to get into conflict with the Jews, and I hope the Jews will not get into conflict with His Majesty's Government, His Majesty's Navy or Army. It is a little patience that is required. There are but a few months to pass before we lay down the Mandate. As to the other point about arming, I am not conversant with the details, but I do not think it is right for us to begin arming anybody in Palestine—either side. [An HON. MEMBER: "We are arming the Arabs."] I do not know that we have armed anybody at all.

2.59 p.m.

Photo of Sir Neill Cooper-Key Sir Neill Cooper-Key , Hastings

I mink I am expressing the opinion of both sides of the House when I say that the Colonial Secretary has had the sympathy of all of us in the last few months in the task he has been undertaking. The Foreign Secretary's speech has achieved two things. First, I think he has made some firm observations which will help towards an understanding of our attitude in the interim period until surrender of the Mandate. Secondly, I think he has satisfied both sides of the House on the questions put to him during the Debate. Thirdly, and less constructively, I would point out that I arrived today at it o'clock with a prepared speech which he has succeeded in smashing to smithereens.

I did not entirely agree with the Foreign Secretary with regard to the two years' delay in submitting this problem to the United Nations. Nor did I find real satisfaction in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, as to why this two years' procrastination, and the consequent loss of £200 million and many valuable lives, should have been justified by the action taken by the Government. The Foreign Secretary failed to answer a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) on Imperial strategy, the effect of this decision on our Far Eastern and Mediterranean interests, and whether or not consultations have taken place with other interested Powers on the strategic situation of the Suez Canal tying up with our Imperial strategy. Nor did he refer to the effect of the wage packets of the workers, which was also referred to by my hon. Friend. In that regard, I would repeat the statement made by the Foreign Secretary earlier this year: The British interests in the Middle East contribute substantially, not only to the prosperity of the people there, but also to the wage packets of the workers in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 1964.] Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would make a statement showing what effect this decision will have upon the wage packets of the workers of this country.

This rather sordid and complicated matter has several very simple issues. I believe it was right for us to refer the Palestinian problem to the United Nations organisation; but I believe it was wrong that we should have waited two and a half years before doing so.

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Exchange

I understand the hon. Member to be complaining because the Government waited two and a half years before sending this matter to U.N.O. Why, then, has the hon. Member waited two and a half years before tendering that advice to the Government?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

If the hon. Member reads the Debates of last year, he will find that we did tender advice.

Photo of Sir Neill Cooper-Key Sir Neill Cooper-Key , Hastings

The Government are in possession of very many more facts than I am. Having given the problem over to U.N.O. for their decision, it is right for us to accept that decision. About that, there can be no doubt. I was rather disturbed by the taint of political expediency rather than statesmanship in the method by which the U.N.O. decision was arrived at. If so great a question is to be settled by U.N.O., and if we are to have hope for the future, it is essential that the world in general should have clear confidence in an international organisation. Yesterday, I received a message from someone who was at Lake Success, and which differed considerably from observations made yesterday by hon. Members opposite. This man writes: When on 26th November partition was on the verge of defeat reluctant State Department officials were swept aside, and the political machine went into full action—and the Americans say so themselves. Of those voting for partition, Haiti and the Philippines had told the Assembly that they would never agree to the dismemberment of Palestine. Liberia had assured the Arabs privately, a few days before partition was arrived at, that they opposed partition. Paraguay stayed away to avoid voting. There could be no doubt that pressure achieved those changes of front. I understand, further, this morning, that there is news of an attempt to institute a Congressional inquiry in the States into the pressure which was brought to bear on certain delegations, in particular Liberia. There seems to me to have been some rather sordid lobbying in arriving at a decision in this case—

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish to create a wrong impression, to suggest that Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, or Russia were compelled, by force of sinister circumstances such as he has suggested, to vote in the manner in which they did vote.

Photo of Sir Neill Cooper-Key Sir Neill Cooper-Key , Hastings

I am not suggesting that. I am referring to those countries which I have just mentioned.

Photo of Sir Neill Cooper-Key Sir Neill Cooper-Key , Hastings

What does the hon. Member mean by that?

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

I will say what I mean. The hon. Member has just said that the Arabs had been assured by one of the States, which, obviously, must have been under pressure by them, that they would vote against partition.

