§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. William Whiteley.]
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
The course of events has led His Majesty's Government to decide that the problem of Palestine must be referred to the United Nations, as outlined in the announcement which I made to the House last week. The problem of Palestine is a very vexed and complex one. There is no denying the fact that the Mandate contained contradictory promises. In the first place it promised the Jews a National Home, and, in the second place it declared that the rights and position of the Arabs must be protected. Therefore, it provided for what was virtually an invasion of the country by thousands of immigrants, and at the same time said that this was not to disturb the people in possession. The question therefore arose whether this could be accomplished without a conflict, and events in the last 25 years have proved that it could not.
The Jews set about colonising and there is no doubt that, in the sphere they have developed, they have carried out some very great experiments. Many of the Arabs, as I shall explain later, are involved in those developments, such as citrus growing, which is vital to the economy of Palestine. As far as Jewish development is concerned, everybody in this country, who has been associated with the affair, certainly up to 1931, assumed that it was a National Home for the Jews about which we were talking. I want to remind the House, however, that that is not the issue now. All that is over. The issue which the United Nations must consider and decide is, first, shall the claims of the Jews that Palestine is to be a Jewish State be admitted; second, shall the claim of the Arabs that it is to be an Arab State, with safeguards for the Jews under the decision for a National Home be admitted; or, third, shall it be a Palestinian State, in which the interests of both communities are as carefully balanced and protected as possible? I have put it in that form, because in all negotiations I have had to conduct, and whatever proposals we have adopted today, I come back every time to these 1902 three provisions. I cannot escape them and I do not think anyone who has been Colonial Secretary, or who has handled this problem hitherto, however much the question has been argued, has, in fact, escaped them.
That, therefore, raises the issue which has got to be decided and we, as Mandatory Power, cannot solve that problem until the United Nations have recommended which of these three alternatives is to form the basis of the future organisation of Palestine. We, as Mandatory Power, have no power to make that decision. Nothing that I can find in any of the documents, either at the League of Nations, or in the discussions between the great Powers at Versailles and after, indicates that we have that power. The Mandate certainly does not give it, and the Anglo-American Committee, faced with the problem that we have been faced with, came to the view not to recommend a Jewish State, and everybody who has touched the Palestine question is forced back to that every time. I really want the House to face up to this problem which His Majesty's Government have to face up to now. In our recent negotiations the Colonial Secretary and I, over and over again, came up against this fundamental problem. All the proposals we have made for the gradual evolution of Palestine towards independence have been judged by the Arabs and the Jews according to the effect they might have on the final decision as to the kind of State Palestine is to be when it becomes independent, and independent it must become. The Mandatory Power cannot go on for ever.
Let me trace the history of this business since we came into office. We gave early consideration to the problem, and discussed the matter very fully. I do not escape the fact—I do not desire to escape it that when I was a Member of the Coalition Government with right hon. Gentlemen opposite I took my corner in trying to see what solution we could find for Palestine. I have a perfectly open mind about it. All I want is a settlement, and I want a settlement because this is one of those sore spots in the Middle East that may, if not settled, lead to much wider trouble—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, h ear. "] Various schemes have been evolved in the past, including partition, but all which have come before me, whether in the Coalition Government or 1903 in this Government, would have to be put into operation by force. That is to say, everybody came to the conclusion that we should not get agreement, but that we would have to come to a decision and then apply force to put it into operation.
His Majesty's Government, after reviewing the situation, came to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that after all the force we had seen throughout the world in the last 25 years, force applied to this problem would not produce a final solution, that it might create wider difficulties in the Middle East, and might, indeed, start us on a road leading in another quarter of a century to another war. That we have had to face, having regard to the importance to the world economy of the raw materials and the whole position of the Middle East. We, therefore, proceeded, not too hopefully, but with the conviction that it was our duty, to make the effort to try to get a negotiated settlement. To begin with, and I want to make this very clear, we agreed that we could not enforce the White Paper of 1939 as a basis for our policy. It has been suggested that all that was needed was to tear up the White Paper. This raises a very serious question in international affairs, one that cannot be approached lightly. Statements have often been made in this House and outside, when Labour was in Opposition, that they would not be bound by that decision of the Government of the day. But there are many precedents. It has always been accepted, in international affairs at least, that the party coming into office after making such a declaration, does not just tear up existing undertakings, but seeks to change them by proper negotiation and by substituting another policy. I have to emphasise this because this House of Commons did vote for the White Paper. It is true that the Man dates Commission did not endorse it—
§ Mr. Bevin
I always regard this House as continuing from eternity to eternity, and I meant it in that sense. I think I am right—[Hon. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I did not mean the actual Members of this House. What I meant was that the House in 1939 did, in fact, vote—and the Arabs took that as a decision of the British Parliament—[Interruption.] 1904 I must say that I should be reluctant to remain Foreign Secretary for five minutes, if I thought that I might go to an international conference with a vote of a majority of this House and give undertakings, and that those undertakings were to be torn up without proper negotiations at the end—
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Would my right hon. Friend say that the White Paper of 1939 represents any kind of agreement or undertaking with any other Power with whom we were in international relations? Was it not merely a declaration of policy by the Mandatory Power?
§ Mr. Bevin
It was regarded by the Arab States at that conference as an undertaking by the British Parliament and one which would be carried out. May I suggest—[Interruption.] Please do not interrupt. We are dealing with one of the most serious problems. I suggest to my hon. Friend that if the vote had been the reverse way, and an undertaking of an inverse character had been given to the Jews, the hon. Member would have been on his feet and said that this was a vote from the House, and that we could not tear it up. Really, I must stand for this as a point of principle, because all my negotiations of any kind with foreign Powers depend on the integrity of a vote of this House of Commons—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
If that is right, how can the Foreign Secretary reconcile that with the statement of the Prime Minister on 1st July last year in which he said:The Government have never stood by the White Paper policy.— It is quite wrong to say that we ate carrying on the White Paper policy. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st July, 1946; Vol. 424, c. 1907.]
§ Mr. Bevin
That is quite right, and it the hon. and learned Member will wait a moment, I will show him why. The point I am making is this—and really I must ask the House, whether it is my party or any party, to support me in this because it is fundamental—I am going away next week to Moscow, and when I go to Moscow I shall be asked to give undertakings. When I arrive at conclusions, I shall have to say that they are subject to the ratification of the House of Commons, and when that ratification of the House takes place—whatever the vote is—and an undertaking is given, I assume that 1905 whatever party succeeds us, whatever its political colour may be, will honour that undertaking until it negotiates a change. I must ask my hon. Friends to accept that; otherwise they ought never to send me to an international conference at all for any purpose. Really I have to state this, because it is fundamental to the carrying on of the business of the country. This is not a question of continuity of policy, but a question of keeping one's word, and, indeed, if there is one thing I have grown up in, not merely as a politician but as a trade union leader, it is that I have kept my word, whatever the opposition may have been.
Therefore, I told the Arabs quite straight that my party had declared that they could not be bound by this, and that a change must be negotiated, and I have proceeded on that policy with my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary ever since. I think that is a perfectly legitimate action to take. Thereupon, the present question arose; what should the approach be? The position had become accentuated by the European situation and I thought, with the then Colonial Secretary, that the first step which should be taken—and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who corrected me the other night about the date—was to decide about immigration. The question was, should immigration come to an end at 31st December, 1945? I communicated with the Arabs and told them that I thought it should not. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, in his Department, took it up with the Arabs in Palestine—I dealt with the Arab States—and we agreed that it should continue at 1,500 a month. I will not say, and it would be wrong of me to say, that there was agreement by the Arabs to that, but there was at least acquiescence, and on that acquiescence in a friendly way, we proceeded to issue certificates at 1,500 a month.
Since we took that decision in December of 1945, 21,000 Jewish immigrants have entered Palestine over and above the 75,000 for whom the White Paper provided, and immigration now is proceeding at the rate of 18,000 a year. There seems to be an impression everywhere that this is an abnormally low rate of entry, but the fact is that it has only been exceeded five times in the whole history of the Mandate—in 1925, and in the first four years of the Nazi rule in Germany. In other words, 1906 18,000 a year is above the average for the whole Mandatory period and I must say that I felt, having moved up to that as the first step in the opening of negotiations, it was not a bad rate of entry. But I think we might have been able to do more for the Jews, and have increased this rate at that time, if the bitterness of feeling which surrounds this problem of immigration had not been increased by American pressure for the immediate admission of 100,000. I do not desire to create any ill feeling with the United States; in fact, I have done all I can to promote the best possible relations with them, as with other countries, but I should have been happier if they had had regard to the fact that we were the Mandatory Power, and that we were carrying the responsibility—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and if they had only waited to ask us what we were doing. Then we could have informed them. But, instead of that, a person named Earl Harrison went out to their zone in Germany collecting certain information, and a report was issued. I must say it really destroyed the basis of good feeling that we—the Colonial Secretary and I—were endeavouring to produce in the Arab States, and it sit the whole thing back.
However, we realised that we had to take American interest in this problem into account. Accordingly, having regard to what they had said, we invited them to join us in forming the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry. Now I must point out that I have been very severely criticised by people in the United States for not accepting the Committee's Report. I was reminded of this when I was over there recently almost every day. But none of the Report was accepted by the United States except one point, namely, the admission of 100,000 immigrants. I was perfectly willing to stand up to the problem of the Report as a whole, which included 1o points. I have never gone back on that, but even if I had, as events have turned out, it would not have settled the Palestine problem, as I shall show before I sit down. We could not undertake this, except as a part of the general settlement, and we had to continue our efforts to work out policy.
Our first attempt resulted in the plan for provincial autonomy. I must remind the House that the Anglo-American Committee reported against a Jewish State. Therefore, taking the Report as a basis, we put forward this Provincial Autonomy 1907 Plan as a basis for negotiation. We did not lay it down but, if I may say so, if other countries with different races and different religions can work on the cantonal principle, I really cannot see why it cannot work in Palestine as elsewhere. We then tried to convene a conference of both Arabs and Jews. We tried very hard to get the Jews into the conference. I interviewed their representatives in Paris, in London, and I tried to persuade them, to the best of my ability, to come in and face the issue with us.
I profoundly regret they did not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I know—and I do not want to set one section of Jews against another—that those who have been trained in England and grown up under English customs and practice, wanted to come in, but the Jewish Agency, very largely dominated by New York, would not really come in, and it was with gentlemen from there that I had to deal so much. They would not join the conference unless, as a prerequisite, we would more or less commit ourselves to a Jewish State in advance, either partition or as a whole. How could I? I had to consult Arabs, I had to discuss the whole problem, and how could any representative of His Majesty's Government give an advance declaration one way or the other? However, we did agree to put any plan which the Jewish Agency cared to submit on the agenda, and to examine it on its merits whatever it involved.
The proposal I put to them was, "Here is the British plan. There is the Arab plan"—it by then had been drawn up —" You have your plan. Let us take these three plans, and see if, out of them, we can produce a solution." I knew from experience that I could not get them in the same room. That, too, I think is regrettable when you have a problem of this character to solve. And in this case it was the Arabs who were the greatest difficulty. I want to make a balanced statement on this, quite fairly. They argued that experience of the past was not helpful, but the Jews were willing if I would accept the Jewish State, in some form, in advance. I could not do that, so they did not come into the conference. Neither could I get them into one room.
I did reach a stage, however, in meeting the Jews separately, in which I advanced the idea of an interim arrange- 1908 ment, leading ultimately to self-government. I indicated that I did not mind whether this interim arrangement was for five years, or 10 years, or three years, or whatever it was. I said to them, "If you will work together for three, five, or 20 years, it might well be that you will not want to separate. Let us try to make up the difference." At that stage things looked more hopeful. There was a feeling—I do not think I overestimated it—when they left me in the Foreign Office that day, that I had the right approach at last. But what happened? I went back to the Paris Peace Conference, and next day—I believe it was the Day of Atonement, or a special day of the Jewish religion—my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister telephoned me at midnight, and told me that the President of the United States was going to issue another statement on the 100,000. I think the country and the world ought to know about this.
I went next morning to the Secretary of State, Mr. Byrnes, and told him how far I had got the day before. I believed we were on the road, if only they would leave us alone. I begged that the statement be not issued, but I was told that if it was not issued by Mr. Truman, a competitive statement would be issued by Mr. Dewey. In international affairs I cannot settle things if my problem is made the subject of local elections. I hope I am not saying anything to cause bad feeling with the United States, but I feel so intensely about this. A vexed problem like this, with a thousand years of religious differences, has to be handled with the greatest detail and care. No one knows that more than I do. I have seen these tense religious struggles in parts of this country, in Ireland, and elsewhere. I know what it involves. It can lead to civil war before you know where you are. However, the statement was issued. I was dealing with Jewish representatives at the time, and I had to call it off because the whole thing was spoilt.
One thing is clear. I had to open the conference with the Arabs alone, and they put the point to me that they wanted finality. They wanted to determine what the future of Palestine was to be. The Jews also want finality, provided it takes the form of a Jewish State. But they would be prepared to see British rule continued as a protecting Power, provided it 1909 was dearly aiming at a Jewish Sovereign State. The conference was suspended at that time. The United Nations were meeting in New York. I thought that by going to New York, I could talk to a lot of people, and try to help the thing along by meeting people, and so on. While there I discussed the matter with the Secretary of State, Mr. Byrnes, and at the end he made a public statement saying that the basis upon which Great Britain was proposing to hold the conference, in his view, merited the attendance of the Jews as well as the Arabs. Even that, from America, produced no results.
Then came the second session of the conference with the Arabs. In view of the difficulty, we agreed to have informal talks with the Jewish Agency. We did not press them to come into the conference. I have been too long a negotiator to stand on form. I thought it was better, if they could not see their way clear to come into the conference, that I should meet them informally, and see whether, with my colleagues, I could get over this difficulty. When we met, the Arabs adhered to their plan for a unitary independent State in Palestine. They have reiterated at every meeting that they have never accepted the Palestine Mandate, nor recognised the legality of the Balfour Declaration. Nevertheless, they told us they were willing to recognise the results of this policy so far as the present residents in Palestine are concerned. These include about 600,000 Jews, now nearer 700,000 I am told, already living in Palestine with 1,200,000 Arabs.
I say this in all seriousness. If it were only a question of relieving Europe of 100,000 Jews, I believe a settlement could be found. I believe a settlement can now be found if it is purely the humanitarian problem I have to solve. Unfortunately, that is not the position. From the Zionist point of view the 100,000 is only a beginning, and the Jewish Agency talk in terms of millions. I think the Arabs could be persuaded to agree to 100,000 new immigrants, in an orderly way, on humanitarian grounds, having regard to the European situation if—and I emphasise this—immigration, after that, was to be determined by the elected representatives of the people of Palestine.
The claim made by the Arabs is a very difficult one to answer. We here in Great Britain as a House of Commons determine 1910 whether people shall be admitted into this country or not. No one else is doing that. Why should an external agency, largely financed from America, determine how many people should come into Palestine, and interfere with the economy of the Arabs, who have been there for 2,000 years? This is what I have to face. There may be an answer to it, if it is on the merits of how long the respective parties have owned the country. But the Arabs say they are not going to be pushed out, by an external agency, from a country which they regard as their own—I am using their words—and in which they have been living for just about as long as England has been a Christian country. That is what the House has to face, and it is a difficult thing to answer. I do not know what would happen if a lot of Welshmen tried to drive the Englishmen out. There would have to be a buffer State. The difficulty would be, no doubt, intense. Under the Arab plan the Jewish National Home—and they now accept the National Home—although they did not accept the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, they will accept the National Home—
§ Mr. Bevin
No. I will deal with partition in a moment. But they accept the Home within a unitary State. That gives an Arab majority. I have argued with both Jews and Arabs. What is it we have got to solve? Are the Jews a State or are they a religion? I have got to face the question of Catholics, Mahommedans and everybody else, and really, this is a difficult thing to decide. I cannot believe that if there is a unitary State in Palestine every Arab will vote for an Arab candidate—he may in the first instance—or that every Jew will vote for a Jewish candidate. About the only constituency in this country which returned a Communist candidate was Mile End and they have a perfect right to do so. No one is elected to this House either as a Jew or a Christian. One is elected as a: man, as a representative. Therefore, one will have Communists, one will have Socialists, and it depends on the intelligence of the people whether there will be Conservatives. It may be that there will be some Liberalism, even in Palestine. There is no doubt that people will form views 1911 which will crystallise. Therefore, the Arabs argue, "Leave it to the intelligence of the people who live in the State."
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will my right hon. Friend explain to the House exactly what he understands by the word "National" in the phrase "Jewish National Home "?
§ Mr. Bevin
I am sorry that I cannot give an accurate definition, and Balfour is dead. I do not say that unkindly, but whether anyone can explain what people meant at the time, I do not know. When I used it, there was an understanding on the part of the Arabs that in Palestine, in view of certain historical associations, those Jews who had migrated there should have their liberty and freedom—no pogroms, no persecution—and be equal citizens of the State. That makes it a national home—[Interruption.] My national home is in England, with the same conditions.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
My right hon. Friend says that the Arabs are prepared to accept the National Home. If he does not know what that is, and cannot give a definition of it, what is the good of telling the House that the Arabs are prepared to accept it?
§ Mr. Bevin
Because they agreed in their plan—hon. Members have it before them —that "You can have your own language, your own university, your own religion — everything" —[Interruption.]My hon. Friend says, "Very kind of them," but if other countries that persecuted Jews had only given them that, there would never have been a problem.
§ Mr. Bevin
It is human rights which are the basis of the United Nations, and in the proposals, which I thought were perhaps too limited—I did not accept them—they were fundamental principles which I thought gave effect to what I understood to be the basis of the claim originally made by Nathan Rothschild and other people—I have read all the papers—in the original discussions.
I want to put the other side. The Jews say that if that is done they will be tolerated as a minority. I cannot alter the balance of people in a State—that is 1912 impossible—any more than one can alter it between Nehru and Jinnah today in India. The numbers are there, and one cannot alter it in any country. Then we tried our hand at another plan. Members will have seen it in the White Paper. The plan had certain features common to the Anglo-American Report and the Provincial Autonomy Plan. From the Arab point of view, those proposals had the advantage that they placed in Arab hands the maintenance of existing safeguards against the dispossession of Arab cultivators, and at the end of two years they would have given the Arabs a voice in determining the rate of immigration. We proposed to set up a Governor's Council, and in two years—and this was not based on anything but humanitarian principles—96,000 people would have been allowed in from Europe, without any question of economic absorptive capacity. That was the proposal. Afterwards, he High Commissioner was to consult a council of both Jews and Arabs, and after consulting them he was to decide, on the basis of economic absorptive capacity, incorporating the words of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), which he included in the 1922 White Paper.
§ Mr. Janner (Leicester, West)
Will my right hon. Friend permit me to ask one question, a rather important one? What is the proposal with regard to the fulfilment of the provisions in the Mandate about the Jewish Agency, which is recognised as an international body?
§ Mr. Bevin
I will come to that, but my hon. Friend is delaying my statement, and I hope that I shall be allowed to proceed. We proposed that if the High Commissioner's decision was not accepted by either party, the Secretary-General of the United Nations would appoint an arbitration tribunal, and we, as the Mandatory Power, would abide by the result. Was that not reasonable? What was the answer? It was that that proposal was rejected because we proposed that the Arabs should be consulted at all. Really, His Majesty's Government could not accept a position in which one was going to admit people into a country, and representatives of the people living in it must not be consulted. That was really too tall an order, and I could not, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, accept that. I am saying this because I 1913 am leading up to the point where I shall say, at the end, that there is a chance of a settlement yet, without going to the United Nations, if people will come off their arbitrary positions. I am still open to try.
Then the other difficulty was that the present Government has no roots in the people at all. It is an alien Government imposed on the top by a mandatory Government. I do not know what previous people who held the office of Colonial Secretary had in their minds, but I am perfectly sure in the discussion of this problem during the five years when I was in the Coalition Government it was never intended that we should be a Mandatory Power for ever. It was intended to lead to something and that the regulation of our relationship with Palestine should, in the end, be on a treaty basis and not a mandatory basis. That is as I understood it, and I believe that there is agreement on that. Therefore, I thought it would be a good thing. Suggestions have been put to me over and over again by hon. Members of this House and by Members of another place, "Why not try to establish a British Dominion to try to solve the problem?" But really it is too late for that. The Trusteeship Council has been established and there is no other road but the establishment of a trusteeship leading to independence from a mandatory position, unless we get agreement between the parties, and there was no chance of agreement. Therefore, we proposed a trusteeship for five years—for two years with 96,000 immigrants, and arbitration after that on the question of the economic absorptive capacity—and that we should begin at once by creating municipal areas in certain parts of Palestine which would have Jewish majorities, and others which would have Arab majorities. In order to achieve that, we designed our plans to give the Jews the benefit of Tel Aviv. It is not realised that 78 per cent, of the Jews live in Tel Aviv and the balance are on the land. It is sometimes assumed that they are all on the land. That is not true. They are an urban population.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
The right hon. Gentleman said that 78 per cent. live in Tel Aviv. I do not think he meant that. I think he meant that they live in urban districts.
