§ 4.3 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
I beg to move,That this House approves the policy of His Majesty's Government relating to Palestine as set out in Command Paper No. 5513.Almost exactly a year ago I announced the terms of reference and the personnel of the Royal Commission. It had been decided to set up a Royal Commission in the time of my predecessor, after the beginning of the disturbances of last year. A year has passed, the Commission have visited Palestine and taken evidence there and in this country, and have produced their Report. I venture to say at the outset that no more forceful, searching and remarkable document has ever been presented by a Royal Commission on any subject. I shall deal later with their recommendations for the future, but I believe I shall carry unanimity in this House when I say that their analysis of the situation as it has developed in Palestine from year to year since the War has been unchallenged, and that in the main their summary of the historical background of Palestine, without which no discussion of Palestine is of the least use, for Palestine and any question connected with it goes right back into history —that analysis is not only a great literary work of art, but will stand for all time as the final statement of the historical truth.
Let me say a word about the Commission. Seldom have six men of obvious impartiality and more wide experience been selected to form a Royal Commission. Lord Peel we knew in this House; we know his career. Sir Horace Rumbold, acknowledged as one of the ablest men of the Diplomatic Service, has had wide experience as Minister and Ambassador in many countries of the world. Sir Laurie Hammond was a distinguished Indian Civil Servant, a Governor; Sir William Morris Carter was an ex-Colonial Chief Justice, but more well known for his searching analysis of land problems, the problems of native land and interests concerned with an immigrant community, both in Rhodesia and Kenya; Sir Harold Morris, the universally acclaimed Chairman of the Industrial Court in this country. I should also have men- 2236 tioned Professor Coupland, Professor of Colonial History at Oxford, whose knowledge and study of Colonial administration in the British Colonial Empire and in other colonial spheres is well known to students throughout the world. No more impartial body, no more varied body could have been selected to go fundamentally into this question of Palestine. Deliberately the terms of reference were so widely drafted that instead of concentrating on any one problem, as have previous commissions—not Royal Commissions—they were enabled to take a wide survey. The Commission's Report is a most searching and valuable document, and throughout all the argumentation of the early chapters of their Report, His Majesty's Government find themselves convinced by the arguments and conclusions which they reached. They are unanimous—an impressive fact.
I would make an appeal here. Whatever is said, both on the Jewish side and the Arab side, on this Report and on the policy of His Majesty's Government, I hope hon. Members will remember that practically everything said in this Debate will be scrutinised word by word by both Jew and Arab, not only in Palestine, but throughout the world, and that there is in this problem of Palestine a problem which is not confined to Palestine, but involves the whole of Jewry throughout the world and the whole Moslem world as well. Therefore, it behoves us, in the interests not only of the future relations between Islam and Europe, but the future relations between the Orient and the Occident, to weigh our words in dealing with this gigantic problem arising in a tiny country.
I have only one or two words to say in regard to the historical summary, without which it is quite impossible to study the problem of Palestine. The Commission have been unfairly criticised by writers in the Press and by speakers outside for the use of a particular phrase in, dealing with the McMahon-Hussein correspondence. It is true that the Arabs in Palestine and outside Palestine base their claim as of right on the McMahon-Hussein correspondence. They tendered it in evidence before the Commission and the Commission therefore had to deal with this matter. In one sentence on page 20 the Commission say that they did not consider that they were required 2237 to undertake a detailed and lengthy research among the documents of 20 years ago. That, taken in isolation, would suggest that they have failed in their duty, but, taken with the following paragraph and all the subsequent paragraphs dealing with this matter, it is perfectly clear, and they bring it out for the first time clearly before the public of the world, that the then British Government was not in a position, even if it had the wish, to promise the Sherif of Mecca that Palestine would be included in the Arab territories, because at that very moment it was clearly bound to France, and France had reserved, and told the British Government so, the future of Palestine, and aspired to the hope that it would be French. That is brought out clearly. I served in 1916 in the Arab Bureau in Cairo on Sir Henry McMahon's staff, and I wish myself to testify to the fact that it never was in the mind of anyone on that staff that Palestine west of the Jordan was in the area within which the British Government then undertook to further the cause of Arab independence. And, after all, the whole sequel proves the case. Immediately after the Arab revolt, and in successive months, the then British Government, before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) became Prime Minister, was advised in these matters largely by the late Sir Mark Sykes, and immediately after the McMahon correspondence and the outbreak of the revolt in the Hedjaz he was instructed by the then Government to get into touch with the French and other Allied Governments in regard to the future of that part of the world. Negotiations were long, with the result that England and France, France then having claimed the whole of Palestine up to the Egyptian frontier, acceded to an arrangement which is set out very fully on page 21 of the Report.
Let me pursue this a little further. When the preliminary negotiations took place leading up to the Balfour Declaration—and it was at least a year after the first adumbration of a desire on the part of the Allied Government to make some approach to the Jewish people had first been thought of—I remember myself serving in the Arab Bureau helping to edit a thing called the "Arab Bulletin" in the autumn of 1916, putting into that 2238 Bulletin information regarding Jewish colonies and Jewish aspirations in Palestine; and all through the early days of 1917 His Majesty's Government and the other Governments were becoming increasingly aware of this factor in the Near Eastern problem, and the Balfour Declaration, which was not issued until November, 1917, was the result of prolonged weeks of controversy—I say that advisedly—in this country, because some people put forward views vigorously opposed to it, after negotiations with France and Italy, and after, as the Commission bring out for the first time, President Wilson was consulted as to its precise terms. It was a most deliberate act. I know the right hon. Gentleman opposite will bear me out. It was not only Sir Mark Sykes but others brought to the attention of the Government the fact that undertakings of a general character had been given to the Arabs, and the McMahon correspondence was fully in the mind of His Majesty's and the Allied Governments when the Balfour Declaration was made. I say it was opposed, but let me make it clear that the Cabinet as a whole were absolutely determined, and the idea that this was a particular nostrum of Lord Balfour or any other individual is quite out of the question.
This further fact should be known, that the draft as originally put up by Lord Balfour was not the final draft approved by the War Cabinet. The particular draft assented to by the War Cabinet, and afterwards by the Allied Governments, and by the United States, expressed in the Resolution of Congress and finally embodied in the Mandate, happens to have been drafted by Lord Milner. The actual final draft had to be issued in the name of the Foreign Secretary but the actual draftsman was Lord Milner. I want it clearly and finally understood that His Majesty's Government neither then nor now can or will admit that Palestine west of the Jordan was included in the pledge given to the Sherif, and that they have always in mind that special considerations must obtain in regard to the future government of the Holy Land. The unique character of Palestine was recognised by the Arab Delegates to the Peace Conference. It is recognised all over the world. It is not purely Arab territory. It is not purely Jewish terri- 2239 tory. It is not purely Christian territory. All the three great world faiths have an interest in that country, and no settlement of this question is possible unless the interests of Moslem, Jew and Christian are recognised in the future of Palestine.
I do not wish to proceed further on that theme but it is essential, in view of the continuance of this argument, that something of that kind should be said. I will say a word once again—it has often been said before—regarding the Balfour Declaration itself. One has to be precise about words, and there is still great looseness in what is deduced by many people from the Balfour Declaration. The pledge of Great Britain and of other Allied Governments was not Palestine as a home for the Jews. It was a Jewish National Home in Palestine—and there is a distinction. The phrasing is clear and the intention is clear. That was made very clear to the Jews at the time and was published to the whole world. I remember those days. The United States was not at war with Turkey but, none the less, the United States permitted us after the Balfour Declaration to recruit Jews in America and bring them over to fight with the British Army in Palestine on the basis of that claim. You cannot get away from those facts.
I turn to the other aspect of the case. There was clearly a general pledge to the Arabs given by the Allied Governments to further their independence. There was a specific pledge both to Jews and non-Jews to promote independence. I think it is fair to remind the Arabs that that independence which they enjoy throughout the Peninsula of Arabia, which they enjoy in Iraq, which they are about to enjoy fully in Syria, and which if this scheme goes through they will enjoy throughout Transjordan and the greater part of Palestine, would not have been achieved but for the fact—and it is not the Jews' fault—that there are 10,000 British graves in Palestine and many more in Iraq. The Arabs owe this country something, and it is tragic that, after all that Britain has done for the Arabs, there should be 20 years afterwards this running sore in Palestine. I am satisfied that the Commission are right and that, the longer the present Mandate with its present Articles goes on, that sore is bound to get deeper and deeper, as they say, 2240 and that the very Articles of the Mandate prohibit us from taking the kind of steps which we have endeavoured, in spite of the Mandate, to take to bring Jew and Arab together. Consider the Articles governing education. We are not allowed under the Mandate to have mixed schools or to have any common system of education.
I have seen a great many British officials in Palestine in the course of the last year and I said to one of them, a subordinate official, "Do you ever get Arabs and Jews to meet at your house?" He said, "Yet, I have tried." The High Commissioner, quite rightly in the view of His Majesty's Government, has endeavoured throughout to bring about conciliation between Jew and Arab. No one has fought harder for conciliation between Jew and Arab than Sir Arthur Wauchope. This official said, "I have endeavoured to get Jews, especially those strange to Palestine, who have come in the last few years, refugees from Central Europe, and moderate Arabs in my district to meet. My first difficulty is always this. The Jews speak German, Polish and Hebrew. The Arabs speak Arabic. If they know a second language, coming from the Levant and Syria, it is French. There is no common language. At all these meetings I have to be the interpreter between them. The whole course of education, bound by the articles of the Mandate, has been to deepen the separation between Jews and non-Jews and we are prohibited by the Mandate from changing that. As long as the Mandate goes on in its present form, there is a constant cause of friction, and very largely the intensification of the Arab National Movement and the Jewish National Movement is the product of the schools. But it is with the young people that the great gulf is seen to-day.
Take another case. Under Article 2 of the Mandate we are bound to promote self-governing institutions. You may say that that might be managed at Geneva; that it might be met by municipal self-government. I would point out that the very next article deals with that; it is to "promote local and municipal autonomy." Article 2 is intended to apply to the country as a whole. Year after year we are asked why we do not implement that; why we do not implement these self-governing institutions. The question was asked of Sir Arthur 2241 Wauchope not long ago, and we all know that, as the result of that obligation of the Mandate, His Majesty's Government made an effort. We know with what reception it met in this House and in another place. In another place only the Government spokesman supported it, and in this House only two supported it, and all efforts demanded by the present Arab majority for the introduction of self-governing institutions have hitherto failed and have been vigorously opposed by all parties in this House, though I make an honourable exception of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). It is a remarkable fact that it has been argued again and again, and I give that as an illustration. In fact both of these are illustrations.
But the truth which I want to bring home to the House is that the Mandate is a very different thing from the Balfour Declaration. Because the Balfour Declaration is in the preamble of the Mandate, people think that it begins and ends there, but the Mandate is a written constitution of 28 Articles which governs the action of the British Government in the administration of Palestine—and this House too, and we are unable to violate it. In the light of events in Palestine both with regard to revolts and to the growing criticism of us by the Jews, and the growing hostility not only of the Arabs in Palestine but in the Arab world, we cannot go to Geneva and say, "The Mandate is working all right. It can be implemented, and it can never be changed." The Mandate in the minds of some people has become a sort of bible, every word of which is inspired, and that is hopeless. The whole essence of the League of Nations is that treaties and international obligations, when they are shown to be obsolete by the facts of the case, can and should be revised. Half the trouble in the world to-day is that the essence and spirit of the League are not being fully carried out in many matters, and if there ever was a case where the evolution of events has shown that a document requires revision, it is the Mandate drafted in 1921 and approved by the League in 1922.
Let me come back to the essence of the whole subject. Hitherto people have said, "Oh, the root of the trouble in Palestine is economic, or it is because of this or that or the other, or because 2242 it is the weakness of the British administration, or because the personnel has been drawn from Africa where the indigenous populations' interests are to be paramount while under the Mandate they are not to be paramount, and where the special regime and special conditions differing from other parts of the Colonial Empire apply." Surely, the Commission is right in brushing all these things aside as minor and separate. When you come back to the fact that, in spite of the fact that Jewish emigration and Jewish development of Palestine and Jewish independence have done wonders in the face of great difficulties in the last 17 years, benefiting the Arabs, raising the standard of wages and of living and all the rest—in spite of all that, their objection to the National Home and to Jewish immigration gets deeper and deeper in all classes of the community. Why? Because in the world to-day there is one thing in France, in Germany, in every country in the world, for which men are prepared to sacrifice all material things and most cherished traditions, and that is—and it is all-powerful in the world to-day—the worship of nationality. It is nationalism which is the powerful force in the world to-day, and you cannot recognise the elements of the problem in Palestine unless you realise that, in that little country, there is a keen, vivid Jewish nationalism and a keen, vivid Arab nationalism, both of which have rights and are in acute controversy, and the trouble of Palestine is political and not economic. Founded upon that thing which unites all classes or sections of the population is nationality—in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and everywhere, nationality. Nationality is the burning thing in Palestine as it operates to-day.
I come now to the present and more recent position and that is the broad findings of the Commission. They sum it up very clearly on pages 110 and 111, and page 111 is probably the most vital page in the Report. I will say only one thing about what they call the "aggravating causes." They say that the fundamental cause is the fact of nationality, the Arab fears of the Jewish National Home and the Arab objection to it. That is the fundamental cause and the cause of the previous risings, and it was the cause of the rising last year. They give some of the subsidiary causes, and there is one to which I should like to draw attention, 2243 because we have to have it in mind in considering the future.
The French Government announced early last year that in their view the single Mandate which they held from the League for Syria should be terminated and that it should be replaced by what? By a division and the creation of two independent Sovereign States—a Syrian republic with a Moslem majority, and a Lebanese republic where the Christians are in a majority. As it turned out afterwards, there had to be special arrangements for Alexandretta and it neighbourhood on account of a number of people who were neither Christian Arabs nor Moslem Arabs in that area. The fact that, following the termination of the Mandate in Iraq, there was last year the final emancipation from the Mandate system and the setting up of a free, independent Arab government or governments, two States in Syria, left Palestine and Transjordan the only parts of the ex-Turkish Empire still controlled by a great Power under a Mandate of the League. I am not surprised, in view of this historical association and the fact that all these territories were not divided as they are divided into territories on the map to-day; that they were all one for 400 years under the Turkish Empire, and were one long before that, right away back to the days of the great Arab Conquest when the Byzantine Empire was driven out—I am not surprise that Arab nationalism in Palestine was encouraged to believe and to hope that something of the same fruition of their ideals of national independence would follow in Palestine as it did in Syria. If that is the case, you cannot pretend that that was not bound to happen as the result of the action of the French Government and its friendly reception by the League.
There is another subsidiary cause. Let us not forget what has happened in the Jewish world too. In the Jewish world, owing to the prevalence of ideas which whost of us had hoped finished with the day of the Spanish Inquisition, when there was banished from Spain everybody who was a Jew because of his religion, and when they went on to banish every Jew who was a Christian because of his race, the fires of anti-Semitic persecution have been rearing their hideous heads again. Consequently Palestine has become not merely the hope of the Jews to 2244 build up a national home as originally intended, namely, a centre of Jewish culture and inspiration and a centre of a real national example to the Jews of the world, a Jewish State as envisaged by Herzl 40 years ago this year. That has been overshadowed by the desire to find in Palestine as elsewhere more and more room for every Jew they can get out of Central Europe at this time.
One is not surprised, but just as we all sympathise with them, it was clear that in the two years up to last year the rapidly accelerated volume of Jewish emigration into Palestine finally frightened the Arabs lest they should be overwhelmed. We took into Palestine, compared with all the other countries in the world, far more of the German-Jewish refugees. Just over one-third went to Palestine, and I think that the next largest number went to Brazil, and thousands more are clamouring at the gates of Palestine to-day, and can you wonder? You are faced, therefore, with this fact, that the conditions in the Arab world and in the Jewish world in the last year or two have both tended to make the inevitable clash in Palestine more difficult, more likely to occur and more acute. All that is borne out clearly in the Commission's Report.
Now what happens? The inevitable result is that the clash has found its expression in the passing, as it were, of the burden of both clashes on to the Mandatory Power. When a few Jews were going in, with no great events happening in the Arab world in the more happy time up to 1929, things went on, and matters could be adjusted. I left the Colonial Office in 1929, after seven years there under successive Governments, and went back there last year, having been out of this question for those seven years. I found the whole atmosphere and the whole of the conditions changed. Formerly there were friendly relations with Jews and Arabs; certainly I was friendly, as I hope I always was, but I found an undercurrent of acerbated criticism of each other from both Jews and Arabs. All were critical of the Mandatory Power, both were pressing their demands, while both were thoroughly dissatisfied with His Majesty's Government. And not only with His Majesty's Government.
I remember seeing an Arab deputation. They said: "We are in despair. We 2245 may get something from the British Government, but we know that in the British House of Commons there are no Arabs. We know that there are Jews there in every party. There are no Arab voters in the constituencies, but we know that there are 200,000 Jewish voters, and we fear that even if His Majesty's Government in carrying out their pledges of equal treatment to Jew and non-Jew under the League of Nations are fair, there will be pressure, which we cannot exert in England, because we have no power in England through the democratic assembly in the House of Commons. We know that the Jews, whom we fear, in many constituencies up and down the country can bring that pressure to bear." That is what they said to me at the Colonial Office. I assured them that His Majesty's Government would carry out faithfully the pledge, given and repeated by the Labour Government in such explicit terms, that equal weight applied to both Arab and Jew.
I want to carry that matter further. Many people seem to think that the Mandate, the Balfour Declaration, and the rest of it commit us to a specific Jewish policy in Palestine, without regard to the other obligations. I can only repeat that in this matter, once the matter has been accepted as the governing consideration by the League, I am bound by that League decision. We have a League decision. When the Labour Government were in office Dr. Drummond Shiels was sent as the accredited representative of that Government to Geneva with a report on Palestine, and he stated to the Permanent Mandates Commission, in June of that year, the following:
A double undertaking is involved to the Jewish people on the one hand and the non-Jewish people of Palestine on the other, and it is the firm resolve of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to give effect in equal measure to both parts of the Declaration and do equal justice to sections of the population in Palestine
That was taken by the Permanent Mandates Commission and embodied in their Report to the Council, as follows:
From this statement there are two assertions which should be emphasised, that the obligations laid down by the Mandate in regard to the two sections of the population are of equal weight "—
those are the words not of the British Government but of the Permanent Mandates Commission—
and that the two obligations are not irreconcilable. The Mandates Commission has no
objection to raise to these two assertions which in its view accurately expresses what the Mandates Commission conceives to be the essence of the Mandate for Palestine, and ensure its future.
§ That was accepted by the Council of the League, and that is the Council of the League's interpretation of the Mandate as it stands to-day. Therefore, equality of treatment for Jew and Arab is laid down not merely by the Labour Government—and we have made no change in policy—but it is enshrined now as the interpretation of the Mandate by the League authority itself. Let that be made clear.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
It is six for the Jew and half a dozen for the Arab, and half a dozen for the Arab and six for the Jew. As is pointed out by the Commission in their Report, this principle applies chapter after chapter. In grants of land and everything else the Government of Palestine under these conditions has become a question of arithmetic. "Economic absorption capacity" is a wonderful phrase, not in the Mandate but invented; a very good phrase from the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). This has meant, for instance, in regard to Jewish migration every six months the necessity of computing exactly how many Jews are to come in during the next six months, always ending in a wrangle between the Jews and His Majesty's Government. Every six months, and always that running sore. That being the basis, equality of treatment, taking into consideration Jews and Arabs and their economic interests, how many are unemployed, what chance of a job there is for Jew and Arab, with all the machinery that has to be set up. What is the result? Every six months the Jews put up a case for, say, 1,000. The Jewish case is examined in great detail by a staff in the Migration Office, almost down to the individual job. At the end of it the number is invariably reduced from the original demand. That has been the experience of the last 10 years, every six months. What happens after that? The Arabs immediately complain that too many Jews have come in or are being admitted. Equality of treatment and the capacity of the country are deciding factors. That is the problem which faces the Minister. He has to interpret these League documents, these 2247 undertakings of the League, into reality, and it is no easy job to do so. The task put upon the Government, the strain upon the Government of Palestine in maintaining law and order, in administering grants, and everything else is complicated, as is shown in every page of the Report, by these conditions, these obligations, these undertakings and, above all, by the present League Mandate. I will not, however, further labour that point.
Let me say something as to the future. His Majesty's Government are convinced, from this Report, that they cannot go on as they are, when the continuance of the Mandate holds out no hope either to the Jews of finding a home in Palestine for a largely increased number of Jews, which is their desire, no hope that Palestine as a whole can evolve into a Jewish State, which was the object of the Zionist movement; no hope for the Arabs, on the other hand, except in a termination of the existing Mandate, of the realisation of their dream of an Arab State. Are we to go on denying forever self-government for the Jew or the Arab?
The Commission are of opinion that the ideals of the two peoples and the intolerable burden upon His Majesty's Government can only be resolved by giving Jews and Arabs sovereign independence and self-government, not over the whole of Palestine but each over a part of it. With that conclusion His Majesty's Government agree. Only by partition can the ideals of both be realised, only by partition can peace be restored to these two nationalities, so that they will be able in the future one to help the other without fear of domination by either. It is the fear of domination of Jew by Arab and of Arab by Jew that is the root of the trouble, and the only way that can be removed is by partition and self-government. That is provided for in Article 28 of the Mandate which, being a Mandate, always envisaged the termination and the fruition of the mandatory period. We are only temporarily trustees in Palestine, trustees on behalf of the League. It is not our territory.
It is envisaged, after the termination of the Mandate over the whole country, that in perpetuity a special regime shall be established for the Holy Places. Let me deal with the Holy Places. They are mainly Jerusalem, Bethlehem and 2248 Nazareth, together with the Sea of Galilee. Take the capital City of Jerusalem. I do not mean the new suburb but the old Holy City, as it is usually called, within its walls. The eastern half of it, around Mount Moriah, is predominantly Moslem. There you have the Haram esh Sharif, containing the third most sacred shrine in the whole of Islam. In the north-west you have the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and a great Christian settlement there from all parts of the world. The south-west, where there is Mount Zion, is predominantly Jewish. There are the great synagogues, the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic, rising to the highest point as you look over from the Mount of Olives. Mixed up with them is the Caenaculum, and an Armenian settlement, and the Church of St. James, the body of St. James, the brother of our Lord, and the regalia of an independent Armenian kingdom. Then there are the great walls of the Citadel. It is essential that that city should be a Holy City, that neither the Arabs nor the Jews nor even the local Christian community can possibly police and possess it. It must be a trust for the world, in the control and under the permanent guardianship of one of the great Powers of Europe.
We have every right as a Christian country to claim that in perpetuity Bethlehem, the City of David, which has become so associated in the minds of every Christian as the birthplace of our Lord, where the population is predominantly Christian, should he excepted from the Jewish-Arab State. And equally Nazareth, in which everybody also takes an interest and which is predominantly a Christian town. It is therefore essential that if partition is to be fair, practical and successful, it should be tripartite; and if we are to have the responsibility for Christians and non-Christians we must have the means to enable us to carry out that trust, we must have the necessary forces, the necessary wherewithal, with which to operate that sacred trust. If a continuance of our responsibilities in these matters is endorsed by the League, I think it can be the means of making partition more acceptable both to Jew and Arab, and in that case I think it ought to be done. I believe that our continued presence in Palestine is vital to the amicable settling down of Jew and Arab. 2249 There will be minorities of all kinds in both States, and it is only the presence of a neutral and friendly Power, friendly to them both, which will enable these minorities to feel that they have somebody to watch over their interests. This question of minorities must be carefully gone into. There will, of course, have to be specific guarantees in any treaties which are made with the new sovereign States which will satisfy the League, and I have no doubt that the League itself will require special machinery for the execution of these minority rights. One of the least satisfactory features of League operations since the War has been its impotence in more than one case to carry out treaty obligations which have been entered into regarding the protection of minorities; and in Palestine we can afford to take no risks.
Mr. Lloyd George
Is it proposed that the British Government should accept the responsibility for the protection of minorities either in Arab or Jewish territory?
I cannot answer that question specifically. It is clearly a question which will have to be gone into when we come to the treaty-making stage, what the regime of the British area is to be and what rights we are to have there. His Majesty's Government cannot decide that; it is for the League to decide. There will have to be negotiations. Let me come to the question of procedure. We cannot make one step in the direction of the policy proposed in the White Paper, we cannot implement any proposal of the Royal Commission, without first going to the League. In fact, the Permanent Mandates Commission has now been invited by the President of the Council of the League to study the proposals of the Royal Commission on Palestine, and they have been asked by him to give a preliminary opinion before the next meeting of the League Council in September.
That is the position to-day. It is essential that I should know whether the House of Commons approves the statement of policy of His Majesty's Government when I go to the League next week to discuss it with the Permanent Mandates Commission. Let me make it clear that in doing so the House of Commons is not being invited to tie itself, any more than is the Government, to the specific pro- 2250 posals so wisely adumbrated in the last chapters of the Royal Commission's Report. What we are asking the House of Commons to do, and what they will be voting upon, is whether they accept the general thesis that as regards the arguments and conclusions of Paragraph 1 of the White Paper, they agree with the Government that a case has been made out for fundamental changes in the Mandate, so that we may go to the League for leave to begin working out, not the details of this particular scheme but the form of a scheme for the future. We have already made it clear that we believe that the scheme as proposed in its general lines is a scheme of partition which is both practical and just. Any scheme of partition which would be acceptable either to us or the League must be practical and just.
We cannot obviously accept the Amendment put down by the Opposition to refer this matter to a Joint Select Committee of the House of Commons. That would mean that we could not go to the League next week, that we could not get out of the present position until after months of inquiry by a Joint Select Committee, while all these things will be going on, and at the end of it there would still have to be negotiations with representatives of the Zionist Organisation and with representative Arabs long before any scheme could be got into shape and presented to Parliament. There must be a series of fact-finding inquiries. We must ascertain where and how many Arabs can be settled in Transjordania and elsewhere in Palestine; if there is to be a scheme of transfer, and obviously a scheme of transfer is most desirable.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
Yes. All these things will have to be inquired into before anything like a final scheme can be submitted to the House of Commons or to the League for settlement.