Photo of Sir Neill Cooper-Key Sir Neill Cooper-Key , Hastings

I am referring only to the countries I specifically mentioned; I am not referring to Australia. I believe that the danger which faces us is very much greater than would appear from some of the speeches we have heard. The decision of the United Nations has been described by one of the parties as "illegal and unjust," and it is noteworthy that this has been backed by 13 negative votes and 10 abstensions, comprising the Muslim world of 200 million people as opposed to a total Jewish population of between 10 million and 20 million.

I am very glad that the Government have decided that there must be no change or postponement of the date for surrendering the Mandate. I hope that preparations will now be made—in view of the weak nature of the committee which has been elected to carry out this Partition—immediately to protect the interests of nationals, and to continue health, transport, and financial services during the transitional period. I would like to re-emphasise the weak nature of this committee. I think it is generally considered to be far weaker than it should be to deal with an advanced problem of this kind, and we must, therefore, do all we can to impress upon the Commission the difficulty of finding a working solution to this problem, bearing in mind that we, who are great Colonial experts, have failed to find a solution during the last 30 years.

3.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

I think the House will have been interested, and perhaps a little surprised, to have heard my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today in a mood and manner rather different from those which usually characterise his speeches. There appeared to be none of his usual effervescence, none of his usual ebullience and aggressiveness, none of the signs we expect to see when he puts on his armour, jumps on his charger, and rides off in several directions at once. No, my right hon. Friend was a subdued Foreign Secretary today, and the House must have sympathised with him a great deal in coming here to wind up this Debate which, doubtless, he hopes is the Palestine Debate to end all Palestine Debates.

Two years ago, my right hon. Friend said boldly that he would stake his reputation on finding a solution of this problem, and he must have had the feeling today that what has happened was that that rather thoughtless, unwise, and perhaps a little arrogant boast had sneaked round behind him and had started to stab him in the back. It was perhaps his consciousness that he was not altogether convincing in blaming the Americans for his failure to make good his boast that caused my right hon. Friend to be in such a subdued mood.

I want to comment upon three topics that were touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman. The first was his saying quite bluntly that, although he accepted—I thought he did it, at best, grudgingly—the decision of the United Nations organisation, he believed in the Morrison plan, as it was called, the three-Power federalist plan. Of course, my right hon. Friend has a complete right to believe in that plan, but he has no right to pretend, as he tried laboriously to do, that the present decision is the same as the Morrison plan. On two occasions my right hon. Friend said words to the effect that, after all, the United Nations solution was more or less the same as the federalist plan.

The most outstanding characteristic of the Morrison plan was that it was a three-party plan with the British in it. The most outstanding characteristic of the findings of all the members of U.N.S.C.O.P., both the majority and the minority, was the completely unanimous view that, whatever else happens in Palestine, the British ought to be out of it. Whatever anyone in this House may think, there is no question that the United Nations as a whole differed from the Lord President of the Council, who gave his name to the other plan, in believing that the absence of the Foreign Secretary from future association with Palestine would not be an enormous hindrance to the finding of an adequate, peaceful solution to the problem presented in that country.

The second point I have in mind was, commented upon by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Cooper-Key), and is the reference which the Foreign Secretary made a few months ago, not in this House, to his idea that a British evacuation of Palestine would lower the standard of living of every worker in this country. My right hon. Friend offered no evidence at the time for that remarkable assertion and he has offered no evidence since. It is difficult to determine on what basis of economics such an assertion was ever founded. It is true that our standard of living depends not inconsiderably upon cotton from Egypt, oil from Iraq, and citrus fruits from Palestine, but before the war we always depended successfully upon them without having a couple of hundred thousand men on either side of the Suez Canal. I have no doubt that we shall be able to do so in the future. It was strange not to find the Foreign Secretary explaining what a remarkable change had come about, resulting in the fact that now it was possible for us to evacuate Palestine without every worker in Great Britain being short of food, despite the fact that only four or five months ago, according to his conception of the situation, it was not then possible.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the points made by the Foreign Secretary, and one upon which I cannot refrain from commenting, was his assertion that we could not have clone anything about this matter a couple of years ago, however much he might have been requested so to do by Members on all sides of the House. His reason was that that would have been riding roughshod over the people of Palestine and would have been imposing a solution, and that would have been repugnant to the tender, kindly heart of the Foreign Secretary. What has the Foreign Secretary been doing in Palestine for the last two years if he has not been imposing anything? Why has he wanted 100,000 soldiers there? It is clear that the presence of those larged armed Forces has been because the Foreign Secretary has been imposing something. If he has not been imposing a policy, presumably he has had those soldiers there, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) suggested yesterday, in order to impose the absence of a policy. I am sure the Foreign Secretary cannot be so naive as to imagine that he could take in the House for one moment with that sort of thing.