§ Mr. Bevin
I beg pardon. They live in urban areas. Taking the Tel Aviv population with that of other urban areas, we have this majority of 78 per cent. It is quite clear that the police for the maintenance of order have no roots in the place. We suggested devising a police system like our own which would be partly central and partly municipal in the respective areas. It would be recruited in a way similar to that of Birmingham, or any other local government area in this country. This was suggested so as to begin building up a Government with roots in the people, ready to hand over. After four years, we suggested a constituent assembly which should endeavour to work out a Constitution. If they could not succeed—this is not British territory; we hold it under trust—we would return to the United Nations and ask for their help and advice. We felt that if we could begin self-government, begin getting people to work together, it would help to solve the problem. I am convinced that if the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine—I emphasise in Palestine—are given a chance to work together, they will work together and solve this problem, but if it is to be settled in accordance with the Jewish Agency's dictates, it will never be settled. I am speaking, I hope, impartially.
§ Mr. Bevin
I have given way many times. In the Citrus Board, in the trade boards and the various boards of commerce, they do work together. If they can work together in trade and commerce in that way, personally I am convinced that if given the chance and removed from political difficulty, then the Jews and Arabs will develop a State of which they can well be proud. That is my view, and I am entitled to my view after all these negotiations. We have been compelled to maintain a Government with which the people, as I say, have not been sufficiently associated. We, therefore, tried a new method. It was rejected.
In the other States of the Middle East where we also had a Mandate, it has led to self-government—in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and all the rest. I want to suggest that the cultural development of the Arabs and Jews in Palestine is of as high a standard 1915 as the cultural development and aptitude for government to be found in any other Arab State. That being so, we rather pinned our faith on developing independence in that way. If this policy was expressed in connection with any other place in the world, I believe this House, the United Nations, and everybody else, would say that our policy was right in that we were aiming for independence, getting rid of the Mandate and developing self-government and self-determination with proper protection for the rights of any minorities. That has been our policy and I think if this was not Palestine, it would have been successful.
I was asked a question about defining the National Home. This has been a great puzzle to me. When the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent Mandate were made, nobody indicated, as far as I can discover, when the National Home would be established. I cannot find it anywhere. Was it millions of Jews; was it a majority; was it a Jewish State, or what was it? The only expression that I can find is this vague expression of a "Jewish National Home." I know the reason for this Declaration. I know why it was made, but I do not believe it would help the discussion now. It was thought by most people prior to 1939, that the steps that had been taken up to date, did really fulfil the Balfour Declaration. Between the Labour Party and the party then in office a great dispute was carried on in this House. But, frankly, the more one reads the documents, the more difficult it is to find any guide as to when a Jewish National Home has been completed or established. It was for that reason that we thought if we developed these municipal areas, if we transferred the land regulations, the laws and the police, and all this kind of thing, to majorities in that area, we should have established in fact the National Home. We should have established the National Home within a unitary State, with a free chance to the Jews for their own development, which would have allowed them in the joint Parliament of Arabs and Jews, to have had their say in the affairs of the world.
That leads me to another point, which is also a very difficult one. It is said that, if we have a unitary State, the Jews, as Jews, will not be in the United Nations. Really, this is raising a very 1916 big question. Are we in the United Nations as a religion, are we in the United Nations as a people geographically situated, or how are we in it? If the United Nations is to arrive at a position in which it will have five or six great religions as dominant factors, then that will be a very disturbing situation, and, as far as I am concerned, at any rate—
§ Mr. Bevin
I have given way very often already, and the hon. and learned Gentleman will have his turn. I must raise this issue, because really it is fundamental. I have to deal with the points put to me by the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish Agency says that, "as nationals, but not as Jews, we shall be in the United Nations." I never knew, and I never thought, that we had promised or done anything to establish a situation of that character, but, if that is the case, let us do it with our eyes open. This is one of the difficulties which I see, and I say this because I want both the Jews and the Arabs to reconsider their position. We are united in the United Nations today as States, and, within every State of the United Nations, there are any number of religions. It may be different, but that is the situation that is put to me, and I hope it will be debated and brought out, because it does raise a very serious question, especially for a Commonwealth like this, which represents every possible phase of people in the world. We cannot divide ourselves like that.
Therefore, I have asked, over and over again, if it will not be possible to have a Palestinian State, and with the ability that is there—the business ability, and it is exceptional and has done remarkably well, the statesmanship and the aptitude for government—cannot we find a place through a Palestinian State to deal with these problems in the United Nations from a State point of view? That is the question which I should like debated in the course of this Debate, because it is the issue upon which the whole crux of this settlement really depends. I hope it will not be dealt with in any spirit of prejudice, because we have to face these issues, and because, when we go to the United Nations next September, these are the issues which I suggest are going to come before us. Take the position of Russia. I do not know how many races there are in that great territory, covering one- 1917 seventh of the globe, but it is colossal, and I have never heard that this particular theory has been advanced there. Therefore, I ask for consideration of this problem.
May I now turn to the question of partition? A good many people have said that the way out of the difficulty is to have partition. I am sure that, if we have agreed to partition, we would have had a tremendous row as to where the frontier should be. We have drawn frontiers in the Provincial Autonomy Plan; I have seen the Jewish idea of partition in an American paper, but we really cannot make two viable States of Palestine, however we may try. We can make one viable State, and, so far as I can see, or as far as any student of the map could see, the only thing we could do would be to transfer the rest to one of the Arab States, but I ask what trouble is that going to cause in the whole of the Arab world? That will set going a conflict which will be worse than the conflict we have tried to settle. It has been suggested that we could do it by knitting in Transjordan, and it is argued that we carried out partition when we created Transjordan. That may be, but, if we try now, with Palestine as we know it today, to make it into two viable States, I say that we cannot do it. If we try to take await the taxable capacity of the best areas of Palestine for productive purposes, and that taxation goes entirely to the Jewish portion, you cannot expect the others to accept it. You cannot expect to make the one State dependent upon somebody else. The best partition scheme, and the most favourable one that I have seen up to now, has the effect that it would leave, at the present moment, 450,000 Jews and 360,000 Arabs in that Jewish State. I put that to the Arabs quite frankly, and what was their answer? The Arabs say: "If it is wrong for the Jews to be in a minority of 33⅓ or 40 per cent. in the whole country, what justification is there for putting 360,000 Arabs under the Jews? What is your answer to that?" I have no answer to that.
Therefore, you transfer one large issue in solving your problem by partition, and there are only two possible consequences. Either the Arabs in the partitioned State must always be an Arab minority, or else they must be driven out—the one thing or the other—and, on that basis, I am afraid 1918 that I should be led, and the Government would be led, to a worse position. I have been asked "Why go to the United Nations?" Any remedy that has been put up to the Government in the form of creating a Jewish State, will lead to one result—the Arab States will take you to the United Nations. Supposing we partitioned the country now, and the question then went to the United Nations. Syria, or some other country, would take us to the United Nations, where we should have our conduct discussed on the basis of our legal action in carving up a State that was not ours, and I venture to suggest after my experiences in New York last year, that Britain would be placed in a very funny position. It is indefensible. We can discuss all these things, I know, quite easily, but, really, we cannot do that.
Therefore, the Government tried to get the best they could within the Mandate, and, in the end, we came to the conclusion that this Mandate is really unworkable. I think we could establish a case that we have carried out what the Mandate originally intended, provided that the problem had not been accentuated by the Hitler regime. If we take the ratio of migration and development un-accentuated by the Hitler regime, I think that the original basis of the Mandate, as visualised in 1922, has, in fact, been carried out. What we have not been able to do is to meet, with this Mandate, the accentuated position created by the Hitler regime and the persecution in Germany. That is my view. I believe that throughout British Governments have done their best all the way through.
The Palestine Administration has had one of the most difficult tasks of any Administration in the world. Sometimes, when reading the reports and documents, I wonder how they managed to carry through. They have had no support from the people, and they have been criticised by both sides. I believe that they have honestly tried to do their best, and that if there has been a failure in dealing with the problem of these displaced persons due to persecution of the Jews it has not been the Palestine Mandate, as administered on the original basis, which has been the cause of failure; it has been the failure of the moral consciousness of international organisations to grapple with this problem, as a whole which has left the problem as it is at the present time.
1919 Take the position now. There are a million displaced persons on the Continent. I have said to Governments, week after week, what are a million people out of 4,000 million in the world? I have made the offer—and I make it from this Box today—that, to get over this problem, we will take a proportion, together with all the other countries of the world, of that million, and add them to our population in order to get rid of this miserable state of affairs. The thing ought to be taken up and grappled with. I pleaded with the United States to take in thousands—I do not mean Jews; I do not single out Jews, and I do not think they ought to be singled out. But all States ought to do it. It is really absurd to think that, with all the organisation built up for this business, one million people could not be thus absorbed. That ought to be done, but, everywhere I go, and everywhere I turn, nobody wants them. It is a tragedy. They are doing something in South America, and in some other parts of the world, but it is relatively very little.
I will not mention the name of one great statesman in the British Commonwealth who came and gave me a half hour's lecture on the Zionist problem. When he had finished, I said to him, "How many will you take? I will get a ship and send them to you tomorrow." Not one. That is really sympathy without relief. We really ought to get rid of this problem, and if I could get back to the contribution on purely humanitarian grounds of 100,000—that is, 60,000 more than we are now taking in over two years—into Palestine, and if this political fight for a Jewish State could be put on one side, and we could develop self-government by the people resident in Palestine, without any other political issue, I would be willing to try again. I honestly believe that it could be accomplished. But, if the attack is made that this is merely the advance proportion coming out of Europe, in order that more millions can be poured in, so as to get a complete Jewish State, which we have never undertaken to create, I am afraid—and I say this with great sincerity—that that will provoke a conflict in the Middle East which I do not desire to see. There is enough conflict in the world already. I am convinced that if, as I have said today, we can bring the matter back to this contribution to the relief of European suffer- 1920 ing, which was where His Majesty's Government originally started to deal with it, then there is a chance of solution.
Finally, there is the question of time. I have been asked whether we can do something before September. It is very difficult, and I cannot give an answer. I am studying the matter to see whether there is any process by which we can get it considered earlier, under the Charter. But I must ask for more time on that. I am in consultation with Sir Alexander Cadogan, who knows the Charter inside out, to see whether anything can be done. Even now, rather than that it should go to the United Nations, I would prefer that Great Britain, with all her traditions, should be allowed to deal with the problem on a humanitarian basis. Let us remove the political conflict and get back to relieving Europe of these 100,000 people as we are asked to do, and let us be allowed to deal with any further immigrants on the basis I have suggested. If there is a dispute, let there be arbitration, and, in the quickest possible time we can create an independent State in Palestine where Jew and Arab, who have such traditions and have contributed so much to the religious and cultural thought of the world, can work together and end these century-old conflicts.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)
It had been the intention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to open this Debate from our side of the House. I am sure that the whole House will sympathise with the family bereavement which is the cause of his absence today, and I am also sure that the House will regret that one who has played such a prominent part in connection with the problem which we are now discussing, should be absent on such a vital occasion. I am not always in agreement with the views of the right hon. Gentleman on Palestine, and perhaps many in this House have differed from it, but all of us have been impressed with the sincerity of his feelings and the generosity of the emotions which have led to it.
In the last 18 months, His Majesty's Government have had every reason to be grateful to hon. Members on this side of the House for their behaviour in regard to the Palestine question. During the whole of that time, we have refrained from Debate which might excite controversy 1921 on the policy to be adopted. We have, it is true, on several occasions discussed law and order, but the only Debate which has taken place upon policy was at the request of His Majesty's Government. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that, during that Debate, we tried to be constructive rather than destructive. We on this side have been actuated by a sincere desire that this Government, or any other Government, should be enabled to find a solution. That a successful solution would redound to the credit of the present Government is a little thing compared to the benefits that a successful solution would confer upon the nation. Looking back, I am not sure that we have been altogether wise. It may be that if we had pressed on more frequent occasions for a Debate we should not be in the situation in which we find ourselves now, which, shorn of all verbiage, is that after 18 months nothing has happened in Palestine, and now for the best part of another year nothing can happen.
I cannot disguise the fact that I and many of my hon. Friends did under those circumstances feel considerable disquiet at the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman last week. It was only a few days since we had had a Debate in this House upon the maintenance of law and order in Palestine. During that Debate all speakers on both sides of the House, whatever views they might have taken upon the immediate problem of the maintenance of law and order, expressed their opinion that it was inextricably bound up with the announcement of some policy by His Majesty's Government, and that the Administration could not indefinitely maintain law and order unless such a policy was produced. I remember that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in winding up that Debate, repudiated in a tone almost of ferocity—which is not usually one of the attributes of his Parliamentary speeches—the idea which seemed to be held by some that the Government have no policy on Palestine. In those circumstances the statement of last week, which no one after all can claim to be a policy, which is only a postponement of the issue and a plan to get others as well as ourselves to join in finding a policy, came as a great disappointment.
Today we have had from the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary a re- 1922 markable speech. With some of it I agree, with some I disagree. I am grateful for some of the things he said, and I am sorry for some of the things he omitted to say. Certainly in that speech he set out clearly and sombrely the difficulties which lie today, but which also have lain for several years, in the way of finding a solution for the Palestine problem. In that speech he certainly displayed a willingness to appreciate the Arab point of view and a fairness in stating the Arab case which has not always been shown in speeches made on this problem by members of his party or by his colleagues. I cannot help thinking that it was a pity the right hon. Gentleman did not make that speech at the Blackpool Conference in June, 1945. How different it was in tone from the speech which was actually made then by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. He saw no difficulties, he saw no two points of view. He did not think it was necessary to wait for the decision of the United Nations. He was quite clear—unlimited immigration and a Jewish State. That was to be the policy of the Labour Party.
§ Mr. Stanley
Yes, unlimited except by economic conditions—that was to be the policy of the Labour Party, and he pledged his party light-heartedly to a solution the difficulties of which have today been put before us and before his party so potently by the right hon. Gentleman. I did not sympathise with the solution then proposed, but I confess that today I have some sympathy with the Jews. If that had been said two years ago, if that had been the policy of the Labour Party over the last few years, if they had been told then as they are being told now that their aspirations for a Jewish State were unobtainable, who knows but that there might not have been some change in their policy, that they might not today be putting forward that policy with a vigour some of which they would draw from the belief that hon. Gentlemen opposite were supporting them in their demands?
§ Mr. Stanley
I will leave the hon. Gentleman to pursue that point. Although I agree with much of the right hon. Gentleman's definition of the difficulties that face anyone looking for a solution in Palestine, we must remember that a mere statement of difficulty in the end gets us nowhere, and that, however difficult it is, sometime, somehow, somebody must make a decision, somebody must choose between those difficulties, somebody must choose between the dangers, and among alternative courses all of which may be dangerous somebody must find the courage to choose the least bad.
I do not propose today to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his analysis of all the various solutions that have been put forward. If I did I should have something to say about the solution which I have always confessed would be the one I should prefer, but which he dismissed rather summarily and not entirely objectively. We have to face quite a different situation today from that to which the right hon. Gentleman's speech was devoted. We have to face the fact that the Government are not themselves announcing a policy, which we either criticise or approve, or against which we can put up some alternative solution. The Government are defending or explaining a decision that they will, under certain circumstances and at a certain time, go to the United Nations and obtain from them the advice, and if possible the support, which they need, and it is to that decision rather than to a perhaps airy discussion of the various alternatives which have been put forward for Palestine that I want to devote my attention this afternoon.
I want to make it plain from the beginning that as far as we on this side are concerned we have no complaint to make at all about a reference of this problem at this stage to the United Nations. We agree that in any case it would have been necessary, ex post facto, to submit any solution we proposed to the Trusteeship Council, and we agree that in the special circumstances of the day it may well be that it is better to get prior approval and support from the Assembly. While we do not criticise the decision to go to the United Nations, we criticise both the timing of that appeal and the method of the appeal. We find it very difficult 1924 to understand the delay that has already taken place. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary advanced the principle, for which there is much to be said, that in default of agreement between the two parties, it is necessary to go to the United Nations for a decision, but the right hon. Gentleman must haveknown—and so must his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies—many months ago that there was really no prospect of agreement between Jews and Arabs, if by "agreement" one means a prospect of those two parties coming together and setting their names to a policy which is then to be carried out.
Certainly, in the years during which I was connected with the problem I never heard any expert connected either with the Foreign Office or with the Colonial Office suggest that there was any possibility of that occurring, and I should be very surprised if, in the intervening months, they had Changed their minds. I was always told—and I believe this still to be the case —that in no circumstances would either side dare to make in advance the concessions that would be necessary to secure agreement, and therefore, what one had to aim at was not to attempt the securing of an agreement beforehand, but to try oneself to find a solution which it might be possible that both sides would acquiesce in afterwards. If it was the decision of the Government that, in default of agreement, the whole matter should be referred to the United Nations. I suggest that it was the duty of the Government so to arrange their programme of announcements and discussions that, when the moment came to make that reference to the United Nations, it could come speedily and without the intolerable delay which now confronts us.
In view of the decision of which we are now told, I cannot understand the events of last summer. The Morrison plan, as it is called—I think not because the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council invented it, but because he read it—was produced at the very beginning of August. It was made abundantly clear by both parties, Jews and Arabs, that it was not acceptable to them, and the rejection was based not upon this or that detail which might have been susceptible to modification, but on a fundamental divergence of view which 1925 has come up on every proposal that has been made—who is to control immigration, not for this year, not for next year, but in perpetuity, because the man who controls immigration decides whether there is to be a Jewish or an Arab majority, and whoever decides whether there is to be a Jewish or an Arab majority decides whether there is to be a Jewish or an Arab State. In those circumstances, it would have been easy to have—as one had to have for the sake of courtesy—the discussions with Jews and Arabs, although they were bound to result in failure, at the beginning of August, some time before October, when the meeting of the Assembly of the United Nations took place. It would have been easy to establish at that time this fundamental disagreement between the two parties, and it would have been easy to bring it before the United Nations in October last for the decision which has now to be postponed until next September. Indeed, it is very difficult, if this has always been the plan of the Government, to understand one particular passage in the speech which the President of the Board of Trade made in that Debate, because the suggestion, which is now the policy of the Government, that the matter might be refeffed to the United Nations was made during the Debate by several hon. Members, and this was the answer of the President of the Board of Trade:One or two hon. Members yesterday made the suggestion that the whole matter ought now to be referred to U.N.O. for fresh decisions and suggestions. It will of course be necessary for the terms of the trusteeship agreement which is to supersede the Mandate to be settled by U.N.O.… indeed, many hon. Members have already stressed the need for a speedy decision, and have noted quite rightly"—this was last August—the deterioration in atmosphere that has gone on while we have been awaiting the present agreement. In the existing circumstances we believe a quick decision to be absolutely essential.''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st August, 1946; Vol. 426, C. 1241.]It was because of the need for a quick decision last August that the idea that it might have been referred to U.N.O. last October was rejected by the President of the Board of Trade. How can we reconcile that with the present proposal that it should go to the United Nations next September? I shall await from the right hon. Gentleman an explanation, and failing that, the Government will have to 1926 bear a responsibility for a delay which, on their own claim, could have been avoided, and a delay which has already caused much difficulty. To turn now, not to the delay which has taken place, but to the delay that lies in front of us, is there no way of avoiding that seven months' delay between now and the meeting of the ordinary Assembly of the United Nations in September next? I regard that delay as being fraught with all possible dangers, as something that ought to be avoided at all costs, and I beg the Government, if it is in any way possible, to curtail that delay. The suggestion was made to the right hon. Gentleman that one might get over this difficulty by referring the matter to the Security Council under Article 34. He replied that it was not within the terms of Article 34, and he did not think it threatened the peace of the world, but perhaps I might quote to him something which he said on 30th November, 1945:Considerations not only of equity and of humanity, but also of international amity and world peace, are thus involved in any search for solution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1945; Vol. 415, c. 1928.]In his speech today, the right hon. Gentleman referred to Palestine as a sore spot which, if not settled, would lead to wider disturbances; and it is difficult to see how, in view of those statements of the right hon. Gentleman, it would not be possible to bring this question within the ambit of the Security Council. It may well be that the right hon. Gentleman does not think the Security Council the right body to settle the matter, but one of the merits of bringing it before the Security Council in the first place is that the Security Council, under Article 20, could call a special meeting of the Assembly to consider the question, and it might be possible then still to submit this question to the Assembly of the United Nations, but to submit it much earlier than September, which is the date of the ordinary meeting. I feel that, whatever the difficulties, every attempt should be made to bridge a gap which may well prove to be disastrous to the possibility of any final settlement, and will certainly impose an, immense strain on our own people during that period.
The second thing that we regret about the form in which this appeal is being made to the United Nations, is the fact that His Majesty's Government propose. to lay the question before the Assembly 1927 with no indication of the policy which they themselves prefer. All kinds of suggestions, with some of which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt today, are to be put before the United Nations, for them to make their choice, but we, apparently, are to express no choice ourselves. It is clear, of course, that, after all these months, His Majesty's Government must have some view of their own upon this question. They must, despite difficulties and dangers, have made up their own minds which plan they think will have the hest chance of proving to be a final and lasting settlement in Palestine. If they have such a view, how can they avoid, in the long run, putting it forward? They cannot go to the Assembly of U.N.O., hear all those various plans, and sit there in complete silence, without joining in the discussion at all. Of course not. It would be a ridiculous attitude to adopt. If they are going to join in the discussion and add their view, they surely must know, before they begin, where they want to lead the discussion and what object their arguments are intended to reach. They must, therefore, whatever be the position now, disclose to the Assembly, as soon as the discussions start, and then to us, what policy His Majesty's Government prefer upon this question. If that is so, if, next September, they have to make a choice and a recommendation, would it not be very much better to make it now?