§ Mr. Churchill
Will the right hon. Gentleman say a word on the question of the defence of these various areas? What is to be the method of defence of the Jewish State and of the Arab State, and what are to be the obligations of this country in preventing armed clashes between the two? We should like to hear something about that.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I cannot possibly undertake to deal with that complex question, and I have already occupied too long a time of the House. It is quite obvious that the League would never allow, nor should we, two independent States to come into existence, and a Treaty would not be ratified either by this country or by the League unless the League was satisfied that these two Sovereign States would faithfully undertake the obligations as State members of the League; unless they are satisfied the Mandate is not finally terminated. That is perfectly clear. Do not let us think of these questions of defence in the present atmosphere of racial conflict. When two independent States, a Jewish Government and an Arab Government, have been set up and treaties have been seen by the whole world and approved by the League, it will be a very different atmosphere to that in which we are living to-day. This in our view is the best hope, the only hope for peace. The only way in which the country can get peace is by partition.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I am stating my view, and I am supported by the Royal Commission. Let me say a word as to the reception of these proposals. It is obvious that proposals so radical, so novel and so unexpected by His Majesty's Government, will take a great deal of prolonged consideration, and it is most undesirable that people should jump to the conclusion that the doors are shut in this and in that direction. The Commission itself came to the conclusion that there is no alternative and that in the end we shall be driven back to proposals on these lines. As to their reception, it is remarkable the enormous volume of public opinion in this country which is behind this Report.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
The Government do not control the Press of this country. We are not a totalitarian State. I have had numerous letters from Jews and Christians strongly supporting these proposals.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
Yes, many Arabs are strongly in favour of the proposals. 2252 The Transjordan Government have come out strongly in their favour and other parts of the Arab world are by no means unfavourable.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I will say a word about Iraq. Let me read the following statement:I think it only right to say how much His Majesty's Government have welcomed the attitude of moderation generally adopted in the Arab countries towards the Royal Commission's Report. His Majesty's Government, however, have noted with regret certain statements made by the Prime Minister of Iraq to the Arab Committee in Palestine and to the Press expressing strong opposition to the declared policy of His Majesty's Government. On the 16th July the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs addressed strong representations to the Iraqi Prime Minister both through His Majesty's Ambassador in Bagdad and through the Iraqi Minister in London on this subject, and I am glad to be able to inform the House that the outcome of these representations has now been satisfactory.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
He recognises that the alliance between us and Iraq necessitates his having regard to the fact that His Majesty's Government have declared for this policy, and in the circumstances he will not pursue the line of policy which he has pursued in the past. I have not the quotation with me, but the words were to that effect. I have detained the House rather long, but the matter is a complicated one. I think I have outlined the facts of the situation as we see them to-day. I close with an appeal to the House and to the Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I cannot give way again. I have spoken for a long time, and I was about to terminate my remarks. This will not be the only Debate on Palestine, for when the League has declared its views, there will have to be another Debate in the autumn. I wish to close with an appeal to the House, and to the Jews and Arabs in Palestine and outside, to co-operate with good will with His Majesty's Government, not in wrecking proposals, but in a constructive effort to bring peace to the Holy Land. We believe that the Royal Commission points the road to peace. We believe that 2253 the mutual obligations of this country and of the League to Jews and Arabs can best be fulfilled by the creation of two sovereign independent States. I ask them to endeavour to see the appalling nature of the alternative; there is no alternative to this that has yet been put forward which holds the slightest chance of success. I appeal to them to co-operate with us in working out the form of a scheme and in achieving peace in Palestine.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Morgan Jones
I beg to move, in line I, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:the proposals of the Royal Commission, with their far-reaching effects upon the Jewish and Arab peoples in Palestine, should be closely examined by a Joint Select Committee before Parliament is committedI wish at the outset to take the opportunity of associating myself with the tribute which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies paid to the Royal Commission for the very remarkable document which they have presented for our attention. I cordially agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is a very able document, that it gives a very lucid exposition of the problem, that its historical survey is unexceptionable and that its recital of facts is scrupulously fair; but having thus far joined in a tribute to the Commission, I say at once that the conclusions which the Commission have drawn from the facts seem to me to be open to very grave challenge. I say that not as one who is pro-Arab or pro-Jew, but because I have no doubt that the conclusions presented by the Commission are conclusions which the House would require far more time to examine than is available this afternoon. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman was making a statement on an exceedingly complicated matter, but if he will forgive me for saying so, he overlooked the fact that he had to commend to the House the reasons for the first statement in the Government's White Paper, the second sentence of which reads:They find themselves in general agreement with the arguments and conclusions of the Commission.The right hon. Gentleman devoted 50 minutes of his speech, if not more, to an examination of the question whether the Mandate had or had not failed, and he 2254 almost completely forgot to advance to the House any reasons for the partition. I do not say it was his intention to do so, but he seemed to me to treat the House in a very inadequate way, for we are entitled to know on what grounds the Government have come to the decision to express accord with the proposal for a partition of Palestine. I would like at this point to say that the case for our Amendment has been enormously strengthened by the character of the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon. He said that the question at issue is not merely one of Islam and Jewry, but in his judgment a question of the Orient and the Occident. Therefore, it is a most far-reaching question, and one which obviously calls for a most meticulous examination by the House.
It is exactly 10 years ago that the House of Commons had before it the question of further constitutional development in India, and appointed a Royal Commission. The parallel is somewhat close and striking in this respect. The House had to determine what would be its future conduct in regard to India. A Royal Commission was appointed to go to India to ascertain the facts and to make recommendations. When the Commission had presented its report in due time the House discussed it and later a roundtable conference was convened. I would observe at this point that it might be very worth while for the Government again to consider whether a round-table conference, representing Arab and Jewish interests, could not be convened, so that if possible an agreement could be arrived at on this most difficult matter. In the case of India, the Round-Table Conference itself appointed a series of commissions, all of which presented separate reports, after having been on the spot, as is proposed in the present Report in respect of boundary and other questions. Those reports were later available for the Joint Select Committee, which was appointed to consider the Indian constitutional question. Parliament was fully apprised at every stage of the discussions. But in this case, how much has Parliament been told?
The right hon. Gentleman said that evidence was taken by the Commission in Palestine. That is true, except that as far as I know, no evidence was taken on the question of partition, which is the centre of the controversy at the moment. 2255 Therefore, it is idle for the right hon. Gentleman to say that evidence was taken, for it was not taken on the question of partition. The Commission pronounced on that matter without having taken evidence, as far as I know. It seems to me that the case is abundantly clear for allowing Parliament to discuss this matter much more fully than has yet been done before it takes its final decision and is committed on the matter. The right hon. Gentleman said that the next stage will be that the Report will go to the Permanent Mandates Commission and then to the Council of the League, and that when the League has given its general approval—
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
It makes a very great deal of difference. It is the word used by the President of the Council of the League.
§ Mr. Jones
When the League has given its preliminary approval, the matter will come back here, but the League will have been committed, and we shall be told by the right hon. Gentleman that the League has decided in principle, and then I am afraid it will be too late to ask the House to undo something on which the League has taken a general decision. Let me turn now to the next point. The Report has been presented. I pass over the intervening period, for that was discussed by the right hon. Gentleman, and there are other hon. Members who know the story much more intimately and personally than I can hope to know it; but there is one thing that I will say, and I think it is right that it should be said. I feel that this House should once again register its protest against the cynical levity with which pledges and promises were made to both sides years ago. Phrases dexterously constructed, vague in character and lacking in precision, may get us out of a corner to-day, but tomorrow they may land us in a morass of perplexity and confusion. I think that much of the difficulty has been created because of that indefiniteness at various stages.
I come now to the Report, which I think may fairly and properly be divided 2256 into two parts. The first part analyses the disease, and the second part propounds a remedy. What is the disease from which Palestine has suffered, in the view of the Commission and indeed the view of the right hon. Gentleman? The right hon. Gentleman was almost vehement this afternoon in his insistence upon the point that the root of the trouble is the Mandate. I listened to the case which he made out on that. He referred, in particular, to the narrow limits within which education may be provided for both sides in Palestine. Is it to be argued that the Government could not go to the League and say that that particular article of the Mandate is too narrow and that they were too confined? Did the Government do that? No. On the contrary, it has been used as a reason for abrogating the Mandate altogether.
I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman would try to controvert the proposition that there is, at least, a strong case for urging that it is not so much the Mandate itself that is at fault however much blame may be attached to it, but that most of the disease arises from the maladministration of the Mandate. The Commission has provided abundant testimony to show that under the Mandate substantial economic progress has been achieved in Palestine. I think the right hon. Gentleman himself conceded the point that on the economic side little can be said against the operation of the Mandate—a fact which has given us on this side of the House great satisfaction. It is important to observe, too, that the Arab section of the community has benefited enormously by the operation of the Mandate. Hon. Members who are interested will find in the Report on pages 125 to 130 a series of statements which bear eloquent testimony to the substantial benefits accruing from the Mandate not only to the Jewish section of the population but to the Arabs as well.
The Arab bourgeoisie in Palestine has derived enormous benefits under the Mandate. The Commission record that the Government reported in 1933 that the number of Arab industrial undertakings had risen from 1,200 before the War to over 2,200 at the time when the Report was drafted. Not only the bourgeoisie but the fellaheen have benefited, and in the Report there is evidence to show that 2257 Arab wage-earners are enjoying wages comparable with those of some of the best-paid workmen in our own country. Those facts give us enormous satisfaction. One of our tests of the success of a government is whether it raises the standard of happiness and contentment for the great mass of the people and we rejoice that the Mandate in Palestine has produced such excellent results. The Report also says that the social services in this area are even more efficient than those in Provinces of India and in certain other parts of the Empire. There is excellent testimony in the Report that, judged by economic and social results, at all events, the Mandate has been a success.
The right hon. Gentleman said that its failure had been in the realm of politics. Governments come and Governments go, and I do not think we can impose the blame for every fault of administration in Palestine on the Government of the day, but there is a Civil Service in Palestine many of whose members have been recruited in the most haphazard and unfortunate way. They have had no experience. Many of them were officers who served in the late War. They have little knowledge of the actual job of government. In so far as faults of administration may arise from inexperience we can condone them. But it is an understood principle of the Government in this country that where civil servants are concerned, Ministers are answerable in this House for their conduct and in return if those civil servants accept service under the State anywhere, it is their obligation to bring to bear upon their task an unbiased and unprejudiced mind and to be prepared to carry out the policy of the Government whether they are in accord with it or not. It is on this point that I propose to adduce from the Report, not from my own imagination, evidence which makes one feel a little unhappy—to put it mildly. I refer hon. Members to page 163, paragraph 42:The complaint was made by the Jews that several officers displayed pro-Arab sympathies; that, even if they did not dislike, they did not understand the Mandate and their obligations thereunder. This evidence received support from other quarters.Let me read another passage:The general uncertainty as to the ultimate intention of the Mandatory Power … 2258 has made it possible for the Arabs to interpret the conciliatory policy of the Palestine Government and the sympathetic attitude of some of its officials as showing that the British determination to implement the Balfour Declaration is not whole-hearted.I hesitate to use strong or unkind language, but I am not sure that some of the passages in this Report would not justify the use of the word "sabotage" in regard to some of the operations under this Mandate. I know that it is a very severe term to use, but I think it would be justified. Then I come to the question of public security, and I shall trouble the House with two quotations on this point in order to show that the trouble lies more in maladministration than in the nature of the Mandate itself. On page 201, paragraph 54, we read:'The first of all conditions necessary for the welfare of any country is public security.' So wrote the First High Commissioner of Palestine when reviewing his five years of office. To-day it is evident that the elementary duty of providing public security has not been discharged. If there is one grievance which the Jews have undoubted right to prefer it is the absence of security. Their complaints on this head were dignified and restrained.Another passage is as follows:If one thing stands out clear from the record of the Mandatory administration it is the leniency with which the Arab political agitation even when carried to the point of violence and murder has been treated.Then on page 135, there is a reference to those Arabs who were inclined to show themselves, shall I say, reasonably tolerant:For an Arab to be suspected of a lukewarm adherence to the Nationalist cause is to invite a visit from a body of 'gunmen'.That is a grave statement, and it constitutes a tremendous indictment of the effectiveness of the administration in Palestine. Then let me take the question of social legislation. The Mandatory Power is operating in Palestine in the name of the League. International Labour Office Conventions are applied by His Majestys' Government in Colonies and Protectorates and yet frequently they are precluded from being applied in Palestine although we are there particularly as representing the League. Surely that is a very unfortunate attitude. It seems to me to show that there has been something in the nature of a subtle and sustained opposition to the Mandate in Palestine. 2259 I turn to the recommendations of the Commission. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did not feel it necessary to adduce more cogent arguments in support of the Government's decision to accept the partition proposal. Let us assume that the Mandate is to be done away with and that some form of partition is necessary—though that is only an assumption for the sake of argument. Even then, I suggest, the proposals of the Commission are unthinkable. They are wholly unacceptable. I have paid a tribute to the Commission for their historic analysis of the problem, but in reading this document it seems to me that there is a hiatus between the presentation of the case and the presentation of the remedy. It seems to me as though the remedy had not been considered with the same care as the historical presentation of the case. It is proposed that Palestine shall be divided, virtually, into three smaller Palestines, a Jewish State, an Arab State and a Mandatory State, shall we call it. But in each of those three States there may be reproduced the exact circumstances and characteristics which now apply to the whole. By this method you will not remove from any one of those States the difficulties which you now regard as insuperable in the case of the whole of Palestine.
Take the question of population. In the Jewish State there would be, I gather, 225,000 Arabs and 258,000 Jews. The right hon. Gentleman very properly reminded us that the Commission have said that the Government of Palestine has become a question of arithmetic. Let me put the right hon. Gentleman this question in political mathematics. If 1,000,000 Arabs cannot live and work with 400,000 Jews, how can 225,000 Arabs live and work with 258,000 Jews? The same problem applies to the Arab State—the Arabs in a majority and the Jews in a minority, with the same intense feelings in both areas as have been described. The right hon. Gentleman need not shake his head. He knows that to be the fact because the Arabs in the Arab State will still believe that they are entitled to the whole of Palestine. That is the whole of the case which the Commission puts up on behalf of the Arabs. But you set up these two States, and in between the Arab State and the Jewish State, roughly speaking, you have the 2260 Mandatory State. The intervening part I have called a corridor. I should have thought that most people in this House had had enough of corridors by now. Do hon. Members like the situation in East Prussia so much that they want another corridor, with Arabs on one side and Jews on the other? What is likely to happen? You cannot guarantee that for all time the Jews and Arabs in the Jewish State will agree, and you cannot guarantee that the Jews and Arabs on the Arab side will agree. Supposing there is trouble, who is to be called in? The mandatory Power, and so you will be called in one week when there is trouble here and the next week when there is trouble there, and your last position will be worse than your first.
The next thing that I want to say is this: Take the size of the Jewish State. I believe it is about 2,000 square miles, with a seaboard of about 80 miles. I do not care whether the right hon. Gentleman says that it ought not to be called a national home for the Jews or a home for Jews. I do not care what he calls it. We began anyway, or the Jews began—they may be wrong, but they began—by believing that they were entitled to an area which comprised Transjordan, and that comprised 45,000 square miles. Transjordan was taken off, and that reduced it to 10,000 square miles. Now you are taking the rest of Palestine off, and it is now less than 2,000 square miles. Is this the home? Is this the promise?
§ Mr. Jones
I can only say that if this is to be that fulfilment of pledges and promises to which I referred at the beginning, it is a pity that those pledges and promises were not made more explicit long ago. Here is this strip of fertile land given to the Jews, and next to them the Arabs occupy behind it high land, dry and unproductive. There is going to be among them great dissatisfaction. That cannot be denied. Now take the Jewish State, with this dissatisfaction that the Arabs feel, and look at its defencelessness. At one point the Jewish State is about seven-and-a-half to nine miles wide, and running along its edge are these hills. Have you any guarantee that when the Arab State is established the Arabs, in pursuit of the 2261 independence, as they call it, of the whole of Palestine, may not fortify those hills; and if they do fortify those hills, how much would you give for the life of anybody in the towns, seven miles away? Is Britain going to defend them? You say that you are going to exercise a temporary Mandate. You reduce this Jewish State to less than 2,000 miles, and then you say that inside that territory not one single town shall remain wholly Jewish, except Tel-Aviv.
§ Mr. Jones
There will not be a town left in the State, because all the rest are under the Mandatory Power, except Tel-Aviv. Take Tel-Aviv, a most important port. The Report actually says that the people of the Jewish State are not to be allowed to exercise control of the Customs there, in their ports of Haifa and Jaffa.
§ Mr. Jones
I mean Haifa. They are not going to have complete control of the Customs there, and they are not even sure that they are going to have complete control of Tel-Aviv as a port. Now will the right hon. Gentleman tell me what he means by flinging about this word "sovereignty"? You are abusing language when you use the word "sovereignty."
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I want to make it clear that we specifically, in our White Paper, say that we are not tied to this. I understand that Jaffa is to be an Arab port and that Tel-Aviv will be a Jewish port, but the Royal Commission recommend that it would be in the interests of the country if they could work a joint port.
§ Mr. Jones
The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the point with which I started. He says that they are not committed to everything in the Report, and that is true, but they have expressed their general approval of the Report, and the House to-night is being asked to agree with them in that approval. I say that, from my point of view, this junction of Jaffa—but let me read paragraph 31, on page 388, where it states:In the event of Partition, such a port should be controlled by a Joint Harbour Board, composed of representatives of the Arab and Jewish States and presided over by an officer of the Mandatory Government.Do you call that sovereignty? The right hon. Gentleman must forgive me, but I am asking him whether he regards this as sovereignty if a joint board of that sort is set up, with a President representing the Mandatory Power in the only place where the Jews may desire to have—
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
It is certainly not sovereignty unless the Jewish State and the Arab State agree to set up a Joint Board.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
We are not going to force it on either Jew or Arab. It is the intention that Jaffa should be an Arab port.
§ Mr. Jones
Very well, then, that is a little advance. Now let me take the transition period. The Report suggests that immigration of Jews into the Arab State is to be prohibited, but it does not say that immigration of Arabs into the Jewish State is to be prohibited. Is that just? Take another point. Everybody knows that there has been built up in Palestine a most valuable piece of industrial enterprise, the electrical power station and the Dead Sea potash works. Outside the Jewish State there happens also to be—I do not say it is of great importance, but it is of psychological importance—at the South end of the Sea of Galilee a little place called Dagania, which is very specially significant to those who are associated with the Labour movement in Palestine. They have built up in that little confined area a series of 2263 settlements of great value, as experiments if you like. As I understand it, this area too is to be lost in the Arab State. Finally, one of the last and most unkind cuts of all suggested by the Commission is in respect of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, after all, is the heart and soul of the Jewish hope in respect of Palestine. It is quite true that Jerusalem—
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Earl Winterton)
The hon. Gentleman will not forget that Jerusalem is sacred for Christians too.
§ Mr. Jones
Yes, and for Christians and Moslems, too. Jerusalem has holy places for all alike. But outside that area where the holy places are there are 75,000 Jews, and they are to be thrust outside their independent State. I do not deny, of course, what is well known to everybody, the significance of Jerusalem for us all, but I would like to quote a passage, a most eloquent passage, from an interview with the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Dr. Isaac Herzog, in the "Daily Telegraph." These are his words:On the banks of the rivers of Babylon our forefathers exiled from Zion—virtually another name for Jersualem and also a synonym for Palestine—solemnly swore: 'If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.' With what tenacity have we clung to that oath throughout centuries of exile. In joy and sorrow, in the house of the mourner, at the wedding feast, under the nuptial canopy, at the burial service, we have never ceased to remember Jerusalem.In our prayers, private, public thrice daily, and in the Grace after meals, we pray for Jerusalem. The inspiring service of the Passover, held in every Jewish home throughout the world, and the solemnest service of the Synagogue on the Day of Atonement, both conclude with the exclamation, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' It is impossible to overstate the spiritual significance of Jerusalem to the Jews.The Jewish mind is focussed on that magic name 'Yerushalayim,' which never fails to stir the Jewish heart to the uttermost. An Englishman could perhaps think of England without London, an Irishman of Ireland without Dublin, even a Greek of Greece without Athens, but to the Jews 'Eretz Israel,' the land of Israel, without Jerusalem is unthinkable.They are to be cut away from this magic city of their minds and hearts.
Lastly, there is the intention that the Jewish State shall pay a subvention to the new Arab State. I would like to ask this 2264 question: Now, looking at this problem from the standpoint of Jews and Arabs —I want to overlook the case of neither—is this scheme workable? Can it bring peace? Is it a fulfilment of pledges to either of these peoples? It seems to me that the House must say at once, and insist upon it, that further discussion shall be made possible if such a scheme is to be acceptable at all. We urge that the House must preserve its freedom. We ask that it should not be committed at this early stage. It desires to assist both the Jew and the Arab. It seeks the happiness and prosperity of both. To do that I submit that it must walk with care and circumspection, and to that end it must fortify itself with more knowledge of the facts of the situation than has yet been presented to it. If the decision invited by the Government is taken by this House, it might involve a quarrel or dispute or difficulty between the Moslem world and Jewry. It might even involve a dispute between the Orient and the Occident. A decision of that sort must not be taken lightly and without care.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
Let me in my opening sentence associate myself with the tribute which has been paid by both the previous speakers to the members of the Royal Commission. Wishing to do it, as I do with all sincerity, I cannot however associate myself with the wording of the eloquent and sincere tribute which was paid by the Secretary of State. When he said that this Report would stand for all time as the final statement on the history of Palestine, I felt that there were in the Report grave lacunae both in regard to the pledges which were given to the Arabs and the Jews, and also in its analysis of the events of last year which must inevitably deprive it of that title. Nevertheless, I agree that these gentlemen have applied themselves with energy and devotion to the task which His Majesty's Government assigned to them, and they have produced the massive, searching and candid State document which is the basis of our Debate to-day. For my own part, I cannot read it without a sense of humiliation, for it makes it clear that since 1929 the record of British administration in Palestine has been one of irresolution and that we are now faced with the bankruptcy of one of the most imaginative enterprises which British statesmanship has ever undertaken. 2265 Before Parliament makes its decision, let us be clear about the pledge which was given to the Jews. The right hon. Gentleman quoted it from memory. Let me quote the actual terms of the Balfour Declaration:His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."A Jewish national home in Palestine" which has been repeatedly defined, as for example by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) when he was Colonial Secretary, as meaning a home to which the Jews would be able to go as a right, asking nobody's leave, and subject only to the one reservation that by going there they must not prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities; and that has been brought down to the sharp point of the economic absorptive capacity of the country. Subject to that limitation, this pledge gives Jews the right to go to their own home in Palestine without asking anybody's leave.
What use was made of that pledge? The Royal Commission tells us that not only was Jewish opinion rallied with enormous effect in the United States and all the Allied countries, but pamphlets were dropped from the air on German and Austrian towns and widely distributed through the Jewish belt from Poland to the Black Sea; and that all too late the Germans began themselves to make an alternative plan for setting up a Jewish State in Palestine. We reaped the full benefit of that pledge. No British statesman could have expected it to bring greater help to the Allied cause in its time of need as in fact it did. The Jews fulfilled their part of the bargain without stint. It is true that we gave promises to the Arabs, too, and we got help from them, too, and nobody in this country will forget it. Have we shown forgetfulness? Have we not carved out five Arab Kingdoms, emirates and sultanates—Hedjaz, Yemen, Nejd, Iraq and Transjordan? And now they are to get a state in Syria. After the War the Arabs complained that in one respect our pledges to them conflicted with our pledges to the Jews. They pleaded that they ought 2266 to have on a fair interpretation of the McMahon correspondence the country east of Jordan. How was that conflict resolved? It was resolved by cutting off Transjordan and giving it to the Arabs. The land of Gilead and Moab was cut off from Palestine. I do not complain; I think the British Government were bound to do it. I am not objecting to the policy, but I am asking the House to note that we have at every stage amply fulfilled the pledges which we gave to the Arabs, even though it meant that in the 116,000 square kilometres which Palestine then covered, the Jewish national home was confined to 26,000 square kilometres.
So that the Arabs, as the result of the Arab victory, obtained five kingdoms, and the Jews found that the Balfour Declaration was whittled down to what the author himself called a small notch in the Arab country. The Secretary of State said that we gave under the McMahon Letter and the Balfour Declaration a general pledge to the Arabs and a specific pledge to the Jews. My submission to the House that we have amply fulfilled the general pledge to the Arabs and that we have failed to fulfil the specific pledge to the Jews. Well may the Royal Commission say, in paragraph 19:The Arabs do not appear to realise in the first place that the present position of the Arab world as a whole is mainly due to the great sacrifices made by the Allied and Associated Powers in the War, and, secondly, that, in so far as the Balfour Declaration helped to bring about the Allies' victory, it helped to bring about the emancipation of all the Arab countries from Turkish rule.The debt of the Arabs is not only to Britain and the Allied countries, as the Secretary of State reminded us; the Arabs have a debt to the Jews, too. Is it just or reasonable to this powerful agent of allied victory and of Arab emancipation, the Jewish people, that the provision of a national home for the 16,000,000 in World Jewry should be whittled down to a territory the size of an English county?
Then, of course, came the Mandate. I will not quote its terms, which are on page 34 of the Report. Has it been fulfilled? No one claims that the civil and religious life of the Arabs and the other non-Jewish communities have not been amply safeguarded. With one exception, in regard to educational facilities, to which the Secretary of State referred, the Royal Commission found that the Arab 2267 grievances cannot be regarded as legitimate under the terms of the Mandate which we accepted from all the powers of the world who are members of the League of Nations. Again, it is the Jews and not the Arabs who are found by the Royal Commission to have legitimate grievances against His Majesty's Government. There are several of them set out in the Report —a dozen, I think. I want to mention two in particular.