I want to underline one other point which has been made by a number of hon. Members, and principally by my hon. Friends the Members for Central Hackney (Mr. H. Hynd), and Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), and that is that the whole of this Debate, including the speech of the Foreign Secretary, has seemed to be much more lugubrious than the situation demands. We have done too much talking about failure during these last two days. As a number of Members have pointed out, there is a good deal of gain in Palestine. Notwithstanding all the difficulties and all the ill-feeling, there has been some record of advancement due to Jews, Arabs and British, each making a different sort of contribution. I do not look upon partition as a failure, and, above all, I do not look upon partition as a confession of the abandonment of all hope of ever getting Jews and Arabs to live and work together. On the other hand, it may be the only means by which Jews and Arabs can, through economic co-operation, eventually be brought to political co-operation. The New England States have a proverb which says: Good fences make good neighbours. There is a great deal of sagacity in that. When we have people quarrelling and bickering over frontiers between their respective domains, it is a good idea to remove that cause of bickering, and then to see whether they cannot get on together on other grounds. I believe that we could remove irredentism in Palestine by the United Nations saying: "Look here, you chaps, both Jews and Arabs, it is no good your putting up representations and plans, because we have guaranteed the frontiers and they will not be changed." If that were done, the major potential cause of political quarrelling would be removed for all time, and Jews and Arabs would find very quickly that they needed to enter into some special technical forms of economic co-operation with each other.

Many Members have pointed out that this is a small country, which is true. Other small countries are, of course, to a larger extent capable of a limited degree of self-sufficiency, and are to a much greater extent capable of maintaining economic coherence than Palestine. Not only are there some general economic problems in Palestine, but the question immediately arises of the redeployment of labour as between town and countryside. There is also the problem of a tremendous deficit on the external exchange account, which will come about as a result of the removal of the British troops who have been spending British currency in the country. The deficit perhaps amounts to £30 or £40 per head of the population per annum, which is roughly the same as in this country.

Not only will there be the problem, which will arise when immigration starts, as it will sooner or later, of the extra capital cost of absorbing temporarily or permanently unproductive people, but, as has been said, this is also a country where there is a tremendous inter-dependence in communications, not only in the case of railways and roads, but in the case of the electricity grid, which, as the frontiers are at present drawn, pops in and out of Jewish and Arab Palestine. Most important of all, in a country like Palestine, where the standard of life depends on the careful husbandry of the water supply, the water pipeline also pops in and out of Jewish and Arab Palestine. Before anyone can get round to irredentism, and long before people will get themselves in any mass degree excited about the amount of violence going on, there will have to be between the two countries shortly after 15th May a joint railway and roads board, a joint electricity board and, above all, a joint water board.

In the long run, the relations between Jews and Arabs in Palestine will not be settled by Jewish orators and Arab orators, by terrorists or by agitators on either side, but by the Jew who earns his living growing oranges on one side of the frontier and the Arab who earns his living by growing oranges on the other side both having to use the same lorry to send their oranges to market. They will not quarrel on that, and they will stop other people from quarrelling. It is remarkable that for many years past, right through the Jewish terrorism and the Arab terrorism, right through the political negotiations, in which there have been hard feelings between Jews and Arabs, there has been a joint Citrus Marketing Board where a number of Jews and a number of Arabs have quietly met and decided what citrus gets sold and at what price.