It seems to me that there are two good reasons for doing it. The first is that if His Majesty's Government have a view—they cannot go to the meeting of the Assembly without it—this House and the country are entitled to know what it is and whether it is a policy which they will support. When the policy is disclosed at the Assembly it may well be too late for this House or the country to express approval or disapproval of the course then taken. The second reason why it might be wise to make the declaration now rather than in September is this: we are to go through a very dangerous period in the next six months. Let us not close our eyes to that fact. Jew and Arab will start from now, and will spend the intervening months in lobbying members of the Assembly in support of their two viewpoints. All the arts and wiles of propaganda and persuasion will be brought, in these six months, from both 1928 sides upon the nations who will form the Assembly. During that time, those nations will be left without any guidance as to what is the middle course which we, as Mandatory, would recommend. It does seem that, in the absence of that guidance, and of any recommendation, there is a very great danger that quite a number of nations will arrive at the Assembly next September with their minds already made up, influenced by the propaganda and publicity which they have received.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
Is there not a chance that if Arabs and Jews do not know what the policy of the Government is, they might reconsider the whole position in the intervening period before the meeting of the Assembly?
§ Mr. Stanley
Why should anybody, Jew or Arab, reconsider their position during the intervening period? Their obvious line, before they go to the Assembly, is first to get as many friends as they can for their point of view, and then to present to the United Nations their own point of view complete, and 100 per cent. That is why I should prefer that, during those six months, the whole field should not be held by those two rival policies, both of them extreme, and that there should be in the field a third policy, that of His Majesty's Government. It is for that reason that we think there will be far more chance of success if His Majesty's Government, when they go to U.N.O. in September, were not to go there merely to empty upon the table of U.N.O. a wastepaper basket full of all the discarded plans of past years, but should go there to state clearly what their own views are and to ask the Assembly to support and approve them.
Our final criticism of the way in which the appeal has been made is that it contains no indication of what is to be our line after the Assembly has discussed this plan. I know that it means that any decision we make and any views we adopt today, must be on certain assumptions. This is the sort of matter in which any Government must look forward. It is quite true that, by their decision to refer this matter to U.N.O., a certain amount of time has been bought, although I think it has been bought pretty dearly. For some months, right 1929 hon. Gentlemen opposite will be able to return the answer to any question on their policy, that they cannot be expected to anticipate the discussions in the United Nations. It is true that for their supporters this is a postponement of the inevitable conflict between the pledges which many of them gave at the Election, and action which is likely to be taken by the Government which they support. For those reasons, a postponement of this kind is generally popular. It is also usually disastrous, for the only result of the postponement is merely to let things drift on so' that, a few months later, we can take up again the question that we have been afraid to tackle today.
The least the Government can do is to prepare now for the possibilities of the Assembly when it meets. It may happen that, when the Assembly meets in September, some new plan will be proposed and that the whole of the fifty-odd nations will gather together and will agree to it, and that it will then be approved by Jew and by Arab. It would be a miracle if that happened. For years, people on all sides, with ability and talent, have been searching for a possible variation of any scheme that might be used as a solution of this problem. It is unlikely that, in a few months some wholly new proposal will be found. Every proposal that has yet been made has caused divisions in Palestine, and divisions in parties here, and even, it is sometimes rumoured, divisions in Cabinets. Probably what will 'happen when the United Nations meets next September is that there will be no such unanimity; that, in fact there will be the same divisions among the nations there as can be found among peoples and parties; and that, whatever final decision is taken, if any decision is taken, it will be arrived at by a majority, with a minority supporting the other viewpoint.
If such a situation arises, as it is almost sure to arise, it is important that we should be quite clear what is the position of this country and to what we have committed ourselves. Therefore, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when he replies to answer two questions. The first is this. Are we pledged by our reference to U.N.O. to accept the majority decision, whatever it may be, and, what is important, of whomsoever the minority may consist? I appreciate that if there were an overwhelming majority, including all the great States, and that unanimity were 1930 only broken by a few small nations whose interest in the problem might, perhaps, be very remote, we would be quite entitled to treat that as a unanimous decision and to act upon it. But there might be a very different situation. We might have a situation in which there was a majority for a certain proposal, but in the minority there might be included at least one of the major Powers. We have to face this fact, that if there were a divergence at the Assembly, with some taking one side and some taking the other, even if we had a majority in favour of a particular course, if the minority included powerful States it would be very difficult to get the communities concerned to accept the decision, as we want them to accept it, as a final settlement. I want to know, therefore, whether, if there is merely a majority decision, we are committed to accept it and enforce it on the people of Palestine. Secondly, I want to ask if we are to carry out the recommendations of the majority even if they indicate a course with which we ourselves disagree. I quite appreciate that if we are to be loyal to the United Nations we must accept and acquiesce in the decision which they make, but there is a great difference between that and asking our troops and using our resources to enforce a decision of which we ourselves may not be in favour and which we cannot defend.
Those are the two questions. I would like to know whether our reference to U.N.O. in any way commits us to carry out a decision of the United Nations, however it is arrived at, with which we ourselves are not in agreement. Surely, it would be better to say now what we shall have to say in the end, namely, that failing agreement between the United Nations upon some policy which we ourselves can support, we will surrender the Mandate of Palestine and leave it to the United Nations themselves to appoint a successor and frame a policy. The principle of fixing a date and saying that if by that date something does not happen, we should clear out, is not a principle to which His Majesty's Government have any objection. They are doing it in India in much more difficult circumstances, in much more complicated conditions of greater danger and in circumstances where there is no United Nations organisation as a residuary legatee to whom we can hand back the responsibility which we feel no longer able to carry.
1931 I believe it might have a considerable effect upon the deliberations of the United Nations if we were to make this announcement now. If they were to know that their deliberations might be followed by certain consequences and that every nation who spoke and voted might have to take some part of the consequences of their speeches and their votes, it might have a very considerable effect upon their willingness to reach some sensible, practical and tolerable conclusion. Therefore, see quite an advantage in making such a declaration now. I do not see any disadvantages. If, after the meeting of the United Nations, there has been no agreement, if the countries are found to be divided into parties supporting the Arab case and parties supporting the Jewish case, and if there is to be no concrete conclusion from that meeting, I do not think this country could ever hope to impose upon the people of Palestine any solution, whatever it may be. If we cannot hope to impose a solution and, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has said, if we cannot find a basis upon which the Mandate, which was never meant to be eternal, can be brought to an end, it is much better that we should say so at once and restore our Mandate to the United Nations, instead of continuing to jeopardise the lives of our men and pour out the all too exiguous treasures of the State in a task which, by then, will have been demonstrated to be incapable of successful conclusion.
We cannot change what has happened in the past. No one, of course, accuses the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in the last 18 months of wasting time in the sense that we believe they have been idle or trying to put things off. Of course, that time has been lost—no one looking back over the past i8 months can deny it—but it is not the past which now matters so much as the future, and the future can be planned. All of us, in all quarters of the House, agree in the present circumstances to the appeal to the United Nations. It is only after that, that divergencies appear. We believe that that appeal should be made as soon as practicable and that, if necessary, it should go to the Security Council and, through the Security Council, to a special meeting of the Assembly in order to save time. We believe that we should go there recommending a policy ourselves, giving to the 1932 United Nations what they are surely entitled to—the views of the people who, for 30 odd years, have been actually administering the country which the United Nations had to consider. We believe that we should say, here and now, that if that policy is not approved and if we are not promised not only approval but actual support for that policy, we shall surrender our Mandate to the United Nations and leave to them future decisions—no doubt, with our assistance as an ordinary member of the United Nations organisation.
That, at least, is a policy which would be definite and strong. At best, it might be the last chance of getting the sort of agreement at the Assembly which might enable some settlement to be imposed and accepted in Palestine. At worst, it would, at any rate, set a definite term to the burdens which we are now bearing and which are now becoming intolerable. The alternative proposal of His Majesty's Government is to go to the Assembly of the United Nations next September without recommending any course of action, and with no definition of what our position is to be after the Assembly have taken their decision. I regard that not as a policy, but merely a postponement. It means that next winter we shall all be sitting here discussing, once again, just the problems we are discussing now, and which were discussed last August; having to face, once again, just the decisions which we are refusing to face today. It is for that reason that I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, before it is too late, to make, not a change in the whole thing, not an abandonment of an appeal to which we have agreed, but changes in the manner, which, I believe, might offer success where now little promise prevails.
I want to say a few words upon the actual situation in Palestine, and what is likely to happen during the next few months. All of us must echo the hopes of the right hon. Gentleman that Arabs and Jews alike, in view of the discussions at the United Nations in the autumn, will, meanwhile, exercise restraint and moderation; that they will not proceed to violent extremes, if not for the sake of morality at any rate in order not to prejudice their own case when it comes up for decision. But alas, however wise and moderate the leaders may be—and all of us hope that they will be—there are the extremists still to reckon with; and while we are still 1933 saddled with the responsibility we shall have to carry it out, and law and order must be maintained in the interim as rigorously as we have tried to maintain it in the past.
I have two points which I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The first is with regard to immigration, and the rate of immigration of Jews during the period between now and next September. As the fine weather draws on, there comes, of course, the time most favourable for illegal immigration. There have been quite a number of instances, even during the storms and difficulties of the winter months. We have to expect an increase as conditions become more favourable. As I see it, in that illegal immigration during this period lies the greatest danger to peace in Palestine between now and the meeting of the Assembly. I wonder if it would not be possible, during this period, to make some special approach to the Arabs? Any increase during these few months, on which they may be asked to agree, could amount to only a few thousand; it could not possibly influence either the decision of the United Nations in September or, still less, the final result, which depends so much on numerical proportions in Palestine.
Twice already the Arabs have been approached with regard to an alteration in Jewish immigration. Although the right hon. Gentleman is quite correct when he says that they have not formally agreed, they have on both occasions acquiesced, and I think it is to their credit that they have done so, and have recognised the greater need and given attention to it. I wonder if it is not possible that they might be approached again, and that again they might acquiesce? And is it not possible that their acquiescence would be much more likely if it were possible to base any proposal for an increase during these few months on women and children alone? I do not know what the proportions have been during the past year; but I am told that an exceptionally large proportion of the legal immigrants have, in fact, been able-bodied young men. It is quite clear that a large proportion of able-bodied young men is the form of immigration which raises most fears in the hearts of the Arabs. Would it not be possible to approach them with a proposal that, over and above the 1,500 a month, between now and September a 1934 certain limited increase, drawn from those classes of people which will not cause anxiety, could be made with their consent? It might do much to smooth down possible difficulties in the intervening period.
The second question I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman is with regard to our own people. Since we last debated this question in the House only a few weeks ago, a great change has been made in the conditions under which British people live and work in Palestine. They are today living under what are nothing but siege conditions. The women and children have all been evacuated; and I think it is true to say that all officials have left their homes, and are congregating in reserved and safe areas. It is a terrible life for people to be expected to lead for any long period, entailing great sacrifices and great hardships. As the House will remember, many protests were made in Palestine when that decision was taken a few weeks ago. I, myself, gave no support to those protests, because, as I understood the situation then, I thought the action the Government were taking was right. The Arab Conference was obviously breaking down, and we had been promised a statement of policy by His Majesty's Government. Everyone has always realised that immediately after a statement of policy, whatever the final result, there must be inevitably an increasing tension, and the possibility of grave disturbance.
When I read that order, in view of the forthcoming decisions, I thought the Government were taking a wise precaution in clearing the decks, and in removing the women and children. But, of course, we find now that that is not the case at all. There is no decision; the decision is postponed for at least a year; and the crisis, because of which I thought these people had been removed, now cannot occur till the end of next winter, or the beginning of next spring. In those circumstances, is it necessary or wise to maintain, during the whole of this period, the very stringent conditions which have now been imposed, and which the Government will justify by some impending crisis? Would it not be possible, for the months that are bound to elapse before an official decision is taken, to have some relaxation? Because the danger is, that if people are kept under this tension, suffering these hardships in these unnatural conditions for too long, 1935 when the moment of crisis comes they may already be stale, and they may not be at their best to meet it. Those are the two points I desire to put, and I should be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he could deal with them.
No one in this House is under any illusion today. We realise that we are discussing a matter of very grave moment for the people of this country, and indeed for the world. It is only one of the great problems that this House has to discuss in the next few weeks. There is the discussion of our own economic situation, on which depends our standard of life, and indeed our survival; the discussion on India, with all that that means in peace or chaos for four hundred million people; the discussion on Germany, with all that it will mean for the future of European civilisation, and the peace of this country. But with all those problems, grave as they are, this problem is worthy to take its place. On its solution depends the whole future of the Middle East.
There was a time, until the great retreat began, when the Middle East was regarded as one of the key points of the British Empire. On its solution depends the attitude of Jews and Arabs to this country all over the world, with grave consequences, because they may easily affect the whole tenor of international relations. On its solution depends the safety of 100,000 British troops and British officials. On its solution depends whether the weight of the burden which has been carried, and which has to be carried, by the staggering people of this country will be lightened.
We welcome the fact that this problem has been submitted to U.N.O., but we regret the time and the manner of the appeal. If the appeal is to be presented as is now proposed, we believe it can only lead to delay, and that that delay can only be disastrous. If it is made, as we suggest, with speed and decision, we believe that it still may succeed. Now, the Foreign Secretary is not a man who is deficient in either of those two qualities, and it is, therefore, to him that we appeal—the last appeal, probably, we shall have a chance of making—to make those changes which may give a chance of success. I repeat that this, I think, may well be our last opportunity Post hoc occasio calva.
§ 5.53 p.m
§ Mrs. Ayrton Gould (Hendon, North)
We have listened with great interest to both the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). With much of what the latter has said many, I think, on this side agree; but, at the same time, I must point out that he rather over simplified the position when he said that it is perfectly easy to discover fundamental divergencies between Jew and Arab in a short time. I should like to remind the Opposition that there never would have been the difficulties which have arisen if it had not been for the White Paper policy which was instituted in 1939. That policy started a perfectly impossible situation.
The Foreign Secretary pointed out that, in his view, the Mandate would have worked quite well up to the time of the Hitler regime. Well, it could never have worked well if the completely iniquitious White Paper policy had been imposed. The difficulty that the Government have had since they came into power in connection with Palestine was quite simply stated—though I do not think he intended it to be—by the Foreign Secretary, when he said, at one point, that we could not carry out the White Paper policy, and, at another point, that we could not tear it up. Well, if we could not do either of those things we were obviously left in a fearful muddle, and that is the position we are in now: we have a muddle over a desperately serious affair. What, in their difficulties, the Government decided to do was to carry on a modified White Paper policy, and, of course, that was not acceptable to the Jews.
I believe that, if it could be left to the Jews and Arabs inside Palestine, a unitary State could be carried on, and that they could very well solve their difficulties in the future, as they have done in the past. But the moment we get these political difficulties arising from the Arab League and the Zionist Agency outside, we have an impossible position because both try to lay down bases for Palestine, which Palestine must accept. The Arab basis, quite simply, is that they are prepared to put up with the small minority of Jews that are there, but will not have any more immigration. In the last analysis, the Jewish basis is that they want immigration until they get a majority.
1937 I want to suggest that the British proposals that have been made have been altogether too simple. On immigration, it was suggested that 4,000 a month should be allowed for two years, and that, at the end of the two years, when 96,000 immigrants had legally been allowed in, an Advisory Council, which would sit under the High Commissioner, composed of both Arabs and Jews, would decide on further immigration. It sounds very well; it sounds a good bit of democratic work; but one has to remember that the Arab population compared with the Jewish population is two to one, and that, therefore, the democratic advisory council set up would inevitably give a majority to the Arabs, which would enable them alone to decide—that is what it would amount to—whether there should be any Jewish immigration into Palestine at all, and, if so, how much. The recommendation says that this council should decide even what immigration is to be allowed into the Jewish State. Knowing the Arab attitude, of course, the result would that no immigration, after the 96,000. would be allowed at all.
There has been no mention of the Discriminatory Land Law, which would, in fact, play a very large part in the outlook of the Jews. In Western Palestine, only 5 per cent. of the Jewish population are allowed to purchase, or to settle on, the land. It is then suggested that, under the trusteeship, the local authorities should decide whether there should be an increase or a reduction, even whether the actual laws themselves should continue to be operative. As I said before, the majority of the authorities in the majority of States would be Arab. It would mean, again, that the majority ruling would inevitably prevent any expansion on the land for the Jews. Therefore, what really looks like a democratic suggestion, in fact, is not a democratic suggestion at all. It could only be democratic if there were approximately the same number of Arabs and Jews who were going to vote on these duly elected bodies to make these decisions. I can only say that it is no wonder that it was not accepted.
I agree that it has seemed to take a very long time to find out that it was not acceptable. Some of us have said from the beginning, right back in October, 1945, that it was not possible. along these lines, to come to any arrangement which 1938 would be acceptable to both sides. That leaves us in the position that, either we have to impose something, or we have to agree to allow a situation to go on like the present one.
There is, I suppose, no one in the House who is prepared to accept the present intolerable situation in Palestine. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol has said that we are not prepared to allow British troops to go on having their lives endangered, and we all agree about that; neither do we wish to see British people undergoing this artificial and extremely hard life, nor are we prepared to hold a mandated territory where there is continuous terrorism, or indeed, where there is any terrorism on the present scale in Palestine. I want to ask the Government what is to happen between now and the time when the whole question comes before the United Nations. It is all very well to say we hope that both the Jewish and Arab leaders will be able to persuade their followers to be moderate and behave, but it is impossible for them to do that. In view of the situation in Palestine, it is impossible for them to keep the terrorists under control, unless something is handed to them meantime, and they are offered unconditionally some definite hopes for the future. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol suggested that we should increase immigration, but, unlike him, I do not suggest it should be confined to women and children. It is absolutely necessary to have building operatives and other workers to provide accommodation for those who are to enter the country. It is necessary to have buildings for the women and children immigrants, many of whom are in a very bad physical and mental state because of what they have been through. I suggest that we allow immigration to continue at least to the extent of 4,000 per month, not only up to the time when the problem is handed over to the United Nations but during the time when it is being considered by the United Nations, because judging from what happened at the Assembly last year, and at all the conferences it will not be a week or a fortnight, but months before a decision will have been reached.
Does anyone suggest that the Jewish Agency or the moderate Jews can hold back the terrorists, when there is a miser- 1939 able allocation of 1,500 immigrants per month? We know that illegal immigrants will be pouring in, and that they will consist of men, women and children who are the miserable remnants left in Europe. We must remember all the time what is behind all of this. It is no good talking about the humanitarian angle, as we did during the war, when we expressed horror over what the Nazis were doing, unless we face what is happening, and envisage what these remnants have gone through, remembering that Palestine is the only place in the world which wants them and welcomes them. I believe that the present state of affairs could be settled if we got -out of Palestine. I do not believe the Government would dream of accepting this solution, but if the Haganah were allowed arms and Palestine was left to settle its own differences, I believe that before very long we should have a united country. What is the alternative? We shall have bloodshed in any case, and the alternative is that our boys will be involved in it. When history comes to be written, it will be decided that Palestine would have got a solution to her problems much more quickly if Great Britain had cleared out and let the people settle them herself. We are rightly asking that the Haganah, the moderate Zionists and others should root out the terrorists, bring them to justice, and hand them over, but it is too much to ask these people unarmed to root out the fanatical armed terrorists. I think it would be much better if we went to them and told them that during the interval we would allow them to be armed, if they would act as a localised police force—after all, we armed them during the war when we needed them. We should ask them to get down to rooting out the terrorists, and if that were done and Jewish immigration was raised to 4,000 a month, we could have peace in Palestine until the whole matter had been taken to the United Nations and a decision had been reached.
The British Government, who have carried the burden of the Mandate for all these years, ought very definitely to make recommendations which will be acceptable to us, and if they are not agreed upon, we should simply hand over the Mandate to the United Nations. It is well known that residuary legatees do not do very well—and I do not think in these circumstances the United Nations will do 1940 very well—but what I am anxious about is that Britain should not be left as a residuary legatee, being expected to carry out a policy to which we may object very strongly, and have to risk the lives of our troops to carry it out. We ought to make it perfectly clear what we want and what we intend to do, and we should do everything possible to secure peace on both sides until the recommendations of the United Nations are made known.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Every reasonable man, in every country, must be longing to see a final settlement of this age-long problem. Every reasonable man must desire that that settlement should come by negotiation and agreement, and not by force or by war. I would like to pay my tribute to the Foreign Secretary, not only for the quite remarkable speech he made this afternoon, but for the manner in which he has undertaken and carried out his duties in his great office. At no period in history was any Foreign Secretary ever called upon to face such problems as the present Foreign Secretary. No one has devoted himself more conscientiously to his duties. He has brought to them wide experience, great tact, and, above all great human sympathy.