The first is the failure to maintain law and order. In that connection many of us who were in the House at the time remember the disbandment of the Palestine Gendarmerie against which we protested. The second grievance is the unsympathetic administration. I will not weary the House with a repetition of the quotations from the Royal Commission's Report which were given by the hon. Gentleman who preceded me. The Commission said in a passage from which he quoted that the administration gave to the people of Palestine the idea that they were not wholehearted in carrying out the Mandate. Curiously enough, in the summary of the recommendations where that paragraph is mentioned, the word "sincere" is substituted for "wholehearted." The administration gave the impression to the people that they were not sincere in carrying out the Mandate. If they gave it to the Arabs they certainly gave it to the Jews too.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Mandate prevents a positive policy of co-operation. He made a case for its Amendment in particular in respect of education, pointing out that under the terms of the Mandate it was impossible to set up joint schools; but there is no need for partition to do that. Who can say that the Mandate has failed beyond the possibility of amendment, even in such a matter as education, when the Royal Commission candidly endorses so many of the Jewish grievances and makes it clear that there has been no wholehearted, no sincere effort to apply it? The policy of the Palestine Administration, as the Royal Commission found, had the effect of encouraging the most extreme political elements among the Arab population. Law and order were not enforced. The Royal Commission have described that as the most serious and the best-founded of the Jewish complaints. They find that the British Government and the 2268 local administrations failed in the most elementary duty of government, the maintenance of law and order in the country which they were governing. Perpetrators of outrages were not punished, and, on the other hand, no special favours were shown to peaceful Arabs, to people who were willing to co-operate in making the Mandate a success, and there was no positive effort to help the Jews to co-operate in any constructive ways with the non-Jewish peoples. The Secretary of State to-day pointed out what a hindrance the paragraph in the Mandate dealing with education was to the promotion of co-operation between Arabs and Jews. Then why, for 20 years, have successive Governments not come to this House and gone to the League of Nations to ask for an amendment of that paragraph? Why has it only just been found out that co-operation between the Jews and the Arabs was hindered by this paragraph?
Therefore, I say that it is too early for this House to take the final and irrevocable step which His Majesty's Government are asking us to take this afternoon of approving the surrender of the Mandate. This is not an Arab problem only, it is not a Jewish problem only, it is not only a British problem, but it is a world problem. Other nations have a right to be consulted, as the Government recognise. They are going to Geneva to lay their proposals before the nations there. They may not approve of the alternative proposal of His Majesty's Government, and if we lay down the Mandate for Palestine is the House quite sure that there is no otter nation which would be willing to take it up?
Let me now consider the new arrangement, partition, which the Government propose. "What else can we do" to quote the cant cry running through the Press and on the platforms? "What else can we do? Something must be done." It is a policy which fills me with misgiving. First of all, I ask the House to imagine the preliminary difficulties all successfully overcome and two racially-totalitarian States side by side in what we now call Palestine; with all Jews extruded from one State and all Arabs from the other; with the Jews, established along an indefensible coastal strip—congested and opulent, behind them the pressure of impoverished and persecuted world-Jewry, in front of them Mount Zion. Mount Pisgah can never satisfy the 2269 longings which Mount Zion inspires in the Jewish heart. Obviously the whole Jewish State will, in those circumstances, be fired by the urge to reach by force or by contrivance the goal of Mount Zion and the Jordan Valley.
On the other side of the line the powerful Arab States, perhaps feeling themselves threatened by Jewish aspirations. perhaps envying the fat lands of the coastal plain, fertilised by Jewish gold, will feel the natural urge to win their way back to the coast. The right hon. Gentleman, in his opening speech, referred to the keen, vivid nationalism of the Arabs. Up to now they have only been Arabs of what has never been more than a Province. Now they are to be Arabs in a national State of their own. Will that abate their keen, vivid nationalism? Far from this policy being the road to peace, it seems to me a very dangerous experiment in political chemistry, and perhaps the sooner it fails the less dangerous will be the ultimate explosion.
Perhaps it will never reach that dangerous stage of which I spoke. The proportion of Arabs to Jews in the Jewish State, apart from the mandated towns, is planned to be 225 to 259. There, and in the mandated towns, the same difficulties and problems will arise as in the present mandated territory, but aggravated by the existence of a strong Arab State in the hills of Judea and Samaria, jealously watching the fate of the Arab minorities in the Jewish State, and with a regular army to support its protest instead of bands of hastily, clandestinely and lightly-armed rioters. That, it seems to me, is a dangerous position for the Jewish State to occupy. In the last paragraph of the White Paper the Government say:On the other hand, partition would secure the establishment of the Jewish national home and relieve it from any possibility of its being subjected in the future to Arab rule.I ask the Noble Lord, if he is going to reply: Is this a guarantee of British support for the Jewish State in all eventualities, or is it merely empty rhetoric? The White Paper goes on:Above all, fear and suspicion would be replaced by a sense of confidence and security, and both peoples would obtain, in the words of the Commission, 'the inestimable boon of peace'.What peace? What prospects of peace do the declarations of all the representatives 2270 of Arab opinion, with the exception, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, of the Emir Abdullah hold out? The Secretary of State referred to the declaration of the Prime Minister of Iraq, but he did not read it out. The Prime Minister of Iraq says:Any person venturing to agree to act as head of such a State"—that is, an Arab State such as the Government propose to set up—would be regarded as an outcast throughout the Arab world and would incur the wrath of Moslems all over the East. I declare, both as the head of an Arab Government and as a private citizen, that I should always oppose any individual's right to stab the Arab race in the heart in order to secure the rulership of the proposed new State.The Secretary of State told us that the Prime Minister had apologised to His Majesty's Government for using these words. An hon. Member says, "Hear, hear." No doubt he apologised for using the words "as head of an Arab Government," but I do not believe for a moment that he apologised for another word of that declaration, and I shall await to hear whether the Noble Lord can satisfy me on that point. Has the Prime Minister of Iraq gone back on a single word of that public declaration? Is that going to bring peace to the Jewish people?
My third objection is that this proposal means sitting on the safety valve of the Jewish problem in Europe. Recent events in Germany, Poland and Rumania have shown that our twentieth century civilisation is threatened by a new explosion of anti-semitic persecution. Only recently public opinion was shocked by the accounts of the pogrom in Brest-Litovsk, where masses of harmless Jews were killed and houses and shops wrecked by the mobs, the police standing by. A number of people rushed on to the platform and into the Press to condemn the Polish Government, but I think that was unfair to the Polish Government. One must recognise the enormous difficulties of that Government, emerging from the War, from the position of a partition State, struggling against trade wars with Germany and with Russia, with the centre of the country filled with Russian Jews—because that was the old Russian pale—with the doors blocked to all their emigrants —and they used to send abroad 250,000 emigrants a year before the war. That was a very difficult position for the Polish Government.
2271 The distress of the Poles found expression in hatred of the Jews of the alien element concentrated in comparatively limited areas in their midst. The Polish Government dismissed two high officials whom they held responsible for those occurrences. They are endeavouring to stem the movement which aimed at introducing the German anti-Jewish laws into their country. In doing this they point out that there is an outlet for the Jews, that there are hopes of a substantial number of Jews going to Palestine within the next 20 years. If we close this outlet we shall make the position far more dangerous and far more embarrassing to the Governments of countries like Poland and Rumania. I was shocked to see that some of those who so strongly condemned the Polish Government for what had occurred in Poland are among those who are willing to contemplate the restriction of immigration into Palestine to a figure which is far below the economic absorptive capacity of the country. We ought not to blame Governments like the Government of Poland without acknowledging, with humiliation, our own failure to provide the outlet for the Jews which we promised, the national home in Palestine.
Nevertheless, faced with the grim alternatives suggested in this Report, perhaps the Jews may be willing to consider the proposed partition. If so, there are certain reasonable demands which they are bound to put forward which I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) supporting, and which I also desire to support. First of those demands may be the pushing forward of the frontier into the foot hills of Palestine. As Lord Samuel showed in another place yesterday, it would be impossible to administer the present frontier in peace and it would be indefensible in war. Every town and village would be under the guns of an enemy in the hills of Judea and Samaria. In the second place, we ought to give real sovereignty to the Jewish State. I do not think the right hon. Member was fair to the hon. Member about the case of Tel Aviv. The hon. Member referred to paragraph 31. He did not quote the first sentence of that paragraph, in which the Royal Commission say:We should regard it as highly undesirable that the provision recently made for loading and landing goods at Tel Aviv should be ex- 2272 panded into a substantial harbour quite detached from Jaffa.Then they suggest that the Port of Jaffa and Tel Aviv should be controlled by a joint harbour board. Such arrangements, if made at all, ought to be made only by the Jews themselves, if their sovereignty is to have any reality. I agree with what he said about the limit of time for transferring the territory to the new administration, and also about the limit of the duration of the transitional mandate. Under these proposals, all the towns in Palestine, with the exception of Tel Aviv, would be outside the Jewish National State. A third of the Jews in Palestine would be outside it, and these transitional mandates ought to be terminated at the earliest possible moment.
I agree with him, too, about the vital importance of constituting a kind of Vatican City in Jerusalem, where one-fifth of the Jews now reside. I would just refer briefly to one point which he did not mention, and which is the importance of the Negeb, the territory which borders an Egypt and which might be of very great world importance in time of war. It is territory which is useless to the Arabs; for they have ample territories, and why should the Arabs develop a barren territory like this; but it would be invaluable to the Jews and they might well be able to develop it. I agree with what the hon. Member said about abolishing the Jewish subvention. If any arrangement is made of that kind, it must be made by the Jewish State freely with the Arab State, and not be forced upon them. I hope that the survey of Palestine and Transjordan will quickly be undertaken. I regard partition with repugnance and apprehension but, given the policy of His Majesty's Government and the extreme difficulty and urgency for the Jews of finding a solution of the problem, I do not rule out the possibility that they may desire in the long run to have recourse to it, provided that all those stipulations to which the hen. Member and I have referred are made.
Meanwhile it is much too soon for this Parliament to decide that we should lay down the trust which we received from the nations of the world. We must guard against coming to the conclusion that partition is the only way out. It may be the way into worse trouble than it gets us out of. The scheme of the Royal 2273 Commission is only a crude outline. It was outside their terms of reference, and they obtained no evidence about it from any of the parties who would be interesetd in the scheme. Good may come out of it, because the threat of it may help to bring the parties together. They may be willing to agree upon a better scheme. The members of the Royal Commission had no previous knowledge of Palestine and of the problems of its practical administration; on the other hand, the scheme was condemned yesterday and torn to shreads in a speech of rare cogency and power in another place by Lord Samuel, who speaks with authority because he was a successful administrator in Palestine. There was peace in Palestine in his day, and he has remained in active touch with its life and problems ever since. He made a series of alternative and constructive proposals. I hope that hon. Members will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Debate in another place yesterday before they vote for this proposal with the idea that there is no alternative. Nobody who reads that speech, whether they believe in it or not, could belive for a moment that there is no alternative. There is a very carefully-thought-out alternative, given by a man with great practical experience.
Other people have suggested alternatives. Why should His Majesty's Government want to rush Parliament into a decision? Members have hardly had time to read the Report, and perhaps those who have read it may be the most reluctant to approve it without careful study of every possible alternative and without consultation with both Jews and Arabs. In the case of another country recently, a far greater country, the great Continent of India, Parliament decided that it would not take a decision on the principle of federation until the matter had been thoroughly threshed out and all possible proposals considered by a joint committee of both Houses. I therefore plead with the House of Commons for deliberation and delay before embarking on this hazardous project of partition. Le us set up, what the Secretary of State called in the speech he made this afternoon, all those fact-finding inquiries in regard to customs, finance, immigration, defence and Transjordan before we decide. Indeed, when I listened to the Secretary of State, I thought his speech 2274 was in favour of the Amendment from the Front Opposition Bench. He told us that he wanted all those inquiries. He wanted conferences with the Jews and Arabs. Let us have them before we agree to this scheme. The Secretary of State whittled down the Government Motion so far that I began to wonder what was left. He described partition as "so novel, so unexpected, even by His Majesty's Government, that nobody should jump to a hasty conclusion." Then let not this House jump to a hasty conclusion in the Division Lobby to-night.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery
While I have followed with a very large measure of agreement much of the eloquent speech to which we have just listened, I am afraid that I cannot associate myself with its final conclusion. I believe the House will do well to pass the Motion which the Government have laid before us. It is highly desirable, in the circumstances of the moment, that Arabs and Jews alike should know now the decision of this Government and this House on the general principle and, more than that, should know also whether the League of Nations approves of that decision. The position of the Government when they go to the League of Nations next week would be weakened, and an element of uncertainty introduced into their proposals, if they could not say that they had the House of Commons behind them. What the Government are asking to-day is not our acceptance of any detailed scheme, but only our preliminary approval and acceptance of a broad general principle, to be submitted to the League, and subsequently worked out into a scheme. In that working out, there is a great deal to be said for the idea of co-operation by Parliament through the agency of a joint select committee. I believe it would also help the situation if the League of Nations were told from the outset that we were contemplating some such careful study of the whole question, in consultation with Jews and Arabs alike. If the Amendment of the Opposition had been, not in substitution of the Government's proposal but as an annex to it, I think the House of Commons might have taken a very different view of that Amendment. I could hope that even the Government, whether accepting the actual terms of such an Amendment or not, would undertake to 2275 give careful consideration subsequently to its substance.
After some 20 years of close contact with this problem, I accept, though not without great regret, the conclusion to which the Commission have come. I fear it is true to say that Arab Nationalism has been worked up to such a pitch of intensity that nothing would induce the Arabs to accept Jewish equality of rights in the same territory as themselves, which is of the essence of the Mandate. It may be equally true, as the Commission suggest, that the Jews in their turn accept that same equality only because they believe that in practice and in course of time they will effectively control the whole country and its destiny. I am not so sure that a very different situation might not have been reached if there had been a more definite conviction behind our administration of the Mandate, a consistently firmer hand in dealing with all who endeavoured to thwart our policy; above all, a more positive propaganda, in the schools and outside, on the one hand, to the Arabs to convince them that it was in their interests and that of their children to see their country develop, and, on the other, to the Jews to impress upon them the necessity of the most whole-hearted co-operation with their Arab fellow-citizens. There is plenty of material in the Report to sustain such a view.
All that is past history. However much we may regret it, we have lost the situation in Palestine, as we lost it in Ireland, through a lack of whole-hearted faith in ourselves and through the constitutional inability of the individual Briton, and indeed of the country as a whole, not to see the other fellow's point of view and to be influenced by it, even to the detriment of any consistent policy. In Palestine, as in Ireland, we have reached a deadlock which cannot be overcome, so far as carrying out the original mandatory policy is concerned, except by measures of resolute and ruthless coercion that we, as a nation, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) knows very well, are incapable of carrying out. The Commission now suggest, as an alternative line of policy, a solution which contains at any rate some reasonable hope of overcoming the difficulty. It is a constructive solution which fulfils the pledges 2276 embodied in the Balfour Declaration, and in some respects fulfils them more completely and earlier than the policy embodied in the Mandate. Partition gives to both parties one of the things to which the Mandate and the Commission say they are entitled, self-government, real and complete, which, under the Mandate policy, we are compelled to postpone almost indefinitely.
Consider the position of the Jews. They would have not merely a national home within another State, but their own national State, with their own flag, their own citizenship, their own defence forces and their customs tariff; they would be free to regulate immigration in their own interests. Those are not small things. More than that, they would be free to enter as equal members into the comity of the League of Nations, as well as to come, upon an equal footing, into free alliance, which I trust will become ever more intimate and close, with this country and the British Empire. Surely those things do meet, at any rate, one great aspect of the whole Zionist ideal, the more positive aspect, as giving to the Jews something which will raise the stature of every Jew in the world outside, which will make him feel that, if he is a loyal citizen of the country in which he lives, there is a country somewhere that is in another sense his very own, where his peculiar life and traditions are sanctified by memories and by hopes. If the area is small, the Jews can look back, not so much to the example of their Hebrew ancestors, as to the example of their cousins, the Phoenicians, in that same region. It may well be that the enterprise and ability and capital of Jewry, even on so small an area, will produce a result that will amaze the world.
On the other hand, as has been pointed out by the Secretary of State, this solution, which meets one ideal aspect of Zionism, does mean a tremendous narrowing down of the relief that Palestine might have offered to the down-trodden Jews of Eastern and Central Europe. In that respect they must feel, whatever they can do on that smaller territory, a tremendous disappointment. In so far as our failure to carry out the Mandate in its original form is responsible for that, we have some moral responsibility to continue wherever we can, in the British Empire and outside, 2277 to see whether we can help to meet that urgent, clamant need of suffering Jewry in the world. Still you do, through partition, give satisfaction in kind, though I admit not in area, to the ambitions of both nations, though you are asking from the Jews a sacrifice out of all proportion to that of the Arabs. Such as it is, the proposal gives qualitative, though not quantitative, satisfaction to both.
More than that, there is at any rate some prospect that it will bring immediate peace. It is at any rate possible also that in the long run partition may lead to far closer co-operation between the two communities, when they are each independent and deal with each other on a footing of equality. So long as we are there, it is the obvious policy of both to belabour the British administration, the Jews with their superior effectiveness of reasoned persuasion, the Arabs by the more elementary, but, I am afraid, no less effective, method of agitation and terrorism on the spot. Once you have these two States side by side, they will be bound to consult one another. The Arab State will depend for its prosperity on the market of the Jewish State, and vice versa. They will both have railways to discuss, the distribution of electrical power, irrigation, and so on. The Arabs have never objected even to Jewish settlement provided that its limitation was wholly within their control. Once you have equality, you have, I believe, the beginning of co-operation.
Moreover, it was always a part of the conception of the Mandate as envisaged by Lord Balfour and others that it was not merely the conceding to Jewry of an age-long aspiration and a relief from present-day suffering, but that it would also introduce a new and quickening element into the whole of that derelict region of the Near Eastern world, once the home of a great civilisation and the fountain-head of the three greatest religions of the world. I think it may still be possible in course of time for the Jewish State, entering as a free and equal member into some federation of Arab States, to make that contribution to the regeneration of the Near East, which, for some of us, has been not the least of the attractions of the whole conception to which Lord Balfour pledged our word.
So much for the general principle. Let me remind the House again that it is only a principle that the House is asked pro- 2278 visionally to accept in order to secure preliminary assent from the League. After that it will be the business of the Government, and, I hope, the privilege of this House and the other House, to co-operate in the working out of a scheme based on that principle. We have still to get the scheme. It is perfectly true that the outlines of a scheme have been adumbrated by the Commission, but obviously only sketch outlines, meant to be illustrative rather than final. The Commission themselves acknowledge that they do not regard it as "the only possible scheme, but merely as one possible scheme"; nor have the Government committed themselves to that particular scheme, but only to the view that:A scheme of partition on the general lines recommended by the Commission represents the best and most hopeful solution of the deadlock.The Secretary of State truly points out, using the language of the White Paper, that the Resolution which we are asked to pass to-day is only to enable the Government, on the general principle, to work out subsequently the "form" of a scheme of partition—not details only, but the whole form of the scheme. [An HON. MEMBER: "What does 'form' mean?"] It means a great deal more than mere detail. It means the area, the structure, and a great deal else that goes beyond what I regard as the very hasty and inadequate sketch contained in the last few pages of the Commission's Report. That Report is a great State paper. I think its analysis of the situation, and the conclusions drawn from that analysis, have been worked out with profound insight and devastating logical clarity. At the same time it is obvious to any careful reader that the scheme for carrying out that general conclusion has not been dealt with in anything like the same detailed care. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) pointed out, the Commission never even took any evidence on the subject in Palestine. The conclusion to which they came was very clearly one which only forced itself upon their minds at a very late stage in their proceedings.
Let me draw the attention of the House to a very striking fact. Of the 396 pages of the Report, almost the whole of the first 368 pages, including the whole of Chapters 7 to 19, represent an earlier Report of an entirely different character.
2279 That earlier Report envisaged the continuation of the Mandate in its present form, and on that assumption made a large number of very interesting detailed recommendations. I shall not attempt to weary the House by going through them, but would draw attention to two of the main ones, because they are complementary and balance each other. The one was that Jewish immigration should be governed, not only by economic absorptive capacity, but by psychological and political considerations, and it was suggested that for the next five years it should be limited to 12,000 a year. As against that, they also recommended in very strong terms—terms whose moderation barely disguised their severity—the need for giving to Jews in that country real security, and the central duty of the Government not to put up with disloyalty on the part of its officials, from the Mufti downwards. After all, there is not much that is either national or homelike in a national home in which you are murdered because you are a Jew, and know that there is very little prospect of your murderer being brought to justice.
Throughout all these chapters to which I have referred, the whole text of the chapters deals with the assumption that the Mandate is continued; but here and there, at the end of some chapter, there is tacked on in a quite obviously added last paragraph, something to this effect: "All the rest of the chapter before is something that might have to be considered if as a matter of fact we were not going to pursue an entirely different policy." These last paragraphs were obviously added by the Secretary, or whoever helped to draft the Report, after the main great conclusion was reached at a very late stage. I do not say that in criticism of the Report itself; on the contrary, I think it is very helpful to us to realise the stages by which the Commissioners were driven to their conclusion. But it is clear that they came to their conclusion so late in the day that they had no time to work out its implications in anything like a considered scheme.
I think that that is evident from a study of the scheme itself. Let me explain what I mean. If we are going to adopt the principle of partition, we have obviously to consider all the arguments and considerations upon which partition should be based. What have the Com- 2280 mission done? They have taken a perfectly rough and ready rule that the area at present in effective occupation by the Jews should form the basis of the new State, plus a certain amount added, but not enough to prevent the Jews who are in Palestine to-day from being a majority in that area. What principle is there in that? The Commission point out that there are large areas to the South of that which they have allocated to the Jews, where the Jews have already made contracts to take over the land and develop it. That implies that, if the Commission's Report had come two or three years later, and development had actually taken place in that area, it ought to be included in the Jewish State. It is no less obvious that, had the Report been made two or three years ago, the Jews would not have been given half what they are given to-day. Surely we have to consider the bearing on the subject of a number of considerations.
There is, for instance, the whole question of the pledges. After what the Secretary of State has said, it is apparent that the Arabs are getting fulfilment of at least 100 per cent. of their pledges. The Jews, on the other hand, have seen what they believed to have been promised to them whittled down step after step. An area as large as England was whittled down to something like the size of Wales, and now that again has been whittled down to something like the size of Norfolk. At each step, I think it is only fair to point out, the representatives of the Zionist cause have faced the situation with extraordinary fairness of mind and with a reasonable readiness to accommodate and to realise that the pledge may be influenced by many considerations. The last charge that can be brought agianst the Jews in this connection is that they have pursued the policy of Shylock. On the contrary I think they are well entitled to claim that, in this relation of theirs with the Gentile world, they have had a rather raw deal.
That is one criterion. You might take another, the criterion of need. Almost the whole of the Arab world is now, or will soon be, self-governing. It has immense areas of undeveloped land at its disposal. Is there any comparison between their position and that of millions of Jews overcrowded and oppressed in Central and Eastern Europe? By all means let us pay some regard to the 2281 jealous if new-found exclusive nationalism of the Palestine Arabs. Surely it ought not to weigh too heavily against the terrible need of these people who are suffering to-day under a repression which was never dreamt of when the Balfour Declaration was made. There is another criterion. Who is going to make best use of the land now undeveloped? The Commission very rightly assigned the Huleh Marsh, at present a pestiferous but potentially fertile swamp, to the Jews, because the Jews can make something of it. Why have they not brought under consideration the Beisan area, whose misuse by the Arabs, to whom it was hastily given, is commented on in their Report? Why have they not considered that vast area of the Negeb in the south, inhabited, outside Gaza and Beersheba, by barely 1,000 Arabs, and yet capable, with well boring and dam construction, of supporting a population of 100,000 or more if the capital and enterprise can be applied. I do not ask the House to consider that any of these considerations are necessarily conclusive, but they ought to be taken into account before the form and the structure of the new Jewish State are settled, and it is evident that they were not taken into consideration by the Royal Commission in their haste to complete their Report.
Take again the mandatory enclave or enclaves. The professed object of that scheme is to keep thesanctity of Jerusalem and Bethlehem inviolate and to ensure free and safe access to them for all the world.That is an object—and I include Nazareth and the shores of Lake Galilee—with which the whole of this House will be in complete sympathy. But is the machinery for carrying it out, or for maintaining temporary law and order in Haifa and one or two other places, at all workable or necessary? Apparently in this minute and scattered area, this thing of shreds and patches, the Commission envisage a complete mandatory administration for purposes really outside these limited objects. They envisage that it shall have its own national status. The inhabitants of it are to be British-protected subjects and never to have a prospect of self-government in any form, and this in respect of the 76,000 Jews most of whom live in a compact city outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Why they should be denied what is given to Jaffa, 2282 why the Arabs should have something which does not affect any national sentiment, while Jews should be denied any part or lot in Zion for their Zionist State passes comprehension. It is to have a separate Customs administration and one based on principles different from that of the two States. At the end of Chapter 8 they lay down that the mandatory principle of non-discrimination is out of date as regards the new States. But in their conclusion they suggest that it should be upheld for the new mandatory area.
Are you to have a barbed wire fence on both sides of the road and railway from Jerusalem to Jaffa? Is every Jewish car or camel which crosses from one part of the Jewish State to the other across this corridor only to be allowed to cross in bond and under seal? Take the railway situation. I gather that this little piece of territory is to have a 15-mile railway system of its own, with a 6-mile cross-section. I gather that the peaceful traveller visiting the Holy Land, going, say, to Haifa, from Egypt, will, after leaving the Egyptian railway, travel on an entirely disconnected and purposeless section of Arab State railway, then travel a few miles on the Jewish State railway, then for five or six miles on the mandatory State railway, then back on the Jewish State railway, then on a section of the Arab State railway, then back on to the Jewish and finally end at a terminus in a temporary mandatory enclave! The same applies to agriculture and to education. The whole thing is really preposterous.
If the object is only that which the Commission indicate, it could be perfectly easily met, in the first place, by giving the High Commissioner direct control for municipal and law and order purposes over the Holy City of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, leaving their citizens free for other purposes to enjoy a national life, belong to one or other country, have the education of the people they belong to. In addition to that, the High Commissioner should secure by treaty full rights of access and free movement for all visitors to Palestine as well as for his own troops. It is quite superfluous to create a 15-mile corridor bisecting the Jewish State in order to secure free access to Jerusalem.