This coming together of Jews and Arabs, this creating of good neighbours over a good fence, depends very much upon a real act of statesmanship by the British Government in the method of its own withdrawal. This country has a long record of redeeming sometimes not so glorious relations with other countries by a final act of brilliant statesmanship. Perhaps the best example, though by no means the only example, of that was the behaviour of this country towards South Africa at the end of the South African war. At this distance of time we can all say that Great Britain did not behave perfectly in the last decade of the last century towards South Africa, but when the bitterness of the fight had died out, the behaviour of this country towards South Africa was probably one of the most brilliant and glorious examples of treatment by a victor of the vanquished in the history of the world. If we show the same spirit towards Palestine as we showed then, if we really act in the tone of the Colonial Secretary's voice yesterday, rather than the voice of the Foreign Secretary to-day, if we accept ungrudgingly the United Nations report and decision, we shall go a long way towards this end.

I wish to make a particular point about a question yesterday, to which there was no reply from the Foreign Secretary today, that I was able to put through the courtesy of the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). When will the United Nations Five-Power Commission he allowed to go to Palestine? We heard yesterday from the Colonial Secretary, and today from the Foreign Secretary, that it will be only just before May 15th. Every one is agreed that you cannot have two kings in a country at the same time, and it would be quite farcical for that Commission to go there with anything like governing power whilst this country still held the Mandate.

Of course it would be equally farcical if we walked out on 15th May, and the new king had to walk in on 16th May. The right hon. Member for West Bristol made a number of suggestions which might be acceptable to the Government, to the effect that some of the Commission, or some technical officers could travel on different dates. I hope those suggestions will commend themselves to the Colonial Secretary and that in adopting them, and adopting them in that ungrudging way in which he spoke yesterday, with, I am sure, complete sincerity, he will give a lead towards the creation of that new spirit in this tortured country which I believe it is possible to generate. It may be that we shall have once again, as we have had from that country in the past, a new guiding light in the social progress of mankind.

3.26 p.m.

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

I will detain the House only a few minutes, as I know other hon. Members wish to speak, but there are a few things which I think should be put on record in this House. When we look on the tragedy of the Jewish race, with its many sufferings, it is a very unhappy thing that we should ever be in the position of having even to appear to be adding to their sorrows. Nevertheless, I think it is time the Jews thought a little, not only of the exactions and harassments since the war, but of those during the war, and remembered this historic fact that because of the Balfour Declaration and because of our great control of Palestine, some 600,000 Jews have been able to live through the years of this dreadful tyranny in happiness and comparative prosperity.

That is an achievement which I think Jewish people everywhere, even the most ardent Zionists, should recognise, that out of the population of Jews in the world Britain was responsible for the happiness and security of 600,000 of those people. Especially, the "bad hat" crowd in New York, who did so much to finance the Zionist Movement in Europe against us, should take cognisance of this fact, and realise their responsibility for many things which have occurred. I would say to them, if my voice could possibly carry across the Atlantic, that they failed to realise what we were doing for them, and that they only increased the suffering of their own people by those methods.

When we were in the unhappy position of having to bring back that convoy of ships from Palestine I thought it a dreadful thing to put those people back into Germany, because, although there are supposed to be no Nazis left, that dark country, with its persecution of the Jews, has not altered fundamentally, and it must have been a cause for despair to those people, who had hoped to reach Palestine, to be turned back. I wish the Government had sent those ships on to New York. I say that with an absolute sense of responsibility. Why not? There is room for them in America, lots of room, and it was from America that this violence was financed. I wish His Majesty's Government, instead of turning those people into Germany, had sent them to America. I believe the Americans, with their combined sense of justice and humour, would probably not have resented it. It would have put the proposition at the door where it belongs.

I think that yesterday in this House, even if there was not a very noisy demonstration from this side, we were delighted and encouraged by the report of the President of the Board of Trade on concluding, in principle at any rate, a trade agreement with Russia. That is the one bright spot that has occurred for a long time in this awful problem of that Eastern combination of nations which is dominated by Communism. I believe that, as the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) has just said—

Mr. Salley:

I believe that the hon. Member was not present at that time and what he now says is a complete travesty of the truth. The Tory Benches displayed such dismay at the news as was almost unique in the history of this Parliament.

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

I said that there was no particular cheering, because in all things Russian we must be careful that it is not just some trick, but I was certainly here and there was not a single demonstration of disapproval, and the hon. Gentleman opposite is being thoroughly irresponsible. I am sure that I speak for my party on this matter when I say that we were all encouraged by what happened in Russia.