I would like to deal, here and now, with a point the right hon. Gentleman made, which, I believe, arose out of an interruption of mine. Let it be clearly understood that when he goes to Moscow, and discusses these great matters with other great States, this country, whatever Government may be in power, will always honour its word, and regard treaties as binding. This country will endeavour, so far as is possible, to carry out pledges which have already been given. But let it also be clearly understood that the decisions of this House are not even binding on itself, still less on its successors, and still less on successors who have gone to the country on a different programme from the one which the House followed at the time it made those decisions.
Having paid my tribute to the right hon. Gentleman, and said that, may I say that I can understand still less the criticism of the Foreign Secretary which came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley)? 1941 It was niggardly and carping, which is not unusual, coming from him. The right hon. Gentleman's criticism was that the Government's proposal was being presented at this time, that the offer might have been made last August. I may be doing the right hon. Gentleman an injustice, but I have tried to read, in the meantime, his own speech of last August, and I could not find in it any reference to handing this problem over to U.N.O.
§ Mr. Stanley
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right. That was not my policy. I thought the Government would come to their own decision, and that when they were ready would impose it. We are now told that that has never been the policy, and that in default of agreement the Government will go to U.N.0.
§ Mr. Davies
I understood that the right hon. Gentleman accused the Government, and especially the Foreign Secretary, of wasting time. The only suggestion on those lines, last August, came from a supporter of the Government, for the President of the Board of Trade spoke in that Debate. After the right hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken there was a speech by the Leader of the Opposition, with which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol did not agree. He and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) have never agreed on a real policy for Palestine. Speaking personally, I have never had any doubt whatever about the meaning of the Balfour Declaration. I have always felt, and said, that a home was not destroyed when lodgers came in. There is a whole world of difference between the right of a lodger in a house, and a right to people to recognise that place as their home.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay
That is a piece of argument which is quite unworthy of the 'right hon. and learned Gentleman. The question is: What is the constitutional definition of a lot of people living together?
§ Mr. Davies
What was the pledge that was drawn up and signed by Mr. Balfour as Foreign Secretary, and agreed to by the Cabinet? It was brought before the League of Nations when His Majesty's Government undertook the Mandate. There has never been much doubt in the 1942 minds of those who were largely responsible for that Declaration, or those who remained in that Government. Neither the then Prime Minister, the late Earl Lloyd-George, or the present Leader of the Opposition, have ever doubted that what they had in mind that was in the course of time a home should be created for Jews, a true home where they could control their own affairs.
§ Mr. Davies
Undoubtedly it was understood that in course of time such a state of affairs would come about that the Jews would be in control of their own affairs in Palestine. I cannot help feeling that a great part of this controversy would not have arisen today but for the fact that in the main those in charge of affairs in Palestine from 1922–39 never took that view Although they were advised by those who had more to do with it than anyone, namely, the present Leader of. the Opposition and Mr. Amery, they took. the other line entirely. I should say that their desire was to whittle down the Balfour Declaration as much as it could be whittled down. It ill becomes anybody to say now that there have not been changes of view, both in the Government and in this House.
Look at the vacillation, right from 1922 down to today. I remember, in 1937, the Government coming forward with a wonderful scheme for partition. But in 1938 they said that partition would never do. In 1939, a White Paper was produced That White Paper was described by the Lord President of the Council—I think rightly—as an evil thing. It was described by the Leader of the Opposition in a most eloquent speech, as a breach of the Mandate. I would like to point out to the Foreign Secretary that in almost the last part of the speech delivered by the Lord President of the Council he made it clear that whatever the decision of the House then and it was obvious what it would be—it would not be binding on the party opposite, in spite of the advice of Mr. Amery and the Leader of the Opposition. May I also remind him of the pledges that were given, not after the Election, but before the Election, with regard to this matter. Be that as it may, I am perfectly sure of this—that the Foreign Secretary and those who have assisted him, the ex-Secretary of State for the 1943 Colonies, and the present Secretary 01 State for the Colonies, have done their very best to deal with this situation as wisely as it was possible to do under the circumstances. I feel also that it was right that they should try to see, even now, whether there was not a way out of it, without having to resort even to the United Nations Organisation. We had undertaken the Mandate, and it was our duty, as trustees, to see how best that could be arranged to the advantage of all the beneficiaries under it.
I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) that there was little trouble before the White Paper of 1939—little trouble from the Jews prior to 1939; and, what was more, trouble from the Arabs had more or less died down in 1937 and 1938. One has only to read the pledges then made by Members of the Tory Government. Nothing, I think, has been so terribly sad and agonising as the attitude of the Jews since then, and recently, with regard to this country, its Government and its people. No nation in the world has been as generous to the Jewish people as this nation; it has not only opened its gates and protected them, but made every office in the land open to them. That, I agree, has not only been to their advantage but to the advantage of this country. It ill 'becomes anyone, anywhere, to malign this country; still more so to destroy the young British men who are actually in Palestine to try to ensure justice and fairness.
I have never regarded this as a purely Jewish question. The Arabs are not the cause of it; it is the treatment of the Jews by other nations throughout 2,000 years that is the cause of it. It is not merely an Arab question, and it is certainly not merely a British question. This has become a world question, and I would, therefore, ask that all the nations of the world should make their contribution towards its solution, once and for all, and among the peoples of the world are the Jewish people and the Arab people. They should see if there is not some way by which the Jewish people can reach their ambition, which is linked up with their faith, because a good deal of the ritual connected with that faith is meaningless outside Palestine. They have always built their synagogues facing towards Jerusalem and it has been linked up with their 1944 faith that once a covenant was made between the Almighty and themselves, that that land should be theirs. In every country to which they have gone they have formed their own little communities. If they could be brought back, many of the Arabs would assist, and then I should regard it as the duty of the United Nations of the world to do anything which the Arabs would require in return in order to help them. It is along those lines that I hope this matter will be approached, and approached successfully, so that, at any rate, we can say that in this generation, although we have fought two most terrible wars, we have tried to solve problems which have worried people for generations.
Finally, may I ask one question? The right hon. Member for West Bristol rather assumed that the question which will be put to U.N.O. is one of advice. I am not sure. I gather from the Foreign Secretary's speech, and the statement which he made to the House the other day, that the Government had come to the conclusion that the Mandate has failed, but until some other solution has been brought forward, they would, of course, carry out their duties as trustees. I want to know what is the matter that is to be put before U.N.O. Is it; "We have not been able to arrive at a solution with regard to this. Will you advise us; and then we will follow that advice and carry out, more or less, your directions, and do our duty there once more as a Mandatory Power, acting now for the United Nations organisation as we did for the defunct League of Nations"? Or do the Government intend to go to the United Nations organisation and say, "We can no longer carry out this Mandate. It is finished. We will do our best to protect the Mandate in the meantime, but take it back and decide what is best for the future for these people, so that there may be a new Mandatory power given to the United Nations organisation." Which of the two is it to be?
In the meantime, I am reminded that Members of this Government, having fought against and denounced that White Paper, and having gone to the country not only denouncing it, but saying that they would reverse it, are still carrying out, more or less, the policy which they told the country they would not carry out. Will they from now until this new decision has been arrived at by the United 1945 Nations Organisation, go back to what they conceive, what I conceive, and what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) conceived was the true meaning of the Mandate, and the true meaning of the Balfour Declaration? I most sincerely hope and pray that, finally, a peaceful solution may be found for this problem, so that never again will it worry any man in any country.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I can find almost nothing—[HON. MEMBERS: "peak up."] I will try to speak up but I am suffering from a sore throat and must ask the House to be kind to me. I can find almost nothing to agree with in the speech to which we have just listened. I cannot believe that it is very useful now for the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) to tell us what Mr. Balfour thought when Mr. Balfour composed his letter, more particularly as Mr. Balfour did not compose the letter. The history of it is pretty well known, particularly how it got composed and issued and why and when it was published. I think that the best comment which can be made upon it briefly—and I desire to be brief for the convenience of the House and for the convenience of myself—is to read a quotation, from a speech by Dr. Weizmann. I think I have got the date right, April, 1918, though I may be a year wrong. He said:The fears of the Arabs that they are to be ousted from their present position are due either to a fundamental misconception of Zionist aims or to the malicious activities of our enemies."'I do not really see how in the light of that statement taken from Dr. Weizmann, who was certainly at that time even if he be not thought so now, the greatest possible authority upon these things, it can be said that the Balfour promise gave the Zionists the right to expect that British arms should be used to impose on a long settled society unwanted immigrants until they should become the majority under it, because that is the gloss put upon the national home by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery, and by the hon. Lady the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) who spoke before him and whose arguments he adopted. I do not believe that the House should really allow itself to be stopped by that gloss,-which I think is 1946 demonstrably unfair. Further, supposing it to be fair, I think this House would make a mistake to pay any attention to it, because if there is one thing plain it is that no man can ever have had, politically or morally the right to promise what Mr. Balfour is by that interpretation alleged to have promised. If there is one thing clearer even than this it is that if such a promise could have been made legitimately in 1918 it could not be legitimately kept now. There is nothing in such a promise or the keeping now of such a promise that can be defended by any principles of politics or morality, democracy, Christian principles, or I make bold to say, to my Jewish friends and Jewish colleagues, of the Jewish faith.
I want to say a very few things and to say them as shortly as I can. If I am longer than I mean it will be because it has been very difficult to listen to the Foreign Secretary's speech today and to be sure that one has exactly got hold of the right bits of it. I should like to begin by asking the Colonial Secretary whether he can quite easily—because I realise that it is not fair to face him with it—tell us now, or anyway at the end of the Debate, again exactly what are the interim immigration proposals. I do not blame the Foreign Secretary but I am hound to say that he did not leave me quite clear in mind as to what the position was, and I feel sure that the House ought to have its mind made quite clear about that.
Then I should like if I may without impertinence to compliment him in one respect. That is always a little difficult. I myself do not think much of compliments in this House, and especially compliments from one side to another, which are often not very useful. Above all I dislike the compliment on sincerity. I feel that when we address each other as hon. Gentlemen what we assume by that is that each of those of us who speak tries to the best of his intellectual power to say what he means. This is an occasion, however, when I hope that without fulsomeness or impertinence I may s ay that as political opponents we were moved by the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I mean that not in the ordinary drawing room sense of being sincere, in the sense that he was not really telling us what he himself knew to be 1947 lies but in the far more important sense that he had performed the difficult and painful operation of thinking as hard about the subject as he could before he dared to inflict upon his countrymen what his opinions were. That is what I take sincerity to mean in our relations to each other here, and I hope he will not think it fulsome or impertinent of me if I say that he showed a shining example of it this afternoon.
Having paid him that compliment, I should like if I may to utter a small reproach. It is a very small one and I do not do it from any personal point of view. Today he clearly distinguished between two main parts of the difficulty with which we are concerned, which has not been done so clearly before by anyone speaking from that Box of whatever party. He continued as almost all have done—and I shall probably slip into the expression myself although I regard it as a bad habit—to speak of the Palestine Problem. It is the cutting up of life into Problems which tends to the assumption that if only we could get to the back of the teacher's book we would find a solution on the back page. This Palestine affair is a thing not of that sort. Although the Foreign Secretary used that, as I think, dangerous language, he did distinguish between the problem of what ought to be done with Palestine and the problem of what ought to be done with displaced Jews. I think that to make that distinction clear and clean is the beginning of wisdom in all this question. The small reproach I do address to him is that he did nothing to make clear that there have been here a few, a comparatively few, members who have made that distinction over and over again. I do not say that because I believe that I have been an important one of them, but Members who have been here during the war and in the last two Parliaments know the names of Members who made this distinction and could write their names on the back of a postcard.
I think that if this Debate has been carried on, continued as reasonably as it has been, and has been something quite different from the sort of way the subject was debated 12 years ago, that 'change in the climate of opinion has been made by people who may sometimes have seemed to the Foreign Secretary to 1948 be pertinacious questioners and tiresome debaters, and I do not think that it would have done any harm to acknowledge the service that has been performed by them, because if we wish to have Parliamentary Government continuing in the world, it is by noting advantages of that sort which accrue from Parliamentary Government that we shall do it. There is one other preliminary thing I should like to say before I pass on so the main matter and that is that it seemed to me that the Foreign Secretary dropped what I think were his two main heresies of a year ago. Of course hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have grown grey or great, or both grey and great in some cases, in working machinery whose honourable business was to try to raise the material conditions of the less fortunate parts of the population are rather specially tempted to think that economics is what matters in politics, that politics are scarcely more than the shadow of economics and that if they get economics right then politics will come right of themselves. I believe that to be the worst and the most actively harmful of the heresies of the last 50 years.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to me a year ago to have that heresy, but today, whether consciously or unconsciously, he seemed to throw it away. He also seemed to throw another heresy away into what I hope will be an unregretted limbo—that is, the notion that international organisation should be built up by going over the heads of national states, straight to the people themselves. He threw away that notion very completely today and I congratulate him upon it.
The questions I wish to put to His Majesty's Government are I am afraid it will be thought, of a rather verbal nature, but all our discussions and the discussions which may take place at the United Nations must be conducted with words as counters. I think we were almost, although I agree not entirely, promised some time ago by the Prime Minister that we should have a Palestine Debate before any decision had been taken, but now a decision of sorts has been taken, a decision not to decide, a decision to refer elsewhere, and I think the least we have a right to ask is that in that reference elsewhere we should know what the technical terms are going to mean and 1949 how the brief is going to be produced, and I am inviting the Colonial Secretary to make these matters clear to us this evening.
I speak in the presence of professional gentlemen who will correct me if I am wrong, but I imagine that any really competent Solicitor can so put a question to counsel, especially if the counsel be chosen as not very competent or practised, as to be pretty certain beforehand what counsel's opinion will be, and it is of the utmost importance that we should know in what shape and form this question is to be put to the United Nations. We have been told that there is not going to be any recommendation. There is going to be a mere statement of history. Can we be reassured that all the history is going to be drawn to the attention of the United Nations? I have no fear here that we might suggest something which would be tiresome to the British Government that might otherwise have passed unforseen. We may be quite sure that there will be people and indeed, it will be the duty of the United Nations to see that there should be people, who will drag up everything which seems to show that the British Government at any stage has been disingenuous or inadequate.
I wish to be quite sure that the British Government itself will do that work for them, that we can be perfectly sure that it is going to be perfectly clearly put to the United Nations if the matter is to be put at all, what is a mandate—a new word; how it got drawn up; what was an A Mandate, how an A Mandate was something which from the first admitted the existence of a society dwelling within the territory concerned with a right to nationhood provisionally admitted. It was admitted from the first that these were people provisionally to be recognised as deserving of political independence. What was the method by which and the date at which the Mandate become (a) politically and (b) legally a governing factor in the situation? It is far more complicated than people generally think, and than I myself think unless I have looked up the books and the papers the day before, and than the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway thought. My recollection is that the Mandate did not acquire any legal or quasi legal force until I think it was the end of 1923. So there was a long period before that when 1950 whatever we were doing we were not doing it under the Mandate, nor did the Mandate come from the League of Nations as many people seem to think. We ought to be quite sure that all these things and all the relevant facts and documents are quite clearly set forth in the dossier which we put before the United Nations.
Secondly I should like to ask when we put this matter before them, are we going to define quite clearly what is Palestine for our purposes? Does it mean the borders and boundaries as they exist now or are there other possibilities which will be taken into consideration? Then, since it is The Palestine Problem which is being referred, it is extremely important that we should know what is from this point of view The Palestine Problem. Is it going to be sharply defined from the problem of dealing with the Jews in Europe? Those hon. Gentlemen with whom I have been more particularly associated on this question have always insisted all along that it is no use putting the difficulties and the blame upon Hitler.
Upon him primarily much of the blame is, but also upon all the rest of us who did not somehow find ways of taking in the persons whom Hitler persecuted or threw out. There is some blame. We have always said that, and I think it very important that now it should be made quite clear which of these things it is that we are putting before the United Nations, whether it is all one or whether it is two separable questions. I thought the most moving passage in the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State's speech this afternoon was when he, if I may say so with an absurd sort of arrogance, agreed with me on this point in advance, that whatever else we do we ought to be prepared to play our full share on the humanitarian side of the thing, We should make that quite clear, first that the burden ought to be taken off the Arabs. It should not be the Arabs upon whom the burden is left that they have to look after this terrible, cruel by-product of the vices of European civilisation, for which we all of us to some extent or another are responsible.
Then I want to ask one more small and one more large question about these definitions that are going I hope to be put to the United Nations. About the Jewish Agency for instance. The Jewish Agency originally was set up for a highly limited 1951 purpose, but it was from the first by the British Government allowed to develop into something far wider than its terms of reference properly warranted. There is no doubt of that.
§ Mr. Janner
Will the hon. Member permit me one question? Would he be good enough to say what the Mandate says about the Jewish Agency because if he reads it out he will find that the Jewish Agency had and have an extremely important position under the Mandate?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I have not the reference in my pocket but on the last occasion on which I made a speech of this sort the hon. Gentleman interrupted me with exactly the same question and on that occasion I did read out the Mandate and it did carry out my argument to a sufficient extent. Perhaps I may leave hon. Members to look it up themselves. The argument then and now is whether the Jewish Agency is to be continued in its functions and decisions during this interim period and if so is it tolerable that that should be done without at least some similar council for consulting and cooperating with the Arabs. Now I come to my last question on this matter and indeed the last thing I have to say. What for this purpose is the United Nations organisation? I know we ought to know. The Foreign Secretary told us this afternoon that Sir Alexander Cadogan does know and I am quite sure that he does and for all I know by some means, direct or indirect, Sir Alexander Cadogan has told the Colonial Secretary, and I think the Colonial Secretary ought to tell us when he comes to reply. We none of us do know these documents and constitutions half as well as we ought and I take as much blame as anyone for that, hut we are trying to learn too many things and to read too many papers.
What does it mean in practice for these purposes? Does it mean, to use a few letters, us, the U.S., and the U.S.S.R., or is there more in it than that? Is it in fact going to be a horse swapping deal, a Kahhandel, as the Germans say between the two or three both great Powers who have the proper power of the veto or what more than that does it mean? because on that, I think, does depend the next question which we ought to go into: that is, are we assuming that whatever decision is handed down we shall operate? 1952 If so, are we ourselves to be judges in the matter? Are we in on this matter, or do we, as fellows of a college do, if I may use an illustration from my own humble experience, when their own affairs are being discussed, go out politely into the outer combination room and read "Punch", or are we there all the time? That is always assuming that the Minister of Fuel allows "Punch" to be printed next September. I think it highly important and we want to know what the machinery is going to be, in simple terms which those of us who have read the covenant once and do not remember much about it now, will understand. We ought to know to whom it is we are appealing, whether we ourselves are to be there as advocates or judges, or both, or neither or as witnesses, or with some two of these functions, or what. It seems to me that this question ought to be properly explained to us by the Colonial Secretary this evening when he comes to wind up.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) reminded the House that this is a topic which has been wont in the past to rouse high feelings. I shall attempt myself to tackle it in a temperate and reasonable way because if my own emotions are engaged, I honestly believe they are not so through any Jewish prejudice but are engaged, as those of most hon. Members of this House would be, on behalf of any people or group of people who are in distress. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary himself underlined that point. In a rhetorical passage which I shall not attempt to emulate, he showed considerable sympathy, but I am bound to say that those Jewish people in distress can derive little comfort from his speech because there was little else he had to offer. His speech was, I admit, the best exposition of the Arab case that I have heard, but it had to me an air, if I may say so, not merely of unreality but of special pleading.
Let me take for example his treatment of the problem of partition. He argued against it on the grounds that any proposed scheme of partition would involve the leaving of an Arab minority in the Jewish sector in such a position that that minority would be permanent or would have to get out. But surely precisely the same argument would be valid against his own plan for a unitary Palestine in which 1953 the Jews were a permanent minority or had to get out? Apparently in that case it was not thought a valid argument, because in another part of his speech, after expatiating on the various abilities of the Jews as statesmen, businessmen and the rest of it, he practically exhorted them to exercise their gifts for nationhood as a permanent minority inside an Arab State. That does not seem to me to be a very practicable or serious proposition—
§ Mr. Lipson
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is exactly what the Jews in this country and every other country are doing?
§ Mr. Levy
If the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) supposes for a moment that the position of Jews—he ought to know better—is the same in this country as it is or would be under Arab government in Palestine, he really is not qualified to make an intervention. It is a libel on the British people.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Forest of Dean)
Is the hon. Member aware that 120,000 Jews have lived in Bagdad since the days of Nebuchadnezzar?
§ Mr. Levy
There are 120,000 Jews who have lived in Bagdad and have been happy, and I do not know how many have lived in America. There have been 600,000 in Germany. I am talking about Palestine and not Great Britain or Bagdad.