I admit that there might be another solution. There might be something to 2283 be said for retaining a really substantial and workable mandated area. If you were to do that you might retain for the High Commissioner and his Government the whole of Palestine south of the line Jaffa-Jerusalem-Jericho and carry it on under the principle of impartiality between all communities, with migration according to the absorptive capacity of the country. Then if the Jews prove that they can develop the Negeb they can do so without getting it given them before they prove it. I am not concerned, however, at this moment with putting the case between different alternative schemes. My point is that the Commission's scheme as it stands is only the merest sketch. It really has not been fully thought out. The Commission never called the evidence, which is essential before such a scheme can be drawn up.
I entirely agree that the parallel of India is well worth considering in this connection. India is vaster but not much more complex. In India we had the first stage of the Simon Commission adumbrating somewhat dimly a new conception, which was crystallised at the Round Table Conference, of federation and responsible Government intimately linked together. The Government accepted that, but frankly recognised not only the necessity for fact-finding commissions, but that the matter was one in which Parliament was entitled to have a much fuller say than was possible in a Debate. Let me read the remarks made by the present Home Secretary when he introduced the resolution setting up the Joint Select Committee:It would be altogether unfair, it would be almost criminal, to ask the House and indeed to ask Indian public opinion to come to definite decisions after two or three days' Debate… The Government and I wish at the earliest moment to ask for the co-operation of Parliament in our difficult task, to put our proposals before them and to ask the Committee of both Houses to give us the great value of their advice before we ask the House to come to a final decision.Surely every word of that applies here. That this should be done is no more a disparagement of the great work done by the Commission than the work of the Joint Select Committee on India was a disparagement of the work done by the Statutory Commission, whose report they recognised was the starting point for their 2284 deliberations. There is an urgent need for a carefully worked out conclusion to the general principle which, I hope, the House will accept to-day.
The procedure which I have suggested as subsequent to our main decision would carry much greater weight in the House of Commons, and would be valuable in regard to the essential feature of future continuity of policy. There may well be a change of Government before all this business is finally carried through. It would carry much greater weight with the League of Nations. It is not the function of the League or of its Mandatory Commission to do our work or to shoulder the responsibilities which are properly ours, and which only we have the knowledge and experience to carry out. It is the function of the League to be satisfied by us that the work has been properly done, that all the relevant circumstances have been studied, that all who have a right to a say in the settlement of their fortunes have been listened to and had an opportunity of putting their view. It would, too, carry greater weight with both Jews and Arabs. Faced with this sudden scheme both sides have actually in public rejected it. They could not afford to do anything else. But if each side knows that it is going to have an opportunity of stating its case not only against the general principle but on every detailed point, it may begin to become much more reconciled to the idea and much more reluctant to forgo the advantages which partition gives to each side.
Alternatively, while the two delegations, Arabs and Jews, are consulting with a Joint Select Committee they might at some stage suddenly come to the conclusion which the true mother came to in the case of Solomon's judgment and come to an agreement between themselves. They may find their own alternative. Believe me, we cannot find an alternative now. The only people who can find an alternative to partition are the Jews and Arabs themselves. What I suggest need not involve delay. I quite agree that it is desirable to have the utmost expedition in setting up the new States and avoid prolonging an uncomfortable, indeterminate period of transition. If a Joint Select Committee were set up at the beginning of November I believe it could terminate its deliberations and report by March or April. The Government's fact finding inquiries would certainly take 2285 quite as long. In any case there is an immense amount of work to be done, and I doubt if it would be done any sooner if the whole of it were put on my right hon. Friend, with all his other responsibilities, and on the staff of the Colonial Office, who have to deal with all the administrative problems of a world-wide colonial Empire.
No one has a higher opinion of the ability and fair-mindedness of the officials of the Colonial Office than I have. No one possibly could, because I worked with them so long. But it is no disparagement of their work or their capacity to say that their ability could with advantage be supplemented by the wider political outlook and the general experience of Members of Parliament. I believe it is the duty of the Government to give a clear and definite lead on the main issue, and I congratulate them on having come so promptly and definitely to a decision on the main issue. But I hope that in doing so they will not overlook the advantage of associating Parliament as closely as possible with the work, or forget the vast reserves of ability, of range of experience, of fair-mindedness and good sense which are at all times available in the rank and file of both our ancient Houses.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Frankel
I rise with some trepidation following speeches made by right hon. Gentlemen who have such profound knowledge of this question and have had experience of the country itself for a number of years. I also rise as a Jew who has never been officially connected with the Zionist movement or with any special organisation connected with Palestine. But I face my responsibility as a Jew in this House, with the whole Jewish race, of having to take a most important decision. Having spent the whole of my adult life in the movement represented by Members on these benches, the problem will perhaps appear to be a little different to me from what it does, perhaps, to other Jews facing the same sitution. The Secretary of State said there was a great fear in Arab circles, which had been expressed to him, that justice would not be done to their cause because they were not represented in this House, whereas the Jews are represented in this country and have Members in the House. I hope that whoever replies on behalf of the Government will say from that Box that no unfair political influence has 2286 been used by Jews in the House or in the country to embarrass the Palestinian situation. There has been no attempt in my knowledge to arouse the passions of the Jews in Great Britain on this issue at any time in any direction. In fact, there are many Jews, I am sorry to say, who are members of the party represented by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), and his party views on this question would not be exactly described as pro-Jewish, and yet I think the right of all Jews to think that the political philosophy of that party is the right one for them.
It seems to me that three-quarters of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last were in favour of the Amendment moved from these benches, and his conclusions seemed to be out of all perspective with the arguments that he used. Even those arguments will have proved on the whole that, if influence has been used by either Arab or Jew, the effect of such influence has been in favour of the Arabs rather than of the Jews. That is admitted by the Report, and to some extent by the Secretary of State himself. What is the problem? We start off with promises made during the War to both Arabs and Jews. On this question I am fortified by the statement of the Secretary of State and also by the White Paper of 1922, that there never was a promise to the Arabs of anything west of the Jordan. The Secretary of State himself spent ten minutes or so arguing why the Arabs had no case as regards a promise of that kind. He went on to say that the Jews had no right to argue that Palestine was to be given to them as a national home. The promise was that there should be a national home for the Jews in Palestine. I have no desire to quibble about phrases or to discuss whether it is true or not that the Jews all the world were led to believe that substantially Palestine was to be their home. But I think that only during recent years have those who have made pronouncements for the Government on this subject found this way out of breaking their promise to the Jews.
Even taking the Secretary of State on his own word, and admitting, for the sake of argument, the statement made by successive Governments that their real intention was not that the whole of Palestine was to be a national home for the Jews, but that there was to be a 2287 national home for them in Palestine, will the Government say that a fifth of what is now known as Palestine is four square with the Balfour Declaration, and is in accordance with the promises that they have made from time to time? Are they contending that what we are being offered in the Report is a fair outcome of those promises and declarations? It has already been clearly shown that the Arabs have received large areas of land in some places with complete independence. I am making no complaint about that, nor do I think that the Jews as a whole have ever made any complaint about it. When we compare Arab aspirations in what is now known as Palestine with what has already been given them and the suggestions made in the Report, I believe anyone who looks at the question fairly and without bias will agree that the Jews have a right to say that preference has been given to the Arabs in this matter, and that, if it is a question of broken promises, it is clear that those promises have been broken mainly on the side of the Jews. It seems to me that the Secretary of State has proved quite conclusively something with which we are all inclined to agree, that the Government have failed to carry out the Mandate. They have failed to do what they set out to do. He gave a good many reasons why it is now impossible to carry out the Mandate. The principal one was the intense nationalism of the Arabs. Would it be unfair to suggest that the responsibility for the growth of that intense nationalism lies on the shoulders of the Government owing to their failure strongly enough to carry out the Mandate entrusted to their care?
§ Mr. Frankel
It is because I am fond of my country that I am very careful that its reputation should not be sullied, and in this matter the reputation of England is being sullied. It is admitted on all sides that the administration was responsible for these outbursts of intense nationalism and of violence. That has been demonstrated in more than one speech already, even by the right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench, in a much stronger way than I could possibly do. I think that case is admitted.
2288 The Secretary of State gave very good and cogent reasons why the Mandate was difficult to work. Why are we not presented to-day with a Government declaration asking the League of Nations to revise the Mandate and change it in such respects as they think will make it work properly in the future if, in itself, it is a cause of the troubles with which we are faced? We are discussing the Report because of the violence that broke out last year—bcause of the Arab insurrction. That is why we are considering the Report of the Commission which was set up to consider that, and not the question of partition. Yet we are faced with the idea of those who wrote this very able Report, both historically and with regard to the facts that, in the final part, when coming to the end of their labours, they seem not to be able to recommend anything which would give peace in Palestine except partition. I want to emphasise the point which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), that no evidence has been taken upon partition. Those who produced this Report were not asked to produce a report upon partition, but the conclusion is quite definite. If there should be partition, then let Arab and Jewish opinion, which knows very much more about it than we do, come and give evidence as to the possibility of partition.
This House to-day is being asked to take a very grave step. It is not, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook said, a frame without a picture, something nebulous, a frame into which no picture can be put later on. We have the Report which gives us a map, which has been criticised already very much in this House, and which is very easy of criticism. I do not want to repeat the statements already made, but, as far as the Government are concernd, it is clear that they do not consider that it is a frame without a picture. In the first phrase of the White Paper they say:His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom … have considered the unanimous Report of the Palestine Royal Commission. They find themselves in general agreement with the arguments and conclusions of the Commission.That, in my contention, is not a frame without a picture. It is a very substantial picture and one which most of us do not like looking at very long.
2289 I want to say a word or two, also, about the general effect which these matters have upon the whole question of the persecution of the Jews in the world. If this form of partition, or a form of partition substantially similar to the one which is now suggested to this House, is agreed to, it must be made clear to Jews all over the world, to the 3,500,000 approximately in Poland, the 800,000 in Rumania and the 300,000 in Germany—I mention these three particular countries for obvious reasons—that, as long as their lifetime is concerned, and for a time which it is impossible now to measure, any hope of being able to leave the countries which are persecuting them now, and which from all the evidence we are able to get will persecute them even more as time goes on, has gone. The message comes to them not from Germany, not from Poland, and not from a dictatorship country, but from the British House of Commons, from this country, that, as far as all these Jews are concerned, the hopes that they may have had of being able to go to Palestine are now ended and they must, if any hope is to be given to them, start all over again and look somewhere else in trying to find some other place in which their own life and their own methods of living can be built up.
I do not desire in this House to illustrate the great work that has been done by the Jews in Palestine. I think that it is admitted on both sides of the House. The great work that has been done in a few years in Palestine has proved the Jewish case completely that they can successfully colonise a country in such a way as to be a source of admiration to the rest of the world. In my view it is not an indissoluble problem to get Arabs and Jews to live peacefully in Palestine if certain things are granted. First of all, one has to recognise the great control and power held by the land-owning Arab class and by certain very important Arab families in Palestine. We also have to recognise that, as far as the large majority of the Fellaheen are concerned, they are illiterate and have not the same opportunities as the Jewish workers in Palestine, of organisation and of controlling their own destinies, or of having any voice in their own destinies at all. Here, again, if this partition is agreed to by the House of Commons, it will be placing for an immeasurable length of time many hundreds of thousands of Arab peasants into almost feudal hands, when their salvation might 2290 more easily have been found side by side with Jewish workers in Palestine. Efforts in that direction have already been made, and in some respects not without success, but how can they continue and succeed when poisonous propaganda is being poured into them not only from inside Palestine and from Arab sources, but from European sources?
I would warn this House of the possibility—and I think that it is a danger which will perhaps be more readily seen by His Majesty's Government, and it is their responsibility rather than that of hon. Members on these benches—of Palestine becoming a centre of international intrigue. May I remind the House of the guns which it is already known that Mussolini has sent in the past to the Arabs? These guns may be sent to the Arabs to-day in order to fight against the Jews, and they may be sent to the Arabs to-morrow for some other reason of which the British House of Commons will have to take notice. I sincerely hope, therefore, that before you come to an irrevocable decision on this important question, and before you decide upon a partition which at its best can only take a very small proportion of the Jews which it was at one time hoped on all sides that Palestine would be able to take—before you decide upon such an important Measure of that sort, I feel that established Jewish opinion should be brought before this House, so that we may not hastily come to a decision which we may regret afterwards, but endeavour to see whether other solutions of this very important problem can be found.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Wilson
If there are any Arabs listening to this Debate in the public galleries, or to the broadcast summary, their depression must have been increased by the speeches which have followed the thoroughly impartial and reasonable statement of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I have spent 19 years of my life in Arab-speaking countries. I have fought against Arabs, and I have fought alongside them, but I have never before ventured to address this House upon any matter in connection with the Near or Middle East, because the criticisms I should have been tempted to make might sometimes appear to reflect upon those former colleagues of mine or upon those intellectual giants in Whitehall under whom I have had the 2291 honour to serve. But to-day I feel free to do so for the first time, for the Royal Commission has endorsed the severest criticisms of reasonable and impartial men on the policy that has been pursued, in good faith, but wrongly, as many of us believe, in Palestine.
I endorse much of which has been said in praise of the Royal Commission's Report, but I should like to draw attention to the magnificent series of handbooks, produced from 1917 to 1918 by the late Sir George Prothero, once a Member of this House, and later Lord Ernle; to these handbooks the Royal Commission themselves owe much. Now that Lord Ernle, in the fulness of time, has passed to his rest, it is right that some tribute should be paid to him and to his brilliant band of historians. When the Royal Commission, on page 32 of their Report, say that in 1922 little was apparently known about the size and character of the population of Palestine, they are not doing full justice to the Foreign Office for what the Foreign Office did. Nor do I feel able entirely to absolve the Royal Commission for not having dealt somewhat more fully with the McMahon letters. They observe at page 20 that it is sufficient for the purposes of this Report to say that the British Government has never accepted the Arab case. I believe that they could have made a case such as would conclusively have proved the bona fides of the Government in this matter.
It is rather remarkable, too, that the Royal Commission have devoted only six lines to the origin and history of the Balfour Declaration. There, again, I am convinced that a full and impartial survey of the history of that document would have done much good. It is not good history to omit to mention the fact that great Jews like Mr. Morgenthau, Secretary to the Treasury in America, and the late Mr. Edwin Montague in this country, were profoundly nervous of the eventual repercussions of Zionism. When Mr. Balfour went in 1916 to America, he met there Jews who abused Zionism as hotly as those who espoused it. The conclusions of the Royal Commission in this regard are not entirely consistent with Mrs. Dugdale's account in her Life of Lord Balfour, and they are quite inconsistent with the Memoirs of the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the 2292 Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I feel that we still do require something like a full historical survey, and I am convinced that we should have no reason to regret a complete publication under the auspices of Professors Gooch and Temperley of these documents. The Commissioners have said little about the origin of Zionism. The whole attitude of many Jews towards Zionism has been completely changed by the protean forms of persecution which have arisen abroad since then. Zionism was, in the minds of many, the cult of a shrine such as the Academy and Ambulatory of Plato should be to those who love philosophy, respect Plato and admire Socrates. Zion was to be a centre, a Mecca, a place of pilgrimage, as it is for Christians, but not a place of Jewish refuge. It is our misfortune that there has arisen in Poland, where there are about 3,500,000 Jews, in Rumania, and in Germany, and elsewhere, a racial movement which makes the ideal of Zionism as originally understood since Lord Shaftesbury espoused it, quite impossible and impracticable. When the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Frankel) speaks of Poland receiving a message from the House of Commons not to look to Palestine for hope or refuge it should be remembered that the annual net increase of Jews in Poland is at least 50,000 a year, and that there is, therefore, no hope that Zionists as defined by the Oxford English dictionary "A Jew who believes in modern forms of colonisation in Palestine" can ever meet the needs of the large fraction of the 16,000,000 Jews in the world who are not wanted at home. They must find another solution. Gladly would I see His Majesty's Government and other civilized Governments of the world co-operating in a new and treater Commission to find some fresh colonies of refuge for those Jews who are being extruded from Poland and elsewhere. Palestine at its largest would do more than absorb 10 per cent. of the surplus from Europe alone.
The problem of Jewry is one thing and the problem of Palestine is another. It is hard for us, separated as we are by nearly 20 years from the Balfour Declaration, to realise the atmosphere in which it was given and prepared. I am aware of it to some extent, for at the time I was in the harness of office and had the privilege of discussing Zionism with the late 2293 Edwin Montague. I heard him discuss it passionately as well as dispassionately. To those who blame the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and the late Lord Balfour for lack of honesty, lack of foresight and lack of knowledge, the former may well say, in the words ascribed by Plutarch to Cato the Censor:It is hard for me who have lived with one generation to have to make my defence to those of another.It is hard for us to understand the feelings and motives, the hopes and fears of the actors on the political stage in those unhappy days.
I do not wish to deal in detail with the criticisms of the Government's proposals which have been made in preceding speeches, but the speech of the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) did arouse a certain amount of resentment in my heart. His aspersions and those of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) on the lack of sincerity and whole-heartedness on the part of British officials in Palestine was unfair. If they were not wholehearted it is because the average Britisher, whoever he may be, and for that matter the average official who has been long enough in harness, finds it exceedingly difficult to carry on his duties unless he feels convinced that he is able to do justice. He would often sooner resign, even at great financial loss, than be an instrument of injustice. The conditions under which the officials were working in Palestine were really impossible. They afforded them no spiritual satisfaction or feelings of duty done. As for the suggestion that they naturally dislike Jews and like Arabs, let me say that I have lived long enough among Arabs to know that that is a picturesque travesty of the real facts. In Mesopotamia, of which I had the honour to be Acting Civil Commissioner for four years, there were more Jews than were to be found in the whole of Palestine. We had over 120,000 Jews, and 3¼ million Arabs, and no anti-Semitic troubles.
§ Sir A. Wilson
That insinuation is not borne out by the Report of the Royal Commission. Ill-feeling between Jew and Arab is deepseated and far older than Mussolini. The dislike of the Arab for the Zionist is not the dislike of the Arab 2294 for the Jew but the dislike of the Arab for the foreigner who differs from him in customs and in language more than the Arabs differ from us in this country. There is a profound gulf between Jew and Arab, deeper than Government can bridge. That is why I believe that partition, little as I like it, is absolutely inevitable.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness talked about millions of leaflets and posters about Zionism being scattered over Poland and Germany during the War, and he said that this helped to win the War. I do not believe it. It is a foul libel upon the Jews of Europe to suggest that they were not loyal to their respective countries. The German Jew stood by Germany and the Polish Jew by Poland and the English Jew by England and the suggestion that we diverted them from their allegiance by the bribe of Zionism is no compliment to them. There is no greater injury that can be done to the Jews as a whole than to suggest that they can in ordinary circumstances be appealed to apart from the nation in which they have lived for 10, 12 or 14 generations.
The right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland made much play with the telegram of condemnation in the "Times" from the Prime Minister of Iraq. If that message had been in the form of a communication from the Prime Minister of Iraq to His Majesty's Ambassador for the information of His Majesty's Government, I should not have regretted its use. But these obiter dicta, given in haste to journalists, anxious for copy, in the heat of summer in one of the hottest cities of Arabia, should not be used as political weapons on the floor of this House. The underlying difficulties in this matter are personal and individual. Personal antagonisms, dynastic rivalries, and individual prejudices are in the background, and we do ill to make use of these deplorable domestic differences in order to make a political point.
Once the opportunity is given to the representatives of the Arab States to consider this question of partition at leisure I do not doubt that a fairly substantial measure of concurrence will be forthcoming. I believe in partition because it is inevitable. I also believe in it because I see in it a better prospect of 2295 justice to both sides than one can hope to obtain by the present state of an indissoluble marriage of incompatible spouses.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland asked us not to blame Poland. I wish he had equal sympathy with His Majesty's Government. We have had as difficult a task all these years in Palestine and we have done our best. I take it ill that he should be urging delay and a further reference to Parliament of the Report of the Royal Commission which says that if there is one point on which the Arabs are more convinced than another, it is that they are not on equal terms with the Jews in putting their case before the people of this country. As Burke said to his constituents in Bristol in 1780:I beg leave just to hint to you that we may suffer very great detriment by being open to every talker. It is not to be imagined how much of service is lost from spirits full of activity, full of energy, who are constantly pressing forward, to great and capital objects, when you oblige them to be continually looking back whilst they are defending one service, they defraud you of a hundred. Applaud us when we run; console us when we fall; cheer us when we recover; but let us press on—for God's sake, let us press on.The Government are being urged by Members opposite and by the Royal Commission to resume what we may call strong Government in Palestine—further measures against the Press and against anybody who attempts to disturb the public peace. I see from the "Times" that the Mufti of Jerusalem is in trouble again, and there seems a likelihood that it may be decided to arrest him. I am far from wishing to interfere with the discretion of the Government and its representatives on the spot, but I suggest that there is still time for a brief respite, a locus penitentiae, before we make what is already a very difficult situation perhaps almost incurable by arresting a leader of one side. I say this with reluctance, but I have had the responsibility myself in such a case. I have had a revolution on my hands and have been compelled to arrest and deport ring-leaders who through their extremism had made any moderate expression of opinion dangerous, if not impossible; but I did not find those measures to be, in general, successful. Discontent that is based on sentiment and race is hydra-headed, and little as we 2296 have reason to admire the statesmanship or moderation shown by the Mufti of Jerusalem in the past, he is a recognised leader, and I hope His Majesty's Government will go all the way possible to find some via media short of his arrest and removal.
We have heard a good deal about the condition of Palestine, the difficulties of these three States, and the absurdities, inconsistencies and complications that are bound to arise from the proposals outlined by the Royal Commission. I do not believe that they are insuperable. Good will is more likely to follow on this Report, when they have had a short time to consider it, than from any other action we can take. It is possible to get men of good will to work together if there is a third party over them—the mandatory Power—and I am confident that, in the long run, provided we do not attempt a compulsory transfer of population, the thing will work. There are 260,000 Arabs to be transferred and perhaps 2,000 Jews. The Jews would do well to give the fullest assurances to the Arabs who wish to stay in the Jewish State. I believe many will stay. I do not think that nationalism has got to that point that they will willingly leave their ancestral acres. The Arabs would do well to give the fullest assurance to the Jews who would like to remain, and I believe that many will do so. The two peoples are in some degree complementary to each other. I do not believe that every Arab in the Jewish State potentially excludes a Pole. Population makes work and work makes population, and we can considerably increase the Jewish population in the main area allocated to the Jewish State without any great transference of population.
Let me deal with one more point. Propagandists, with the utmost good faith, are always pointing out the vast improvements which the Jews have made in Palestine, and comparing them with the miserable state of Palestine before they came there. I have lived in Arab-speaking countries, in Persia and Turkey, and I can testify that just as great and beneficent changes have taken place where there were neither Jews nor Britishers. Persia has advanced just as much in the last 20 years as any country. So also have Bagdad and Mosul. Since Iraq has attained sovereignty they have made great progress. There is as much progress in Haifa as in Basra, as 2297 much in Bagdad as in Jerusalem and as much in Mosul as in Tel-Aviv. Those who have seen Tel-Aviv should go to Ankara and Istanbul, Tehran and Ispahan Kabul and Kandaar.
The Arabs are as capable of development as Englishmen or Persians or Turks. They are not an inferior, unintelligent race, incapable of progress. I know by experience that they are as capable of progress, as any race in Asia. They do not accept much which we ourselves accept, sometimes questioningly, as being synonymous with progress and civilisation. They do not regard a miniature Piccadilly set down in the desert as a mark of progress, nor for that matter do the best Jews. They know that progress means something deeper, and that westernization is not necessarily true progress. From all this welter of misery and tragedy I believe something better will arise, but for the next 20 years we have to look forward to an accentuation and development of nationalism; once we can give that its fullest scope we shall see the rise of good will. In Bagdad 20 years ago no Arab would consort with a Turk, no Turk would hesitate to shoot an Arab at sight. The relations between Persians, Turks and Arabs were bitter. Boundary Commissioners had to be heavily escorted to prevent bloodshed. The Arabs of Iraq are now independent, and we have a tripartite non-aggression agreement between Turkey, Persia and Iraq, which is working and may in the future be an important factor. There is no reason why the same thing should not happen in Syria, for Syria, not Palestine is the modern prototype of the living child brought to Solomon. Alexandretta, Lebanon, Latakia, Northern Syria and Damascus, all are separate States. I believe that we shall one day find them all working together as harmoniously as Persia, Iraq and Turkey. Let us look to the good future of man with some faith in it, and some ability to look at the problems of the day without letting our senses blind and bewilder us.
In the words of Emerson:We seem to see events forced on us which appear to retard or retrograde the civility of ages. But the world spirit is a strong swimmer, storms and waves will not drown him. The events of this decade are but a day in the history of Asia.If we let these people stand on their own feet in their own respective areas, peace, 2298 I am sure, will come soon, and, perhaps sooner than many of us expect it.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I congratulate the Arabs on the admirable presentation of their case this afternoon. Their case does not rest on the McMahon correspondence. It should be based on the fact that they are a nationality, as capable as any other European race of developing their own institutions and culture. It is on that basis and on no other that their case should be argued, and it is from that point of view that we should consider these proposals of the Government. The Jews and the Arabs are not the only people who have had a raw deal over this Report. This Parliament has had a raw deal, too. I am not going to speak for the Jews or the Arabs, I want to speak for this Parliament and for our English good name. For the last two years Parliament has been accused of causing the trouble in Palestine. The Debate on the immature proposal to set up a legislative council in Palestine has been said to be the source of the evil and the immediate cause of the outbreak and trouble in Palestine last year. Immediately that Debate was over information reached the Colonial Office from Palestine, and the Government thereupon set up this Royal Commission to go into the whole question, but they specifically excluded from the Royal Commission any member of this House. We were the guilty parties in having that Debate. The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor was perhaps to blame, but for the first time Members of Parliament were excluded from a Royal Commission in order to get a report which should be called impartial.
That was an insult to Parliament. It was the first raw deal we got. Now we have this Report, and Parliament is given one day to decide a question which the Royal Commission took six months to consider. The House of Lords has had two days. There must be at least 50 Members in the House who want to speak on this subject, on the Jewish and Arab side, but they will not have a chance. That is not a proper way to treat Parliament, but it is becoming the way in which the Colonial Office treat Parliament. I think we have very strong ground for demanding that a Joint Select Committee of both Houses should have a chance of considering this scheme of partition in all 2299 its implications. There are questions of finance, transport, boundaries, transportation from one district to another, which are surely matters upon which the House should be consulted before the Colonial Office makes up its mind. We are going away for a four months' Recess and during that time Parliament is helpless. Before that time comes to an end the right hon. Gentleman will get sanctions from the League of Nations. That is purely a formality, for with the British Government behind the proposal there is no other country which is likely to oppose it. When the right hon. Gentleman comes to us again the House of Commons will have had nothing to say, or any opportunity of hearing both sides of the question, a point which was admirably put by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery).