My only point is this. In Palestine, there is only one cure for violence, and that is normality of life. It is not going to be easy for the Stern Gang to put away their guns and become men of peace. The old Biblical saying that those who sow the wind must reap the whirlwind is still true, and there is only one hope for Palestine. If this organisation, heavily financed from New York, will be wise and will be restrained and will give U.N.O. a chance, it is possible, as the hon. Member opposite has said, that the Jewish people may be able to return to their agricultural pursuits and the growing and selling of oranges, elemental as that sounds. My last word to them is this. Let the Jewish race, wherever it spreads itself across the world, acknowledge its great debt to this country here. Let them try to imagine for a moment what are the feelings of parents in this country whose boys were the soldiers who ran through Europe, dying in tens of thousands, to defeat and crush the enemy of Israel——

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

If the hon. Member likes—certainly, the enemy of the Jews. They crushed the enemy of the Jews, and these soldiers, when peace came and they would normally have gone back to their homes, went to Palestine and were shot in the dark. Let them think of the feelings of the parents who have sons who had been through all the battles of Europe only to be killed in Palestine. One wonders, perhaps, that there is not more bitterness in this country than there is, and, for that reason, I send out this plea to America, where they have such a large organisation and large sums of money to spend on making trouble in Palestine—not the American people, but this organisation to which I have referred, and I can tell the House that I know something about it. There is still time for the Jewish race to show that it has a sense of responsibility, and to show that they will put away their guns and once again take up the ploughshares or whatever it is that they use for growing oranges.

3.34 P.m.

Photo of Mr Maurice Orbach Mr Maurice Orbach , Willesden East

The hon. Gentleman has just made an appeal to the Jewish people, as other hon. Members have done. I think that too many hon. Members have made this appeal. I have purposely refrained from intervening in a Debate on the Palestine issue until now, because, as a Member of this House who is of the Jewish faith, and representing a constituency which has a considerable number of British citizens of the Jewish faith, I thought, perhaps it would be better to leave Debates of this description to more objective individuals. But so many references have been made to Jewish Members of this House by those supporting the Arab case that I felt I had to get up on this occasion. Appeals have been made to us as if all Jewish Members of this House were of one mind, and as if we were all participants in some great plot or conspiracy, either to damage this country or to assist another country, and as if we had our own leader in this House and our own Whips.

It ought to go on record that the Members who have been responsible for making such insinuations know perfectly well that they have been talking the most arrant nonsense, the same type of nonsense as I received in a letter from a constituent of mine who, writing quite seriously, said: There are 150 Jewish Members of the House of Commons and, apart from one or two like yourself, all the rest are relatives of the 150. Those of us who have made a study of this problem know perfectly well that there are 28 Members of this House who are of the Jewish faith, and who are prepared to declare that they are members of the Jewish faith. Almost all of them are at variance with each other on the different subjects which we discuss here.

Having said that I wish to make one or two observations on the matter which we are discussing. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made a statesmanlike speech this afternoon, and that he was entitled to give an explanation of that for which he had been responsible during the past two and a half years. In so far as he said that, had matters been left to himself, there might have been a juster solution earlier than that being arrived at now, we are entitled to be generous, and to say that, perhaps, my right hon. Friend was perfectly correct. If there had been no interference from different quarters, perhaps he would have been able to reach agreement between Arab and Jew, and perhaps a solution of this problem might have been found in January, 1946, or even earlier. However, I was very happy to hear from his lips, and from those of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, that we are ungrudgingly accepting the United Nations' decision.

I felt, however, that on the part of certain back benchers on both sides of the House, there was a little bad feeling and ill-grace. It seemed to me that the type of feeling which they expressed was as contemptible, if I may say so, as challenging, if one is part of the home side, the judgment of a referee when the home side have been responsible for his appointment. What, in fact, is this judgment which we have been asked to consider? I do not want to go back either to Moses, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said last night, to the Balfour Declaration, to the McMahon letters, or to the White Paper of 1939. The judgment of the United Nations Assembly was that two new sovereign States were to be set up—and that is all we ought to consider—instead of the one police State which exists today.