To revert to my argument, there is another point which the Foreign Secretary made. I am trying to illustrate what seems to me to be the essential unreality of his argument. When last year he made Transjordan into an independent State, that action was criticised in some quarters as premature on the grounds that it would make possible future partition difficult. Today he comes down to the House and says, "Partition is difficult, if not impossible, because last year I made Transjordan an independent State, and there is, therefore, no longer room for a second viable Arab State if there is to be a viable Jewish State." The essential argument in favour of partition was never even mentioned. That essential argument is this, that it is surely at this day and age abundantly clear to everybody that it is impossible to submit Arabs to Jewish domination in a unitary Palestine and it is impossible to submit Jews to Arab domination in a unitary Palestine. The 1954 second course is even more impossible. I think both are impossible, but the second is more impossible because, whatever the hon. Gentleman for Cheltenham may think, there is a wide discrepancy between the grades of social development of the Jews and the Arabs. To put the socially more advanced under the government of the socially less advanced is an absolutely untenable proposition.
I have never been a Zionist, though I am bound to confess that the Foreign Secretary has gone some way towards converting me; but his success is only partial. My conversion is still only halfhearted because my reasons are largely negative. I have felt in the past no mystic conviction of a national Jewish destiny. I have been averse also from the multiplication and intensification it nationalisms in a world which is striving. however ineffectually, towards inter nationalism; and moreover, there was to my mind objection to the avowed intention of Zionists to swamp Palestine by immigration in order to create a Jewish State in Palestine when the time for independence should arrive. But that objection has now been removed. There is no possibility any longer of the Jews being able to swamp Palestine—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"]—because six million of them have been slaughtered in Europe. There are not sufficient numbers waiting to go to Palestine—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to quote from Sir Frederick Leggett, one of the members of the Anglo-American Committee, who is himself an anti-Zionist. He says:As the average annual rate of natural increase of the Arabs is nearly twice that of the Jews and as mortality among the Arabs is declining, partly by reason of the better conditions which have followed the activities of Jews, it is fairly clear that no measurable amount of Jewish immigration will produce a Jewish majority.I do not believe there is any serious possibility of that, so that objection has been removed so far as I am concerned.
But a more important reason and a new factor is this. I believe indeed that although every side of the House is committed to the establishment of a National Home in Palestine, it is quite impossible now to establish a National Home which is not also a national State, and for this reason. The Foreign Secretary admitted that he had some difficulty in understanding precisely what was meant by 1955 "a Jewish National Home." I sympathise. It is a nebulous phrase. But whatever it may mean, one thing is certain and that is that one cannot call a man's home his home if he is prevented from entering it at the point of a gun. Therefore, it seems to me that unless we have free immigration we cannot have a National Home.
It is merely specious to maintain that there are 600,000 Jews there now and that, therefore, the promise of a National Home has been fulfilled because there they are—at home. For, after all, that argument could have been equally well applied in 1922 when there were only 85,000 Jews there. So if the Home means anything, it must mean free immigration; yet it is clearly incontestable that the Arabs will not consent to further immigration into Palestine.
I feel, therefore, that the crux of the problem is immigration and I am convinced that if, when this Government took office, it had torn up the White Paper and the 100,000 had been admitted, the extreme Zionist argument would have lost very much of its force; and, moreover, paradoxically enough, Arab resistance would not have increased but would have diminished, for the simple reason that you fight so long as there is a chance of getting what you want, but you do not always fight against a fait accompli.
Very briefly, that is at least one aspect of the Jewish case. What I want to suggest to the House is that at no point does it conflict with British interests but, on the contrary, British interests are identical. There are three British interests of which I want to remind the House. One is of prime importance, namely, the reputation of British good faith. I know there has been a mass of contradictory promises in the past—that is deplorable, but it is an undeniable fact; and it is impossible, therefore, for any Government to come in now and fulfil all the pledges of its predecessors; but it can at least fulfil its own pledges—
Mr. Stakes (Ipswich)
The Government as a Government have not made any.
§ Mr. Stokes
My hon. Friend surely does not suggest, especially in the field of foreign affairs, that that is said in Opposition must be carried out at all costs by the party when it comes into government?
§ Mr. Levy
I should have said so; and what is absolutely indisputable is that this party is pledged, not up to the hilt but up to the elbow, to repeal the White Paper when it came into office. The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon that there was a great difficulty about that, and he advanced what to me was a novel and extremely subtle doctrine in defence, that you cannot really do it without consulting the other party. That might have some substance if the original arrangement had been a matter of negotiation between parties, but when it is a unilateral one, why in the world cannot it be unilaterally repealed? After all, if unilateral commitments cannot subsequently be repealed by different Governments, then an extremely bizarre theory is imported into government, and one which would have to apply also to internal affairs. I did not notice that the Foreign Secetary was reluctant to repeal the Trades Disputes Act until he had consulted the employers; yet it is a completely parallel case.
§ Mr. Levy
There are two other things I want to speak about. One is the question of safeguarding and preserving British lives; the other is the safeguarding of British economic and strategic interests. One word about the first. One thing which is quite clear is that this delay of 18 months, which has weakened the hands of the moderates, which has played into the hands of the terrorists, has cost us British lives. We cannot wash our hands of that responsibility. It is a deplorable thing but it is true and, unfortunately, as the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) has pointed out, the delay is not over. We are at 1957 the outset of another large delay. I hope sincerely that means will be found by the Foreign Secretary to abbreviate the period of waiting before the matter can be submitted to U.N.O., but even when it has been submitted, there will still be a long period when we shall be left holding the baby.
As to the other point regarding our vital interests or key points, as the right hon. Member for West Bristol called them, it has for a long time been the orthodox Foreign Office view that we have vital economic and strategic interests in the Middle East which can only be protected by appeasing the Arabs. The Labour Party, rightly or wrongly, has disagreed with that view, but if the Foreign Secretary, since he has been accessible to the blandishments of the Foreign Office, has abandoned the Labour Party view and accepted the Foreign Office view, what is to happen if, when U.N.O. comes to a decision, it should decide that Great Britain must evacuate what the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office believe to be an essential strategic and economic position? Are we to invoke the veto? Are we to hedge? Are we to use all the machinery of delay open to us? If so, to submit the thing at all to the United Nations is a farce, and is merely a device for delay. I cannot believe that, but there is no alternative to that if the Foreign Secretary is persuaded that the status quo in Palestine is essential. If he is not so persuaded, then he must obviously have some alternative plan. But if we have some alternative plan, why cannot it be put into operation now before we continue to incur the odium of the present situation and the dishonour of broken pledges?
For these reasons, I believe the course that we are embarked upon is injurious to the interests of Great Britain, and I urge the Foreign Secretary to call a halt before it is too late.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ General Sir George Jeffreys (Petersfield)
I do not propose to attempt to deal with the general situation as regards the government of Palestine. It is common ground that Jews and Arabs have been unable or are unwilling to agree, and will not accept any compromise proposals. It may be that the Government are well advised in referring this matter to the United Nations organisation but, as we have heard from 1958 the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) and from the Foreign Secretary himself, that must take time. It cannot come before the United Nations before next September but, whatever the eventual judgment of the United Nations may be, we must continue for some time at least to carry out our Mandate. I want to urge that, so long as we hold the Mandate, we should carry it out properly and, in particular, that we should enforce law and order in Palestine and shall suppress and rigorously punish terrorism. It is with this question of the suppression of terrorism, and with the part that must be played in that suppression by British troops, that I wish especially to deal tonight.
The Foreign Secretary referred last week to the great strain which he said was put on the civil Government of Palestine. No one will doubt that that strain is very great, but I suggest that it is nothing like the strain which is thrown on the British troops who have been living under the constant menace of kidnapping, murder, and outrage in its worst forms, and who have to treat the population as being supposedly friendly until some outrage is committed, or at least threatens. Those troops have never been called upon, or permitted, to take any sustained offensive against terrorism. In that connection, I think the observations last summer by the Lord President of the Council regarding the order of the General Officer Commanding in Palestine were very unfair to the General Officer Commanding.
The troops in Palestine are in a very similar position to that of police in a criminal area. If those police are on friendly social terms of intercourse with the friends and families, possibly, of the criminals, their movements, and their intentions, will almost certainly be known by the criminals in due course, and those criminals will be able to take precautions accordingly. I think the position of our troops in Palestine is very analogous to that of police under those circumstances. If they go about, and are allowed to have social intercourse with the Jewish population, to go to public places of amusement and refreshment amongst them, they are not only risking kidnapping and outrage, but every unguarded word and indication of movement or intentions is sure to be overheard by someone. Even if it is not 1959 overheard by terrorists, it is certain to be passed on to them by their friends. I am sure that the instructions of the General Officer. Commanding as to the avoidance by troops of social intercourse with Jews were fully justified for these reasons, apart from the strain on the troops involved in the present methods, a strain which is so great that I believe it would be too great for any troops except British troops, because of their morale and discipline, I say that these methods have been ineffective. When an outrage has been committed, according to reports which reach England, measures are at once taken locally and temporarily. They are strong measures, certainly, of searches, restrictions, curfews, arrests, and all the rest. But, after a short time, these measures are relaxed and finally taken off altogether, until the next outrage occurs. I would urge that what is necessary is a continuous and sustained offensive against terrorism, with no let-up whatever, no relaxation of pressure, and regardless of the inconvenience and restrictions which may in consequence fall on the Jewish population.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Hackney, Central)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me? Is he quoting from Hitler's instructions to his troops for the occupation of Palestine?
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham)
The hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. H. Hynd) ought to be ashamed of himself. That was a most insolent interruption.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
They should be treated in the way the civil population might be treated in a hostile country, until the hostile forces have been defeated. For instance there might be restrictions for intelligence purposes. After all, the Jewish Agency have refused co-operation against the terrorists, and can scarcely claim any consideration on that account. I believe everyone in this House will agree that the terrorists must be completely knocked out and exterminated. To my mind, the defended areas behind barbed wire should not be regarded as refuges, but as bases from which offensive operations can be conducted against the terrorists. Those operations should be continuous and sustained. There should be no relaxation, but they should be carried out with the use of every appro- 1960 priate weapon which is available. There should be no question of waiting for the terrorists to shoot first. With the object of knocking out terrorism, I urge that complete discretion be allowed to the military authorities to deal with the situation. I do not know whether that is given now, but the general impression is that the military authorities are hampered at times by instructions from the Colonial Office, and are not allowed the completely free hand which they ought to have to deal with such a situation. There should be one order, and one only, to the G.O.C., to completely knock out terrorism with any and every means available. The terrorists should be brought to justice if possible, and, if brought to justice, they should be dealt with by the utmost rigour of the law.
The British troops who have this most unpleasant and invidious duty of attempting to restore law and order in Palestine and to suppress odious outrages there, should be given every form of encouragement and support. Their hands should not be tied in any way. They have displayed admirable restraint, and can be depended upon to display equal restraint in any offensive measures they take. Those measures should be taken, they should be continuous, there should be no relaxation until the moment terrorism is completely knocked out. So, and only so, shall we be carrying out the terms of our Mandate to govern Palestine properly, and to enforce law and order so long as we are there.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
We are considering today a question of a very grave character, the treatment of which by this House, and in the future, might have very grievous results. I profoundly agree with the view that was expressed by the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) when he laid emphasis on the future in its relation to the present Debate. It is very easy in a matter of this kind to evoke emotion and to cover it with a lot of complications. Heaven knows there are plenty of complications on this subject which bear upon the past, and the sooner the past buries itself the better. We must concentrate on the future even if it is somewhat uncomfortable as we all know it very often is, to face facts.
It seems to me that the two material matters which concern this country, Pales- 1961 tine, and indeed, the world are first the question of the Mandate, and secondly the question of the White Paper. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech, which I do not for a moment doubt was made with the greatest sincerity, and was intended to be helpful, was, in my humble submission, on the two critical points which I have mentioned, entirely unsatisfactory. He gave no guidance to the House on the crucial question of the White Paper as regards the period between now and September, when the matter is to go to U.N.O. Indeed, when I challenged him during his speech, to try to reconcile what he' was saying—that this House was committed to the White Paper—with the entirely opposite version we had from the Prime Minister as recently as 1st July of last year, he observed that he was coming to that matter, but he never did.
I noticed one remarkable thing that he said about the Mandate. He said that it had become unworkable. All I can say is that it must have been through a long and painful course that he arrived at that conclusion after 23 years. Even if it were true that the Mandate was unworkable, it does not lie in the power of this or any other Government to abrogate the Mandate. If that is to be done, if the Mandate is to be changed, if there is to be a new document or a new policy, then the only power, the only source from which that can be done is the United Nations, and because of that it is to that body that it is now intended to refer this particular Mandate. The Foreign Secretary said at the same time, that the Mandate,"was intended to lead to something." I find it difficult to see how it is to lead to something, if, according to the Foreign Secretary, it is in fact to lead to nothing, because that was the effect of what he told us this afternoon. The effect was not to implement the Mandate, not to try to carry out any of its terms, either in the language in which it is now framed, or in a modified form. His view was that it was unworkable.
There is one other point I would like to mention before I come to the point of the legal status of the Mandate, and a few words about the White Paper. The Foreign Secretary said what I thought was rather an extraordinary thing. I do not honestly believe that he intended to convey what his words, in my submission, did convey, namely, that the Jews were contending that they should be entitled 1962 to become members of the United Nations organisation on the single ground that they were Jews. Speaking as a member of that faith, if any Jew or any body of Jews were to suggest to me that they should have an entitlement for inclusion in the United Nations organisation, merely because they were Jews, I should just laugh at them. There is no possible foundation for any such claim. As the Foreign Secretary truly said, that would at once open the doors of the United Nations to all sorts of absurd and unsustainable applications for membership. But the Jews have never made any such far-fetched proposal. What they have said, as regards representation on the United Nations, has been that if they built up their National Home in Palestine, as the Mandate, in the most explicit terms. prescribes that they are to do, then they would he eligible in respect of that home on political grounds for a seat upon the United Nations organisation, in exactly the same way, it should be noted, as the Arabs are entitled to representation on the United Nations organisation, not because they are Arabs but because they have been given national independence in the particular States they now occupy. That is precisely the basis upon which the Jews put forward their claim, not on the basis of an absurd suggestion that because of some religious reason they ought to be members of the United Nations organisa tion.
§ Earl Winterton
I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to indulge in an historical inaccuracy, which quite inadvertently he indulged in, and which might give offence to certain countries. The Arab States have not been given their independence. They have enjoyed independence for hundreds of years.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
May I remind the noble Lord that this country and America, with their treasure and their blood, fought to liberate large areas in the Near East? Therefore, is it not right to say that we, in this country, as well as the Americans, have some claim to say what ought to be done in the Near East in regard to those States? Indeed, that is precisely what has happened, because we were given Mandates of these places and these Mandated territories have now been converted into independent States. That is the position.
§ Earl Winterton
I thank the hon. and learned Member most sincerely for having reminded me that I fought in the Desert in the 1914–18 war, with Lawrence. I was aware of the fact he mentioned, but I was dealing with the statement which he quite inadvertently made, that the Arab States have been given independence. Some of them were independent long before the 1914–18 war.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Perhaps I did not quite catch the noble Lord's point because it was quite irrelevant. I was trying to underline the fact that as far as the position of the Jews in Palestine is concerned it is exactly the same as the position of the Arabs in the Arab States which had been under Mandate and had since been converted into independent States.
The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) had an extraordinary idea about the origin of the Mandate. So far as I can gather from what he said, it appears to him to have come out of the blue and no one can trace its descent. Actually, the position is that the Mandate came into being as a result of an agreement of all the Allied Powers after the first World War. As a result of that, the Council of the League of Nations handed this particular Mandate to this country. The Mandate contained in its first recital, a clear statement as to why it was being handed to this country at all, and what its express object was. It said that the Government of His Britannic Majesty had made a declaration on 2nd November, 1917, and that that declaration was adopted by the other Powers,in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people.Subject to preserving certain rights to which I will refer to in a moment. That was the premise upon which this Mandate was established. That was the object of this Mandate. Every Article which follows is intended to carry out that object, subject to the modifications that other civil and religious rights are not to be prejudiced. I challenge anyone to contradict that statement. The reason why the phrase, "Jewish National Home" was used is not hard to understand. Advantage has been taken of the word "home" in order to raise some legal refinement about the fact that the word "State" is not used, but the word "Home." In my submission there is no 1964 distinction of substance between the phrase, "Jewish National Home" and "Jewish National State."
I will tell hon. Members why the word "Home" was, in my view, used instead of the word "State." It was perfectly clear that there was a large body of Jews outside Palestine who were anxious about what was taking place in Palestine as regards a Jewish State. They were people who were closely attached to their own particular countries. They had been born there, they were resident there, their families and businesses and hopes and their traditions were there. They were as much a part of the country as those who had been native to it for hundreds of years. They were troubled about the setting up in Palestine of what was to be described as a "Jewish State." As they were Jews themselves, they did not want the idea to be accepted that a Jew must necessarily be identified with Palestine because it was a Jewish State. That was I am sure due of the main reasons which operated to cause the phrase "Jewish National Home" to be used rather than the phrase "Jewish National State."
The other cause was obviously diplomatic. There was a good deal of sense in that. There were people who were already seated in Palestine. There were people there who had civil and religious rights. Naturally, everyone concerned was anxious that these people ought not to feel that they were to be dispossessed or prejudiced in the arrangement that was being made. If the word "State" had been used that might easily have aroused these doubts, whereas by using the word "Home", a modified term, it was no doubt desired to avoid that. We must remember in this case that as a substitute for "State" we have the word "National." It is impossible for anyone reading the Articles of the Mandate and wishing to put an honest interpretation upon them, to come to any conclusion but that it was intended that a National Home should be set up in Palestine for the Jews, and, as it says in Article 2 that should lead gradually to "the development of self-governing institutions" there. There appears to be no doubt about that whatsoever. The whole context of the Mandate justifies that conclusion.
I would like to say a word about the Jewish Agency. A suggestion has been made that we can merely wave our hands 1965 and get rid of the Jewish Agency. The Agency is an integral part of the Mandate. Before we can get rid of the Jewish Agency, we must get rid of the Mandate. In Article 4 are stated precisely the functions of the Jewish Agency. Certainly it is not one of the prescribed functions that they should deal with matters of terrorism or anything of that kind. In fact, the Jewish Agency has neither the power nor the means to do that. The function 'of the Agency was:for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as ma) affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine.That was their principal purpose. As immigration, under Article 6, was one of the main purposes of the Mandate, it was not likely, and it is not likely, that the Jewish Agency would do anything which would stop that immigration, for that would be a contravention of the Mandate itself. The Agency has never contravened a single one of its duties under the Mandate. I defy anyone to prove a single contravention by the Agency of any duty, obligation or function which it was given or has exercised under this Mandate.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
The White Paper is another matter; the White Paper is illegal. So far as the question of immigration is concerned, I would like to mention Article 6 of the Mandate which is very important. It is the Article which controls the question of immigration and it says:The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections
§ Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)
On a point of Order. Many of us are well acquainted with this question. Could we not get on with the modern problem?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Hon. Members may be well acquainted with it, but the speeches already made have not indicated that. Those speeches and the errors they evince are on record and I think that I am, at least, entitled to correct them. Article 6 says:The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights -and position of other section. of the population are not prejudiced shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suit- 1966 able conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman read the earlier words:while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population…
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I have just read those words. I do not know why I should be required to read them twice. I wish to say a few words about the White Paper of 1939. I will be brief, because I know others want to take part in the Debate. We are bound as regards the White Paper of 1939 to take into account what has been the policy of this party and the right hon. Gentlemen who now sit on the Front Bench. It is an absolute heresy, in my humble submission, for anyone to say that because they have become Members of the Government they can throw off, or discard, all the statements and pledges that they have ever made. If that were to pass as being the political principle of this country, we should have come to a sorry state of affairs. While the right hon. Gentleman the Foreigr Secretary was speaking, I interrupted him. He said that this House was bound by the White Paper. That proposition cannot be sustained. It is a piece of pure advocacy. As I said when I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman earlier, the Prime Minister himself has repudiated any such position. I quoted his view as expressed in this House on 1st July, 1946, reported in HANSARD of that date in col. 1907. I am sorry that time does not, allow me to go more fully into the White Paper, and I conclude by saying that the document is from beginning to end, illegal and ought now to be repudiated by the Government which opposed it originally in this House and had prior to this Parliament, consistently denounced it.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I will deal with some of the points mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) in the course of my speech, but in regard to his suggestion about the Foreign Secretary changing party policy, I would say that I was not at the recent party meeting, but, from Press reports, I gather that, on the whole, the party supported him.
§ Mr. Stokes
The hon. Member ought to have been long enough in the House to realise that the Parliamentary Labour Party's job is to interpret party policy in the House of Commons in the light of existing circumstances, and I would add that, when the Parliamentary Labour Party supports the Foreign Secretary, that is good enough for me. I was particularly delighted with the Foreign Secretary's speech, because I think that, for the first time, I heard him state a moderately fair case for the Arabs, though he did not go far enough for me. I thought he stated the Jewish case absolutely fairly, but I am assured by my Zionist friends, that he did not go far enough for them. Therefore, it must have been a good speech. We know that a good many promises have been made, but what must never be forgotten is that the Arabs were first promised the return of Palestine. Both my hon. and learned Friend who spoke before me and the Foreign Secretary expressed views as to the meaning of the Balfour Declaration. I think that a great deal of misapprehension exists there because people do not realise that the Balfour Declaration was only a sentence embodied in a long letter from Mr. Balfour to Lord Rothschild.