I think the hon. Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) put the Arab case perfectly well, though I know that on the Arab side there is more hostility to partition than the hon. Member showed. You have both Arabs and Jews intensely hostile to the scheme and the Government say that they must take the scheme or nothing. This may help to bring the two sides together. A Joint Select Committee hearing all is not only the right thing as far as Parliament is concerned, and will help the Colonial Office to come to a sound and lasting conclusion, but may also be a means of bringing the two parties together and avoid the necessity of partition altogether. From the English point of view we do not want the whole world to say, "You have made a mess of it in Palestine, and now you are running away." We do not want the people in Palestine to say, "After having taken charge of the country you have thrown us over." What are the Christians in Ramleh saying? They will have Treaty rights as minorities, but there is no Christian in Palestine who is not opposed to partition because he is afraid of getting from the Transjordania Government what the Assyrians got from the Iraq Government. The Assyrians were also protected by a Treaty, but were shot down by the Iraq Government with British soldiers looking on.
Is it conceivable that in these circumstances Christians and Moslem Arabs in Palestine are likely to welcome 2300 a scheme of partition? It is all very well to agitate against the British Government. There is no better cry than that of nationalism, but when it comes to losing British protection and being transferred to another government it is a different thing altogether. Under the British Government Christian Arabs get their fair share of government, but they do not think they will get their fair share under a Moslem Stale. They may be wrong, but at any rate we should hear their views because they are people who have put their faith in us. There is another large section of the population in Palestine who may require at our hands that their interests should be considered, and that is the Fellaheen. The Report is clear that most of them are tenant farmers, and during the last 15 years they have had a certain amount of generous treatment from the British Government. When crops have failed they have been supplied with seed, they have had the benefit of a system of taxation which does not depend on farming the revenue, they have had better health administration and also education. An Oriental government would not have given the same protection against the landlords or supplied them with seed when their crops failed. It certainly would not have given them the communications and transport facilities which they have.
What is to be done with them now? They were not mentioned by the hon. Member for Hitchin. No hon. Member has considered them. They are not considered in the Report, and nobody at the Colonial Office has considered them. What we are doing is not merely to transfer 225,000 Arabs from Jewish territory into Arab territory; what we are considering is the transfer of at least 500,000 Metayer peasants into the complete control of the effendi landlord class who will rule from Transjordan over Palestine. Nationalism is all very well, but for those 500,000 peasant cultivators in Palestine, their bread and butter, their livelihood, comes before politics. They will be transferred from the alien control of Great Britain to the control of the effendi, which was efficient enough in Turkish times in extracting from the poor the last penny the poor could pay.
There, too, our good name will suffer. The condition of those people is at least 2301 50 per cent. better than that of the fellaheen in Egypt on the one side and Syria on the other. Those people are to be forcd back, after 15 years of British rule, under a rule which is clearly more dangerous to them than British rule. The fellaheen are the aboriginals, dark coloured people; the effendi are practically white Syrians. When we realise that in the new Transjordan State there will be the same agrarian troubles and the same method of putting down those troubles as in India and elsewhere, we may well say that the Government might have consulted Parliament before taking that step. The Royal Commission did not take a word of evidence on the subject on which they have made the recommendation. It is amazing that the whole of the side of the poor in this question has been neglected.
There is, however, a far more serious matter even than putting the fellaheen under the control of their landlords. It is the extraordinary proposal to transfer at least 100,000 cultivators from Jewish territory, where their homes are and where they have worked for generations, to buy land somewhere else, and to take them there and dump them. It is treated in the Report, without the Commission having taken one word of evidence on the possibility, as though it were a natural and normal thing to do. If the Commission had had any knowledge of recent history, they would not have made that recommendation. Reference has been made to what happened in Crete. It was decided to deport from Crete that unfortunate Mohammedan minority, people who were of the same blood as the rest of the Cretans, but who unfortunately had the wrong religion. Turkey and Greece together decided that they would deport Cretans from Crete, and send them to Asia Minor. The unfortunate Mohammedans begged to be allowed to stay in Crete, and even went so far as to offer to become Christians if only they might be allowed to stay, but it was not felt that they would make good Christians.
§ Sir A. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to Crete. I suggest that the Panjat Canal Colonies are a much fairer parallel. There is also in progress a great transfer of labour from one end of Iraq to another. Such an administrative operation in a small coun- 2302 try is a very different thing from taking people from Crete to Asia Minor, and 1937 is not 1910.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
A difference in expense, too, between 1937 and 1910, but there is at the present time a good deal of transference of labour going on in this country, and those who are being transferred do not like it. Whatever one may think about the transference of these 100,000 cultivators, for goodness' sake let the people who are to be transplanted have some say in the matter before their fate is sealed. It is not right for the Colonial Office to dictate to us. I think the House of Commons is a better guardian of British honour and a better guardian of humane principles than the Colonial Office, which handed over the Assyrians to the butcher and provided no accommodation for the Armenians when they were being expelled from their country. Those are questions for us to consider. I am not speaking from the point of view of the Jews or that of the Arabs, but from the point of view of England's good name.
Let me pass from that to another matter. If the partition scheme goes through, how on earth are we to defend it? I do not mean defending it by argument, for the noble Lord is capable of defending anything by argument. How are we to defend the territory? I know very well the argument that the Noble Lord will make to-night. He will say, "What is your alternative? Are you going to have the Guards in Palestine in perpetuity to keep the unfortunate Arabs quiet?" Will not that be his argument? Yet this partition scheme will call for exactly the same thing. There will be 200 miles of completely indefensible boundaries. There will be the police and all sorts of authorities located at all sorts of different towns. There will be the hungry population of the hills. It will be remembered how the Assyrians and then the Persians came down on Babylon from the hills. The natural tendency of the population in the hills is to raid the country below. Look at the passion for looting which still exists in Europe! With the farms of the Jews in the valley and the Arabs hungry in the hills, does anybody suppose that there will not be continual raids? Raiders now come in from Syria; they come 50 miles into the coun- 2303 try, and carry off cattle under the eyes of the British police. Do hon. Members think that that will not happen in future? Standards in that part of the world are different from what they are in this. Scotsmen do not think of raiding England now; they come over and exploit us in other ways. But in that part of the world, people almost take in raiding with their mother's milk.
There are villages in Palestine—there was one on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem—known as robber villages where they have robbed for centuries and where they are robbing still, and in most of the troubles of Palestine the passion for loot plays a considerable part. I think we are likely to have these raids going on, and the Jews are not likely to stand those raids without following out the good old Judean maxim of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." The raids will inevitably, and, I think, justifiably, be followed by retaliation, and the drawback to retaliation is that it will lead to war. There will be an interchange of notes, there will be desperate pacific efforts by the Noble Lord opposite, the "volunteers" will begin to come in from Italy and Germany, the guns will begin to come in through Gaza and the Egyptian frontier—and then you are "for it."
We shall have the unpleasant duty of stopping what we should never have allowed to begin and the expense to this country will be as great as it would have been under any other solution while the disgrace to our honour is likely to be much greater. The people of this country will hardly be found willing to go to great expense to stop these two races in Palestine from fighting each other. There is no chance of saving money, if that is your object, and there is no chance of saving British lives, if that is your object, by adopting this partition and abdication. You have here the recommendations of this Royal Commission. How are you going to carry them out? I wish to remark incidentally that in this Report we have the admirable statement, made, I think, for the first time in any official document, that immigrants to a country make more work than they take. I am particularly glad to have that placed on record. I wonder whether even we of the Labour party realise that every immigrant into this country gives work to the clothier, the transport worker and 2304 the food producer, and that the more immigrants come into a country the greater its economic absorptive capacity becomes.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
On page 85. The passage is:Secondly, so far from reducing 'economic absorptive capacity,' immigration increased it.That is perfectly true. We all know that it must be true but there at last it is in print in an official document—the direct negation of the idea that you can increase prosperity by limiting immigrants. The more immigrants come in the greater the demand on the services and work of the people who are already there. They make work for themselves and prosperity increases. Not so long ago, American cities used regularly to boost their population figures in order to show that their trade and prosperity were increasing. But now, according to the neo-Malthusian doctrine which serves for economics in Government Departments, the smaller the population the more prosperous the country; the fewer people who come into this country the more prosperous we shall be, and the fewer people go to Palestine the more prosperous Palestine will be. It is a damnable heresy, but thank goodness it has now been refuted here. The Royal Commission may not have consisted of Members of Parliament, but some of them at any rate knew some economics.
But what about these other matters? Are we going to carry out the recommendations of the Commission on security, on justice, on land settlement, on British officials in lieu of Palestinian district officers, judges, and public prosecutors? Are we going to carry out their recommendations about the police and about disarmament: Above all, are we going to carry out their recommendations about the Mufti of Jerusalem? Page after page of this Report is devoted to proving that he has been the source of all the trouble.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I prefer to read page 140. Is there any objection? It says:If one thing stands out clear from the record of the Mandatory administration it is the leniency with which Arab political agitation even when carried to the point of violence and murder has been treated.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I prefer the paragraph which states:Such a situation could in our opinion only be remedied by the introduction of martial law.I could give many other paragraphs. I can give the Noble Lord tit-for-tat with about 100 of them. But to come down to more modern times, this subject was debated yesterday in another place and my Lord Dufferin speaking for the Government was very firm. There was even less concession from him than I anticipate from the Noble Lord opposite. The "Times" picked upon his speech and said: "Here at last we have a firm statement." Let me give the exact words. In a leading article patting the Government on the back for partitioning Palestine the "Times" referred toLord Dufferin's firm statement on behalf of the Government that 'the day of the wrecker was done with.'I turned up the speech to discover that "wrecker" referred to Arab or Jew. I had hoped that it might include the administration of Palestine. But believe me or believe me not, when I turned up the OFFICIAL REPORT I found that the sentence about the wrecker had vanished altogether. The sentence which gave such satisfaction to the "Times" appears to have been censored out by the Colonial Office when they went through the Noble Marquess's speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and there is no reference to "wreckers" of any sort—no firmness there. What about the Government? Are they going to do anything to implement these very strong recommendations and to meet the very strong criticisms that have been made of the present administration? If that were done, I do not believe that the Jews would want to partition Palestine in order to get their Jewish State. As long as you have a Government which has got more and more feeble and anaemic, a Government which has refused to allow the troops who 2306 were sent there to take charge, a Government which would not even allow the police to function when the troubles started, there is no remedy. How much longer is that form of Administration going on? We are told in the Report that it has failed completely, that the policy of conciliation has failed. Are we continuing the policy, are we continuing the man whose policy has failed, and are we going to leave him in such a position that he can still force the Jews to take any scheme of partition in order to escape from an Administration which has worked successfull against the Mandate for 15 years and has now defeated Parliament?
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Colonel Clifton Brown
I am bound to say that I thought the last remark of the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) was most unfair. The Administration in Palestine may have made mistakes, and the High Commissioner may have carried out leniency to the extreme, but anyhow he has carried out what he considers to be the spirit of the Mandate to the uttermost limit, and it seems to me to be ungenerous, when they have been having a very difficult and trying time, that we in this House should endeavour to run them down.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
Has the hon. and gallant Member looked at page 363 of the Report, where the Royal Commission speak of the sympathetic attitude of some of the officials as showing that the British determination to implement the Balfour Declaration is not sincere?
I have personal knowledge of many of the officials out there, and I know that their one ambition has been to build up an efficient and loyal Civil Service in the spirit of the Civil Service. It is only a small Service, it is not easy, and it takes time, and I do not think we are justified in making attacks on the High Commissioner or the civil servants, who are doing their best in difficult circumstances. But we expect that from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, and his ideas of fairness are perhaps a little bit odd. He started by saying what a splendid Debate we have had, that we have heard all sides, those of the Arabs, the Jews, and so on. Actually, we have had four speeches, excluding that of the Colonial Secretary, every one of which has been on the Jewish side, and we have only heard my hon. 2307 Friend the Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) on the Arab side. Four for the Jews versus one for the Arabs is what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman might consider a really fair Debate on both sides. Is it surprising that some of us in this House have got together in order to try to put the point of view of the Arab side? The Arabs are afraid that their views are not voiced in this House, as past Debates have shown that only one or two Members have given tongue to the Arab side, and the effect in Palestine has been most serious. It is not good for this House either that we should hear only one side of the case. This House would soon lose all its authority and would no longer be an impartial body. If that is to be the way in which the Jewish case is to be heard in this House, what is the good of suggesting the appointment of a Select Committee, as the Amendment does? The Arabs themselves would say, "Well, it will be four to one against us, so how can we expect fairness to come out of that?"
I know perfectly well that the official Arabs, so to speak, in Palestine at present do not approve of partition, but I for one give it and the Government's method of immediate action my warm support. I am in favour of partition, not because I like it—all who know Palestine would rather do without it—but because I can see no other alternative at the present time. There were suggestions put forward in another place yesterday, there have been alternatives put forward in the Press, and I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) put some forward in his speech this evening, but no alternative, in my view, is any good to-day unless it comes with the willing consent of both parties. The Government themselves can adopt no alternative. They have their one line which they have adopted, and they must stick to it, but if the Arabs and the Jews outside will get together and will make a genuine agreement which can be trusted, if both sides will give us pledges that they will honourably implement such an agreement, another situation will be brought about, and perhaps then Palestine as one unit might be saved; but until that moment comes, I for one do not ask the Government to deviate by one jot or tittle from the course which they are pursuing.
2308 All these alternative schemes and the Amendment which is before the House would mean further delay. Anyone who knows the Eastern mind knows how it hates coming to any rapid decision. An Arab, one knows quite well, puts off, in conversation or whatever it may be, coming to the point until the last minute. All the Eastern races will refuse to face the facts, if they can, until the last possible moment. Therefore, is it not right for the Government to go straight ahead and, so to speak, compel them to face the fact earlier than they would do of their own accord? All that I would say is that it is all those who are really standing out for all or nothing, the extremists on both sides, who desire delay, because they feel that every moment's delay means that something may turn up in order that their claims may be established a little better. That is another reason why the Government action in going to Geneva quickly should be supported.
I think it might be mentioned in this House that the Royal Commission, which has made some very remarkable findings, came out entirely in favour of the Arabs on many of them. The first grievance of the Arabs was that the Mandate was quite unworkable and impossible. The Royal Commission has blown the Mandate sky high, and the Arabs, therefore, were justified in their first grievance. The Arabs complained about immigration, on which the Royal Commission find that instead of immigration being limited according to the economic capacity of the country, there must be a super-political limit imposed on it; and it is limited to 12,000 at the most now. The Arabs have received great justification there from the findings of the Royal Commission. Again, with regard to land, it was always denied by the other side that the Arabs were out of employment and rendered landless by Jewish purchases. Speaking from memory, I think the other side said that of something like 644 who established their claims, only 50 per cent. really wanted land. The Royal Commission found that owing to the restrictions and the way in which the applicants were limited, only a portion of those who registered and made their claim represented those who were rendered landless by Jewish purchases.
I think that the Arabs have been entirely justified when they say that they 2309 cannot trust to promises of many of the politicians and leaders of this country. What has come out more clearly than anything else in the Report is that while we were promising one thing to the Jews we have promised the same thing to the Arabs, and apparently some of our leading people have had another mind about it all the time. In 1922 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who was the Colonial Secretary, made it plain that those who wished to see Palestine Jewish as England was English were quite wrong, that there was to be a home in Palestine but not of Palestine, and that that home was only to be a centre to which all Jews might look from other parts of the world. Yet we see from the Report of the Royal Commission that he gave evidence and said he fully understood that Palestine might become entirely a Jewish home. The White Paper says that it is to be a centre only, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)—the Prime Minister at that time—have said that at the back of their minds was that the whole of Palestine could become Jewish. Were not the Arabs justified in saying that the promises of some of our people in this country were not entirely to be trusted? These facts ought to be realised. Are we proud of the part we have played towards the Arabs?
When the further steps are taken I hope, seeing that the Arabs have proved themselves right on these four points at least, that some consideration will be given to their views in future. Seeing that they have proved right in the past and that we have paid no attention to them whatever, it would be merely prudent on the part of the Colonial Office to pay a little more attention to their representations when they are talking about the details of this partition scheme. I hope my Noble Friend will bear in mind that in the Jewish area a large block of 125,000 Arabs is to be included on the borders of Syria. It is unfair that a solid block like this should be transferred into the Jewish State. Amongst them are some 10,000 Druse Arabs, from whom I have received hospitality. They are strong admirers of this country and they once asked me to say in the House of Commons that their desire is to become British citizens.
2310 Is it fair that these people, who dislike Jews as much as other Arabs, should because they have been quiet and have not kicked up a row, be turned into citizens of another State which they hate? Is it fair that the Arabs of Acre who are seamen and merchants should be transferred to the plains of Beersheba, or to say that the hill Arabs of North Galilee should make their living in the plains elsewhere? If nothing else could be arranged this block of Arabs should be transferred to Syria rather than to Jewish territory. It seems to be unfair, when you are transferring populations from one area to another, that only 1,250 Jews should be left in the Arab State while 235,000 Arabs should be left in the Jewish State. From that point of view the Arabs are certainly getting the worst of the deal.
I want to turn to the appeals that were made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) on behalf of the Jewish claim to Jerusalem. I fail to understand the exact claim. However sympathetic we may be to their feelings towards that city, it was really a great mistake that we ever made Jerusalem, from the administrative point of view, the capital of the country. There you have the centre of every religious bigot that can be imagined. We have never had a moderate cleric, whatever his religion, in Jerusalem. They have always been extreme. This country had some trouble once, when over at Lambeth the extreme clerics used to interfere in the court and carry on political intrigue; and it got so bad that they had to be transferred to Oxford where they now pursue lost causes without hurting anybody. Members of the House used to talk then of the Archbishop of Canterbury as the Pope across the water. That is an illustration of what has happened in Jerusalem for when you have all these various religions and two alternative seats of Government in the one city the amount of intrigue and difficulty for any Government is unbelievable.
I should say, therefore, that from an administrative point of view the Government would be wise to stick to their mandated area there, and not let the new Jewish city be excluded. The sentimental appeal to the Jews to make headquarters of the new State in Jerusalem, could not be resisted and you would then have two Governments 2311 in the city with all the disadvantages from which administration has suffered in the past. As one who is a friend of Arabs I would say that I want the Government to hold the scales fairly. I do not ask them to give favour to one side, but I ask them not to give favour to the other side. If the Arabs are convinced that the scales are going to be held fairly, regardless of any pressure that may take place in this House, the Government can be as firm as they like in handling the situation, and my belief is that they will have the friendship of Arabs in the future as of old.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. de Rothschild
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has pointed out that in the Debate that has already taken place there has been a preponderance of speeches in favour of the Jewish cause. I am surprised at this complaint about the partiality of this House. I hope that because I am making a speech the hon. Member will not accuse me of partiality. I cannot believe that he is right or is justified in accusing of partiality men who have been many years in this House and many of whom have occupied responsible positions, one being the actual predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate to-day. I myself may say that after the initial speech made by the right hon. Gentleman I was very hesitant whether I should get up. I did not like the imputation that the Arabs in Palestine would resent the interference in this Debate of a Jewish Member of the House of Commons; and, on the other hand, I thought it was very unfair of the right hon. Gentleman to lay any kind of blame on any Member of this House, whatever his religion may be, because he is taking a point of view. I believe that every Member in this House should be free to express his own views, and that he should express the views of the people whom he represents, as much as his own. If he represents views which are his own I should expect him to state that that was so.
I am not going to break a further lance with the hon. and gallant Member for Hexham (Colonel Brown). I shall meet several of the points he has made in the course of my speech. One point I wish to touch upon at once, and that 2312 concerns Jerusalem. The hon. and gallant Member urged the Government not to give way, to any sentimental feelings on this question. He has pointed out that Jerusalem is at the present time the capital of Palestine, in the administrative sense, and that the Jewish State, if it is established, will also seek its capital in the new Jerusalem, which lies outside the old city where are the Holy Places; and he seemed to suggest that that was a sufficient reason to exclude the 76,000 Jews who are in that city from the ambit of the Jewish State which it is proposed to set up.
I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing my thanks and my gratitude to another person, a more important person than the hon. and gallant Member, who urged on the Government yesterday, in another place, that Jerusalem, the new city, where the Hebrew University is extending its welcome to men and women of the whole world, where a new spiritual revival is taking place, should be included in the Jewish State. That person was the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I am very pleased to be able to express to him my personal gratitude. As I said before, I was doubtful whether I would address the House, but I was persuaded to do so because, on arriving here, I got a telegram which I hope the House will allow me to read:Jewish service men rallied to British flag in response to call of Balfour Declaration from all corners of the world. Ex-members of the 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions Royal Fusiliers who fought in Palestine and Transjordan, also ex-members of the Zionist Corps which fought in Gallipoli, beg you make a very full and bitter protest before the House at faith broken and cruel frustration of Jewish national hopes. Committee of Jewish ex-soldiers in Tel Aviv.I feel that I am exonerated from any blame for speaking in this House. I am speaking on behalf of men who fought in the cause of Palestine and of Great Britain 20 years ago. However that may be, I propose to speak as objectively as I possibly can, and not to make any party points. I think I know what the feeling of the Jews all over the world is at the present time, and how disappointed they are at the findings of this Commission. The telegram from those ex-service men is only emblematic of this. The tragic disappointment which has been brought about by the publication of this State document has dispelled a most cherished vision, a vision of one country undivided 2313 ranging from "Dan to Beersheba" as the Prime Minister of a former day, the present right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said—a vision of a country where liberty, self-respect and peace would protect them from the harrowing torture of everyday life in other parts of the world. They had set their hopes on such a country where they would be citizens, each with full rights, in their own national home, developing their own national institutions and living in amity with all their neighbours be they Moslems or be they Christians, enjoying the same full rights in the same civilised State, each community protected by freedom and by equality under the law, a law which shows no discrimination on grounds of race or creed. What country was to help the Jews to realise that vision? Throughout the world Jews hoped that it would be Great Britain. Indeed, they were, and still are, deeply grateful to Great Britain for accepting the Mandate, and they will be eternally grateful for what has happened up to now.
Now, the Report states, Great Britain's endeavour has failed, and thus that vision, that ideal, is dissipated. But me, personally, the Report has not persuaded. I do not feel convinced, by any means, that Great Britain undertook an impossible task. The Report has not persuaded me that it was impossible to implement the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate; that it was impossible to provide the national home as it was envisaged by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in the statement he made to the Commission; that it was impossible to create this national home with the fullest protection for the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish community. If to-day it is said there has been failure, I can assure the House that I feel very deeply that the responsibility is not with the Jewish people, because I aver, and the Commission bear me out in this, that they have performed their part of the task, which was to populate and develop Palestine. The results which they have achieved have been acknowledged everywhere. They are commended by the Commission in their Report.
To-day we are told that a united Palestine is impossible. The reason for that does not lie with the Jews. I say it lies 2314 with the growth of a nationalist and rebellious spirit among certain Arab elements. The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who interrupts me, will have plenty of time to answer my speech. I am not trying to indict the whole Arab nation. My hope and my ambition have always been that the Jews and the Arabs should live in complete amity and good understanding. We have had endless difficulties in Palestine because of the leadership of certain men and of the growth of a certain feeling, which has been encouraged by the agitators and has been allowed to go unchecked.
Let me point out that this spirit was directed against the State itself and not mainly against the Jews. It was directed against the Constitution as embodied in the Mandate. That the Commission makes quite clear. An independent nationalist State is one which is equally independent of Jewish interference as of domination by this country. There would have been no Jewish interference if the Arabs had accepted the advances that had been made time and time again by the Jewish leaders, who, over and over again, have asked for a round-table conference, as we have heard to-day. My hope is that such a round-table conference will yet take place. All the difficulties could have been overcome without any severe repression, if sustained economic and social development had been encouraged and law and order had been maintained by the administration. I know that the hon. Member who preceded me defended the administration in Palestine, as it has been defended by other hon. Members. I do not wish to attack the administration or any of the administrators in particular, but I must abide by what appears in the Report, and the Report does show, as indicated already, that the administration failed repeatedly in the elementary duty of maintaining law and order. In the Report we find it stated:If one thing stands out clear from the record of the Mandatory administration, it is the leniency with which Arab political agitation, even when carried to the point of violence and murder, has been treated.I do not want to dwell at length on the maladministration of the country, but I want to say something about a speech which was made in another place yesterday by the representative of the Government, in which it was stated that: 2315Many methods, both of persuasion and of violence, have been used by both sides in the past.That is a statement which was made on behalf of the Government in another place. I am not attempting to quote a report of any speeches. It was a statement which is, to my mind, an outrage on the Jews and to Jewish feelings, especially—
§ Earl Winterton
I am sorry to have to raise a point of Order. As I understand the Rules of the House, it is not possible for any hon. Member to comment upon a speech made by a Noble Lord in another place, and I want to get the position made clear. In view of what the hon. Member has just said about a Noble Lord in another place, if it is in order to reply to the hon. Gentleman's speech, I shall, of course, do so.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)
The Noble Lord has exactly stated what was the old Rule, and the only variation from it in recent times has been the permission to refer to a statement in the other place when made as an official statement of Government policy. It is, therefore, clear that the hon. Member, though in order at first, was in his last sentences getting on to dangerous ground, because he was dealing rather with criticism of a speech than with an announcement by a Government spokesman.