I think we all accept the fact that the trusteeship which we have held in Pales- tine has only been exercised in the past few years at any rate, by the use of force. If we are to have two democratic States in place of the one police State which exists today, everybody in this House ought to be prepared to welcome that decision. I thought that much too much attention had been paid to the problems of partition from a geographical point of view, and not enough to the questions considered by the ad hoc Committee which considered this problem in relation to the constitution of these two particular States.

I welcome the fact that representation is to be given to all persons above the age of 18. It seems to me to be carrying democracy a stage further even than in this great country. In so far as there is to be transit permissible for persons from one of the States to the other without let or hindrance, we have something we ought to he thankful that the United Nations has agreed to. In so far also as every individual in the present state could opt as to what particular State he would belong, we ought to thank the United Nations for reaching that useful conclusion.

Having said that, we have to say one or two words—and I would follow the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo)—about the economic position of Palestine and about the economic position of this country. One hon. Member opposite yesterday who discussed world Jewish sovereignty, and everything else contained in the Protocols of Zion, without mentioning it, said that in Palestine there is a great deal of gold. Thousands of millions of pounds were mentioned. I do not think that anybody in this House is seriously concerned about that. Getting gold from Palestine would be almost like getting gold from Fort Knox for redistribution all over the world. But he did say there was potash in Palestine, one of the products of the Dead Sea, as a result of the engineering and chemical operations for which we are all very grateful. Another hon. Member said that uranium might be found. I am not concerned about that, but I do want to say a word or two about the day-to-day economic problems.

What is the Colonial Minister going to do about the food situation in Palestine itself? The wheat position there has been the worst for years. I understand contracts were signed by the present adminis- tration for the importation of wheat into that country. Are those contracts going to be fulfilled, in spite of the fact that two separate States are going to be established? Are the contracts going to be handed over to the two States? I can find, too, no explanation for the embargo placed on diamonds being imported into Palestine today. I do not understand that, and I am wondering whether the administration is suffering any way from peevishness. I think—and I follow the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) in this—that we ought to start trade negotiations with the two groups who will represent the two Palestines after the Mandate has been ended. Those negotiations ought to be started at the earliest possible time. If we can establish effective economic units in both countries I think we can leave the political rapprochement between those two nations in the Near East.

The last speaker had something to say about Jewish gratitude to this country. Let me say this on behalf of all Jews of all types—orthodox, non-orthodox, Liberal, Zionist and anti-Zionist. We have the highest regard and admiration for the British nation. Those of us who are British owe no loyalty to anybody else, but the Jews as a whole throughout the world—and I have spent some time in the United States of America—have a high regard for our way of life. The Jews of Palestine surely showed that during the war, when our backs were to the wall, and when they came to the assistance of the British nation, as did no others in the Near East. I think that recent history will be quickly forgotten. If I may say so the British people by force of arms and in their administration made Zionist aspirations possible. Let us, therefore, now go down in history as a people who accepted a great trust; carried it forward through very great difficulties indeed and who relinquish it with grace and generosity.

3.45 P.m.

Photo of Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin , Stretford

Before I turn to the primary reason for my intervention in this Debate, I want to make a comment on an observation made by the Foreign Secretary, because I thought it had tremendous significance. That was in his answer to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey), who asked whether, in the event of the United Nations seeking to enforce collective security in Palestine, we would allow a contingent of British nationals to be in that force. Much to my dismay, the Foreign Secretary categorically said "No." It has always been my belief and desire that the foreign policy of this country should be founded broadly on the United Nations. I believe that has been reiterated from time to time by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. If we are not prepared to enforce the sanction of law and order by contribution to an international police force such as that envisaged by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, then perhaps the edifice of the United Nations is already crumbling. I daresay that the comment of the Foreign Secretary today, if it is his real outlook, must cause a great deal of dismay in the hearts and minds of those associated with the United Nations and the ideals pertaining to it.