§ Mr. Stokes
I am not going to give way. I want to make it quite clear that the Arabs never accepted the Balfour Declaration, and were never consulted about it. They never accepted the Mandate, because they considered it to be completely contrary to Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Foreign Secretary went on to say that he did not find it easy to decide what a National Home for the Jews meant. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester explained that it really meant a national State, and said that the wrong word had been used. I am going to quote from the important White Paper which was issued on 3rd June, 1922—a British White Paper—which said:Unauthorised statements have been made to the effect that the purpose which is in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become Jewish as England is English. His Majesty's Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time 1968 contemplated, as appears to be feared by the Arab Delegation, the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded in Palestine.That was issued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who said the other day that he stood completely by that declaration. I do not think there is any doubt whatever about what was intended.
My contention, and I speak with some limited experience of Arab affairs, is that, numerically, at any rate, the intentions of the Balfour Declaration have been carried out. When the last war ended, there were some 60,000 Jews in Palestine, forming about 7 per cent. of the population. There are now 600,000 Jews in Palestine, forming 30 per cent. of the population, and we cannot expect the Arabs to consent to more and more European Jews going into Palestine, when they were not responsible for the persecution of the Jews in Europe, and so long as Britain and America—and the Jews in England number i per cent. and the Jews in America 4 per cent. of the population—are not prepared to open their doors to let them in. I am quite sure from what I have been told by our Arab friends that, if we were prepared to raise our Jewish population up to 33 per cent., there would be no difficulty with the Arabs in Palestine.
I was very glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he was not going to give up his efforts to solve this problem. I was sorry when he said the other day that the matter had to go to U.N.O. would much prefer, and I understand that my Arab friends would much prefer. that this matter should be settled between the British Government and the parties concerned, and I hope that the appeal which has been thrown out today will not fall on deaf ears.
To turn to another subject, that of the stamping out of violence, these acts of violence were condemned on both sides of the House with great unanimity. The point to which I would call attention is that our methods of stamping out violence in the case of Arabs are very different from the methods until recently used against the Jews. I think it was in 1937 that the Arab Higher Committee was 1969 declared an illegal organisation, and four members of the Arab Higher Committee and other Arab politicians were arrested and deported. Following on that, we had the attempted assassination by the Jews of the High Commissioner, followed by the assassination of Lord Moyne, and what happened next? The Jews were merely told that they must be good boys, or they would get no further. Recent revelations have made it plain that there was some responsibility on the part of the Jewish Agency for being concerned in matters leading up to the blowing-up of the King David Hotel, and it is astonishing to me, in spite of what has 'been said about the Mandate, that the Jewish Agency has not been declared illegal and the leading people in it removed from that country.
There is one other thing I would like to say If the Foreign Secretary fails, and does not bring about a reconciliation of some kind, there can be no question of partition, because the Arabs will not have it at all. There can only be a unitary State, and I hope that if, in the end, the matter is going to U.N.O., the Foreign Secretary will make it clear that some time limit should be set. It seems to me that we should follow the excellent policy which has been announced in regard to India. I think that, in the case of India, the time is wrong, but that is by the way. We ought to have a time limit; otherwise, U.N.O. will mess about and not come to a decision, and our men will have to bear the heat and burden of the day.
There is one other small point. I hope the attention of U.N.O., as well as of this House, may be called to the extraordinary concessions granted in Palestine in 1921 and in 1927 both in regard to water and hydro-electric power and mineral resources. In the Colonial Office White Paper of 1925, it was stated that the salts in the waters of the Dead Sea, at the valuation at that time, were worth £240,000 million. The figure is at least double that value today. It is an astonishing thing that, when these concessions were granted, an hon. Member of this House—Sir W. Joynson-Hicks—said:I have had some experience of contracts in this city, but the Rutenberg contract contains the most astonishing concessions I have ever seen or read in my life."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th July, 1922; Vol. 156, C. 304.]I think that will bear investigation. I am sure that behind the scenes, these 1970 matters have a great bearing on this situation.
I think it was a great mistake to mix up the question of the persecution of the Jews in Europe with the Palestine problem. But people always seem to do that. We all know that Mr. Balfour had no thought of Hitler in mind when the Declaration was made. There was no thought of thousands of Jews wanting to leave Europe. [An HON. MEMBER: "What are the figures?"] I cannot give the figures, but no doubt, when my hon. Friend speaks, he will say what was in Mr. Balfour's mina. I am quite certain that he did not contemplate the huge influx of Jews from the West to the East; he certainly did not contemplate that the Arabs were to be asked to take into their midst a huge European colony. It really is a matter of Arabs and Europeans—not Jews—against whom their military effort was sought in the 1914–18 war. I think that ought to be clear in people's minds when they discuss this subject.
I agree with the Foreign Secretary, and I believe that anybody who has travelled in that part will also agree that Arabs and Jews, if left alone, will get together. I believe that, even with this European in flux, it is still possible, with a hit of good will on both sides, for them to do that But, with no decision and the matter being allowed to drift on the thing becomes more and more difficult. As to our own party policy. I never agree with party policy as declared in the Labour Party paper called "The International Post-War Settlement," for under the heading "Colonies," we declare that the important thing is to develop the country and to give the indigenous population fair play and to support the Government. In the next column we say that we must doublecross the population in Palestine. That is fantastic. I do not believe that the party which passed that White Paper, had the slightest conception of what they were doing.
Finally, I will say that there is a common point between the Jews and the Arabs. They both dislike us; they dislike all our schemes, and they dislike one another. But they all realise that they must get- together. That is a very good common ground from which to start. At least, one knows where one is. I believe that the Foreign Secretary's suggestion is right. If they would only follow the policy which 1971 he has outlined and try to get on together for three, five or ten years, as he said, under a properly constituted Government, in which everybody is represented, I think we should achieve the solution of our difficulties, and that this unhappy chapter will be closed for all time.
§ 7.54 P.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I do not propose to detain the House for long, but I would like to say something in support of what the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) said just now. I am one of the few Members who were in this House when the Balfour Declaration and the White Paper were discussed. I think it is only right that, in such circumstances, one might say what one's recollections are of the intentions of that time, because, since then, many things have happened, and many things have overlaid the views then held.
We must first of all remember that the United States was to have had the Mandate, and that important point should not be forgotten. It was accepted by the United States, and, when President Wilson turned down the League of Nations, it passed to us to hold this troublesome baby. We accepted the Mandate, not because we wished to have it, but in order to do something for the benefit of the Middle East. The White Paper of 1922 was issued in an endeavour to correct what Mr. Balfour had said in that unhappy declaration about the National Home. There was an idea that the Jewish National Home should be not far from Jerusalem, and that there should be a university to which the Jews should go. It was at one time proposed that there should be a passport or a nationality office so that Jews could go there and obtain Jewish nationality. Having done that, they could then go wherever they wished, and could travel with a Jewish passport. But the British Jews, whose views I have always respected, and who made a great contribution to our efforts, were strenuously opposed to such a plan
§ Mr. Janner
The hon. Gentleman is making a statement which is absolutely incorrect. There were a few British Jews who signed a letter, but they were in a very minute minority, and certainly did not represent the opinions of British Jewry at all.
§ Sir R. Glyn
No doubt the hon. Member will have a chance of stating his views later. All I can say is that at that time Zionism, as we know it today, was unknown, and our preoccupation at that time was to try and help settle those difficult problems in Palestine in such a way as was in accordance with British practice and tradition.
I believe that an immense amount of harm has been done both in the United States and elsewhere by mixing up strategical considerations with the Mandate. There have been a great many people in America who thought that we were manipulating the Mandate for, strategical purposes. If a Mandate is used at all, it must be used largely in the interests of the people concerned in the territory for which a country is responsible. There ought to be no other consideration. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) said, I think, that one of the reasons why we should continue with the Mandate was strategical. That, surely, should be the last reason. It shows that we are not carrying out the purpose of the Mandate quite disinterestedly, which was the original intention.
It was never felt that this country should be saddled with this Mandate for a long period. It was always considered that it should be for a fairly short time, but, unfortunately, we have got more and more into the morass. We must keep absolutely distinct the problem of Palestine from that of the Jewish displaced persons. There are certain figures which have been issued quite recently, and some hon. Members had an opportunity of seeing the distress in Europe and the number of Jews who are now in camps in Germany, Austria and Italy and are being looked after by U.N.R.R.A. Indeed, a great many of them are not in the camps, but are mixed with the people of these countries. There is no greater distress or misery in any part of the world than that suffered by these unfortunate people, and this country should give a lead in this matter. It is our duty to do it.
As reported by U.N.R.R.A. the actual number of Jews up to October last was 152,600. That is apart from the other displaced persons who, I think, number nearly a million. It is quite obvious that we are rot going to help those people by thrusting them, willy-nilly, into Palestine. For one thing, many of them do not want 1973 to go there, but they do want to get out of all the associations and the miseries of the Hitler persecution. It is a great blemish on the postwar conduct of foreign affairs that we have not been able to find a proper solution to that problem. But we should be in a far worse mess if this House—and, after all, this House is responsible for the Mandate—did not make it perfectly clear at this moment how far we are to be tied to this affair, even if we do go to the United Nations organisation. What I am afraid of—and I ask the House to consider this—is that too much time will be taken in arriving at a settlement. I believe it is right that we should go to the United Nations organisation, but that it is essential that we should fix a time limit for arriving at a decision.
We have done it for India, and I believe that policy will succeed, and we ought to do it for Palestine. If the meeting of the United Nations is in September, surely it would be reasonable to say that on 1st January, 1948, we quite definitely go out, because it would be intolerable that British troops, the Palestine police and our administration in Palestine should be forced to carry out a policy which we not only do not approve, but are not really capable of carrying out. It should be remembered that, though we may have numbers of men in uniform, unless the financial position of the country is such that they can be maintained at a necessary war potential, we have no business to accept the responsibility. We stand now upon the edge of a completely new situation. We have published to the world what our financial and economic position is. We have given the details and the numbers. I cannot conceive that anybody in his right senses could possibly doubt that Palestine and the Middle East are today a danger spot. Unless handled with the utmost care it will be the beginning of such trouble between East and West, and we shall find ourselves involved in such a situation, that it will be quite intolerable to the people of this country to have to bear the responsibility for law and order while not in fact being able to ensure it.
Having heard the statement of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, therefore, I believe today we stand as we did in 1922. Then we accepted the situation which somebody else had produced. Now today we acknowledge a situation with which we are no longer 1974 able to cope within the terms of the Mandate. We should go to the United Nations, as successor to the League of Nations, and say that for all these years we have struggled and done our best; circumstances are such that we honestly believe we cannot carry on any further, and we therefore fix a date when we come out, refusing to be tied to a position which is no longer tolerable.
§ Mr. Scollan
Will the hon. Member please explain how we can submit the matter to the United Nations for a decision while, at the same time; making a declaration that in no circumstances would we continue in Palestine?
§ Sir R. Glyn
The hon. Member may feel that we should give up all our sovereign rights in this country, but our first duty as a member of the United Nations is, surely, to point out that we are not any longer in a position to undertake the risks entailed by a continuation of the Mandate. The greatest mistake we could make today would be to do something in connection with Palestine which would be misunderstood, as the Balfour Declaration was. The whole history of the Middle East and of Britain's administration there is one series of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and, surely, we have had sufficient warnings of the difficulties which follow from not facing the facts and telling the truth. After all, what is it that is at stake? It is not a question of party politics, it is a question of right and wrong. Either we are able to do this job or we are not, and I am convinced that the time has come when we can say quite honourably that we have done our level best, but we are anxious that the world should take up this burden. We have failed to produce a policy—that is a fact—which brings peace to both sides. Nobody can say we have not tried; let somebody else try, and bring fresh minds to bear upon it.
My last word is in regard to the Arab League. The Arabs, and indeed all peoples, at our request, made a contribution to fighting the terrorism of Hitler. The Arab League represents a great assembly of religious people, believing in Mohammedanism, and forming an enormous block of power stretching right across that part of the world. We have had contacts with Moslems in every part of the world, we respect their faith and 1975 understand it. The Arab League are looking to those nations which understand them to give them a lead. It is not a question of domination, it is a question of help. There are many Arab states which are struggling forward. Let us not put ourselves in a position which perhaps does not, permit us to give free and unfettered advice and help to those people, who have always looked to us in the past for honourable and fair dealing. I believe that we have a great opportunity; if we take it now we may save the world from another conflict, but if we do not take it, I think a conflict is more than possible.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Brigadier Peto (Barnstaple)
We have in the last three-quarters of an hour heard three totally different and extremely good speeches. The first, perhaps a little long, was by the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), who took the Jewish point of view; the second was by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who took a totally different view, that of the Arab, and the third was by my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), and with it I, personally, wholeheartedly agree. In the past I think both parties have made mistakes. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester prefaced his remarks by saying that he was not going into the past, and from then on never mentioned the future in the rest of his speech. I. however, am going to mention the past. and at the beginning I feel it right to say that I do know a little about Palestine. I have been there and served there, and I was there right at the beginning, from 1921 until 1924. I have seen, and can bear witness to what the Foreign Secretary said, that it is perfectly possible for Jew and Arab to work together. They have not identical interests, and that is perhaps why it is quite easy for them to work together. They are jealous of each other only when it comes to a question of which shall be the dominating people in the country. It is then that the quarrel begins.
As the Foreign Secretary said, the Jew is a town-dweller; 78 per cent of them live in the urban districts, in Tel Aviv and so forth. The Arab, on the other hand, does not live in the towns, he cultivates the soil. It is quite possible for those two communities to live in harmony 1976 together. For my part I have always been in favour of partition, not as a permanency but as an initial stage with a view to getting them to live together without quarrelling for a certain period, meeting each other and possibly working for each other in a way which will lead ultimately to unity. There is no doubt in my mind that it is possible to start by partition and finish with unity in that country.
I have heard with some interest the views expressed by various hon. Members on the meaning of the term "National Home." I thought it was quite enlightening to hear the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester give his view that it meant a pre-eminently Jewish State. I have no doubt that is the view of many other hon. Members on the Labour side. It is not my view. While it is quite impossible to say what was in Lord Balfour's mind, my view is that the National Home was not intended to be an exclusive State for Jews only. I thought the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester gave the impression that it was to be an exclusive home for Jews.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman getting a little confused? A National Home is, surely, a home in which a nation lives, in which it is there as of right, and in which it is not dominated by anybody else. There are cases where one can have that, as in Wales and Scotland, without a State.
§ Brigadier Peto
The hon. Member answered that point himself, I think, when he interjected, a little while ago, that it was to be a Jewish home with free immigration into it, limited only by the economic capacity for absorption. That is obviously what it must be, and what it was intended to be—a limited number of Jews would be allowed to immigrate into the country, but the number would be limited by the economic capacity of the country, and it would not be to the exclusion of the Arabs who are there already. I find it very hard to understand how the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with their knowledge, could possibly have stated, in December, 1944, and May, 1945, at Labour conferences, things which are totally and absolutely different from the interpretation of the term "National Home" to which I have referred. According to those statements, it was to 1977 be to the exclusion of the Arabs. If I remember rightly, the Prime Minister's remark was to the effect that the Arabs must be encouraged to leave the country as soon as possible and that the Jews must be allowed to immigrate into Palestine absolutely freely, without any let or hindrance, and that no obstacle was to be placed in their way. I have the quotation here.
§ Brigadier Peto
The Prime Minister said:There is, surely, neither object nor meaning in a Jewish National Home unless we are prepared to let Jews, if they wish, enter into this tiny land in such numbers as to become a majority, the Arabs being encouraged to move out as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let them settle elsewhere …and so on.
§ Brigadier Peto
December, 1944, at the annual conference of the Labour Party. I could also quote what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the following year, which was even stronger. I cannot understand how two men of great integrity and wisdom could possibly make such statements and lead the Labour Party, at a conference of that sort, completely up the garden path. Now those statements have come back on them. They are in a position of great responsibility. Their words can be quoted. Their party is entirely at sixes and sevens; some people in it think one thing, and some another; some people hold that the Jewish problem should be solved by allowing Jews to go into Palestine freely, and others hold totally opposite views, as, for example, the hon. Member for Ipswich. We know that the great Labour Party has often been confused before as to their policy, and without wishing to rub it in, I mention their lack of policy with regard to Russia, India and Palestine, and I would add with regard to domestic affairs. They were full of promises before they had responsibility, and now that they have responsibility, they are not putting their promises into effect.
§ Brigadier Peto
The Foreign Secretary said that Palestine was, and is likely to be, a sore spot. The position in Palestine is extremely like that in Ireland after the 1914–18 war. I also happen to have served in that country at the time of the Sinn Fein troubles. The problem in Palestine now, with the terrorists, is almost identical with the problem that had to be solved from 1918–20 in Ireland. I think there is only one way of solving that problem, and that is to handle it very strictly and very firmly, or to get out. There used to be a saying at the time of the Irish troubles which is equally applicable today, although I hope that in mentioning it I shall not deter recruiting. It was:Join the Army and see the world "—and in those days, they used to say:Join the R.I.C. and see the next.If one said now:join the Palestine Police and see the next,there would be a certain amount of similarity in it. Our men in Palestine have a very unpleasant task to do. Whatever is done, whether the Foreign Secretary goes to U.N.O. with a policy or without a policy, whether U.N.O. in the end comes to no decision or comes to a decision which we feel we have to implement, I ask one thing only, and it is this, that, policy or no policy, we shall be guided by the rule that whatever Is decided as a result, it shall not make the position of our troops in that country more difficult than it now is.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Every time I have listened to a discussion in the House on Palestine, and particularly in listening to certain passages of the Foreign Secretary's speech, I have become increasingly aware that the chief problem is the distance, psychological and physical, between this country and Palestine. When I listen to our quiet discussion, and when I remember that, while we are talking cheerfully about keeping the door open and asking what, in two thousand years, is a year in solving the problem, and that, on the other hand, in Jerusalem today British officials are cooped into ghettos and no British official 1979 can go about among the people he is trying to serve; when I remember that, in the last two days, I have received from two men, one an Englishman and one a New Zealander, who have spent their lives in serving Jews and Arabs desperate appeals to be released from the prison into which they have been put by the British authorities; when I remember the feelings of Jews and Arabs, exasperated by 18 months' constant delay—and it is really ten years of delay from 1937—then I feel we ought to get some actuality and some real relationship between the urgency of the problem and what we are doing about it.
I welcome this Debate if for no other reason than that it will have impressed upon the Foreign Secretary the sense of hon. Members on all sides of the House, whether they are pro-Jew or pro-Arab or, as I prefer, mainly pro-British, our deep concern and our lack of policy today—lack of short-term policy, lack of long-term policy—and the dangers to this country which such a lack of policy will bring. There was one particular thing in the Foreign Secretary's speech which concerned and worried me. It is very easy to generalise from one's own experience. One has spent one's life in negotiations between reasonable British people, where one just gets them into two rooms, and then, after all, it is a question of the employers offering 8d. and the men demanding rod., and then splitting at 9d., and it is very easy to believe that the Jews and the Arabs, in their passionate national opposition, can be somehow jostled together by personal influence, and made to sign on the dotted line some compromise. Not one person who has visited Palestine in the last few years has come back disagreeing with the view that no agreed solution is possible, and that if we try to get people to conferences there will be endless postponement and delay. That was the view of the Peel Commission in 1937 and the view of Mr. Malcolm MacDonald in 1939; it is the point upon which the White Paper agrees and it was also the view of the Anglo-American Committee, of which I was a member, last year. Every person agrees that it is an absolute waste of time to go on bringing these people together into conference. I agree with the spokesman for the Opposition today that a whole year has been completely wasted, and that this matter 1980 should have gone to U.N.O. last year if it was going at all. I hope that after this Debate there will be no more talk about leaving the door open.
Arab and Jew have both of them an impregnable moral, case. They have something that they really believe in, and they cannot be wangled out of it by some trick solution which everybody sees through. They know the problem from A to Z, and they look at every proposal with their eyes on the two questions of land and immigration. They judge every proposal according to the way in which-those two questions are dealt with. There is no way of bringing them together before we impose something on both Jews and Arabs.
§ Mr. Crossman
Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to develop the argument. There are only two ways of ending the situation, unless we continue the Mandate and continue spending £40million a year on keeping a large Army and being unpopular with both sides. One way is the 1937 way of partition. The other is the way of the White Paper of 1939. Now, 52 nations in U.N.O. are to find more devices for wanting to keep up the Mandate. One is the Arab way, and the other is the Jewish way. One way is that which enables the Jews to survive and have a reasonable chance of surviving, with a stake in parts of Palestine where they can either come to terms with the Arabs or fight it out. The other way is to be at the mercy of an Arab majority.
Those two policies, partition and the White Paper, do not differ very much at the moment. The Jewish population in Palestine would, if the White Paper were imposed and our troops were withdrawn, create a de facto republic. British troops would go out and Jewish troops would take over what they could hold, and then there would be negotiations between the two sides. Whether we impose our wishes, or impose the White Paper, the future of Palestine will, in fact, be decided between the Jews on the one side and the Arabs on the other. What we have to decide is between an illegal or irregular way of dividing the country, walking out and leaving the parties to fight it out, or an internationally agreed 1981 partition of the country which will reduce the bloodshed to some extent. There is not a very great variety of solutions.
Now I would say a word or two about the reference to U.N.O.. I am alarmed at the very easy way in which some people believe that reference to U.N.O. will settle the matter. I remember the days when a reference to the Anglo-American Committee was going to solve the problem. The problem is not to be solved in that way. As time goes on we find Arabs and Jew terrorists grow stronger, so that when we have to impose a solution the cost will be greater in British, Jewish and Arab blood the longer we wait. In regard to the reference to U.N.O. let us see realistically what is going to happen. There is a Russian bloc and an American bloc. The aim of the Russian bloc will be to have the British troops removed out of Palestine. The Russians want us out. What about the Americans? The Americans want us in. We have to understand that position. There has been a certain amount said about the Americans and upon the subject of elections in New York. Self-righteousness is rather dangerous. Apparently if there had been a million Jews in London we might have seen a slightly different attitude on the Front Benches on both sides of this House. There were Election pledges about the Jewish question. That British pressure group is big enough to get an election pledge at the conference, but not big enough to formulate the policy of a Government.
It is unwise to bicker at Americans about the size of the Jewish community in that country. We ought to look soberly at American interests. There are two factors which determine America's attitude, the Jewish democratic vote and Standard Oil. Jewish lobbying is vocal; oil lobbying is silent but highly influential. The oil lobby is quite powerful enough, in view of the close connection with the American Chiefs of Staff, to prevent' the Americans assuming any responsibility in the Middle East, to jeopardise the relationship with the Arab world by which the oil supply would suffer. I do not blame the Americans for that. The Jewish group at home and Standard Oil abroad, make it their obvious interest to sit on the fence and to avoid ever making themselves get into the Middle East where they would have to fight pro-Jew or pro-Arab.
1982 Every American politician will do all he can to sit on the fence in the Middle East, so as to ensure that the British are there and that the Russians are not.
If this problem goes to U.N.O. the Americans will prevent the Russians having their way and will try to press the thing back on us. There will be some fantastic new Constitution proposed, with a quite unworkable Mandate. We shall be politely pushed back into running the country to defend British and American interests in the Middle East. We shall, therefore, be no whit further on than if we had done it all ourselves. All U.N.O. brings is another Mandate which we shall not have written ourselves, but which others will have written for us. We may be much worse off than we are at present. Therefore, those Members of this House who have pressed for a time limit for the withdrawal of British personnel and troops are completely justified.
Secondly, we have not only to press for the time limit, but we have to make it clear to U.N.O. that, in our view, the Mandate is unworkable. On that point we agree with the Peel Commission and with the White Paper, and this House even agrees with the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and myself, who were on the Commission which came to that simple conclusion—a conclusion which has only dawned on the Front Bench. The Mandate is unworkable. We are not prepared to work it. A new compromise cannot work, and we are not prepared to fail again. I believe it is essential that we should go to U.N.O. saying not only that we have this record but that this record has led us to this conclusion: It is impossible for an alien to go on ruling Jew and Arab. The problem has to be settled either by the White Paper or by partition which may both mean the same thing. But it has to be settled in one way or the other, enabling foreign rule to get out of Palestine. That would be to the interest, not only of the British but of the Arabs and the Jews.
I wish to say one harsh thing in conclusion. There are times, even in industrial disputes, when a strike or a lock-out is necessary, when a trial of strength has to come, when the task of the conciliator is to say, "The boys have got to have their heads and try it out." I believe that situation has arrived in Palestine, when it is preferable for Jew and Arab, who have 1983 passionate convictions, to "have it out" as equals and free men, even though it involves some bloodshed, than to continue fighting us. That is the case for partition. It is the case for the White Paper, and it is a case for ending the Mandate.
§ Mr. Crossman
When two mature peoples are being ruled by a third people through a police State, I do not call it abdication. I call it liberation of the peoples concerned. It is not abdication to say that the Jews are now strong enough to defend themselves and the Arabs think they can defend themselves, that they should, therefore, have their freedom, and that we should not be tied up to some arrangement which the Americans want to impose on us for keeping us in Palestine with another "phoney" constitution and another compromise which will keep us balancing between the two. We all know that we are now ruling Palestine—we did not know it until last week—under the White Paper. The Foreign Secretary says we are bound to do it because it is a pledge to the Arab world. I would point out that if it is a pledge to the Arab world, it was also declared illegal by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."]—by a majority of one. It was declared illegal by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations by four to three. It was declared illegal by Labour Ministers in the House of Commons, and I think I would be supported by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry opposite if I said that there was not a member of the Anglo-American Committee who could find a way of making the White Paper compatible with the Mandate.
We ought to be quite clear on what we are about. We are now saying that we do not want to impose a solution in Palestine. I would point out that we are imposing a solution in Palestine. With enormous force, we are imposing the White Paper. If, through that, we came to war, as at any moment we may, and this country were to find itself fighting to impose the White Paper which was declared illegal by the international authority under which we hold the Mandate, I must frankly say that I would be doubtful whether it would be a just or an unjust war.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Did the hon. Member say that we hold the Mandate under the Mandates Commission? If so, I think he should correct himself.
§ Mr. Crossman
I will correct myself and say, "confirmed by the League of Nations." The point I was coming to was this: We have to face the reason why we are imposing the White Paper today. It is the same as in 1939. In 1939 we had to impose the White Paper because the Arab world might have joined the Axis in the years of the war. We all know that was the reason, and it may be it was a perfectly good strategic necessity, though an unpleasant one. We all know that today we are still imposing the White Paper, because we are afraid that otherwise the Arab world might go over to Soviet Russia.
I think it is time we were honest about this, and knew that what we are doing from strategic reasons is taking precedence over morality and legality. If it does, at least we should know it in this House of Commons, and should know the motives behind our policy. It is intolerable to continue in this way, in which expediency is constantly having to take precedence over morality and legality. We know, of course, that there is a large terrorist movement; and if we increase Jewish immigration, who in the Arab world will not say, "You are giving way to Jewish nuisance value"? The Arabs are bound to say that. Just as if the Arab view prevails the Jews will say, "You are giving way to Arab nuisance value." We have now reached the situation in Palestine in which both sides believe, and passionately believe, that the British give way to nuisance value. It is not a question of this Government, but a question of the last 10 years. The attitude is: The British give way to nuisance value, therefore the revolver is the "Esperanto." I say it is that which now utterly corrupts life in Palestine for Briton, Jew and Arab. If we have reached that point, and if the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) calls it abdication, I say that is nonsense.
Let us close down this lamentable story. Let us, for once, make up our minds, and go to the United Nations with the following three plain statements. First: The 1985 Mandate is unworkable, and we cannot possibly agree to any United Nations' recommendation for reconstituting the Mandate with any compromise solution at all. Secondly: We are in favour of an orderly partition of Palestine instead of a disorderly partition, which is what would occur it Palestine were made an Arab State and the Jews merely took what they wanted by means of the Haganah fighting for it; let us say we would rather do it under international guarantee. Thirdly: Whatever happens we will have our troops and adminstrators out by a certain date, because that will speed up the solution.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
It seemed to me that the whole burden of the argument of the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) has been to lead up to his suggestion of partition. If I may say so, he has been extremely dogmatic.
§ Mr. Lipson
He is quite sure that no agreed solution is possible. But that was not the view put forward by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. The Foreign Secretary told us that even at this late hour he has not given up hope that an agreed solution may be found. In the course of his speech he showed us how on two occasions he had almost brought the two parties together with the possibility of an agreed solution, when the untimely intervention of America made the position entirely impossible.
§ Mr. Crossman
Might I correct the hon. Member on one point? I was not, I think, quite dogmatic. All I said was that no one who has been to Palestine in the last three years has come back with the view that agreement is possible. That view is limited to people who sit in London.
§ Mr. Lipson
At any rate, personally I prefer the more optimistic view taken by the Foreign Secretary. The alternative offered by the hon. Member for East Coventry is that we should come out, and leave it to the Jews and Arabs to fight it out between themselves. That is an alternative which, to my mind, is quite unworthy of the responsibilities which we have had in that country for so many years; and the result of which, I think, would be too terrible to contemplate.
1986 In all the Debates on Palestine in which I have been privileged to take part, I have tried to take as objective a view as possible of this problem.
§ Mr. Lipson
I have tried to be fair to the Government; I have tried to be fair to the Jews; I have tried to be fair to the Arabs; and have endeavoured to apply to this problem the principle which, in my view, ought to be applied to all political problems—the principle of justice. I have refused to forget that principle, or to turn a blind eye towards it, because, as a Jew, the problem of Palestine has a special significance to me. Starting from that premise, I want to say that I think that many of the charges which are brought against the Government in the handling of this problem are not fair. It has been said that there has been unreasonable delay. But to bring about a solution of the Palestine problem does not lie with this country alone. The other parties concerned, the Jews and the Arabs, have also their contribution to make, and I think it is clear that they have not been at all helpful. Both of them have maintained an extreme point of view.
§ Mr. Lipson
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to make my speech in my own way. Both of them have adopted an extreme point of view, and have not made the task of His Majesty's Government easier. Then, too, I think it is only fair to the Government to appreciate the fact that this is by no means the only problem with which they have had to deal since they came into office. After all, the war has created problems much greater and far more numerous than many people imagined it would, even when the war ended. Peace has not yet been made with Germany and Austria; the United Nations organisation had to be set up; economic problems of tremendous magnitude have had to be dealt with; the world has been, and still is, in danger of famine; in our own country we have had our domestic problems. In these circumstances it is most unreasonable of the extreme Jewish nationalists to complain that the Govern- 1987 ment have not given priority to their own particular problem.
Personally, I want to thank the Foreign Secretary for the speech which he made today. In my opinion, that speech is the best speech that has been made on the Palestine problem by anybody, and I think it has served a most useful purpose, because it has, at least, given all the facts, and it has made all the difficulties with which the Foreign Secretary has had to deal crystal clear; and to that extent, I think, it has considerably cleared the air. I was very much impressed by the obvious sympathy with which the Foreign Secretary has approached this problem, and the courage he has shown, in spite of all the difficulties, in trying to find a solution.
Therefore, I think that the supporters of the Zionist cause ought to show a little more understanding of his difficulties—perhaps they will after that speech—and realise it is not possible for him to meet all their demands, unless he is to sacrifice many of the political principles for which he and his party, and, indeed, all parties in this country have stood for so many years. It is, I think, obvious, that as a result of the terrorist activities in Palestine, the Zionist cause and the cause for a Jewish State have much less support than before. These people, by their actions, have done infinite harm to the cause of Jewry generally, and also to the cause of Jewish nationalism in Palestine. People are naturally asking now what kind of Jewish State is likely, when the terrorists show the particular attitude of mind indicated by their actions. As a result of the breakdown in the negotiations, it was inevitable that the Government should decide to refer this problem to U.N.O. The Foreign Secretary has said that the Mandate as it exists at present is unworkable, and it is only proper, therefore, that it should be handed over to U.N.O., which has been created to deal with problems of this kind. Personally, I hope the view expressed by the Foreign Secretary that there is still a chance that solution by agreement may be found between the Arabs and the Jews and the British Government before the matter goes to U.N.O. may be justified, because if agreement can be arrived at. it is far better than anything which is forced upon the country from outside. We can all hope and pray that that confidence is justified.
1988 I should like to strengthen the appeal which has been made to the Foreign Secretary, that in the interval between now and, if need be, when the matter goes before U.N.O. in September, there should be an increase in the number of immigrants allowed into the country. I suggest that the Government might agree, until the matter has been considered by U.N.O., to the figure being raised to 4,000 per month, which was the figure envisaged in the latest Government proposals for the settlement of the Palestine problem. I appeal to the Arabs to give sympathetic consideration to this request. I think I have shown that I have some understanding and appreciation of 'heir point of view on this matter, and I trust that an appeal, coming from me, might have some influence with them. It is clear that an increase of this kind could not possibly do the Arab cause any harm whatsoever. On the other hand, it would relieve a tremendous amount of suffering, and help to create a better atmosphere in Palestine itself until a happier solution of the problem could be found. If the Colonial Secretary could assure the House that the Government are prepared to consider increasing the number of immigrants to 4,000 a month, I believe that such an assurance would meet with general acceptance, particularly when coupled with the plea which the Foreign Secretary made today, that all nations in the world should be prepared to open their gates and take their share of the displaced persons who are so sadly in need of a home.
I am glad that the Government have turned down the proposal for partition, because although partition might buy an easy peace for a time, like Munich, it would tend to keep Arab and Jew apart, with all the possibilities of conflict that might arise in consequence. As, in my view, the only ultimate solution of the Palestine problem is to be found in a Unitary State, in which Jews and Arabs would live and co-operate together for the common good of all, I believe that it would be a fatal mistake to start dividing the country. Palestine is smaller than Wales, and partition is a solution which the Government have rejected for India, where the case is so much stronger. If we were to accept partition for Palestine it would be difficult, from a logical, fair, and just point of view, to refuse Pakistan to India There are differences of opinion 1989 as to how the Palestine problem is to be solved, but we are all agreed in desiring the earliest possible solution. I hope the Foreign Secretary will continue, as he told us he intends to do, in his efforts, so that, at long last, peace may be brought to Palestine, and that in peace and prosperity Palestine can once again make her proper contribution to human good and human happiness.
§ 8.54 P.m.
§ Mr. Lever (Manchester, Exchange)
I hope I shall not offend my hon. Friends, and give comfort to the Philistines, by extending to the Foreign Secretary's plan a conditional welcome, a welcome which I might describe as being with open arms, but crossed fingers. I believe in a united Palestine, and that partition, logically, would involve what my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) says it would involve, namely, Jews and Arabs deciding to fight out their differences. I believe in a united Palestine because I believe that Jews and Arabs have to get together in Palestine, work together, and settle their differences, and I feel that partition as between Jews and Arabs would be the preliminary bout to a major fight. It would give no pleasure to me as a Jew to see the Jews of Palestine use their brilliant organising skill and great mental superiority and knowledge in Palestine to give them a victory in arms against their more primitive opponents. I think that nothing more dreadful could be contemplated, in the interests of the Jewish people anywhere, than that a blood bath of that kind should be preceded by a partition policy. I believe in an independent Palestine, because I believe, as the Foreign Secretary has said—I hope sincerely—that the relationship between Jew and Arab in Palestine has been bedevilled from outside.
The Foreign Secretary seems to have in mind exclusively the hysteria of Madison Square Garden meetings and the efforts of some extreme Zionists. But there are other intermeddlers whom we ought to have in mind outside Palestine, the moguls who rule the Arab States, who represent every backward and reactionary tendency in the Middle East—and the oil moguls too, whose influence makes itself felt at every conference and on every decision about Palestine. I am bound to tell the House that I can think 1990 of another interfering party, who have no right to be there, and that is the British Government and the British Army. I am bound to say that it is not in the interests of British people that they should remain there any longer as one of the inter-meddling parties of whom the Foreign Secretary has spoken. I give him hearty support in his desire for a united, free and genuinely independent Palestine, and a democratic Palestine which will govern its own destinies in every way. I do not think that that means that we can walk out tomorrow, but I think we ought to have a time limit. No one is going to believe the story that if we go out Jews and Arabs will massacre each other. If Britain goes out under a ruling of the United Nations organisation and proper arrangements are made for a short interim period, the Jews and Arabs of Palestine will learn to live together, as everyone acknowledges they are able to do, if not subject to outside interference. They already work together in their trade unions, in big business, and in many other ways.
§ Mr. Lever
The way to get it is to go to the United Nations organisation for the temporary cover under which we release our troops and set up the framework of a democratic self-governing Palestine. [Interruption.] With the Jews in a minority, at the moment, certainly. That is a matter for the people of Palestine to decide in a democratic way. I am bound to tell the House that I do not believe that any such solution will work without the temporary umbrella provided by the United Nations; it will not work if we do not at once admit a substantial number of Jews into Palestine. That is very different from demanding a Jewish State in Palestine, or a Jewish majority in Palestine. I am told by the Foreign Secretary, and I believe it, because I ventured to suggest the same thing myself some time ago, that, if we do not insist on the idea of a Jewish State and join with the Arabs in demanding self-government in Palestine, we can get agreement with the Arabs to let at least 100,000 Jews into Palestine. I want to see at least 100,000 Jews admitted into Palestine in the immediate future. I think the effect in soothing the whole situation would be immense and 1991 would give the denial to the pessimistic expectations of permanently bad relations between Jew and Arab. We are told by all sorts of people that these two races can never live together. Of course, they will not, if people with political and financial motives are continually bedevilling their relations. Let us see what are the genuine minimum needs of both sides and we might get rather a different and less gloomy picture of the possibilities from that which has been painted by my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry.
One of the pressing problems of the moment is the question of the displaced persons, and this problem of displaced persons, if we try to for some academic reason, cannot be separated from Palestine. That problem is inseparably linked up with Palestine. We have to see these helpless people do not rot any longer in the displaced persons camps of Europe, and that we no longer pay mere lip service to humanitarian efforts which ought to have been made on their behalf. I am not afraid to say that there is a difference between displaced Jews and other displaced persons, because the Jews require rather different treatment and consideration. I must tell the House quite candidly that my view is that it is dishonesty and hypocrsy to pretend that the world should take them as an alternative to Palestine when at the present time the whole world shows no sign of wanting to take them. The only people in the world who have offered to take the displaced Jews are tile Jews of Palestine who are prepared to die for the right to take them. I do not think that that can be ignored although the Jews are a minority in that country.
I want to put one or two questions and make a short statement. I should like the Colonial Secretary when he comes to reply to tell me in plain terms what steps the Government propose t2 take in regard to Palestine if the United Nations disagree on that subject. Secondly, I should like him to tell me v hat the Government proposes to do if the United Nations agree on Palestine. What steps are they to take in the interview? I should like an assurance from him now, particularly after all the statements that have been made on this matter in the House, that there are going to be no deals of an unsavoury kind, but that the British Government will take steps to get out of 1992 Palestine and leave Jew and Arab the job or running and ruling their own country. Those who are genuinely concerned about the British troops in Palestine want to see those troops brought home to England, where they are badly needed for the tasks confronting us today.
One final word. Some people in this country seem to have difficulty in understanding the position of the Jews in England and their special interest in the Jews in Europe and the Jews in Palestine. Some Members on both sides of the House in the course of Palestine Debates have made remarks of which on reflection they cannot be proud. I remember when my, hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) was valiantly fighting the battle of these unfortunate people the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) made some remark suggesting a dubious loyalty existed on the part of the British Jews when he made his plea for these people. There is no mystery or secret about it. The British Jews are concerned about the suffering Jews in Europe and in Pales- tine, and in being so they do not abate one whit their loyalty to this country, but they desire to waken the conscience of the people of the world to the terrible plight of these unfortunate people. I ask the House to see that the Foreign Secretary sincerely fulfils the pledge he has given to get out of that country as soon as possible. I ask the House to insist that there is no double dealing now, because the history of the last 20 years is riddled with double dealing and false promises, which have helped to bring about this intolerable and ruinous state of affairs in Palestine, resulting in injustices to the Jews, fears on the part of the Arabs, and in no confident hope for the peace and prosperity of Palestine in the coming years.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Exchange Division of Manchester (Mr. Lever) in the course of his extremely fluid speech took to task the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) sitting in front of him. I was sorry that that should occur, because that showed on the part of the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Manchester a singular ignorance of the conditions in Palestine which 1993 would be likely to ensue if British troops forthwith left that country. The other point he made was the interest that the British Jews had in Jewish displaced persons. I was sorry that he confined his interest to British Jews. I think that on both sides of the House we are concerned with the interests of the displaced persons, whether they be Jews or non-Jews who are now in camps in Europe.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I will not give way because I have not the time. I think that everyone will agree that we have listened to a good Debate today on this problem which has been so often debated in the House of Commons. The Foreign Secretary started his momentous and courageous speech by saying that there was no denying the fact that the Mandate was contradictory. That is no new discovery. It has already been pointed out by the hon. Member for East Coventry and it was mentioned in the Peel Report and confirmed in other documents. That in itself is a reasoned and cogent argument for the decision to refer this problem to the United Nations organisation. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to reduce the Palestine problem to three simple questions—simple in the sense that they can be simply asked but by no means easily answered.
The first was, should the claims of the Jews be admitted; secondly, should that of the Arabs; or, thirdly, should it be a United Palestinian State? As he said, we cannot solve these problems, but he invited this House" to face up to Y them as he said His Majesty's Government have to "face up to them now." I do not know whether really there is very much point in this House facing those problems now if the Government are going to put them before the United Nations without any recommendation of any kind whatsoever. I agree that in the absence of agreement between Jews and Arabs those are questions which fall to be answered if there is to be a final solution of a difficult and persistent problem. My view of these answers is contained in the Report which I signed and which the hon. Member for East Coventry, among others, also signed. We said there that there should be no Jewish State. I think we were right in that, and having heard arguments since we signed it I personally adhere to that position. After all, the official 1994 Zionist demand for a Jewish State has a fairly recent origin, starting, I think, in 1942 with the Biltmore Declaration. I believe that is the first declaration—
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I think I am entirely correct in saying that the Biltmore Declaration was the first official declaration of the Zionist demand for a Jewish State—
Not official Zionist policy. The hon. Member can correct me later if he desires, but I cannot give way because time is short and the Colonial Secretary wants sufficient time in which to reply. I do not believe that the claim for a Jewish State in Palestine is in the true long-term interest of the Jews in Palestine, and that is why I hope that even at this late date the Jewish organisations may reconsider their official policy. If they study the trend of population, there is no prospect of maintaining a permanent Jewish majority, or of obtaining one without some expulsion of the Arab inhabitants already there. I also agree that there should be no Arab State. I should not assent to the Arabs, with their present intensity of feelings, having any domination over the Jews now in the country. The hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple (Brigadier Peto), who spoke with knowledge of the country, gave testimony to the fact that politics are removed when Jews and Arabs work together. We on the Commission did not exclude the possibility of both Arabs and Jews working in unison. If we had excluded that, we should have published a very different Report. There has been testimony from both sides of the House to the effect that the door is not yet completely closed to the possibility of Jewish and Arab co-operation in a united Palestine. In my belief, that—a united Palestine, if it can be achieved—is the policy which is likely to lead to greater prosperity in that country than any other.
There has been some discussion this evening on the thorny question of what 1995 is meant by the "National Home." The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) gave us a lengthy disquisition on that subject. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said that the meaning was quite clear to him—that it meant a borne and not lodgings, but he did not go further than that, and while he would say, no doubt, that Wales was his national home, he did not go on to indicate whether in his view that meant that Wales should be a national State.
It is agreed on both sides of the House that the Mandate is not only ambiguous but that it contains obligations which it is impossible to reconcile. From that it follows that there must be revision, and in recommendation No. 4 of our Report we anticipated that this matter would go to the United Nations—and that it would go without the delay that has occurred. If there was agreement between the Jews and Arabs as to what should be the contents of a trusteeship agreement, the revision would be so much easier, but even if there is no agreement, still, the revision is equally necessary.
But what is the cause of the delay which has occurred? We were asked to perform our duties in the short period of 100 days, and since then we have been told that there have been these efforts to secure agreement between Jews and Arabs. I listened with great interest to what the right hon. Gentleman had to say as to the history of those efforts and the reasons for the breakdown and change of attitude. I admire him for his optimism but I should have thought that anyone with any knowledge of this problem would have realised that at this present time agreement between Jews and Arabs was really completely impossible.
Indeed, it was completely impossible, as the Peel Report showed, before 1939, and long before the White Paper of that date—and in that respect the hon. Lady the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) was entirely inaccurate. It would be a miracle in my view if that agreement was achieved; it could not be achieved unless the mutual fears of the Arabs and the Jews were resolved. I think we could all agree upon that. Now what are the Arab's fears? The Arab's fears, in the first place, are of Jewish domination; secondly, of dispossession and de- 1996 privation of his means of livelihood: thirdly, he fears a flood of immigration which will lead to that domination and to his dispossession. Those are the chief fears, in my belief, in the Arab mind. On the Jewish side, what are their fears? I am talking now not of the political Jews not residing in Palestine who have such an influence on the policy of the Jewish Agency but, so far as I can judge, of the Jews in Palestine. I believe their fear is this, and it can be stated quite simply: the fear that they will be dominated by the Arabs unless, with the aid of immigration, they can keep up their numbers.
We cannot resolve those fears, we cannot dispel them. It can only be done by a change of attitude on the part of the Jews, and also a change of attitude on the part of the Arabs. I regret that since 1942 Jewish domination has been in the forefront of Jewish policy. That was confirmed today by the Foreign Secretary when he said that the Jews thought it wrong that he should consult at all with the Arabs on the question of immigration. As I say, I regard this policy of the Jews, from the point of view of Jewish interests, to be really disastrous on long-term because, whether there is a Jewish state or not in Palestine, the livelihood and well being of those Jews who reside in Palestine must depend on their getting on well with the Arab inhabitants of that country and the surrounding people in the nations alongside. I cannot think that there can be any final settlement by agreement of this problem unless the Zionist attitude changes completely. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I would much prefer an agreed solution because that would have a much greater chance of finality, but I regret the right hon. Gentleman's statement the other day that the only proposals which would be put before the United Nations would be those contained in the White Paper, those which have been rejected either by Jews or by Arabs or by both. What does that mean? It means that if the United Nations accept any of the suggestions put forward in that White Paper, they either have to be imposed by force on the entire population of Palestine or on a majority or minority of the inhabitants who are opposed to that solution, and I cannot regard that as desirable.
Furthermore, these proposals are put forward by the right hon. Gentleman with a view to trying to secure agreement be- 1997 tween the Arabs and Jews The proposals put forward to try to negotiate a settlement may not be quite the same as the proposals you put forward if you are trying to determine what is the right course to pursue in the interests of the inhabitants of Palestine. I hope that after this Debate there will be further consideration by His Majesty's Government as to whether or not they should put suggestions before the United Nations when the matter is referred to them.
I do not propose to spend much time on the proposals contained in the White Paper, but I take the view—opposed as I am to partition, having signed that Report—that any policy is better than no policy and at the present time we have none, but in the final suggestions put forward by His Majesty's Government we give notice that we will quit Palestine in five years. That White Paper concludes with these remarkable words:The proposals contained in the present Memorandum are designed to give the two peoples an opportunity of demonstrating their ability to work together for the good of Palestine as a whole and so providing a stable foundation for an independent State.That is a great and pious aspiration. But these people in the past have had many opportunities of working together. They have not taken them, and I feel confident, but reluctant, in expressing the opinion that if that sort of proposal is put forward in the present state of mind in Palestine, it will mean that both sides will prepare for the day when we withdraw and they will then settle their differences by the sword.
§ Mr. K. Lindsay
I gather that the hon. and learned Member's views were not in complete accord with those of the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley). I know it is not usual for the Opposition to put forward policy, but when a matter is so serious as this, I think we should know the policy of the Opposition, as well as that of the Government.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I signed this Report expressing my view. I am speaking for myself and not committing anyone, nor the party behind me, to adhere to the view stated in the Report.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The hon. and learned Gentleman agrees that the Report he signed was expressly not intended to be a long-term agreement, but was a set of 1998 transitional proposals. Will he say now what he thinks is a permanent solution?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I am asked by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) whether our Report was merely a set of transitional proposals. I do not agree with that, and I think that if the hon. Member studies it carefully he will see that it contains both short-term and long-term proposals. I am also asked to suggest the course to be followed now. The question we have to discuss tonight is not so much the policy which one of us might think right, but the course which His Majesty's Government should now pursue—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is the same thing."]—It is not the same thing. The course we are told His Majesty's Government should pursue now, is to throw this matter on to the table of the United Nations, with no recommendation at all. I have said before, and say again, that whether the policy put forward by His Majesty's Government is one with which I personally agree or not, I am prepared to go so far as to say that any policy put forward by them is better than no policy.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I wish to carry on with what I was saying before I was interrupted on these matters think the House will agree that to throw this matter at the United Nations without any advice, without any recommendations, in the hope that some nation, free from any responsibility, will put forward a solution which is universally acceptable, is a most impracticable hope. We, having governed Palestine, and not too badly at that since the Mandate, are really in the best position to say in what respects the Mandate should be revised, and what the trusteeship agreement, which will replace the Mandate, should contain. If there is no hope, as I think there is no hope, of getting a solution from the United Nations which is really universally acceptable, one can only regard this as another factor leading to delay. During that delay, apparently, the present situation must continue, and, for an indeterminate period, we shall continue to bear alone an intolerable burden, a burden we have borne for the last 18 months largely owing to the fact that His Majesty's Government have had no policy. We shall have to 1999 bear that burden, apparently, until next September, and we shall have to go on bearing it, apparently, until the United Nations has come to a conclusion, which may be for a much longer time.
I wish to say one word about immigration, because immigration is one of the first things, as the hon. Member for East Coventry said, to which the Arabs and Jews look in considering whether or not a policy is right, the second being land. I cannot help wondering whether, to assist in the solution of the problem in Europe, to which we drew attention in the forefront of our Report, it really would not assist immigration into Palestine if, in future, the selection was made by Great Britain of those to whom immigration certificates were to be given, and if priority was not given in future, and it has not been, I understand, in the last few years, to the aged and infirm who are now in these displaced persons centres, to the very young and to some skilled workmen, whose services are required in Palestine to provide accommodation for them.
As I understand it, the Jewish Agency now has the power of selection. That selection has, in the past, been criticised, I think rightly criticised by the orthodox Jews, Agudath Israel, for not including sufficient orthodox Jews. I criticise it on the ground that in determining to whom certificates for legal immigration should be granted, they have not selected those categories from inside the camps in Europe. I also ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether the policy with regard to illegal immigrants has now changed. In 1945 an illegal immigrant who was detained, put in a camp, gained priority in securing immigration, under the quota, into Palestine. After he was caught, he went to the head of the queue to gain admission. I hope that that practice has ceased, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say it has, because of the danger of a wave of illegal immigration which will accentuate the tense situation this summer. I can think of few things so likely to encourage people to attempt this operation than the knowledge that if they are caught they will at least get priority in admission to Palestine.
I wish we had heard today, from the Foreign Secretary, a statement of the 2000 terms upon which we were prepared to carry on in Palestine. I wish we had heard from him that he was prepared to go to the United Nations and say, "This, in our view, is what the Mandate should contain. If the Mandate contains this, if it contains these obligations, then if the United Nations, the United States of America and every other country are prepared to support us, we will do our best to carry it through." I hope that we shall get some assurance that by going to the United Nations we are not getting ourselves into the position of undertaking an obligation to fulfil anything which the United Nations, in their wisdom, may determine to be right for the future of Palestine.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I want to assure the House that all the suggestions which have been made during this Debate will be most carefully studied by the Government. The Debate has shown, once again, how difficult is this problem of the two communities in Palestine, and how divided are the parties in this House in regard to a solution of the difficulties. It is not a problem out of which any party dare attempt to make political capital. I think the approach of the present Government has been that it is a great human problem, calling for the most careful handling, because of the deep human feelings which have been expressed and evidenced over a long period.
Therefore, we would accept the view that any contributions which can be made from any quarter of the House towards finding a method by which Arab and Jew communities can live together in Palestine, will have our most sympathetic examination. It is hardly reasonable to pronounce that His Majesty's Government have not had a policy in connection with this matter. I shall seek to show, if I can, what that policy has been over the past 18 months. It is not necessarily a failure on the part of the Government if, so far, they have been unable to bring the two communities together, for the finding of a constructive solution to a problem which has baffled us over so many years.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The Minister spoke about not making political capital. Now he talks about a problem "which has 2001 baffled us"—by which I take him to mean his party—"over so many years." Surely, they were not baffled until after the General Election?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I just do not understand the interruption. The problem is one which has battled the British Government, as the Mandatory Power, almost ever since Great Britain has held the Mandate. There have been difficulties, and disturbances of all kinds. Numerous policies have been announced in the hope of resolving the difficulties between the two communities in Palestine. It is an easy gibe to say that the Government have wasted 12 months on this business, that we should have realised 12 months ago that this problem of trying to administer Palestine under the Mandate was insoluable, and that then we should have gone to the United Nations with the problem. Again, I want to show, it was the responsibility and the duty of the Government to attempt to find the means whereby the two communities could live in harmony together. It was an obligation upon the Government to exhaust all possibilities to achieve this end. When the Labour Government came into office, both Britain and the United States were entangled in promises which had been made to the Arabs. It was clear that, if this problem were to be solved, then a new approach would have to be found to what had already been an intractable problem for previous Governments. It was clear that any possible scheme, if it was to work, would have to be enforced and therefore, it was obviously desirable that an effort should be made to try to procure some agreement by negotiation. There had been the White Paper policy, which presumably was still being applied, and which, brought criticism from the United States. It was the responsibility of the new Government to decide whether, if the approaches which had previously been tried had proved ineffective, a new way should be discovered. Accordingly, representations were made to the United States for the purpose of seeing what degree of co-operation could be obtained from them in finding a way through these difficulties.
It has been said that a great deal of time was lost in obtaining the co-operation of the United States, but I submit that the difficulties were not with the Government, but on the other side of the 2002 Atlantic. There was no time lost in obtaining the Report of the Anglo-American Mission, and, immediately, the Mission reported, steps were made for the Report to be studied by the experts. A unanimous series of recommendations—unanimously agreed by the Anglo-American experts—was in our hands on 26th July. Within four or five days, an announcement was made in this House of what the British Government would seek to do in respect of the recommendations of the experts.
§ Mr. Stanley
When the right hon. Gentleman talks about Anglo-American experts, he is differentiating, is he not, between them and the Anglo-American Mission?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I thought it was within the knowledge of the House that, immediately following the report of the Anglo-American Mission, the recommendations were submitted to two bodies of experts drawn from both the United States and the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Crossman
Is it not a fact that, on the American side, not one of the experts had visited Palestine, whereas, at least, the Anglo-American Mission had been there?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Certainly, but let us get the facts. These were, in the main, persons who were very familiar with these problems, many of them had had very long experience in regard to Palestinian affairs, and they certainly made a series of recommendations as to how the Report which had been received from the Mission—
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question. He has repeatedly called these unknown gentlemen experts. Can he say how many of them have ever been to Palestine?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
In any case, the point is quite irrelevant. Some of these men were experts in regard to the Palestinian Administration and the problems of the Middle East. The problem which had to be tackled was the implementation of the report of the Mission, and I submit that, when it became obvious that the United States Government were not prepared to implement the Report of the Anglo-American Committee, the British Government themselves took the initiative and 2003 made their announcement on 3rst July. This offered a basis for discussion to both the Arabs and the Jews. At that time, there was a reasonable hope of discussion on the basis of the recommendations contained in the Morrison Report. But let me add this important fact—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
On a point of Order. May we know, Mr. Speaker, what is meant by the "Morrison Report"?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Hon. Members cannot "Hear, hear" for 20 minutes; the hon. Gentleman will have to say something.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I also want to make another point clear. In January, 1946, the British Government made an announcement at the Assembly of the United Nations. They declared that the Palestine Mandate was receiving the close attention of the American and British Governments, and that, as early as possible, an announcement would be made to the Assembly in regard to these discussions. On the winding up of the League of Nations a few months later, Britain again declared, with the other Powers holding Mandates under the League of Nations, that she would observe the obligations of the Mandate until a new arrangement was mane with the United Nations. That meant that if we were to present the problem of Palestine to the United Nations, we could only do it in one of two ways. Palestine could either achieve its independence, which was not a practical proposition, because of the opposition of both Jews and Arabs inside Palestine, or alternatively, the trust arrangements could be continued. But if an agreement were to be registered with the United Nations, and Palestine brought under the Trusteeship Council, then it became necessary that an understanding should be reached as between Jews and Arabs, and with the neighbouring Arab States who would also expect to give their agreement. Therefore, whether we liked it or not, if independence was not a possible immediate course for Palestine, sooner or later a trusteeship agreement would have to be negotiated. It was con- 2004 sequently an obligation on the British Government to attempt to find out what the terms of that agreement could be.
It has been suggested that we might have attempted to impose a solution, either of partition or of some plan along the lines which had previously been announced in the House of Commons in July of last year. It was not possible to impose a partition plan in Palestine, even if there had been the unanimous backing of the whole of Jewry, or even assuming that some practical scheme could have been found which would have satisfied the Jews. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Arabs."] No, the Jews. Any attempt to impose a partition solution in Palestine would have been out of harmony with the Mandate itself; it would not have been consistent with the terms of the Mandate. Moreover, it would have exposed us to a great deal of suspicion and distrust, and certainly the other nations in the United Nations would have declared that we were seeking to serve some ulterior purpose.
§ Mr. Stanley
Is it not a fact that the old League of Nations held that partition was within the terms of the Mandate, and at that time recommended the British Government to find a solution on those lines?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is not the interpretation which has been placed upon it by our own legal advisers. [Interruption.] I wish we could at least have an exhibition of good manners on the other side. This argument is of some importance because the Government have been criticised for not having imposed a solution in Palestine; I am trying to show that, as far as partition was concerned, it was not within the power of the Government to impose such a solution. It could only have been enforced by military operations which would have been repugnant to the British people. It would have been a threat to peace and would have brought us before the Security Council, with very doubtful results. In addition, I think, it would have brought us an enormous amount of resentment from the Arabs, and a continuing hostility. That was the position in regard to partition.
It was equally difficult for us to consider the imposition of any alternative scheme which implied the preservation of a united Palestine. The success of such an arrangement depended again on the collaboration of the Arab and Jewish com- 2005 munities, but both Arabs and Jews were in opposition to a scheme of that kind and neither would accept it. Therefore, our responsibility as a Government, if we could not impose a scheme, and if it was essential to get some kind of basis for a trusteeship agreement, was to discover whether in some way we could obtain the co-operation of both Arabs and Jews. The Morrison Plan had been rejected. When, latterly, His Majesty's Government got the Arabs in conference and the Jews in informal discussions, we attempted very hard to find some plan which might be a basis for securing their co-operation. I want to make clear that what was offered, and what has been known as the Bevin plan, was merely a basis for discussion with the two sides. I do not accept the description of the proposals that was given by my hon. Friend the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould). What we attempted to do was to build up in Palestine, for the two communities, self-government, and we tried to give in various areas, to Jews and to Arabs, very real powers, and then to build up, if we could, some central political institutions whereby reasonable parity might be obtained in order to meet Jewish and Arab objections that one might conceivably dominate the other in the national political life of Palestine. Further, in the proposals that were made, we suggested areas which would give reasonable opportunities for economic expansion and land development; indeed, the land which could be freely acquired by the Jews was, I think, three times larger than they are permitted to expand in at the present time. Not only that, we attempted to find a satisfactory formula to cover immigration, because the Jews themselves were dissatisfied lest they found that economic absorptive capacity as a formula would not give them the volume of immigration which they regarded as necessary.
§ Mr. Speaker
I cannot allow any interruptions. There are only seven minutes to go; the Government have been attacked, and they must be allowed to meet those attacks.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Those proposals were in the spirit of the Charter. They were within the framework of the United Nations, and responsibilities were given 2006 to the respective authorities under the United Nations in the event of difficulties arising.
I come to the next criticism which has been made in regard to Government policy. Why are we making no recommendation to the United Nations? I do not accept the view that our line is to deny British leadership in the United Nations. I do not accept the view that to offer this problem for the consideration of the United Nations is derogatory to the prestige of Britain. We shall offer to the United Nations our experience in the working of the Mandate; we shall submit all the schemes which have emerged in the discussions when a settlement has been sought. We shall not be a silent member when these deliberations are going on. The whole history of the Mandate will be objectively presented. There will be no special pleading for a particular solution. But I would like to put this, that on the practical side, when this problem is submitted, we as a nation, in regard to our administration of the Mandate have had to tolerate a great deal of vilification, and we have been bitterly attacked, and our administration has come under the most severe scrutiny of various nations.
We have been very unfairly attacked in regard to our administration. Therefore, we feel that it is right and proper that we should let the world now judge what is the best to be clone for Palestine. There is a great deal of suspicion and distrust in regard to Britain. If that is so, and if we are told that we are continuously seeking our own self-interest in connection with the affairs of Palestine, let there be a solution which we do not attempt to prejudice, a solution which is likely to give satisfaction to the rest of the world.
Further, all our plans which we have submitted for a solution have so far been rejected. If we put all our plans within the possession of the United Nations it is far better that the United Nations, knowing of our experience and knowing why those plans were submitted and the defects associated with the working of the Mandate, should be able to form their own judgment. If it should happen that another nation has a bright idea for solving this problem, let that idea be put into the pool. Do not let it be thought that Britain is trying to 2007 prejudice consideration of other schemes. If other nations have ideas and proposals for schemes, let those schemes be fairly considered and let us not seek to deflect from their fair consideration by advocacy of particular schemes of our own.
§ Mr. C. Davies
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer this question? In what way is this question to be put before the United Nations? Are we the mandatory Power asking for advice, or do we surrender the Mandate and ask the United Nations what they will do about it?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is the point 10 which I was just coming. We are not going to the United Nations to surrender the Mandate. We are going to the United Nations setting out the problem and asking for their advice as to how the Mandate can be administered. If the Mandate cannot be administered in its present form we are asking how it can be amended. It would be folly for us at this point to prejudice that discussion by ourselves imposing any duress on the United Nations, or trying to set a time limit within which the decision must be taken. If we go to the United Nations we shall do all in our power to get as early a discussion as is possible. We are already exploring the question of how a speedier discussion of this problem can be achieved. it has been represented to us that we should go to the Security Council. I suggest that for the purpose of dealing with a problem such as this the Security Council is an imperfect instrument. Indeed, the machinery of the Security Council is such that it may not make a recommendation to the Assembly. [An HON. MEMBER: "It can call a special meeting."] True, it can call a special meeting. The Security Council may, under the Charter, keep this problem entirely within its own purview. There are other difficulties, and, likewise, there are difficulties about reference to the Trusteeship Council.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.