§ Mr. de Rothschild
I am very much obliged for your Ruling. I none the less state that the announcement made in the other place was very grievous and hurtful to the people throughout Jewry, and if it is within the Rules of the House for the Noble Lord to do so, I hope he will do something in his speech towards correcting that impression. The matter has raised a good deal of feeling in many parts of the world, and will continue to do so unless it is corrected. By such leniency the hopes of the rebels in Palestine have been consistently encouraged, and thus, I believe, a state of rebellion has been fostered. A final culmination of weakness and humiliation was the acceptance of Arab leaders from neighbouring States as mediators in the rebellion. What a humiliation for a mandatory administration, and also for the Government at home. Recent events in Ireland provide a contrast which is far different. Only a 2316 few years ago, Great Britain suggested mediation by representatives of Empire States, to settle a dispute with the Irish Free State. Mr. de Valera suggested the inclusion of representatives from outside the Empire, but, the House will remember, the suggestion was rejected as humiliating. As the suggestion was merely to have a chairman for a conference, what are we to think of the Palestine administration which, in dealing with purely internal disturbances, tolerated the intervention of alien Powers sympathetic to the disaffected elements in the community?
What is the result of the leniency shown by the administration on that occasion? The growth of the power of the agitator and the interference and the conferences constantly taking place between Arabs in Palestine and the Princes in the neighbouring country. We see that in the interview or the telegram of the Prime Minister of Iraq which, we understand, was occasioned only because of the hot weather in Bagdad which excited him to a frenzy. It was a telegram of most minatory character. It threatened anybody who accepted office in the new Arab State of Palestine, honourable as the position no doubt will be, with Moslem excommunication. That is the method which has been adopted by the Mufti, who has over and over again threatened certain individuals in Palestine that they would not be buried in consecrated ground and that they would be ostracised from the Moslem community. Let us realise how dangerous a threat of that kind may be. The Minister who broached this subject first in this House to-day was very reticent in the statement he made that there was no assurance that the threat which has been offered by this Arab Minister has definitely been withdrawn.
The Report does nothing to redress this state of affairs which I have been trying to describe. It goes even further and sees moral righteousness in the rebellion which has taken place. Not only does it concede the Arab demand, but it also concedes the Arab case that the Mandate is unworkable. It may not commend the outbreaks themselves, but it sees a certain moral righteousness in the demands which the Arabs put forward. This is purely and simply a concession to terrorism. 2317 But anyhow, whatever it may be, it has increased tenfold the difficulty of reconciling Arab and Jew, either within one State or in separate neighbouring States. I can only repeat that there is nothing that I myself and my family who have worked in Palestine would wish for more than a good understanding between Arab and Jew; but are we helped by this Report?
This state of affairs has been created by the Commissioners, because they deliberately exceeded their terms of reference, terms of reference which were definitely within the ambit of the Mandate. I am not going to give the House quotations from what was said by Mr. Thomas, by the present Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and by the present Secretary of State for the Colonies; nor am I going to quote what the Noble Lord said when he asked the present Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs for an explanation of the terms of reference. All I want to say is that the Commission have torn up their terms of reference, they have torn up the Mandate, and they have torn up the Balfour Declaration. They have gone further; they have torn up Palestine. They have torn Palestine into two or three pieces. The National Home has received the same treatment as the bits of paper which represent to-day the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. To what small and insignificant proportions do we find this national State reduced? It is stated that it is reduced to dimensions smaller than Devonshire. It is smaller than the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). And yet this small area is to be the only refuge for millions of Jews. I know that the hon. Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) put forward the hope that some new Royal Commission would also inquire into the difficulties which beset the Jews in Eastern Europe, and would find some solution for the awful position, the terrible plight in which they are at present. That question, however, is outside this discussion, and it is outside present possibilities. At the present time, for the millions of Jews who are subjected to racial persecution throughout Europe there is only this small area of emigration. The Report says so. It says that in this small area immigration may be promoted without let or hindrance. What an irony.
2318 In this partition proposal Palestine itself—the whole country—is very unfairly proportioned. The proposed Jewish territory amounts to one-fifth of the country, yet the proportion of Jews to the whole population is nearly one in three—400,000 Jews and 1,000,000 Arabs; and I gathered, from the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who spoke immediately before me, that he thought that the present arrangement, in which there were so many Arabs still remaining in the Jewish State, should be altered as soon as possible. I will deal with that question a little later. But what do the Arabs say? The representatives of the Arabs in Palestine have said that this Jewish fifth is better than the rest. Why is that so? It is so because it has been better developed by the energy and courage and zeal of the Jews themselves. I should like to read to the House two passages from the Report which have not yet been read. It says:In 1914 … the population … eked out a precarious existence, mainly in the hills. On the plains, where life and property were less secure, such irrigation works as had existed in ancient times had long disappeared. Oranges were grown round Jaffa, but most of the maritime belt was only sparsely populated and only thinly cultivated. Esdraelon was for the most part marshy and malarious.Compare this with what the Report says of Esdraelon to-day. It says:Its conversion from a swampy and thinly populated area into a healthy and highly cultivated farm land at the cost of much suffering and mortality from malaria was a particularly fine achievement.That is not a new thing, because, after all, for nearly 50 years Jews have been going to Palestine, not in great numbers, possibly in driblets, and in those marshy, swampy plains thousands to-day are littering with their bones the shores of Palestine. Is that to be weighed in the balance against them when they are given their new State?
I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that the suggested boundary is to be considered by the Government merely as a suggestion, and that the Commission themselves recommend that it should be gone into further. But I wish that the Commission had not prejudged this matter in such a very authoritative way. They have entirely left out strategic considerations, a subject which has been freely developed in this House 2319 already to-day. I have only alluded to it because the Minister himself rather discounted and turned aside the dangers of strife and war between the new Arab State and the new Jewish State. He said that the League of Nations would not accept them as States unless the League was persuaded that they were peacefully inclined and would keep to the behests of the Covenant. Will that be the case if only one of these States shows any threatening propensity? Will the League of Nations, for instance, only accord its recognition to one of the two States, and not to the other, because it will only trust one of them? If that be so, is it the case that, whatever the point of view of one side may be, the British Government have made up their minds to set up these States? After the findings of the Commission, which state that Arab and Jew cannot agree, and after the Arab activities, which are flagrant at the present time, we cannot altogether rely on a happy issue. If the scheme of partition itself is a concession to Arab violence, and if it does not satisfy them, they will not regard it as final and as a settlement, but will continue to struggle for Arab sovereignty over the whole of Palestine. The only difference will be that war will come from without as well as from within. The Government have not said who is to be responsible for defending these 200 miles of frontier. That is to be left to be decided later. But I would urge the Noble Lord, when he comes to reply, to make quite certain that Great Britain makes herself responsible for setting up these independent States. Surely, if she does, the frontier should be adequate for defence.
Why is the Negeb excluded? Because it is a desert. We know that the Arab is the son of the desert, but do not let us forget that Colonel Jarvis, who knows the Arab well, who loves the Arab, has said in his notable book, that the Arab is also the father of the desert. Both Jews and Arabs could collaborate in this desert in order to make it once more a fairly flourishing part of the world as it was a few years ago. The Rutenberg concession also is excluded. It is important that it should be free from any attack or interruption in its work. Whereas now it is mandated territory protected by British troops, if it is left outside Jewish 2320 territory I do not know whether the Arab State will be able to protect it.
There is the point of the 225,000 Arabs who will remain in the Jewish State. The Commission say that the partition is in the nature of a surgical operation, but it is unwise for a surgeon, however skilful he may be, to leave some instrument behind. Very often it leads to the death of the patient and it would be most unfortunate if something of this kind should happen in the surgical operation which will be performed in Palestine. I dislike this idea of the transfer of Arabs elsewhere. I had hoped for the common development of Palestine by Jews and Arabs, but the Commission say that they cannot agree. If this is so, can we hope it will be different in the small Jewish State? Again will not agitators in the Arab State foment strife in the Jewish State? And this time the agitation will be more intense. The Commission points to the parallel of Greece and Turkey and shows us how successful the operation has been there. But that problem was on a much larger scale. One million three hundred thousand Greeks, 400,000 Turks and greater distances were involved. In Palestine there are great opportunities for agricultural development. The Commission envisage transfer to the new Arab State, but there are greater opportunities in Trans-Jordan. With regard to the urban population there should be scope in the towns of the new Arab State. I am anxious that the Arab State should prosper because it is important for the Jewish State that both States should be on a high level of prosperity. The Jewish people are prepared to contribute to assure that the Arabs may, if I may use an Eastern simile, be moved on a golden carpet to a happy land.
With regard to the sovereignty of the Jewish State, what of the mandate over four towns and the question of Tel-Aviv and Jaffa? What of the subvention which is to be paid to the Arab State by the Jewish State. The Report lays down the general principle of taxation that the rich should Day for the poor. That is true, but only within a State where all are working together for the common good. This principle did apply under the Mandate. The Jews willingly contributed to the welfare of their Arab neighbours. To-day the Arabs have refused co-operation, and given up the 2321 benefits they may have had and because of that it is said by the Commission that they should be paid by the Jewish State. Imagine such a principle applied nearer home, and that we asked Northern Ireland to pay a subsidy to the Free State. This is the Arab reward for inflicting on the Jewish community of Palestine and the whole of the people of Palestine damages amounting to millions of pounds. The Commission estimates the direct loss to Palestine as a result of the 1936 riots as £3,500,000 and the indirect loss amounted to many more millions.
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, came up against all the fenced cites of Judah and took them. And he exacted from Hezekiah 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the House of the Lord and in the treasure of the King's house. That was 30 centuries ago and to-day the Royal Commission are acting as brokers to Sennacherib. Whatever plan is finally resolved in Palestine it must set a limit to the concessions which have been granted to extremists at the present time; it must end the whittling away of the rights and benefits promised to the Jewish people under the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. I hope that the new settlement will not be sabotaged, as the Mandate has been, by half-heartedness of administration and even by hostilities. The period of transition is of paramount importance. If we are to have any peace in Palestine either during that period or later, or any finality in form of Governments, we must rely on the administration.
The future of Palestine and of a large portion of the Jewish people will be influenced by the decision of this House and by the action of the Government. It is, of course, within the power of the British Government to impose any plan on Arab and Jew alike. The Arabs have already announced that they will resist. I hope that they will not do so by the methods which have characterised their resistance under the Mandate. The Jewish people will not resort to these methods. The responsibility for the future will rest all the heavier on the British Government.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossley
The hon. Member said he was very diffident about addressing the House. I am sure he has as much right as any other Member in the House to address it, but I cannot help wishing that there were two Arabs to come and address the House. I believe everyone would have flocked in to hear them, and it would have created a fairer impression if they had had their direct spokesmen as well as the Zionists. The hon. Member used one contemptuous phrase. He said the Arab is not only the son of the desert, but he is the father of the desert.
§ Mr. de Rothschild
I quoted Colonel Jarvis, a great friend of the Arabs, who wrote a book about them. If I have given any offence to Arabs by saying that, I am extremely sorry, but the fault is not mine.
§ Mr. Crossley
The hon. Member may have quoted it, but it served his purpose very well. If one thing is brought out above all others in the Report, it is that the Arabs' national aspirations utterly conflicted with the very proper and laudable aspirations of his own race—that is brought out in page after page—and that this last rebellion was merely the culmination of six previous rebellions. I wonder if it is Liberal to decry and deny the national aspirations of a people like the Arab fellaheen. I cannot help feeling, nevertheless, that this is the first Debate since I have been fortunate enough to be a Member here in which we have discussed Palestine against a background of reality. I remember very well the horror, the distaste, and the feeling that I had committed a sacrilege, when once I suggested that co-operation between Arabs and Jews might well be a fantasy, and that a clash of nationalities might well be an inescapable and inexorable reality. I remember, too, the Debate that took place only just over a year ago on the Legislative Council, which followed very much the same trend as this Debate, speech after speech with the full force of Zionist opinion behind it. That Debate was the last straw that broke the camel's back and brought the rebellion. This Debate may bring trouble in Palestine within the next month. No one but a hard man would deny the national aspirations, the repression, the subjection and the misery of the Jewish people in the world. I would, however, remark 2323 in passing, that there is no people who have treated the Jews right up to the time of this Mandate with such consideration as the Arabs throughout all their lands. Therefore I would ask from the Jews a far greater sympathy than we read of in this Report of the Royal Commission.
The first crystal clear fact that emerges from the Report is that the Arabs' basis of claim is if not substantially justified —if I were to claim that, as I think I do, the Secretary of State would quarrel with me—at least founded on most definite evidence. I apologise for returning for a moment to the McMahon pledge, but why did not Sir Henry McMahon mention a town south of Damascus if he meant to include Palestine. The country lying to the West of a line between Aleppo and Damascus is exactly French Syria. If he had wished to mention the country lying either to the West of the railway South of Damascus, or to the West of the Jordan South of Damascus, surely he ought to have mentioned some other place further South. There were Deraa, Amam, Salt—even the Dead Sea—which he could have mentioned. If that is so, the censure in the Report is justified. I wish the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) were here, because there is censure contained in this Report. "It was in ignorance of any other compact than the McMahon pledge that in June, 1916, the Sherif declared war against the Turks." "It was in the highest degree unfortunate," in another passage, "that the British Government did not make clear their intentions."
I come to my second document on which the Arabs found their claims. A revolt in the desert where there is no Turkish army is a comparatively easy operation. A revolt in Palestine with the Turkish army quartered upon the country was a hanging matter. If there were aeroplanes which dropped over the Jewish population of Poland leaflets requiring the Jews to revolt, there were also aeroplanes that dropped leaflets over the Palestinian Arabs, not the Arabs of Iraq or of the Yemen or of the desert, but Palestinian Arabs—asking them to revolt against the Turks. If they did not enter into open revolt, at least the Turkish forces were depleted, at least General 2324 Allenby was received in Jerusalem as a liberator; Allah en Bey, the Officer of God who came into Jerusalem and made a proclamation upholding that the British Government, which was liberating those Arabs, would grant them self-governing institutions. They knew nothing at that date of any pledge but the McMahon pledge, and the date of the Balfour Declaration had been postponed until one month before and had not reached Jerusalem at that time.
My final document is Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Mandate under which Palestine was governed all those years was a class "A" Mandate, which imposes upon the mandatory the obligation of granting self-governing institutions to the people of the country. Yet there never has been the slightest chance of self-governing institutions being granted to the Arabs because they are in a majority—for no other reason. I believe the argument of Lord Balfour was a very unfortunate one in that the Palestinian Arabs are not the same as the Arabs of other parts of Arabia. The effendi class is to some extent an inter-Arabian class. The peasant class, the fellaheen, has been settled on that land for not less than 1,400 years.
The next point that emerges from the Report of the Royal Commission is the absolute consistency of the opposition of the Arabian population to the Mandate itself. They did not want Western civilisation. They did not want the instrusion of irreligious communities. They did not want to be overcome by numbers. They did not want the creeping conquest of the immigrant. What they did want was the tutelage of Great Britain, and they did want self-governing institutions. Is there any person of any party sitting in this House to-day who would dare to say that it was an improper thing to want self-governing institutions? The Zionist aims conflicted with the Arab aims. "The object of the modern Jewish pioneer is to prepare room and work for the thousands and millions that wait outside."
There was no attempt to hide them. And so the years went on, years of riot, years of truce, in the words of the Commission:The sort of peace that exists between two bodies of men who have little or nothing to do with each otherAnd so through the years, the Jews, hard-working, building up a great, modern Western State, arrogant a little 2325 and boastful of their achievement, but a fine achievement nevertheless; without the least desire to become Palestinians; the Arabs, on the other side, courteous, languid, rather lazy perhaps, fatalistic, hating ever more inexorably the foreign invasion of what they regarded as their own land. The Shaw Commission came and that Commission bore out the Arab case to a large extent. It was followed by Sir John Hope Simpson, who prescribed a drastic curtailment of immigration. Just as the Arabs thought that some part of their case had been recognised by the British Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. R. MacDonald) published what the Arabs still know as the Black Letter, and following on that letter to Dr. Weizmann came the four unhappy years—1932, with its immigration of 10,000, 1933 with its immigration of 30,000, 1934 with its immigration of 42,000, and 1935 with its immigration of 62,000. The creeping conquest of the immigrant became a flood to overwhelm Palestine. In Iraq, in Saudi-Arabia, in the Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Egypt, they saw for Arab nationalities the attainment of the status of complete independence. In Palestine they regard it as an additional stigma and not as a consolation that the same independence is not granted to them. In Parliament no voice was raised but the voice of the Zionist. The proposed legislative council, not taking into effect their majority in the country appeared to them a farce. Finally, there was the repeated insults that in fact they were the real beneficiaries. To which they replied in the magnificent words in the Report:You say we are better off. You say my house has been enriched by strangers, but it is my house and I did not invite the strangers in or ask them to enrich it. I do not care how poor or bare it is, if only I am master of it.Is there any Englishman who dare say that that is not an honourable sentiment?
This is the history of an appalling tragedy against the background of pledges that were inconsistent one with another. It none the less demands a practical solution. There are 400,000 Jews actually n Palestine to-day. There is an inexorable political clash rising every few years between those Jews and the Arabs. There is no possibility of deporting them, and six most eminent Englishmen went out 2326 to Palestine to decide what could best be done, and they have unanimously decided upon the principle of partition. I am not going to oppose that principle. Indeed, I was the first person to say in this House, amid scorn, that it was necessary to segregate the Arab from the Jew in Palestine, and to divide them.
I shall, however, make one observation upon the permanent Mandate of Great Britain and two detailed observations upon the Jewish state, and the partition. I shall not detain the House for more than another four minutes. In Jerusalem there is the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, rising on what, I suppose, is the most beautiful architectural plateau in the world. From the rock in that Mosque, the rock on which Abraham sacrificed Isaac—
§ Mr. Crossley
He was about to sacrifice him, Mohammed ascended into the Heavens and the Angel of Gabriel came and put his fingers on that rock and prevented it from following Mohammed into the Heavens. It was a very materialistic Heaven, and afterwards he returned to Mecca visiting the birthplace of Jesus at Bethlehem on his way. Just below that Mosque there is the Wailing Wall, where week by week on Fridays the Jews lament and worship, before stones of the ancient temple of Solomon. A little further away is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre rising over the caves in which, between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, Jesus lay buried. I believe that it is right and proper that a great Power like England should hold in perpetuity, in trust for the peace of these holy places, shrines so sacred to three of the very great religions of the world. I am glad that that recommendation is made.
My first detailed criticism of the partition is that, in contradistinction to what so many hon. Members have said, the Jews have been granted under this tentative proposal too much and not too little land, and I am prepared to prove that by these figures. In the whole of the Arab territory, not the British Mandated Territory, there are only 1,400 Jews who have gone there and are living there, and who have to be transferred from there, but in the Jewish State there are still living 225,000 Arabs, and I believe that that is prima facie evidence that it is all the 2327 best of the land which has been taken away from the Arabs and given to the Jews. Arising out of that argument is my second detailed criticism that it is most unfortunate that a purely Arab population in the North should be given to the Jewish State, a population in which there is no Jewish colonisation at all, and I cannot help thinking that, if we wish to avoid friction in the future, it would be far better if that population was handed over to the Lebanon and Syria.
I would conclude by making an appeal. I think that I too can make an appeal as well as the Secretary of State, because I believe I am a very trusted friend of the Arabs. My appeal is this. I would ask the Arabs to realise that if they give up a part of their national aspirations under this scheme, so do the Jews give up a part of theirs. If the Jews under this scheme gain a Jewish independent State, so do they gain an Arab independent State—an independent State which largely fulfils what they believe, and I believe, was promised to them in the McMahon letters. If that be so, I would make this one further remark to them. I believe that logically they win their case from end to end. I believe that the logic is wholly with them, but in practical politics logic so often ends in disaster.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
On a point of Order. I understand that this is the House of Commons. I have been here and have seen hon. Members sitting on the back benches during the whole of the day. Should not they have precedence over other people who have been in and out?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not a point of Order. The calling of a Member is a matter within the discretion of the Chair.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. Is it part of the Rules governing Debates that when an hon. Member is called he must stand and show the usual desire that he wishes to speak? Is there a new Rule, or is the Rule now being departed from, and it is not now necessary for certain 2328 hon. Members to rise before they are called?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
On this particular occasion several hon. Members rose, including the right hon. Member for Epping. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I waited in order to look round before taking the course I did in calling upon the right hon. Gentleman, a course which I hope is in the interests of the conduct of the Debate as a whole.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a further point of Order. May I say with due respect that I do not want to get into conflict with you, if I can avoid it. I should like your reply on this point. Is it customary for an hon. Member to stand in order to be called? I want to be clear on the point. Secondly, is it the prerogative of the Chair or is there any Rule that governs the Chair or do any negotiations determine the calling of a Member to speak rather than his standing in the House?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
With regard to the question of standing, if an hon. Member indicates his desire to speak, I am not sure how far his standing up before he is called matters. The recognised words are: "Catch the eye." That can be done without standing. I am not quite clear as to the second part of the hon. Member's question.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Perhaps I may be able to explain it without getting into conflict with you. Have negotiations taken place to enable the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) to get in? I am asking whether it is these negotiations which determine the calling of an hon. Member or does it just depend upon Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as the case may be, to decide who is to speak?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have some considerable doubt whether it is right for me to answer questions of this kind. This is a matter which is admittedly in the discretion of the occupant of the Chair for the time being and I do not think that it is in order to call that discretion in question at the time on the Floor of the House. Therefore, strictly, I doubt whether it is in order that I should deal with a question of this kind, but perhaps I may be allowed to say that information is conveyed sometimes through the usual channels to the occupant of the Chair as to certain intentions of hon. and right 2329 hon. Members, intentions which probably are not known to other Members of the House but which do have some effect on the mind of the occupant of the Chair as to what would be for the convenience of the House as a whole.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Yes, but on this occasion I gave my answer perfectly clearly. I have declined to hear any further points of Order on that matter. The hon. Member said that he desired to raise a point of Order and he started by referring to what I had said.
§ Mr. Gallacher
But it conflicts with your Ruling on this occasion. Cannot I ask for an explanation?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
No. I am afraid that I must leave the hon. Member to raise any grievance that he may have of that kind in a more convenient or more proper form.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill
I should like for one moment to make my apology to the House and to say that whatever has happened is entirely my fault, because with a singular lack of that precipitancy for which I have of ten been blamed, I did not notice the point upon which my hon. Friend finished his speech. I thought there were two or three more words in his sentence, and therefore I did not immediately jump up. I will gladly give way to any hon. Member, but I do not think that it has ever 2330 been the rule that the first person who gets up is the person to be called. [Interruption.] The hon. Member who has just sat down is clearly a strong partisan of the Arab point of view. He has told us how he has served in the field with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—
§ Mr. Churchill
I misunderstood the hon. Member, but, at any rate, he is well acquainted with the Arab problems and speaks with a strong feeling for their point of view. I do not consider that we are altogether in a free and easy position in this House in regard to this question. Pledges have been given on both sides. The pledge which all the world regarded with considerable attention, and which was mentioned by the Secretary of State in his speech, is undoubtedly the Balfour Declaration of policy put forward by the War Cabinet in the crisis of the Great War. It is a delusion to suppose that this was a mere act of crusading enthusiasm or quixotic philanthropy. On the contrary, it was a measure taken, as the right hon. Gentleman who led us in the crisis of the War knows, in the dire need of the War with the object of promoting the general victory of the Allies, for which we expected and received valuable and important assistance. We cannot brush that aside and start afresh as though it had never been given, and deal with this matter as if we had no obligations or responsibility. Therefore, I am bound to say that upon this issue, having studied the question as far as I can and having some personal connection and responsibility for it, I should have preferred the Government to have persevered in the old policy of persuading one side to concede and the other to forbear, and to carry forward that policy, hard and heavy though it may be, with all its inconveniences.
However, we are now presented with this magnificently written State document, the result of months of inquiry by men of very high character and ability, and we are bound to treat the Report of such a Commission with proper respect and consideration. All the same I must say that I could not vote for the Government Motion that we should approve now the principle of partition. I cannot do so because it seems to me it would be premature for the Government to ask the 2331 House to commit itself finally to this main principle. The principle cannot be judged fairly apart from the details by which it is expressed. Take the military aspect alone. The gravest anxieties arise about that. There are two sovereign States, one a rich and small State more crowded than Germany, with double the population to the kilometre of France, and then in the mountains in the surrounding regions, stretching up to Bagdad with the Assyrians and the desert tribes to the south, the whole of this great Arab area confronting this new Jewish State, and in between the two the British holding a number of extremely important positions with responsibilities at present altogether undefined.
It seems to me that this is a matter on which we must know more before we can approve. How can we decide at this moment that we will stand between these two sovereign States and keep the peace between them without knowing at all to what we are committing ourselves? The Secretary of State says that these details have not been worked out; they are coming at the next stage. What is the next stage? It is one for further exploration and inquiry and discussion with the League of Nations; the next stage is discussing with the various parties through the committees which will be set up. We have not got before us at this moment any of the vital data upon which we should be able to commit ourselves finally to the principle of partition. It may happen that the League of Nations may not approve of the Government's proposals, and it may happen that they may break down in detail. It may happen that the two parties, under the pressure of these proposals, may come to a better solution than is open to them at the moment. Therefore, I feel great difficulty at this stage and at this moment in committing myself to the principle of partition, and if it were the only alternative I should have no choice but to vote against it.
On the other hand, we have to be fair to the Commission and to the Government who are carrying this matter forward. The Report and proposals of the Commission should be tested to the full, and the Government have in their connection with the League of Nations a claim for certain advice and authority. At the present time, obviously, it would 2332 be harsh for Parliament, even if it had the power to prevent this matter going forward and being considered at the League of Nations. I have been looking about and walking about during the course of the afternoon to find some way by which, without hampering the forward movement and the treatment of this policy, those who do not feel inclined to commit themselves to the principle of partition may nevertheless agree with the next necessary step. It is of the greatest importance that we should be united on this problem. It is a problem where all the world is looking to see whether Great Britain behaves in an honourable manner, in a courageous manner and in a sagacious manner. I hope those who have been associated in this policy and have played some part in it will at any rate endeavour to walk together up to the point where it is perfectly clear that division arises.
There is also the question of the value of time. I do want to see some time before the House of Commons passes a definite vote of approval of the principle of partition. There are, I believe, signs on both sides that people are thinking that perhaps rather than this they might make some mutual concessions. They have heard of the judgment of Solomon, and how wise that was, in which a baby was held up in order to see which was the true mother. But if sufficient time had not been given for the true mother to proclaim herself by her feelings, I very much doubt whether that parable would have commended itself so much to subsequent generations.
I am not talking on the merits of this case; I am merely discussing procedure. It seems to me that we should treat this discussion not as a Second Reading Debate, but as a First Reading Debate and for leave to long in the Bill and make all the necessary preparations, and that we should not prejudice the further stages. Therefore, with your permission, and supposing that it fits in with the procedure, I should propose to move, as an Amendment to the Amendment of the official Opposition, to insert after the word "proposals" the following:contained in Command Paper No. 5513 relating to Palestine should be brought before the League of Nations with a view to enabling His Majesty's Government, after adequate inquiry, to present to Parliament a definite scheme in accordance with the policy as set out in that Paper.2333 That seems to me to enable the whole of this matter to go forward, and at the same time it enables us to reserve our right to examine the work when it is a completed work, to examine the proposals when they are before us not merely in general adumbration, but in precise and careful detail. It keeps the position open and, on the other hand, it arms the Government with all the powers they need at this moment, and it enables us all to adjourn the most serious aspects of this question until such moment as everyone, with full knowledge of a definite and concrete scheme, will be able to judge for himself.
§ 10.18 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I would like at the outset to make plain our attitude towards the proposed Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). We are not taking up a party attitude in this matter because we all desire to do our best to get a good solution of this very difficult question, in the interests of Arabs and Jews alike, and in the interests of this country, which is vitally concerned as the Mandatory Power. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman is making an attempt to meet our point of view. I believe that very many hon. Members in all parts of the House feel that it is premature for this House to be committed to the proposals of the White Paper. If we thought this Amendment would secure that the House was not committed, we would gladly agree to it; but, in fact, the Amendment does allow the Government to go to the League and to frame a scheme in accordance with the policy of the White Paper. That is, in fact, agreeing to the partition. If the wordsin accordance with the policy as set out in that Paperwere omitted, we could agree, and thus avoid a Division. But as the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment reads it seems to leave the position exactly as it was because it is definitely tied up with paragraph 3 of the Government's White Paper which states:and that a scheme of partition on the general lines recommended by the Commission represents the best and most hopeful solution of the deadlock.To the extent that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is tied up with that paragraph of the Command Paper, I do not see any difference between his policy and 2334 that of His Majesty's Government. If the right hon. Gentleman felt disposed to omit the words I have indicated then, posisbly, we might avoid a Division.
§ Mr. Churchill
My intention was to draw a distinction between approving of the policy and approving of further inquiries into the policy.
§ Mr. Williams
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, with his vast experience, will be the first to appreciate the fact that his Amendment is tied up with paragraph 3 of the White Paper which involves partition, and that therefore there is no material difference between his suggested Amendment and the Motion which appears on the Order Paper on behalf of His Majesty's Government. In any case we fail to see any material difference between them. Therefore much as we would like to avoid any Division and to leave this question a non-party one, conceding to the Government the right to do the best they can in all the circumstances, without committing the House and ready as we would be to fall in with the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman's Motion, we feel that the words are in no particular different from those in which are set out the policy of the Government who have accepted the principle of partition. That being the case I am afraid we shall have to proceed with our Amendment and unfortunate though it may seem, we shall have to press that Amendment to a Division.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
On a point of Order. I am very interested in the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, and in the reply which has just been made, but, as a private Member, I am completely at a loss to know exactly what procedure is being adopted here. I am asking you, Sir, for guidance. We are not in Committee and we have here a definite Motion on behalf of the Government on the Paper—in my view a somewhat bald and insufficient Motion in view of the circumstances in which we are met. Now the right hon. Gentleman comes forward with an Amendment to the Amendment of the official Opposition I do not wish to block procedure along those lines, but if we are to, discuss a new proposition, different from that on which we started at 4 o'clock to-day, and different from what is on the Paper, I wish for an opportunity of think- 2335 ing it over in private and discussing it with friends inside and outside the House. Therefore, I think the appropriate procedure at this stage would be the Adjournment of the Debate. First I would ask you, Sir, whether the Amendment now moved is in order, and, if so, I wish then to ask whether I would be in order in moving the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
As I understand the position, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) has not moved any Amendment as yet. His speech was confined to what he proposed to do in certain events. In the course of time, supposing the present question is negatived, he could then move an Amendment to the Amendment which is on the Paper.
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman raises an Amendment which now in fact has already become a problem of discussion. He proposes to move an Amendment, and he is replied to by the Front Opposition Bench. I want to ask you, Sir, in view of the fact that that has been done at about 20 minutes past 10 at night, whether it is now in order for a completely new Amendment to become part of the discussion. Should not the proposition put before us as an Amendment wait for discussion until after the Amendment of the official Opposition has been disposed of?
§ Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew
On a point of Order. On page 118 of the "Manual of Procedure" it says, under the heading "Power to amend notice of Motion":The amended notice must he given, at latest, during a sitting of the House preceding the day appointed for the motion.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that has anything to do with this Debate. The original question was:That this House approves the policy of His Majesty's Government relating to Palestine as set out in Cmd. Paper No. 5513,since which an Amendment has been moved, to leave out all the words after "That," in order to add at the end the words of the Amendment which appear 2336 on the Paper. The course which I think the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) proposes is that that question should now be put, that when I put the question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," that should be defeated, that then I should put the question, "That those words be there added," and that, as soon as that question is proposed, the right hon. Member for Epping should rise in his place and move the Amendment which he has suggested.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Which means, as far as I can gather, that that Amendment is not before us now, and that what is before us now is the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). The point that I put, with respect, is whether the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) will be for discussion, or whether it will be automatically accepted by you and put from the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
As soon as the right hon. Gentleman moves his Amendment, when we get to that stage, I shall put it from the Chair.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
On a point of Order. Would it not be a more convenient way of discussing these issues to discuss the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment now and to get that out of the way? The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has just begun a speech and made some observations on it, and would it not be well to get the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment out of the way and then get back on to the main Amendment which has been moved from the Front Opposition Bench?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think the object of the right hon. Member for Epping is to get out of the way the Amendment of the Front Opposition Bench, in order to discuss his proposed Amendment, and I think the hon. Member for Don Valley is suggesting to the right hon. Member for Epping that his Amendment should be moved, but in other words than those which he suggested in his speech.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
I suggest that the position is this. What is before the House is the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman, in speaking to that Amendment, indicated that he was proposing to move an Amendment to the Amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has explained that, as far as we are concerned, the proposed Amendment to the Amendment will not meet our position at all and that, therefore, we are persisting in our Amendment and intend to take it to a vote. Therefore, in my submission the Debate should continue on the Amendment which we wish the House to adopt.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is exactly what I have been trying to explain to the House, but the right hon. Gentleman has put it in much plainer words.
§ Mr. Maxton
I have listened to the various explanations which have been given since I first asked my question, and I am still of the opinion that the fairest thing to the House and to you, Sir, is that the Debate should be adjourned so that this new proposition which is to be discussed later, which none of us have had an opportunity of discussing among our friends, and which seems to be fathered in a friendly way by the Government, should be put on the Paper. I wish, therefore, to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member cannot move that now, because it is in the middle of the speech of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). He must wait, at any rate, until the hon. Member has finished his speech.
§ Mr. T. Williams
For the fourth or fifth time I will attempt to return to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. During the course of the Debate there have been definitely pro-Jew speeches and there have been one or two that were definitely pro-Arab. I hope that I shall be neither anti-Arab nor pro-Jew, but, if anything, pro-Palestine. No feudal landlord nor modern capitalist will blind me to the fact that broadly speaking the workers' interests are identical whether they are Jews or Arabs. Should there be any bias in what I have to say, I hope it will be on the side of the workers 2338 of both nationalities and not on the side of any theory that has been advanced. The Commission had a very thankless task and they not only acquitted themselves admirably but produced a most brilliant analysis of the whole situation in Palestine. I am rather doubtful. however, about their conclusions, and much more doubtful about the hasty and indecent decision taken by His Majesty's Government. If there has been a speech made in the course of this Debate which justified our Amendment, I think it was made by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who proved beyond a shadow of doubt that even to accept the principles as laid down by the Commission was very premature, dangerous, and extremely hazardous.
In this Report 150 pages are devoted to proving that material and economic advantages have followed the Mandate. The remainder of the Report is devoted to proving how impossible it is for the Mandate to continue. Therefore the Commission dig the grave and bury the Mandate, but say that the spirit of the mandatory administration shall continue. One thing is crystal clear, that a remarkable advance has been made during the last 15 years, amid all the turmoil which has existed, and one wonders what would have been the situation in Palestine if the will to succeed with the Mandate had actually been there. In any case we cannot forget that the Mandate was accepted by the Government with their eyes wide open and knowing all the difficulties and problems which they would have to face. After 17 years they are ready to throw up the sponge and, to say the least of it, that is a humiliating retreat.
I suggest to the Secretary of State for the Colonies that little or no consideration has been paid to the workers, either Arab or Jew, in taking that decision. The Commission have placed on record the fact that the standards of all classes have improved, that wages are higher than in any other part of the Arab kingdom, that health services have improved and that the death rate has fallen. Although the mandatory government had obligations not only to the feudal landlord but to the Arab and the Jewish workers, they seem to have paid little or no attention to the conditions that have obtained during that time. In paragraph 19, on page 375 of their Report, the Commission declare, 2339The hope of harmony between the races has proved untenable. … There is little moral value in maintaining the political unity of Palestine at the cost of perpetual hatred, strife and bloodshed.We entirely agree with that, but we are entitled to ask whether that hatred, strife and bloodshed were really inevitable. As we have no access to the Commission itself I should like to ask whether the workers, the Arab workers in particular, were invited to give any evidence before the Commission. Were they consulted at all during the sittings of the Commission? We should like to know who the Arab spokesmen were, if any Arab spokesmen were sent to represent the view of the Arab workers. We know that Palestine is more prosperous than any other country in the Arab Kingdom. We know that the Arab workmen must have a point of view and we want to know whether it was submitted to the Commission. The economic interests of the Arab leaders are assured, whatever the political situation may be.
I had the pleasure of meeting a leader of the Arabs within the precincts of this House. I know the point of view of Arab leaders representing the landowning community. I should be more interested to know the point of view of the Arab labourer. We have already had access to the Jewish labour point of view and to the persons who care for the interests of the Jewish workers. It can be said in favour of the Nationalist leaders that they have been persistent and determined. From the very commencement they have opposed the Mandate, and the national home and they oppose partition and are unwilling to accept anything apart from absolute national independence. When questions were submitted to the Nationalist leader whom we met in this House he stated very plainly that Nationalist leaders refused to accept hte legitimacy of the Mandate or the national home and refused to accept partition.
I am not going to argue with the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Crossley) about interpretation, but I would observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a very definite statement on the promises made between 1915 and 1920. Whether the hon. Gentleman or the Secretary of State for the Colonies is right in his interpreta- 2340 tion, I will leave the two of them to argue about afterwards. I shall not waste time on that phase of the problem. Promises were certainly made to both Arabs and Jews.
In 1937, none of those promises, so far as we can see, has been fulfilled, or are likely to be fulfilled, if the policy accepted by the Government is carried to its logical conclusion. Having accepted the situation in 1920, what is to be said for the attitude of the administration during this period? They have been criticised by the Arabs, by the Jews, by the Mandates Commission, and finally by the Royal Commission. They have been charged with indifference and, on certain occasions, with active opposition to the Mandate itself. The land settlement administration has been proved to be dilatory and it is on record—this is more important than anything—that the administration has been hostile to co-operation between Arab and Jewish workers. To the extent that that hostility has succeeded in keeping the two sections apart, it has prevented the Mandate from being successfully operated. No denial has been made to the statement that the administration in Palestine in undertaking certain work has never, so far as we can learn, applied the Fair Wages Clause. In every particular it seems that the workers' interests have been neglected. Where there was an opportunity for real co-operation and of breaking down racial, religious and other barriers, the administration has been most unhelpful. The result is, we are informed that there can be no peace as long as the Mandate remains.
The Commission therefore declare that, the Arabs being Asiatics and the Jews being Europeans, there can be nothing in common between them, but I have seen with my own eyes, where there was a will to co-operate, that Arab and Jewish workers have co-operated with mutual benefits to both sections of those workers. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) that advantage has not been taken of the genuine desire on the part of those who do the work in Palestine for real co-operation. When the Secretary of State says, as he did this afternoon, that one of the major reasons why there could be no unity between the two sections, was 2341 a question of education, I would draw his attention to the second paragraph of Article 15 of the Mandate, which gives the mandatory Power full liberty, if they wish it, to insist that both Jews and Arabs shall learn a second language apart from their own. If the will had been there, that very great problem could have been solved, and there would have been no necessity for the surgical operation to-day.
Turning to the partition recommended by the Royal Commission, our submission is that the proposals are ill-considered, hopelessly inconclusive, tremendously speculative and hazardous, and may even create less peace in the future than there has been during the past 15 years. The Commission tell us that partition must fulfil three conditions: It must be practical; it must conform to our obligations; and it must do justice to both Arab and Jew. I want to examine whether these conditions are possible of fulfilment under the recommendations which have been made.
We all know the size of Palestine; it is a very small country. It is to be carved up into three States—two sovereign States and one mandated. There must be artificial barriers that no one can justify. There will be minorities in each of the States; there will be three sets of customs duties and three defence forces; and no one will know exactly where one finishes and the other starts. Indeed, the recommendations are so inconclusive that they need a great deal more consideration than has been given to them so far before we can either accept the principle or the details. A multiplicity of problems must be solved before any House of Commons could accept either the principle or the details. Even the Commission themselves tell us, in paragraph (3) on page 380, that:further protracted inquiry … would be needed for working out a scheme of partition.On page 383 they tell us that it is not possible for them to draw a precise line, and they therefore recommend that a Frontier Commission be established for the purpose of dealing with the boundaries. I hope the Noble Lord will tell us, when he comes to reply, that it is hardly sufficient to accept the principle of partition with the very skeleton scheme that has been laid before the House in 2342 this Report. We ought to know much more than we do now from the thin red line drawn around this map, allocating one portion to the Jews and the other portion to the Arabs. It has been already pointed out this afternoon that there are 225,000 Arabs in the area that has been tentatively allocated to the Jews.
The Commission suggest, among other things, that as far as possible there ought to be an exchange of land and an exchange of population, and I want to put one or two questions to the Noble Lord. He not only knows the problem from A to Z, but will, I am sure, be ready and willing to reply as far as possible in the time at his disposal. The Commission declare that, if partition is to become effective in promoting a final settlement, transfer of land and transfer of population will have to take place, and that in the last resort transfer will have to be compulsory. They suggest, quite rightly, that this will call for the highest statesmanship on the part of all concerned. I should like to know whether, when the Government accepted the principle of partition, they also accepted the principle of transfer, and whether, in particular, they accepted the principle of compulsory transfer in the last resort. I am convinced that, if the 225,000 Arabs within the tentative Jewish territory have to be transferred to other parts of Palestine or to Transjordan, that will raise a problem with which the present Administration will be totally incapable of dealing unless they manifest much higher statesmanship than they have manifested for a long period of time.
The exchange of land and the exchange of population are to be left to the administration. We should like to know whether it is the Government's intention effectively to carry out the recommendations so far as transfer is concerned if partition is to be accepted in principle and to be worked out in detail. If partition is to be the final solution, what is meant by sovereignty? One is prompted to put the question for this simple reason. Of the five towns within the Jewish territory, four of them are to remain for a period under the present mandatory government. How long is the period to be before full sovereignty is conceded to the Jews, assuming that partition is the final solution? I know that this period will be bound up with treaties and safeguards for minorities. I am willing to concede 2343 that a certain period of time will be necessary before the new Arab State or the new Jewish State can have full sovereignty, but is a time limit going to be placed on this transition period or, once the administration have their hold not only on the four towns but some control over Jaffa, will they not linger as long as they can and tend to reduce sovereignty to a farce?
The Jaffa-Jerusalem corridor is supposed to involve negotiating troubles that may occur within the Jewish territory with these 50,000 Arabs resident in Jaffa. The Commission suggest that the Jaffa Harbour must continue and that the corridor will be helpful in preserving the identity of Jaffa within the Arab State. But they insist that the Jews and the Arabs shall jointly run the Jaffa harbour through a joint harbour committee presided over by an English officer. But already we have been told in the Report again and again that Jews and Arabs cannot live together, because they have nothing in common. Yet they are informed that they must live and work together as far as the Jaffa harbour is concerned. I am entitled to ask this question and the Noble Lord will perhaps be good enough to reply to it. The Mandatory administration will have the last word in connection with the harbours of Haifa and Jaffa, and since both these ports are in the Jewish territory is it not fair to assume that there are Imperialist designs behind the preservation of that power for the third government within that small territory, and is it not dangerous to make promises which are not likely to be fulfilled either to the Arabs or the Jews? In any case, before any final scheme is produced and brought before this House, both sections of the community residing within Palestine ought to know exactly when the Mandatory administration is to cease and when full sovereignty is to start, for only when that happens will there be any possibility, although divided, of unity being restored for the two sections there.
I want to ask the Noble Lord about the much debated question of Jerusalem. We recognise that that is the spiritual home of many millions of people, but we are at the moment more concerned about those who make Jerusalem their place of abode. It seems clear that, if Jaffa is carved out of one end of the corridor 2344 because of the peculiar population there, at the other end of the corridor another section of the population should not also be carved out because of their peculiar connection with some other part of Palestine. This seems to me to be one of those things that require a great deal of consideration before a final settlement is reached. It is justification for our demanding that a Joint Select Committee be set up so that not only the principle but general details can be fully worked out before this House is committed to the proposal at all. Indeed, the recommendations are so inconclusive, so ill thought out, so lacking in finality, that the House would do far better to accept this Amendment, let the Mandates Commission examine the recommendation if they wish, let them produce some better proposal for the government of Palestine, but do not let the House commit itself, either in principle or in detail, to a scheme which has not been worked out, so far has given no one any sort of satisfaction or any sort of guarantees, and to that extent satisfied no section of the community.
We still feel that there is room in Palestine for Arab and Jew to live and to co-operate together for their mutual advantage. We do not think that a comparatively few either Medal landlords or modern capitalists ought to stand in the way. Whatever scheme or schemes are brought to the House, we shall regard as being of paramount importance the interests of the workers, whether they are Arabs or Jews. We are unwilling to commit ourselves or the House in advance, and until we know that much more consideration has been given to both sections of the community resident in that country, until we know much more about the commitments of this country, financial and otherwise, we are unwilling to accept this scheme, and I hope the House will see fit, even at this late hour, to accept the terms of our Amendment.
§ 10.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
It appears to me that the Government are going to add a little more to the tragedy already in connection with Palestine. It is apparent, as the Debate has gone on, that the Government is not so very sure of what it intends to do, and we are going to Geneva to look for the possibility of some other policy. They have come to the conclusion that things are working badly. 2345 For a short time in his speech the right hon. Gentleman became very eloquent about how they were accepting this brilliant Report and deciding upon the acceptance of the principle of partition. Yet, as I listened to him, I wondered how far really they were going to accept the principle of partition. As indications go now, it appears that possibly partition is in danger also, and that they are going to Geneva in the hope of something turning up. That is a very unfortunate position and shows how the circumstances have been created during those years which have brought so much suffering and hardship, and death to many Jews and Arabs in Palestine. This matter should be treated much more seriously, and the Government should be more sure of their position than they are at the present time.
I went to Palestine at the beginning of this year because the party to which I belong is very interested in that problem, and because, as a party, we have certain international affiliations, and the problem of Palestine and the dispute between the Arab community and the Jewish community are a matter of very great importance to the Socialist movement. From my experience in Palestine, I can understand why the Mandate has turned out to be such a failure and why there has been no prospect of peace between the two peoples. The administration has not the confidence either of the Arab community or the Jewish community, and I believe that one of the reasons why the administration in Palestine failed so signally was because all the time the administration was only concerned with the richer sections of the two communities.
There was no real sympathy on the part of the administration with regard to the Jewish workers who had come into the country, they were frankly suspicious of them all the time. When workers applied for citizenship they were very lucky if they got it because the administration were afraid that they might be contaminated with Socialist opinions of some kind or another. Just as they were unsympathetic to the Jewish workers who came into the country, they were similarly completely unsympathetic to the Arabs, especially the peasantry, whose interest was never a matter of very urgent consideration on the part of the administration. The one thing they did try to do was, on the one hand, to please 2346 the Mufti, and, on the other hand, to please the Right Wing Zionist leaders, but so far as the rank and file of both these races in the country were concerned, the administration systematically gave them no real sympathy. If there is all this improvement in Palestine it is due to the tremendous energy and efficiency of the Jewish community who came into the country, and to Jewish agency, and it was accomplished in spite of the coldness and the hostility of the British administration.
Another point which I want to put shows that the same thing is going to happen in the future as in the past. The Royal Commission was composed of gifted people. Everyone must admit their ability but not one member could be said in any way to be a representative of the working class, or one who was aware of working-class problems from personal experience. It is again something from up above, a high class Commission looking into the trouble that had occurred among the common Jews who had gone into the country, and the miserable Arabs who had been living there in filth and misery for so long. I have had the opportunity of reading the report of the evidence given by representatives of the Jewish Federation of Labour. I have read the report of evidence of many Commissions, but never one where the members of the Commission were so autocratic and, I think, offensive to the witnesses as were the members of this Royal Commission. I noticed also that when the representatives of the Arab community came before the Royal Commission they were treated in a most cavalier fashion when giving their evidence. There was no representative of the working class on the Royal Commission, and all the time in connection with this Palestine problem it has not been dealt with from the point of view of the Jewish workers, the Arab workers, or the Jewish or Arab agricultural workers. It has always been dealt with from the point of view of big capitalism and great Imperial interests. Always in the background there have been the interests of British Imperialism.
When I was in Palestine I met all sections of the community. It is true that it was a conducted tour. I was taken through many of the Jewish collectives. I went through the great industrial works that have been set up. I had an opportunity of meeting His Excellency the High 2347 Commissioner and leading representatives of the Jewish Agency. I found among the ordinary Jewish people and also in conversation with the Arab chiefs I met, extraordinary bitterness against the British administration. It is said that you cannot get the Arabs and Jews to mingle. I remember an Arab railway worker telling us that during the whole of the trouble the interest of the British administration was the safety of the pipe line, and the Jews considered that the chief British concern was not the development of a Jewish national home but the development of British Imperialism in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is just as well that hon. Members should be aware of opinion in Palestine. The Secretary of State said that he asked a Jewish person whether they were able to get any social intercourse with the Arabs.
When I was in Ramoth Gilead there came to meet us seven Sheiks of seven neighbouring Arab villages, and we had a long talk with them about their problems. They said that there was no danger when they came into association with the Jews, and they got no protection from the Government against the Arabs. The terrorists had attacked one of their villages because of the friendly relationship which existed between them and the Jewish community. We went outside and there were Arab children coming in from the neighbouring Arab villages. We went to the Jewish school and saw the Arab and Jewish children meet together and we heard them sing a Jewish song and an Arab song, and when we left the village the Arab and Jewish children were sitting down having a meal together. [Interruption.] It was very nice, but it is not what I should expect from the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Liddall). The generosity of feeling which was exhibited by these people to each other is something which I should not expect from the hon. Member. There was an instance which shows the possibilities of the situation, if only our administration tried to improve the conditions of the working people instead of playing about trying to please the Mufti and effendi, and the big Jewish capitalists who have come into the country.
We are now faced with the question of partition or no partition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook 2348 (Mr. Amery) tried to persuade the House that it could easily accept the Government's Motion, which did not settle the boundaries and so on. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), later on, evidently thought that that would be a terrible thing to do, and he could not support the Government, as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was prepared to do. The whole matter will be decided by our decision on the question of partition. It is the question of partition that is all-important in present circumstances. Hon. Members of my party absolutely refuse to accept the principle of partition.
Throughout the Debate, the assumption has been that partition would lead to peace between the two communities, but there is no evidence to show that that is the case. In fact, the evidence is all against it. The Arab community rejects the idea of partition. The Arabs think it is such a terrible thing that they are prepared to excommunicate any Arab who has anything to do with the acceptance of the partition of the country. The Colonial Secretary told us that the Iraqi Prime Minister had decided that he would not carry on the agitation to which he had evidently been willing to commit himself, but it is still his opinion, and although, as Prime Minister of Iraq, under the fear of losing their independence if he disturbs the right hon. Gentleman, he is not prepared to go on with any agitation, there are plenty of other people not in the Government there who will go on with it.
That seems to me to be the opinion of Arabs generally, with the exception of the Emir Abdulla, who is naturally pleased that he is going to get an addition to his territory, and some of the Arabs in Palestine who think they will get something out of it. I can quite well understand that the Arabs in Palestine do not want to have anything to do with the Emir Abdulla and his rule, because there are only 300,000 people in a territory three and a-half times the size of Palestine, and there has been no development of it under the Emir Abdulla. They will go to the most backward ruler in the whole of that vast country, and it is to be said that, as a reward for his misgovernment of Transjordania, that part of Palestine is to be added to his domains. 2349 I cannot understand what the members of the Royal Commission were thinking about when they made that suggestion. The Arab community is obviously against it, and the Jewish community is also against it. They know how they have been let down already. Neither side can trust the representatives of the British Government.
One question I want to put to the Government is this. What will be the attitude of the Government if one of the other nations, say the United States or France, is prepared to accept the Mandate for Palestine? Will the British Government be willing to step aside and allow France to take over the Mandate for Palestine? I would like a definite answer to that question. I have had a letter by air mail from Palestine to-day and I gather that among the Jewish collectives, there is a growing opinion that one of those countries might be prepared to take over the Mandate. I do not believe Britain will give up the Mandate. But I believe that the British Government has failed in carrying out its Mandate because all the time it sought to keep the two races apart. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman opposite laughs but why did the Administration refuse to allow the Arabs and Jews to work a united trade union in the railway service? They said that if this trade union was affiliated with the international trade union at Amsterdam they would not recognise it, and without that affiliation it would have been impossible for the union to have carried on. The Administration put every difficulty in the way of joint association. In Ramoth Gilead there was an opportunity to have an Arab teacher teaching the children in both the Arab and Jewish schools, but the Administration would not have it. So it has always been the policy to "divide and conquer," to keep the two races apart in order that British Imperialism would be able to make use of both in connection with Imperial interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. I hope that my words will also go from this House to Palestine, and I would say to the Arab peasantry and the Arab workers and to the Jewish peasantry and the Jewish workers that I hope the working classes and the peasantry in Palestine will unite their forces and clear out the effendis and the Jewish capitalists and also drive out British Imperialism and 2350 make Palestine the country of a united Arab and Jewish people.
§ 11.24 p.m.
§ Earl Winterton
I must ask the indulgence of the House for having to trouble them with a speech at what is, in these modern days, a somewhat late hour in our Parliamentary proceedings, though when I first entered the House it was the normal time for the closing speech in a Debate to be made. In normal circumstances, anyone replying for the Government on an occasion like this would do so in very few words, but it is necessary for me to-night to remember three facts. In the first place, we have had the report of a Commission which, by general acceptance, at any rate outside this House, has performed its task extraordinarily well. It was a Commission composed of men of the greatest eminence, and it would be unfair to them and to the Administration in Palestine if some of the statements which have been made about them to-night went unanswered in this Debate. In the second place, it would be very discourteous to the House and to the many hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken if, as representing the Government, I did not reply to the points which have been made. May I, in parenthesis, say that while I differ from many of the things that have been said from the benches opposite and from below the Gangway opposite, I appreciate, as does the Colonial Secretary, that the speeches throughout this Debate dealing with this important and almost historic subject have been in each case sincere and impartial in intention. I should like, as a Member of the Government and as an old Member of this House, to point out that we have it on the records of the Royal Commission itself that the debates in this House have an effect in Palestine which probably hon. and right hon. Members who take part in them do not always realise. The occasion of the last Debate had a certain effect in Palestine, and I am very anxious that there should be no evil effect come from this Debate to-night, and there is no reason why there should.
I have just referred to the effect, as at any rate stated by the Commission, upon public opinion in Palestine of what they regard as the one-sided nature of the attitude that in the past this House and other 2351 bodies in this country have taken towards the Palestinian problem, and I hope the House will accept what I say, as one having some knowledge of the Arab people. They do most deeply feel, rightly or wrongly, that to some extent —and the more reasonable of them admit that it is unavoidable—the dice are loaded against them, because of this fact, that they have no representatives in this House, that there are no men of Arab race in this House, and that there is no Arab vote in this country. That is a physical fact which cannot be got over. At the same time, I must express some regret that in the speeches to-night some bias has been shown against these Arabs as Arabs, [Interruption.] Let me put it in this way, that there has been some bias shown towards the Jewish case. I think it is inevitable, and I am not complaining of it, but it is necessary that anyone speaking for the Government should make it clear that this House and this country must approach this problem as they approached the Hindu-Moslem problem in India, with absolute impartiality, without fear or favour, without any regard to the feelings of any section of the people of this country, but purely from the point of view of trying to see justice done. It is very necessary that that should be made abundantly clear.
Let me turn from that to what has been said about the Administration. Some very hard things have been said about the Palestinian Administration, and I quite agree that if you take only certain paragraphs in the Report of the Commission, you can apply unqualified condemnation to everything done by Sir Arthur Wauchope and by his predecessors and the whole of the Administration since they have been out there. That is not so. I would call the attention of the House to this paragraph, which I wanted the right hon. Gentleman opposite to quote, but for some reason he did not do so. It is paragraph 66 on page 204:If, however, we are asked whether we can with confidence recommend these measures as a solution of the problem of insecurity, truth compels us to say that, with all the difficulties that many of these measures entail and the unfortunate results attending their application, we could at best regard them, not as a permanent remedy, but only as temporary measures designed to prevent a recurrence of open rebellion and to give the Jews that protection which, under the Mandate, they have a right to expect.2352 The last paragraph should be considered by everybody, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill):The immediate effect would be to widen the gulf that separates the Arab from the Jew, with repercussions spreading far beyond the borders of Palestine.In other words, what in fact the Commission's Report says—you can accept it or reject it as you like—is that the mere use of force and repression to deal with the situation would not be a permanent solution of the problem. I do not want to be controversial, and I hope that at the end of the Debate we may agree on the course that we shall take, but I must say I am astonished at some of the arguments I have heard, not only in this Debate but in previous Debates on this question. I should have thought that it was generally agreed that where you had a whole race, a community, bitterly opposed to a certain course of action, you could not make them like that action merely by using force. It is contrary to the whole teaching and policy of the past 30 years, in this country at least, to impose upon any homogeneous community a course of action of which they do not approve. I thought the whole House was agreed, and I hear with astonishment—
§ Earl Winterton
I do not want to get into controversy with my right hon. Friend, but, on the contrary, the exact opposite is the case, because what is the gist of the Commission's Report? They say that the history of the past 17 years has shown that every effort that has been made to deal with the situation has failed to convince a single Arab that under the present mandatory system they would get a fair deal. They point out that it is not the fault of the Administration but of the conditions under which the Administration have to work. I admire the great sincerity of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I am surprised that he should have adopted the attitude he has in this matter. I always thought that it was a cardinal matter of faith with him that any backward indigenous race, clinging desperately to its ancient mode of life and infructuous in agriculture, roused his enthusiastic support.
§ Earl Winterton
That is exactly the answer which I hoped the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was going to make. It is the point I wished to make. A cardinal feature of the arguments of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and some other hon. Members opposite is a belief that the opposition on the part of the Arabs is confined to a few effendis and a few landlords. That statement used to be made in the past. It is obvious that the Commission do not hold that view, and it is obvious to anyone who visits Palestine that it is not so. Let me say frankly that I think there is the same mood among the Arab people of Palestine as there was among the Southern Irish some years ago—exactly the same.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
The Commission did not take any evidence from the fellaheen. They hardly went about the country at all.
§ Earl Winterton
The Royal Commission certainly took evidence. There was the evidence given by Mr. Mansuur on behalf of Arab labour.
§ Earl Winterton
The hon. Member addressed the House at some length and perhaps he will allow me to go on. It cannot be said that the Government have taken an undue amount of time in this Debate. I am the first Member to reply to the Debate for the Government. I cannot agree with the hon. Member. It is not true to say that the Gentleman in question represented nobody but himself. He represents the only organised Arab labour in the country. His evidence was to the effect that Arab labour could not accept the present position and were at one with people of other classes in objecting to Jewish immigration as it stands at present.
That brings me to this question of Jewish immigration. It is a late hour at which to put an arithmetical argument, but I will try to do so. There are in Poland alone, I understand, 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 Jews who would like to emigrate. There are certainly that number in Germany—well, at any rate a large 2354 number in Germany. I should say that the total number on the Continent would not be far short of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000. Is it seriously believed by anyone on those benches or on these that it would be possible in present conditions, or in any conditions, for that number of Jews to be absorbed into Palestine?
§ Earl Winterton
The right hon. Gentleman says that it would relieve the pressure. I do not think anyone can say that the Palestine administration have not done their best to assist immigration. The figures show it. It is really true that someone defended the attitude of this country towards world Jewry. What other country in these circumstances has done as much for the Jews? In what other countries do the Jews have a fairer and squarer deal? And quite rightly so. Mr. Frankel: What are you annoyed about?
§ Earl Winterton
I am not in conflict with the hon. Member but there are some members of his race outside the House who may suggest that the British Empire has broken faith with the Jews. We have made a great contribution towards the settlement of this terrible problem, and let me say, in case I have given a contrary impression, that no one can sympathise more than I do with the position of the Jews on the Continent. What I do say is that it is utterly fantastic to suppose that the problem can be solved by Palestine. I would add that the mere fact that world Jewry suffers much, in some cases terrible, persecution has always seemed to me an utterly insufficient reason why its members should be allowed to go in unlimited numbers into Palestine irrespective of the wishes of the Arab inhabitants. There has been a general assumption underlying many of the speeches that the Jews can go to Palestine as a right. That is not so. As my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary pointed out there is a complete difference between the words, carefully chosen, "a Jewish national home in Palestine" and "Palestine as a Jewish national home." There is a complete difference between the two expressions.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping quite rightly emphasised the seriousness of the problem that remains. 2355 I must say, in view of the terrible difficulties, which have been brought out in this Report and made known for the first time, that we on our part have done our very best to fulfil the most difficult promises that were made to the Jews and Arabs. I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has come into the House; I would draw attention to the speech which was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). I do not want to right hon. Gentleman to think that I agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly, but he referred to the cynical levity with which promises were made to both sides 20 years ago.
§ Earl Winterton
I do not go as far as the hon. Member for Caerphilly, but I say, with the Commission, that the promises were made in perfect good faith in the belief that they were acceptable and capable of being carried out. Events have proved, in fact, that it was impossible to carry them out under the present system.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
On condition that we had the assistance of the people to whom we made the promises.
§ Earl Winterton
Several points with which I have not dealt were raised in various speeches. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition asked a question about the boundaries. The scheme will be presented to the League of Nations with the boundaries suggested in the scheme. It will be open to the Mandates Commission to comment upon those boundaries, and if they accept them it will be necessary for a Boundary Commission to be appointed, and for the greatest care to be taken to see that the boundaries are, in fact, capable of being carried out.
A question was asked by the hon. Member who spoke last on behalf of the Front Bench opposite; he was particularly anxious to know about the ports. I thought it had been made clear by the Colonial Secretary that the proposal suggested in regard to the ports is one which, in the opinion of the Commission, would be most likely to satisfy—I understand 2356 that is their meaning—the economic needs of Palestine. They suggest that by this scheme it would be easier to carry on trade than it would be without the scheme. Obviously it is necessary for both sides to come to a satisfactory conclusion.
That brings me to another point which has been raised, and it is the last substantial point with which I want to deal. It is: How can you suggest for a moment, if these people have failed to get on under the present Mandate, living as they do side by side, that they will be any happier when they live in separate States? The answer to that is to be found in the arguments of the Commission. I should have thought it was a rather jejune question to ask, for the reason that I thought it was generally admitted that there were circumstances when races which were discontented under the rule of another race, or had to share a position with another race, were more satisfied and able to carry out their own destinies if they had a State of their own.
§ Mr. Morgan Jones
The point is this: If 1,000,000 Arabs cannot live with 400,000 Jews in the whole of Palestine, how can it be argued that 225,000 Arabs can live with 228,000 Jews in the Jewish State?
§ Earl Winterton
The answer to that question is contained in the Report of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission have pointed out that under present conditions, under the Mandate, these two races are each striving to prevent the other from getting self-government. The whole object of the Arabs is to prevent the Jews from having a majority, and the whole object of the Jews is to endeavour to get a majority so that they may rule the Arabs under the Mandate. The Royal Commission point out that in these circumstances you cannot hope for anything but a conflict of races, and they recommend the setting up of two separate States, where there will be no question about the Arabs having a majority in the one and the Jews in the other. That is the whole essence of the scheme.
§ Mr. Morgan Jones
I challenge the Noble Lord to contradict this statement, that, while the Jews are to be prohibited from entering the Arab State, Arabs are not to be prohibited from entering the Jewish State, and it is not possible to guarantee what will be the effect, as regards peace, of these large numbers of Arabs in the Jewish State.
§ Earl Winterton
It is believed by the Royal Commission that the altered conditions, under which each race will work out its own destiny in its own State, will be fairer to the minorities in both States. The question of transfer is still in a very tentative state, but I should hope that no one on either side of the House would say that the scheme is a bad one. The Report suggests that, on the analogy of what occurred with the Greek and Turkish minorities after the War, when there was a very satisfactory transfer of minorities from one territory to another, something of the same kind could be done in Palestine, and that it might lead to a solution of the minorities question. Obviously this must be carefully considered in the greatest detail by the Mandates Commission. I wish to emphasise and make it clear that the Government stand by the proposals in the White Paper, which in themselves recommend to the Mandates Commission at Geneva the proposals of the Royal Commission's Report. The Government are willing to accept the Amendment to the Opposition Amendment with some slight alteration of the wording, but they want to make it quite clear that, if they receive the consent of the House, as I hope they will, and naturally I hope it will be given without a vote, unanimously, the proposals which are outlined in the White Paper will be taken by my right hon. Friend before the Mandates Commission at Geneva on 30th July.
I am authorised by the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary to say that whatever happens at Geneva—it must be hoped that the Mandates Commission will accept the proposals—there will be the fullest opportunity for this House to consider the scheme in all its details. But I must add this word. I cannot believe that in the present circumstances and with the dangerous material which there is about in Palestine, it would be in the slightest degree desirable that there should be any suggestion of delay in making these proposals at Geneva. It is very necessary that both sides should know that the Government within a week are going to put these proposals forward to the League, and when the League, as we hope, has accepted them, they will be returned to this House with the fullest opportunity on both sides of the House to discuss them.
§ Mr. Stephen
Will the Noble Lord give me an answer to the specific question of whether the Government will consider the transfer of the Mandate to the United States?
§ 11.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I rise as an absolute opponent of partition. I have heard Members talk about the Palestinians as though they had no right to Palestine, but we can never solve this question unless the basic right of the Palestinians to Palestine is understood right from the start. That is very important. There can he co-operation only if the Jewish people will recognise that basic right. But if you have a situation where the Zionists, who are not representing the interests of the Jewish people but who represent a particular political trend, say, "Yes, we will meet round a table with the Arabs," but always with the understanding that the Jews must get a majority in Palestine, to talk about meeting round a table is utterly futile. We have had people say in the House that in no circumstances will the Zionist movement consider anything else but a majority of Jews in Palestine. That can never bring us understanding. I want to direct the attention of Members, particularly my Jewish friends, to the fact that partition is the greatest menace that can face the Jewish people at the moment. When the whole of Europe is being stirred up in the most criminal, dastardly and vicious manner against these people, who have made a contribution to civilisation of which they can be proud, are we to have a situation where the people with whom they have lived in amity for centuries are to be stirred up against them? It is going to encourage all the Jew-baiting and all the anti-Semitism that is being developed in Europe. Immediately they go over there, these people who for centuries have never known anti-Semitism will begin to develop it. The Jewish people reached their highest point in contributing towards the advance of civilisation and developing their own civilisation in conjunction with the Mohamedans in Spain, and the lesson of Spain and the part that the Jews played there should be borne in mind by Jews in every part of the world now. I appeal to the masses of men and women in the Zionist movement to understand the terrible situation that 2359 confronts the Jewish people. Let the Zionists make an arrangement with the Arabs. [Interruption.] A wonderful sense of humour and such a fine spirit of toleration! They even have the impudence to tell me I am tolerated. I am a Member of this House and I represent a constituency. If it were some admiral or Noble Lord speaking or interrupting, would they say he was tolerated? The impertinence of telling me I am tolerated!
I make this appeal to Zionists throughout the world. If they come to an understanding with the Arabs and bring about a united Palestine, they will make a contribution to the progress of culture and civilisation such as they did in Spain. If we are going to support the Jews let us do it without antagonising the Arabs, but I make this appeal as strongly as I can, as one who has been associated with the Jewish people for many years and has a knowledge of Jewish traditions and history for the building up of a great independent State in Palestine where the Jewish people will shine forth as they did in the great days of Spain, and so help in the struggle to free those in Europe who are suffering under the terror of anti-Semitism.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ 12.1 a.m.
§ Mr. Churchill
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, to leave out from the word "proposals" to the end of the proposed Amendment, and to add:contained in Command Paper No. 5513 relating to Palestine should he brought before the League of Nations with a view to enabling His Majesty's Government, after adequate inquiry, to present to Parliament a definite scheme in accordance with the policy as set out in the Command Paper.I do not propose to offer any further remarks to the House upon the subject, as I have already been permitted to take part in the earlier part of the Debate.
§ 12.2 a.m.
Mr. Lloyd George
It is extremely desirable that we should not go to a Division upon this question if we can possibly avoid it. I think it would be injurious to the interests of the British Empire, and 2360 it certainly would be injurious to the prospects of peace in Palestine. Therefore, I am going to venture to make a suggestion to my right hon. Friend to eliminate certain words and to substitute others. We have been invited to give a mandate to the Colonial Secretary to go to the League to propose a scheme in accordance with the policy as set out in the Command Paper. That is controversial. I can well understand that he certainly cannot throw over the Report of the Commission—that would be asking too much in the circumstances—but I understand that he proposes that there should be an investigation there into all the relevant facts before the League of Nations are invited or asked to come to any decision with regard to it. It might very well be that, after an investigation into all these conditions, and especially after seeing both parties, some other alternative would be acceptable to both and preferable to the one which is recommended by the Commission. We do not want to tie our hands or to tie his hands beforehand by saying to him that these instructions are to carry out the policy of the Command Paper.
Mr. Lloyd George
To carry out merely the policy of the Royal Commission. Therefore, I suggest words which certainly do not throw over, and will not invite the House of Commons to throw over, the Report of the Commission, but, on the other hand, do not tie his hands or the hands of the Mandates Commission to accept that policy and not to accept something better, if, as a result of investigation and negotiation, something better comes out of it. Therefore, I propose that we should eliminate the words "in accordance with the policy as set out in the Command Paper," and to substitute:taking into full account all the recommendations of the Command Paper,so that the right hon. Gentleman will go there with his Papers and will put a policy before the Mandates Commission. Then there will be investigation into all the circumstances, and if, as a result of those investigations and the conversations that will naturally take place, something else comes out that is satisfactory to all parties, his hands are not tied. I would therefore like to suggest this.
§ Mr. Churchill
For the convenience of the House and with the wish of the House, I should be perfectly ready to move my Amendment in this revised form.
§ 12.6 a.m.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I never asked the House, and it would be unfair to do so, nor did I suggest, that I or they should be tied to the proposals of the Royal Commission. While we do attach importance to the short White Paper that sets out the Government's general line, we do not wish to be debarred by any resolution from going before the Mandates Commission and discussing any point raised, and telling the Mandates Commission that, as at present advised, His Majesty's Government do think that their White Paper is the best line of policy to pursue. Quite clearly, long before the House of Commons is committed to a scheme it must be in definite form.
The President of the League Council has already invited the Mandates Commission to give a preliminary view to the Council, and it is that preliminary view which we regard as essential if we are to get into further touch with Jews and Arabs and the various countries and interests concerned, in order to get a policy for the future government of Palestine to advance. So I say that we do not seek to be tied to details. We have declared that it is our general line. On that understanding—and I think this is contained in the wording proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George)—that I am not tied, and not debarred by anything which is said to-night, I think we can all accept that. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we should go before the Commission with a united House of Commons, when we come to the most complex discussion that will arise on this subject.
§ 12.9 a.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
What the right hon. Gentleman said went very far to meet the difficulty which many of us have felt. Our objection to the Amendment as put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) had relation to the question of binding this House to a decision here and now to accept partition; this is putting it shortly. Our intention was to accept the general policy; we did not want this House, when it came back, to be met with a Govern- 2362 ment saying: "You sent us off with a Mandate to the Commission and tied us down to the acceptance of partition." Our point has been not in any way to try to get a party vote on this subject. We are solely concerned with having the best possible way of meeting this position in the interests of the Arab people, the Jewish people and the whole world. If this House is not tied at this moment to acceptance of the principle of the White Paper, the Government are, of course, free to take action. That is a way I think this House will want.
§ 12.10 a.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. What is it that we have now before us? I understood that we had an Amendment to the original Labour Amendment, moved by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). May I ask what is now before us, so that we may know what we are discussing?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Motion before the House is, of course, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping. Certain questions have, in the course of the Debate on that Motion, given rise to the discussion which is now taking place.
§ Mr. Buchanan
We have been told that the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Epping does not satisfy us. What then is before us?
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Member for Epping has agreed to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and to put his Amendment, if that is the will of the House, in an amended form. The hon. Member need be in no doubt, therefore, as to what is before the House.
Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment: In line 1, to leave out from the word "proposals," to the end of the proposed Amendment, and to add:contained in Command Paper No. 5513 relating to Palestine should be brought before the League of Nations with a view to enabling His Majesty's Government, after adequate inquiry, to present to Parliament a definite scheme taking into full account all the recommendations of the Command Paper."—[Mr. Churchill.]2363 Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ 12.13 a.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
I do not see any other way of dealing with the course we are now taking. What is the position? For a full day we have been debating the Opposition Amendment to the Government's Motion and then at 20 minutes past 10 we were given nothing more than a verbal notice by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) that he intended to amend it, and now we are told after midnight that this verbal notice is to be amended by another verbal notice—all in regard to putting into force the most important policy with which this country has had to deal possibly during the present Parliament. The Amendment we are now to decide upon is not the Motion on the Paper and we have not been able to examine the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and all its implications. We should like to see exactly what those implication are. I heard the Noble Lord's answer for the Government and his concluding words were that they wanted to leave no one in doubt that they were on the side of the Royal Commission. The Colonial Secretary now says that provided certain things are understood, he will accept the revised Amendment. What we ought to do is to adjourn the Debate and to consider the wording suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in order to see whether those words fit in properly with his plan. We ought not to proceed on the basis of verbal assurances given across the Floor of the House. The Amendment ought to be placed on the Paper, and the House ought to insist on its rights. I venture to suggest that hon. Members do not know what they are passing. What will happen after this revised Amendment is passed?
§ Mr. Buchanan
May I say to the hon. Member who interrupted me that the need of his presence is not so great that anybody prevents him from going home?
§ Mr. Messer
As I interrupted my hon. Friend, may I explain that I did not 2364 intend to be offensive? I hope my hon. Friend will accept that assurance.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Nor did I intend to be offensive, and if I said anything offensive, equally I withdraw it. If the revised Amendment is accepted, what will it mean? The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary has said that he accepts it on certain understandings. Those understandings ought to be incorporated definitely in the Amendment, otherwise when the right hon. Gentleman comes back from Geneva, there will immediately be an argument that he has not carried out the Amendment, and he will say that there were certain understandings. The position is that we debated a Government Motion, which was suddenly flung overboard; the Amendment moved by the Official Opposition was amended by a verbal Amendment, and now the verbal Amendment is further amended by another verbal Amendment, that amended Amendment being accepted by the Colonial Secretary subject to certain restrictions. I maintain that it would be better for all concerned that the Amendment which we are now discussing should be definitely placed on the Paper and that, if necessary, the Government should take it up in a proper fashion. If opinion is as unanimous as it is thought, it would be passed to-morrow without any discussion. But in the interests of the House and in the interests of proper procedure, the Debate ought to be adjourned now, and the Amendment put on the Paper.
§ 12.18 a.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I wish to support the Motion moved by my hon. Friend. It may be that the House is absolutely united on this matter, but we want to see that that is so first. There are certainly many circumstances in which I could conceive that this procedure would lead to most appalling results. I think that the House would be committing itself to a very bad precedent if it allowed this cross-talk way of doing business to become an established practice in our proceedings.
§ 12.19 a.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison
I think that possibly there is a slight misunderstanding among a number of hon. Members as to the position we are now in. The position is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) moved an Amendment, with the terms of 2365 which I think hon. Members generally are familiar. That Amendment would by implication approve the White Paper, and by further implication, the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) suggested that the words which approve in principle the Report of the Royal Commission and the White Paper should be omitted, and that words which merely ask that the League of Nations should deliberate on the matter, taking into account the White Paper, should go in. The importance of the change is, from our point of view, that approval has gone and "taking into account" has been substituted. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary, I am afraid, caused some apprehension among my hon. Friends on the back benches on this side as a result somewhat of the emphasis that he placed upon the desire of His Majesty's Government to go to Geneva and themselves to urge the policy of the Royal Commission and the White Paper—
§ Mr. Morrison
If the right hon. Gentleman will leave it to me, I think we shall be all right. We are not objecting—we cannot object—to His Majesty's Government going to Geneva after consulting this House, and saying what they believe to be right as a body of Ministers. Any Government must have that right, anywhere, to express opinions in which they believe. What I am concerned about, and what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is concerned about, is that His Majesty's Government, in urging at Geneva the policy in which they believe, which they are perfectly entitled to do, should not at the same time urge that policy with the authority and assent of the House of Commons, nor should they do it with any implied authority or assent of the Opposition in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary and His Majesty's Government believe in that policy which they have urged upon the House, and they will go to Geneva on their own responsibility and urge it there. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary will understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) expressed the opinion of the Labour Party on that Report?
2366 The Amendment which I hope will now be agreed to by the House discusses the situation after the Debate. The House of Commons, as such, is not committed. The Government have honestly told us what their opinion is and what line they propose to pursue. We have equally honestly told the Government what we think. We adhere to the opinions which we have expressed, and the House of Commons as a corporate body is not committed upon the matter. When the Government have been to Geneva and expressed whatever views they think it right to express—and the right hon. Gentleman has indicated frankly what views he will express—something will come back to the House of Commons, and the House of Commons will then remain unfettered and will come to a proper and free conclusion upon the recommendations which then, after the discussions at Geneva, His Majesty's Government may submit to the House. I think that is a fair summary of the position. The alternative before my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was that the House could have gone to a Division, and something would have been carrried which would be far more objectionable to us than what is going to be carried now, and I suggest that this is not an unreasonable and not an un-British way of arriving at a conclusion.
Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned":
The House proceeded to a Division, and Mr. SPEAKER stated that he thought the "Noes" had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and he accordingly called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision to rise in their places, and he declared the "Noes" had it, six Members only who challenged his decision having stood up.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
The House proceeded to a Division, and Mr. SPEAKER stated that he thought the "Noes" had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and he accordingly called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision to rise in their places, and he declared the "Noes" had it, four Members only who challenged his decision having stood up. 2367 Question put, "That those words be there added."
The House proceeded to a Division, and Mr. SPEAKER stated that he thought the "Ayes" had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and he accordingly called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision successively to rise in their places, and he declared the "Ayes" had it, three Members only who challenged his decision having stood up.
§ Mr. Buchanan
On a point of Order. Is there any opportunity or any way in which the three Members who voted in the contrary manner in the last vote, which we consider to have been the most important vote, can have our names recorded as having been against the Motion?
§ Mr. Maxton
On that point of Order. Is it not possible for the OFFICIAL REPORT to record the fact that the hon. Members for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), and Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) voted on this Motion?
§ Mr. Speaker
No doubt the hon. Member's speech will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Proposed words, as amended, there added.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That the proposals contained in Command Paper No. 5513 relating to Palestine should be brought before the League of Nations with a view to enabling His Majesty's Government, after adequate inquiry, to present to Parliament a definite scheme taking into full account all the recommendations of the Command Paper.