My only reason for intervening in this Debate is something I read in this morning's "Tribune." We often have extracts culled from more august journals like "The Times" and "The Manchester Guardian," or perhaps the "Daily Express," in deference to the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), but perhaps it might be appropriate to quote occasionally from the "Tribune." In today's "Tribune" there is a dispatch from their Palestine correspondent dated 9th December, 1947, and I submit that it contains some very alarming observations. I hope the House will bear with me if I read some of these observations. The dispatch begins: Jerusalem. The situation here is steadily deteriorating; there is clear evidence that the Mufti faction are gradually securing control over Arab towns and countryside, and are getting ready for country-wide attacks against the Jews. If we are to look on Palestine today as a trouble centre and a gunpowder barrel, the fuse that is likely to ignite that gunpowder must be the Mufti. I do not intend to recapitulate the hideous and shameful history of the Mufti and his activities, and the fact that he was certainly linked up in material form with Hitler during the war. Certainly I do not want to go into the details of how, by some magical means, the Mufti managed to escape from France to Egypt and blossom forth into full activity with his Arab satellites, but the Mufti is the menace in the Middle East, and I hope that if my right hon. Friend The Secretary of State for the Colonies has some channels, as I assume he has, of making a contact with the Mufti he will prevail with the Mufti to adopt some course of moderation; otherwise, there is no question there will be developed ultimately internecine warfare in Palestine.

May I give the House another comment from this despatch? After referring to the ascendancy of the Mufti over the more moderate elements of King Abdulla of Transjordan and, others, the dispatch says: This development has forced the Jews to change their tactics of avoiding action with the Arabs, if possible. I am informed on the highest authority that they are now preparing in readiness for attacks against all Jewish centres. The main drawback is the determination of some sections of the British police to settle accounts with the Jews before leaving. I am not prepared to believe that the British police as a whole are determined to settle accounts with the Jews before leaving; but, in all fairness and equity, I must ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies to look into this allegation, because this may be a serious and damaging accusation against our administration in Palestine.

The despatch continues: Despite the Secretariat's goodwill towards the Jewish Agency, and the apparent desire at top level not to hinder seriously Jewish defence, the growing indiscipline at the middle and the lower levels of the police is resulting in action which is handicapping to the Jews, and provoking Irgun Zvei Leumi to retaliate. It is stated that one Arab attack was staged against the Jews yesterday with the object of revealing a defence point. This was then surrounded by the British police, arms confiscated and arrests made. If this accusation is correct, and it appears there is some collusion between the Arabs and the British authorities, I am sorry to say—I hope it is not true—if should be investigated. There appears to be collusion with a view to disarming Jews who may require arms very desperately in the future. The final paragraph I would like to read is: A serious movement is allegedly developing, especially in police armoured units, which are said to be determined to make the Jews pay for past attacks by terrorists. This appears to be the main cause of clashes between the Jews and the police and of searches for Haganah arms which are preventing the Jews from keeping open the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road. The improved relations between Jews and British which were noticeable towards the end of last week are now relaxing into bitterness. It has always been my contention that there exists the broadest possible grounds for amity and friendship between the British and the Jews in Palestine and I am sorry, if these accusations are correct, that there is developing again this tendency towards bitterness and hatred. There could be no more certain method employed of making terrorists of the Jews than that of withholding from them arms which they have with a view to defending themselves. I am not an authority on Palestine, but on the question of the Haganah it was stated only in the last year or so that the organisation of Haganah was formed by the British prior to the war with a view to defending itself and possibly, to defending British establishments against Arab terrorists. If Haganah was British-formed and British-trained, then it has played a very vital part in the Middle East in training units and in fighting for democracy.

In all justice and equity I would submit to the Colonial Secretary that Haganah be now legally authorised to carry arms in its own defence. I would remind my hon. Friend of the observation he made in the House a few days ago when he commended Haganah and the Jewish authorities for the restraint they had exercised in the face of terrorism by the Arabs. If he allows the Jews the responsibility to carry arms in their own defence—and for years now they have been striving to build up their home in Palestine—he will be rendering yeoman service to democracy in Palestine, to the safety of those living in Palestine and to its future well-being. But, if between now and 15th May when it is intended that we should withdraw, he allows the Jews to be defenceless and to be beaten down by Arab terrorists organised by this notorious, shameful reactionary, the Mufti, he is going to perpetrate another chapter of blood-letting in the Middle East.

I know my right hon. Friend's character. I know his kindly disposition, his tolerance, his outlook and his attitude in general to these matters, and I do ask him to think over seriously all the issues which I put to him contained in this despatch. I do think it is his duty immediately to institute an inquiry into the truth or otherwise of the despatch I have had the opportunity of quoting to the House.

Photo of Mr William Whiteley Mr William Whiteley , Blaydon

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn