REFERENCES TO PALESTINE IN THE BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS
SINCE TO ADOPTION BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE
RESOLUTION OF 29 NOVEMBER 1947 ON THE FUTURE GOVERNMENT OF
PALESTINE UP TO APRIL 7, 1948
3 December – DISTURBANCES (Columns 393 to 396)
Mr. Maningham-Buller (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the whether be can make a statement with regard to the grave events reported in Palestine.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones): I have not read complete reports yet on recent events in Palestine, but the Commissioner has already briefly reported incidents on 2nd December when Arab demonstrations took place in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Ramle, Acre, Tiberias, Beisan and Tarahiha. These disturbances, the High Commissioner informs me, were sporadic and un-organized. In Jerusalem there was mob violence directed against Jews and Jewish property. A number of shops were looted, and there were several cases of arson. Shots were fired by Jews; and possibly also by Arabs; though the latter is not certain. Hagana, has been out on the streets in force, and has generally done its best to restrain the Jews from reprisals. Casualties reported are, two Jews seriously wounded, one Jew and four Arabs injured, and one Jewish and two British police wounded. A number of Jews with arms were arrested during the day, two of whom had been sniping.
In Haifa, two Jews were injured by Arabs, neither seriously. In Jaffa, Arabs attacked Jewish shops, and police were compelled to make a baton charge. One British policeman was slightly injured. In Lydda, two Jewish clinics were sacked by Arabs. There were at number of cases of Arabs holding up and stoning Jewish transport in the Lydda district. These incidents resulted in one Jew being fatally injured, one Jew seriously injured, and one Jew slightly injured. A fourth Jew was injured when a bus was fired on near Remle. Among other incidents reported was one near Reshpina, where a car containing Jewish Supplementary Police was held up and stoned by Arabs. Jews fired warning shots and escaped injury. Subsequently, an Arab was found dead in the vicinity, and an injured Jew named as his assailant was found in a nearby colony. He claimed to have been beaten by Arabs. I should add that the Palestine Government is responsible for the maintenance of law and order until the Mandate is finally surrendered, and will continue to take all possible steps to preserve order and to prevent such tragic and unhappy conflicts. The Arab leaders in Palestine are fully informed of this.
Mr. Manningham-Buller: While I thank the right hon. Gentlemen for the statement which ha has made, may I ask him if he will pay tribute to the conduct of the British troops and Palestine Police in these most distressing and difficult circumstances; have they not done all that it lay within their power to do to except order?
Mr. Creech Jones: Yes, Sir. The Government, of course, would wholeheartedly associate themselves with the sentiments expressed by the hon. and learned Member. I hope shortly to make a statement in regard to Palestine and then I can offer something about the excellent work which the Police and the Service have performed.
Mr. H. Hynd: In these new circumstances, is Hagana getting every facility to maintain order, including the right to bear arms?
Mr. Creech Jones: That is a point which can be put to me when I make a statement a little later on.
Mr. Thurtle: In will view of the exacerbation of feeling which has taken place as a result of the United Nations organisation’s decision in favour of partition, can my right hon, Friend say how long he proposes to maintain British soldiers in Palestine in order to keep the peace between the two races?
Mr. Creech Jones: The British Government will be responsible for law and order until the Mandate is surrendered: The British troops will be withdrawn, and we hope that the final withdrawal will be by 1st August of next year.
Sir R. Glyn: Can the right hon. Gentleman state if any special constables are being enlisted to assist the Palestine Police; and, if so, whether they are being drawn equally from Arabs and Jews, and not only from one side?
Mr. Creech Jones: Some troops are being tasked to augment the existing arrangements for the preservation of law and order. However, I would prefer to that point in the statement which I make on behalf of the Government some time very soon.
Sir R. Glyn: Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if there is any misapprehension that special facilities are being given to one side or the other it will increase the risk of disorder; and therefore, will his statement be made very soon?
Mr. Creech Jones: The statement will be made very soon. I fully appreciate, and so does the High Commissioner, the point which the hon. member makes.
Mr. Thurtle: Is the right hon. Gentlemen aware that sometime ago his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that, if a situation arose in which the United Nations organisation created certain strong feeling between Jews and Arabs, British soldiers would not be used to keep the peace?
Mr. Creech Jones: I have made it perfectly clear that, while the British Administration is functioning in Palestine for few months ahead the British Government must retain responsible for law and order…
…Mr. Edward Davies: Can the Secretary of State inform the House what arrangements are being made to preserve the peace in Palestine after the withdrawal of British troops?
Mr. Oliver Poole: When the right hon. Gentleman makes his statement will he pay particular attention to the deployment or the Transjordan Frontier Force?
Mr. Creech Jones: That point will be covered in the statement.
Major Legge-Bourke: Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that British troops have not now to wait until they are shot at before they use their own arms? May I have an answer?
Mr. Creech Jones: I should have thought that in answer was hardly necessary. The British authorities in Palestine have very definite responsibilities which they must discharge as long as the Mandate is held by Great Britain.
Mr. Warbey: Can any right hon. Friend give an assurance that His Majesty’s Government will cooperate loyally with the United Nations in carrying out the decision of the General Assembly?
Mr. Creech Jones: I shall make a statement on this matter at a very early date.
10 December – HOLY PLACES /Written answers/ (Columns 208-209)
74. Mr. Driberg asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what military, diplomatic and administrative action is being taken to safeguard the Christian Holy Places in Palestine during the present troubled period; and to ensure their permanent future preservation for the use of the Christian communities and as monuments of artistic and historical importance.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Mr. right hon. Fried is satisfied that the authorities in Palestine are taking all necessary action to safeguard the Holy Places in Palestine and will continue to do so until we surrender the Mandate. No machinery yet exists for the discharge of these responsibilities after the surrender of the Mandate. The .plan for the partition of Palestine approved by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House, nevertheless provide that protection of the Holy Places in the proposed City of Jerusalem shall be a special concern of the Governor of Jerusalem. He will also exercise certain powers in respect of other Holy Places in Palestine designed to ensure that religious interests in them are properly respected.
78. Mr. Low asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when Hagana was converted. from an illegal force into a legal force and for what reasons; and what conditions have been laid down by the Palestine Government for the possession of firearms by members of the Hagana.
78. Mr. Rees-Williams: The Hagana has not been in any way recognised as a legal body by the Palestine Government.
88. Mr. Sharp asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proportion of the cost of recruitment for the Palestine Police Force is borne by his Department; whether such recruitment has now stopped; and what action has been taken to eliminate all recruiting costs.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The cost of recruitment was met wholly by the Government of Palestine. Recruitment for the British Section ceased last month. The last part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.
December 11 and 12 PALESTINE’S DEBATE
Statements were made on behalf of the Government by Mr. Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies (Dec. 11, Col. 1213-25) and Mr. Bevin, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Dec. 12, Col. 1394-1406).
17 December PALESTINE MUSEUM (Columns 1697-1698)
35. Mr. Keeling asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will draw the attention of the United Nations Organisation to the risk that the valuable and irreplaceable local contents of the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem may be looted or damaged if the museum area be the scene of fighting; and whether he will state the present and future position of the museum’s endowments.
Mr. Creech Jones: A working committee of Trusteeship Council is now preparing a draft statute for the City Of Jerusalem in accordance with the plan for the future of the city approved by the United Nations on 29th November. I shall arrange for the United Kingdom representative on the working committee to draw its attention to the risk referred to by the hon. Member. The endowment of the museum is held in investments valued on 30th June of this year at £320,000. Income from the endowment during the present financial year is estimated at £P9,500. Consideration is being given to the future of this endowment so as to ensure its continued application to the purposes for which it was created.
Mr. Keeling: Will the Secretary of State keep the risk in the museum and its contents alder constant review?
Mr. Creech Jones: Yes most certainly.
36. Mr. Keeling asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about the future of the Palestine Currency Board.
Mr. Creech Jones: The question an have to be discussed with the United Nations Committee, but I see no reason to doubt that the existing Board will continue to function in the interests of holders of currency and Palestine generally, Pending an orderly transition to whatever arrangements may in due course be made for the future management of the currency of Palestine.
JEWISH IMMIGRANTS (Transhipment)
44. Dr. Segal asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what ships are still available to the Coverall Eat of Palestine for the transhipment of authorised Jewish immigrants; how long these ships will continue to be available; and what is to be their ultimate disposal.
Mr. Creech Jones: With regard to the first part of the Question, there has been no change since the reply given to my hon. Friend on 17 December-5th November. These vessels will continue to be available so long as they are required far their present purpose. Questions regarding their future disposal should be addressed to the Minister of Transport.
ARMED FORCES, STORES AND EQUIPMENT (Columns 1703-04).
45. Mr. A.R.W. Lowe asked the Minister of Defense what is the approximate value of installations, stores and equipment in Palestine belonging to the Royal Navy, the Army, and, the R.A.F., respectively, and what arrangements are to be made about these prior to the withdrawal of our forces from Palestine.
The Minister of Defence (Mr. A.V. Alexander): I regret that I am unable to supply the figures asked for by the hon. Member. The valuation of the installations, stores and equipment belonging to the three Services in Palestine would have to be carried out locally by staffs whom it would be unwise to divert from their more pressing duties in organising and carrying out the evacuation of the forces from that country. The basis of any such valuation, if attempted, would be very uncertain since far some categories of stores it would represent the replacement value, while for others it would represent only the disposal value obtainable from a willing buyer. As regards the second part of the Question, instructions with regard to the evacuation of stores have already been issued, and evacuation by sea and land is proceeding as quickly as possible; the disposal of fixed assets is in hand.
Mr. Low: Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea of the proportion of the installations, stores and equipment which will have been evacuated by August?
Mr. Alexadner: I do not think I could offhand. It will take some little evaluation to do that, but we are anxious to secure for ourselves, in the evacuation, those things which continue to be of replacement value to us, and we are concentrating on them.
Earl Winterton: I presume that at some period the Minister of Defence will inform the House what is to happen to any of these installations, if any of them should be left there when the evacuation takes place?
Mr. Alexander: I should think that would be quite proper, but I am not sure whether it would be my function or that am right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We will look into it.
Mr. F. Noel-Baker:- Is it true that a large amount of motor transport will probably be left both in Palestine and Egypt, and has my right hon. Friend considered the possibility of making it available to nearby countries which suffered enemy occupation it the war, and are still very short of such transport?
Mr. Alexander: All these matters are being taken into account, but the first consideration is to secure the utmost economy we can for our country.
Mr. Pickthorn: Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us upon what, if any, principle, permanent and immovable installations are being left or destroyed?
Mr. Alexander: The more permanent installations will certainly not move within any category for negotiation; I have an interest in them but they are more a matter for negotiation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies…
18 December – ARAB LEGION (INQUIRY) – [Written answers (columns 415-16)
173. Mr. Janner asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Arab Legion has twice attacked Jewish transport during the last seven days, at Yazur and at Beth Nabalah, killing 14 and wounding 10, and what action he proposes taking to prevent a recurrence of these outrages.
Mr. M. Stewart: There is no evidence to suggest that any member of the Arab legion took part in the incident at Yazur. The incident which occurred at Beth Nabalah is at present the subject of a court of inquiry, and my hon. Friend will not, therefore, expect me to comment on it until the finding of the court have been received.
JERUSALEM-JAFFA ROAD (PATROLS) – [Written answers] (Columns 415-416)
176. Mr. Hoy asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many attacks have been made by Arabs on transport proceeding along the Jerusalem-Jaffa road since 29th November 1947; and what arrangements have been made to protect traffic along this highway.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Eleven attacks on Jewish traffic on the Jerusalem-Jaffa road have been reported since 29th November. Road patrols are now maintained on this road and British troops are stationed in support of the police in the Ramleh-Lydda area.
77. Mr. Skinnard asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Jewish supernumerary police are compelled to travel duty in open tenders lacking in adequate protection; and whether he is aware that in consequence of the five Jewish supernumerary police were killed at Ufar Etzion and 12 at Ben Shemen recently.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The Jewish police concerned in the incidents to which my hon. Friend refers were Jewish Settlement Police, whose normal duties are confined to the settlements which they are recruited to protect They are not authorized to operate outside their own areas unless given orders to do so. The only open tender concerned in either of the incidents referred to was one in the Ben Shemen convoy carrying a number of Jewish Settlement Police. This tender was unauthorised and travelling against orders. The Jewish police escorts proper were distributed amongst the convoy vehicles. It is not possible for all police on duty to travel in armoured vehicles, nor could they carry out their functions effectively if they were to do so.
178. Mr. Skinnard asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why licences for firearms have been refused to the drivers of long distance buses of the Egged Company in Palestine.
Mr. Rees-Williams: It is not considered that to arm drivers of these or other buses would make for increased security, since the carrying of firearms by the driver of a vehicle constitutes no effective protection against small arms fire from ambush. It is the opinion of the authorities is Palestine, which I share, that the indiscriminate arming of private persons is more likely to precipitate then to avert trouble. Similar requests by Arab transport drivers have been refused.
WAR MATERIAL, MIDDLE EAST STATES [Written answer] (Column 420)
179. Mr. Hoy asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps have been taken to ensure that arms and supplies furnished to the Arab States under current treaty arrangements will not find their way to Palestine.
Mr. Mayhew: His Majesty’s Government have treaty obligations with various Middle East States to supply that with war material needed for internal security and defence tasks. In view of the possibilities of trouble in the Middle East it was decided recently that all orders for war material from Middle East countries would be very carefully scrutinized. In deciding whether such orders were to be accepted, His Majesty’s Government will naturally take into account the possibility of war material concerned being used in Palestine. Import of arms into Palestine itself will continue to he controlled by the Palestine Government while the Mandate continues. Thereafter it will be the responsibility of the United Nations Commission.
19 December FIREARMS (Written answers) (Columns 460-62)
Mr. Skinnard asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how any Arabs have been arrested for carrying arms or for discharging arms since 29th November 1947.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Since 29th November, 1947, 111 Arabs have been arrested for being in possession of or carrying firearms. Six have been arrested for discharging firearms.
UNITED NATIONS PLAN
Mr. W. Macpherson asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give the population of each of the seven areas into which Palestine is to be divided under the revised U.N.O. plan, showing it under the following separate headings: Arab, Jewish, other races.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The figures in the form reported by the hon. Member are not readily available. The population of Palestine is classified in official statistics under two heads: (a) Jews; and, (b) Arabs and others. The Palestine Government estimates that the distribution of the population, settled and Bedouin together, in the two States and in the area of the City of Jerusalem on 31st December, 1946, was approximately as follows:
Arabs and others
Arabs and others
City of Jerusalem
Arabs and others
I am asking the High Commissioner for Palestine for an analysis of these figures to indicate respective populations in the different sectors of the Arab and Jewish States and will communicate with the hon. Member when I am in receipt of his reply.
It will be understood that the above figures relate to the areas within the boundaries described in Part II of the United Nations plan and do not take account of any changes which may result from the instruction in Part I of the plan that these boundaries are to be modified in such a way that village areas as a rule will not be divided by State boundaries unless pressing reasons make that necessary.
JEWISH POLICE (Armoured Cars)
Mr. H. Hynd asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many armoured cars are held on the establishment of the Jewish Settlement Police in Palestine; and why permission has not been granted to bring out these armoured cars for the purpose of convoy.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Seventeen armoured cars are held on the establishment of the Jewish Settlement Police. These have been authorized for close defence of Jewish colonies and are not intended for general convoy duty. In this connection I would invite the hon. Member’s attention to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 18th December.
20 January – JEWISH ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (ITALIAN SHIPS) [written answer] (Column 16)
Sir S. Reed asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what protest has been made to the Italian Government against the sailing from an Italian port of the vessel “Lo Tahfiduno,” on 11th December; with 875 illegal Jewish immigrants on board; and what reply has been received.
Mr. Mayhew: His Majesty’s Government have reason to believe that the 882 Jewish illegal immigrants carried by the Italian vessel “Maria Christina”, subsequently” renamed “Lo Tahfiduno” and intercepted in Palestinian waters on 22nd December, 1947, were embarked clandestinely, and without the authority of the Italian Government from a point on the Italian coast near Civita Vecchia on 10th December. The ship is reported to have sailed on 8th December from Spezia, ostensibly on legitimate business and some at least of her passengers are known to have been assembled in advance at Palese on 9th December.
His Majesty’s Embassy in Rome have drawn the attention of the Italian Government to the arrival in Palestine waters of these Jewish illegal immigrants and have expressed the dissatisfaction felt by His Majesty’s Government that this illegal embarkation should not have been prevented by the Italian authorities. Further action is being reserved pending the results of the investigation which it is hoped the Italian Government will make into the circumstances of this embarkation.
21 January – MILITARY EQUIPMENT (IMPORTS) (Columns 202-203)
40. Mr. Niall Macpherson asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will take steps to ensure that until Great Britain lays down the Mandate for Palestine, no military arms or equipment will be imported into Palestine except for the use of the Mandatory Power and its agents.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Rees-Williams): The authority of the Palestine Government is required for the legal importation of arms, ammunition and military equipment, and no such authority is being granted to non-Governmental bodies. All the resources of the Palestine Government are being used and will continue for the remaining period of the Mandate to be used, to prevent clandestine importation of arms, ammunition and military equipment, whether by land or sea, and whether by Jews or Arabs…
SECURITY FORCES (WITHDRAWAL)
41. Mr. Hector Hughes asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the wastage of manpower in Palestine, particularly in a police force containing many youths under 21, what is being done to bring these men home, and, pending this, to protect them from injury and death; and will he now make a statement indicating the method, rate and ultimate date of their evacuation from Palestine.
Mr. Rees-Williams: My hon. Friend’s concern for the welfare of the British Section of the Palestine Police Force is shared by His Majesty’s Government and by the authorities in Palestine. Until the termination of the Mandate, the British Administration will remain responsible for law and order, and it is inevitable that a large part of this burden will fall on the British Section of the Palestine Police. It is not desirable on security grounds to make any statement on plans for evacuation of the Security Forces.
22 January – ARAB ORGANISATION, LONDON. (Written answers (Column 60)
89. Mr. Gallacher asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the existence of an Arab organisation in London collecting names of men willing to volunteer for service with the Arabs in Palestine against the Jewish community; and what steps he is taking to prevent this recruitment.
Mr. Ede: I shall be glad to have any information which the hon. Member may have about the organisation to which he refers.
26 January – EVACUATION [written answer] (Column 108)
149. Sir J. Lucas asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give an assurance that the date of final evacuation of British troops and material from Palestine will not be postponed or delayed by any consideration for the orange harvest and that the passage of troops and material will have absolute priority over all other traffic.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Yes. The transport and export of citrus will not delay the withdrawal of British troops from Palestine or the evacuation of materials.
NAVAL STORES AND EQUIPMENT
Mr. Low asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is the total tonnage of R.N. stores and equipment now in Palestine; and how much of that is to be evacuated by R.N. ships, and by other ships and by railway, respectively before August 1948.
Mr. W. Edwards: The total tonnage of R.N. stores and equipment now in Palestine is of the order of 7;000 tons. It is hoped to remove all these stores in Royal Fleet Auxiliaries before August, 1948; with the possible exception of certain non-warlike stores which will be over redundant and which may be disposed of locally.
28 January – ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT SHIPS (ACTION) (Column 1020)
Mr. T. Reid asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken against the owners of ships carrying illegal immigrants to Palestine.
Mr. Creech Jones: The only action that has been possible is to institute proceedings for the forfeiture of the ships, and this is done in all appropriate cases.
Mr. Pickthorn: Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate what are the factors that make any particular eases inappropriate?
Mr. Creech Jones: I should like to have notice of that question.
Mr. Mikardo: Would my right hon. Friend say what action is taken about illegal immigrants, mostly from other Arab countries, who are crossing the land frontiers of Palestine?
Mr. Creech Jones: There are the same restrictions as in regard to Jewish illegal immigrants.
Mr. C. S. Taylor: Could the right hon. Gentleman say in how many cases successful action has been taken to control these ships?
Mr. Creech Jones: I should require notice of that.
4 February – CYPRUS CAMPS (Column 1796-97)
20. Air Commodore Harvey asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what has been the total cost of operating the Jewish refugee camps in Cyprus; and on which country the expenditure falls.
Mr. Creech Jones: The latest available figure for the cost of the Cyprus Camps is £2½ million, for the period up to the end of November, 1947. The cost is met by the Government of Palestine.
Air Commodore Harvey: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Cyprus the general view is that the Palestine Government have not yet declared that they will foot the bill, and will he give an assurance that the British taxpayer will not have to pay if there is any difficulty?
Mr. Creech Jones: I have already declared in this House that this cost must fall on the Palestine Government.
Mr. Janner: Will not the right hon. Gentleman allow these poor people in Cyprus to go to Palestine, and then there would be no cost on anybody other than the Jewish community?
Major Legge-Bourke: Have any steps been taken with the United Nations with a view to closing down these camps when we evacuate Palestine?
Mr. Creech Jones: Discussions are going on now with the United Nations Commission.
Major Tufton Beamish: May I ask the Minister whether any of the cost of administering these camps has fallen on the Arab community of Palestine, as that would be rather illogical?
Mr. Creech Jones: The cost is being defrayed by the Palestine Government. The money is raised by taxation, and there would be Arab taxpayers as well as Jewish.
ARMED ARABS (ENTRY) (Columns 1799-1800-1801)
17. Mr. Janner asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action has been taken by Palestine authorities against the armed Arabs who have entered Palestine from Transjordan.
Mr. Creech Jones: The party of armed Arabs to which my hon. Friend refers dispersed on its arrival in Palestine before action could be taken by the security authorities. The route by which they are reported to have entered the country has now been closed.
Mr. Janner is my right hon. Friend aware that we are spending some £ 2 million a year in equipping forces in Transjordan at present, and that many more than the one party of armed men have come into Palestine; that this is a complete transgression against the United Nations Charter; and will something effective be done to stop these people from coming into Palestine?
Mr. Creech Jones: It will be appreciated that the security forces in Palestine have a frightfully difficult job, and it is exceedingly difficult to maintain a watch over the complete frontiers.
Squadron-Leader Fleming: Has the Colonial Secretary any information as to whether these armed bands coming in from Transjordan are regulars or guerrilla forces?
Mr. Creech Jones: I have no exact information, but one gathers they are of the guerrilla kind.
Mr. Austin: Is my right Hon. Friend satisfied in fact that the arms in question are not those supplied to neighbouring States under treaty obligations? If that is so and these arms are being misused in this way, will he see that there is no further evasion?
Mr. Creech Jones: That is quite a different issue…
…Mr. Janner: Reverting to the original question, will my right hon. Friend see to it that no further moneys or arms are sent to Transjordan or any other country to equip forces to come in and attack British Forces and Jews in Palestine?
Mr. Eden: Could we have an answer on that point, because we would like to know whether our Treaty obligations stand? I hope that the right Hon Gentleman will make it plain that our Treaty obligations will be carried out.
Mr. Creech Jones: That question has already been answered in the House. Our Treaty obligations do stand.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (SHIPS) (Columns 1802-03)
44. Major Tufton Beamish asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many ships are known to have attempted to land illegal immigrants in Palestine since V.E. Day; how many have been intercepted; in how many cases legal proceedings have been instituted against the owners, masters or any members of the crews of ships carrying illegal immigrants to Palestine, and with what results.
Mr. Creech Jones: Fifty-seven ships are known to have tried to land illegal immigrants in Palestine since V.E. Day. Of these 40 were intercepted. Only four small ships have escaped interception since June, 1946. The High Commissioner is being asked for the information requested in the second part of the question and I will communicate with the hon. and gallant Member on receipt of his report.
Major Beamish: Is the Minister aware that the weakness of Government policy in this connection has given encouragement to Jewish illegal immigration, and that at this moment preparations for illegal immigration are going forward on a larger scale than ever before; further, is he aware that if these preparations are successfully carried out they must have very grave repercussions indeed in the Arab world?
Mr. Creech Jones: I do not accept the imputation in the first part of supplementary question. The Government are fully alive to the whole of this problem and have consistently taken the most active steps to prevent illegal immigration.
Mr. C. S. Taylor: Can the Minister say how many of those ships have been confiscated.
Mr. Creech Jones: I have promised to obtain that information and I will send it to the hon. Member.
Mr. Janner: Will the Minister circulate the Report of the United Nations Organisation in respect of this question of immigration, and also will he say when a port will be opened for immigrants in accordance with the request of the United Nations?
Mr. Pickthorn: Can the right. hon. Gentleman tell us whether we are to gather from his last supplementary answer and from his original answer that it did not occur to the Colonial Office to want the information requested in the last part of this question until the Question was put down? Is that the conclusion that we are to reach?
Mr. Creech Jones: I thought that my information was incomplete, but I understand that between November, 1945, and November, 1947, one ship has been sold and 11 others have been forfeited at the instance of the District Court in Haifa.
FRONTIER VIOLATIONS [Written answer] (Column 294)
110. Mrs. Nichol asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if any reply has been received from the Syrian Government to the protest of His Majesty’s Government against the attack in the North Palestine which took place on 9th January; and what action does His Majesty’s Government contemplate to prevent further violations of the Palestinian frontier.
Mr. Bevin: The Syrian Government have replied verbally to the protest made by His Majesty’s Minister in Damascus: They have been left in no doubt as to the serious view that would be taken by His Majesty’s Government of any further violations of the Palestine frontier.
5 February – ARAB LEGION (RECRUITING) [written answer] (Column 305)
64. Mr. W. Shepherd asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has as to the extent of British recruiting to the Arab Legion.
Mr. Eds: None.
ARRESTS (ARMS CARRYING) [Written answer] (Column 329)
125. Major Beamish asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews and Arabs, shown separately, have been arrested for carrying arms since 1st November, 1947; and how many such are still under arrest.
Mr. Rees-Williams: During the period let November, 1947, to 31st January, 1948, 290 Jews and 281 Arabs have been arrested for carrying arms in Palestine. Of these 48 Jews 78 Arabs are still detained.
CASUALTIES [Written answer] (Column 329)
126. Major Beamish asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews and Arabs, shown separately, have been killed or wounded as a result of British Army intervention since 1st November, 1947; and how many British citizens have been killed and wounded during the same period.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Details of Jewish and Arab casualties in Palestine during November last are not immediately available. From the 30th November, 1947, to 1st February, 1948, the reported casualties were:
It is possible to say how many of these casualties were due to military to military actions but it is known that the proportion is quite small. With regard to the second part of question, 56 British subjects were killed and 181 were wounded during the period from 1st November to 1st February, 1948.
SYRIAN AND LEBANESE FRONTIERS [written answer] (Column 330)
Mr. Monslow asked the Secretary of State for what steps have been taken by the Palestine administration to stop the infiltration of armed Arabs from Syria and the Lebanon,
Mr. Rees-Williams: The Syrian and Lebanese frontiers are manned on the Palestine side by troops and police. It is the policy of the Palestine Government to do everything possible to prevent armed bands from entering Palestine territory from neighbouring states, but owing to the nature of the frontier it is not always feasible to ensure continuous control over all possible points or entry.
9 February – PALESTINE COMMISSION’S VISIT TO LONDON [Written answer] (Column 8)
71. Mr. E. Fletcher asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the United Nations Palestine Commission proposes to hold meetings in London prior to their departure for Palestine.
Mr. McNeil: So far as I am aware, the Commission has not yet made such a proposal.
11 February – (ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS) (Column 372-3)
38. Mr. Thomas Reid asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has as to the ports from which recent Jewish illegal immigrants bound for Palestine from the Black Sea area sailed; as to whether they were refugees or displaced persons before they started; and from what countries did they start their journey.
Mr. Bevin: The “Fan Crescent” and “Pan York” left Bourgas in Bulgaria on 27th December with 15,169 Jewish illegal immigrants bound for Palestine. The majority of the passengers were indigenous Roumanian Jews, who travelled to this Bulgarian port for embarkation.
Mr. Reid: If these ships sailed under false colours, and if the ships’ papers were correct, how did they manage to leave these ports?
Mr. Bevin: We have inquired about the ships’ papers. As for colours, they were at one time registered with Panama.
CYPRUS CAMPS. [Written answer] (Columns 81-82)
83. Major Beamish asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews are at present in camps in Cyprus under British administration; and why he permits men and women in these camps to undergo an intensive course of military training including instruction in commando tactics.
Mr. Rees-Williams: On 6th February there were 29,518 Jews in the Cyprus camps. In view of this large population and the limited number of troops available for guard duties, constant supervision of all activities within the camps is impossible, and I understand that unarmed training takes place. The military guards are concerned mainly with the security of the outer perimeter, and have taken steps to prevent the bringing of arms into the camps.
PALESTINE COMMITTEE [Written answer] (Columns 83-84)
88. Mr. Harrison asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the object of prohibiting the United Nations Palestine Commission’s entry into Palestine until 14 days before we leave,
90. Mr. Platts-Mills asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the dissatisfaction expressed by the United Nations Palestine Commission with the British decision not to let the Commission into Palestine more than two weeks before the termination of the mandate, whether he will now reconsider his policy on this point and instruct Sir Alexander Cadogan accordingly.
Mr. Rees-Williams: It is considered that there is a grave danger of an increase in the scale of the disorders now taking place in Palestine as soon as the United Nations Commission arrive in that country. To advance the date would interfere with the progress of our withdrawal and would greatly increase the burden of the civil government in the closing phase of the Mandatory administration. We have, however, been giving all possible information arising from our experience in Palestine to the United Nations Commission and are ready to grant all reasonable facilities for a nucleus of the Commission’s staff to visit Palestine at as early a date as is wished.
89. Mr. Platte-Hills asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make public the full contents of the letter addressed to Sir Alexander Cadogan by the United Nations Palestine Commission expressing dissatisfaction with the British decision not to let the Commission into Palestine more than two weeks before the termination of the Mandate.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Following is the text of the letter addressed to Sir Alexander Cadogan by the Secretary of the United Nations Palestine Commission on 4th February, 1948.
“I have the honour to inform you that I have been directed by the United Nations Palestine Commission to communicate to you its views regarding the answer given by you on behalf of your Government at the twenty-seventh meeting of the Commission on 30th January, 1948, to one of the questions which the Commission had presented to you on 19th January.
You will recall that the second of the questions relating to the Commission’s discharge of its administrative responsibilities was as follows:
‘Is it to be understood from Sir Alexander’s statement to the Commission at its sixth meeting on 14th January that his Government would be “prepared to agree to the Commission’s arrival in Palestine shortly before the mandate is terminated in order that there may be an overlap of say, a fortnight during which the Commission can take up its responsibilities,” that the Government of the United Kingdom would not regard favourably a decision of the Commission to come to Palestine at an earlier date if the Commission should consider this necessary for the discharge of its functions?’
Your formal reply to this question stated that:
‘His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom would not regard favourably any proposal by the Commission to proceed to Palestine earlier than two weeks before the date of the termination of the mandate.’
I am to inform you that it is the considered view of the Commission that this limitation on its arrival in Palestine would make it impossible for the Commission to discharge the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Resolution of the General Assembly, The Commission has been informed that the mandatory power proposes to relinquish its responsibility for the Government of Palestine as a whole and not piecemeal.
The Commission recognises the validity of the position taken by the mandatory power that there must not be two concurrent overlapping authorities in Palestine prior to the termination of the mandate and does not therefore seek to exercise any governmental functions before that date. On the other hand the Commission is acutely aware that there is a vast amount of work preparatory to the transfer of authority which will require its presence in Palestine well in advance of the mandates termination.
Under the proposed policy of the mandatory power the Commission in two short weeks in Palestine would be required to prepare itself to assume responsibility under most difficult circumstances for the full burden of a complex administrative structure and for maintaining law and order in the country.
For these reasons the Commission does not find satisfactory the proposal that the Commission should not come to Palestine until approximately a fortnight before the termination of the mandate and has decided therefore to ask you to be so kind as to convey to your Government this request for reconsideration of its policy in this matter.”
12 February – HEBREW LEGION (Column 54).
11. General Sir George Jeffreys asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has about the information in this country of a Hebrew Legion; in particular by whom it is being raised; and what steps will be taken to prevent its members from embarking from this country for Palestine.
Mr. Ede: I have seen posters and literature issued by a body in this country calling itself the Hebrew Legion, which criticises the British administration in Palestine and calls upon Jews to become members for the salvation of the Jewish state. As regards the last part of the Question, I am not aware of any attempt to organise illegal entry into Palestine from this country.
Sir G. Jefferys: Will the Home Secretary State whether lawful to use a force because, presumably, it is a force for operations in a country which is being administered by the British, or, alternatively, if it is the case that it is being administered by the United Nations, is it not contrary to the Foreign Enlistment Act?
Mr. Ede: No, Sir; I am informed, as the result of an investigation that this body is not a force.
16 February – INTERNATIONAL FORCE (Column 824).
44. Mr. Warbey asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct the British representative on the Security Council to support the request of the United Nations Palestine Commission for the creation of an international force for use in Palestine.
Mr. McNeil: No such request, as far as my right hon. Friend is aware, has yet been made to the Security Council.
Mr. Warbey: In view of the fact that it has since been stated in the Press that the Palestine Commission have agreed that an international force will be required for use in Palestine, and in view of the shortness of time before the matter becomes really urgent, I cannot my right hon Friend seize the opportunity to cable proposals to the Security Council now?
Mr. McNeil: His Majesty’s Government will make replies when the replies are appropriate, and at the appropriate place; that is, when application is made, and before the Security Council.
Mr. S. Silverman: Will my right hon. Friend undertake that they will not seek to evade difficulties by repudiating obligations?
Mr. McNeil: His Majesty’s Government have continued to make it plain that on this subject they are taking their part in carrying out their obligations as a member of the United Nations.
MIDDLE EAST GOVERNMENTS (ARMS SUPPLIES) [Written answer] (Column 142)
35. Mr. Austin asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will cause to be published as a White Paper, details of treaties calling for the supply of arms and equipment could continue to Arab States; and whether he is satisfied that some of the arms in question are not being made available to Arabs both in Palestine and outside for use in resisting the United Nations decision in regard to that country.
Mr. McNeil: The Treaty with Iraq will be found in Command Paper No. 3797 of 1930. The Treaty with Egypt is in Command Paper No. 5360 1937, and that with Transjordan in Command Paper No. 6916 of 1946. I have no evidence to suggest that arms supplied to Middle East Governments by virtue of these Treaties to maintain their own defence forces, are being made available for warfare in Palestine.
18 February – HOLY PLACES (PRESERVATION) (Columns 1150-51).
36. Sir Ralph Glyn asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that the plans of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations are made effective so far as preserving Jerusalem and the surrounding Holy Places from damage is concerned; and whether to this end he will take steps to see that the United Nations Palestine Commission on no account select the city as a headquarters which would result in making Jerusalem the centre of political conflict.
Mr. Bevin: The Trusteeship Council will consider the future of Jerusalem at its session which begins today. So far as I am aware, the United Nations Commission have not expressed any intention of establishing their headquarters at Jerusalem.
Sir R. Glyn: While recognising the delicacy of the present position, may I ask my right hon. Friend if he will do everything possible to prevent Holy Places in Palestine from becoming seats of war, as they undoubtedly will become, if the headquarters of Government went of the United Nations is established in Jerusalem?
Mr. Bevin: I have already explained to the House that it is our intention to comment on Palestine, and I cannot add to that. The matter is now in the hands of the United Nations, and I have no doubt that this Question and answer will be considered by them.
Mr. Ivor Thomas: Will my right hon. Friend make a distinction between Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine in the matter of security, and will he be assured that public opinion will be behind him if the United Kingdom will make a contribution to the defence of Jerusalem, whatever is done by the rest of the country?
Mr. Bevin: I cannot undertake to leave British troops there.
Sir Patrick Hannon: As the Holy City of Jerusalem has been the inspiration of human progress for thousands of years, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that it will be protected from riot and bloodshed?
Mr. Bevin: It is the responsibility of the United Nations; His Majesty’s Government cannot, undertake it.
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY FORCES (Column 1151)
43. Major Tufton Beamish asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has now received details at the organisation the U.N.O. Naval Air Foreign Army and Police unite on whose responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in Palestine will fall after 15th May; whether detailed arrangements for the handover of the responsibilities are now completed; and whether he is satisfied with the arrangements.
Mr. Bevin: The only arrangements hitherto approved by the United Nations for the maintenance of law and order in Palestine after 15th May are those contained in the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on the 29th November. Under this resolution, the United Nations Commission are to establish in each state a provisional Council of Government, and these Provisional Councils are to recruit armed militias “sufficient in number to maintain order and to prevent frontier clashes.” General military control, including the choice of the High Command of the militias, is to be exercised by the Commission: The United Nations Commission have now made certain additional proposals which have yet to be examined by the Security Council.
Mr. Warbey: Will my hon. Friend recognise that this country still has responsibility in this matter as a member of the United Nations and a member of the Security Council, and will he take a positive attitude towards this by framing practical and constructive proposals for United Nations Forces along the lines indicated?
Mr. Bevin: I have repeatedly announced, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies announced at the beginning, and His Majesty’s Government adhere to it now, that they cannot take part in forcing partition in Palestine or in any solution that is not acceptable to the Arabs and the Jews.
MIDDLE EAST MILITARY MATERIAL [Written answer] (Columns 223-24)
50. Mr. Levy asked the Minister of Defence what arms and munitions have been supplied or promised by this country to Arabs inside or outside Palestine since the United Nations decision in favour of partition.
Mr. Alexander: As I stated in my reply to the hon. Member for filth Portsmouth (Sir J Lucas) on 4th February, the export of military material from this country to any part of the Middle East is strictly confined to what is required to honour long standing treaty obligations to certain Arab Governments, which have been accustomed for many years to rely on us for the equipment of their forces. These involve many categories of material many of them of a very minor nature; some are provided from local resources. I attach below a broad indication of the major items which are being supplied.
No additional promises of military material have been made to Arab countries, and our present commitments would be reconsidered if it should appear that those arms were being diverted to Palestine. There is at present an embargo on the entry into Palestine of all military material except for the security forces of the mandatory Government. No military material has been supplied or promised to Arabs in Palestine.
Details are as follows:
Iraq. – Aircraft, small quantities of 25 pdr. and anti-tank guns, personal weapons, A.A. guns, armoured cars and stores of ammunition for these weapons.
Egypt – Small arms ammunition and maintenance requirements, including the exchange of small-numbers of rifles, pistols, sub-machine guns and mortars.
Transjordan – Day to day maintenance requirements, mainly ammunition and transport for the Transjordan Army of 6,000 troops, plus certain weapons and equipment which will be required by that Army on the re-organisation made essential by our withdrawal from Palestine in the near future.
SURPLUS STORES AND EQUIPMENT (DISPOSAL) [Written answer] (Column 233)
77. Mr. J. Morrison asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the estimated total value of British Government property in Palestine; and what sum has so far been realised by disposal.
Mr. Rees-Williams: British Government property in Palestine is, with certain minor exceptions, either surplus military stores and equipment or Services fixed assets. With regard to part of the Question I would refer the hon Member to the reply given by the Minister of Defence to the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Law) on 17th December last. With regard to the second part of the Question, approximately 2½ million pounds was realized by the sale of surplus stores and equipment up to 3st December. Disposal of fixed assets has not yet taken place on a large scale; information regarding the proceeds is not immediately available; and further questions on this subject should be addressed to the Secretary of State of War:
ARRESTS (Column 234)
82. Mr. Skinnard asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why 27 Jews were arrested at Metulla on 4th February immediately after an Arab attack from Syria and their arms confiscated, thus depriving them of a proper means of defence in an exposed and dangerous area.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The party of Jews to which my hon. Friend refers was encountered by the security forces on the road from Rosh Pinna to Metulla several hours after the Arab attack in the north had been repelled by military units. The 27 Jews were arrested for illegal possession of arms, contrary to the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, and were released on bail after their arms and ammunition had been confiscated.
CYPRUS (INTERNED JEWS) (Column 234)
78. Sir W. Smithers asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews there are interned now in Cyprus; and what it is proposed to do with them when our mandate ends.
Mr. Rees William: There were on 11th February, 29,006 Jews in the camps. Negotiations are proceeding with the United Nations Commission to arrange the clearance of the camps before our final withdrawal from Palestine.
BEN YEHUDA STREET INCIDENT (Columns 1611 – 1612)
Mr. Eden (by Private Betide) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make any statement on the incidents in Jerusalem yesterday.
The Under- Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Rees-Williams): A preliminary report received from the High Commissioner state that at 6.5 a.m. on Sunday, 22 February in a convoy of three military type trucks and one police type armoured car were observed travelling towards the centre of Jerusalem. The occupants wore military and police uniforms. The three trucks parked in Ben Yehuda Street, in the Jewish commercial centre of Jerusalem. At approximately 6.25 a.m. a heavy explosion occurred which completely demolished buildings on both sides of the street. Casualty figures so far available are 27 killed, 32 seriously injured, 148 slightly injured. Shortly after the explosion had taken place, the armoured car was observed leaving Jerusalem along the Jaffa Road at great speed. This vehicle bore an identification number of which there is no trace in Police records. Both military trucks and police armoured cars have been stolen in recent disturbances.
Investigations are being made into the responsibility for this incident, and I will make a further statement to the Jews as soon as possible. Responsibility has not yet been established, but I can say at once that the authorities have found nothing to confirm the allegation understood to have been broadcast in Palestine that members of the British security forces were involved and the Zionist authorities have been challenged to produce any evidence in support of this charge which, the Palestine Government have said, is unbelievable.
Following the incident, feeling in Jerusalem has been very tense and eight members of the British Security forces have been killed in subsequent incidents. British police have been withdrawn from outlying billets.
His Majesty’s Government deplore this outrage and the loss of life involved and they deeply regret that reprisals should have been taken against fighters of His Majesty’s forces and the Palestine Police. I am sure that the Home would wish to extend their sympathy to the relatives of those who have lost their lives, or sustained injury in these deplorable occurrences.
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES, JERUSALEM [Written answers] (Column 301-302)
103. Mr. Dodds-Parker asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether be will instruct the British representatives at United Nations to point out to the Security Council the need for ensuring that adequate representation is afforded to Christian communities in Jerusalem in any constitutional arrangements which may be made for its future administration.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Constitutional arrangements for the future of Jerusalem are now being discussed by the Trusteeship Council. Our representative has been given no precise instructions but he is, or course, aware of the importance of the Christian communities and will bear this in mind in all discussions of the subject.
24 February – BEN YEHUDA STREET INCIDENT (Columns 1781 – 1783).
Mr. Eden (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to make a further statement on the outrages in Palestine last Sunday.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The inquiries which are being made are not yet complete, but it is clear that there is no ground for the suggestions that members of the British security forces were responsible for the outrage. The Zionists in response to the challenge to produce evidence in support of their allegations have produced none. Statements have been made on behalf of the Arabs admitting the responsibility. I deeply regret to inform the House that the number of British soldiers or policemen killed in the incidents immediately following the explosion was nine and not eight as stated by me yesterday. No further casualties have been reported.
Mr. Eden: May I ask the hon. Gentlemen if he could now reply to the question asked yesterday by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) whether it is true that two British soldiers, or airman, were murdered when undergoing hospital treatment?
Mr. Rees-Williams: Yes.
Mr. Eden: In hospital?
Mr. Rees-Williams: That is so…
Mr. Thurtle: May I ask the hon. Gentlemen if he has any information from Jerusalem confirming the acceptance of responsibility for this outrage by the Arabs.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Yes. The Arabic pamphlets have appeared in Jerusalem today, and I have a translation of one of these pamphlets which is to the effect:
Mr. Cocks: In view of the statement the Minister has just made, have any steps been taken to arrest Abdul Khader Husseini?
Mr. Rees-Williams Abdul Khader Husseini is very difficult to catch.
25 February – UNITED NATIONS (Columns 1937 – 1938)
19. Mr. Thomas Reid asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under what clause or other or other international instrument the Assembly of the United Nations Organisation proposes to use military forces to enforce the partition of Palestine.
Mr. Bevin: The General Assembly did not propose the use or military force to dispose partition in Palestine.
Mr. Sidney Silverman: Can my right hon. Friend say under what clause of the Charter, or any other international instrument any member State of the Arab League would be entitled to use force to prevent it?
Mr. Speaker: That in another question altogether.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (PERSONS) (Columns 1938)
30. Mr. T. Reid asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies from what funds pensions of the Palestine Government officials will be met after the termination of the Mandate.
Mr. Rees-Williams: I hope that it will be possible within a for within a few days to make an announcement which will cover the question of payment of the pensions of Palestine Government officials after the termination of the Mandate.
Mr. Hector Hughes: Can right hon. Friend say what provision is being made for giving compensation in the case of those officials who are prematurely retired through no fault or their own?
Mr. Rees-Williams: All that will be dealt with in the statement.
FAWZI EL KAUKJI (Column 1938)
40. Mr. Jenner asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that Fawzi el Kaukji is in Palestine, and as he is on the special list for detention on entering Palestine, what steps have been taken to detain him.
Mr. Rees-Williams: No, Sir. Various reports have been received by the Government of Palestine the presence of Fawzi el Kaukji in Palestine, but I am informed by the High Commissioner that they have not been substantiated and that it is not believed that he is at present in the country.
TERMINATION OF THE MANDATE (Columns 337-339) [Written answer]
Sir R. Glyn asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how the Government intend to meet the responsibility of the British administration to hold this situation Jerusalem and the special international area so that the International Regime takes over responsibility in a suitable atmosphere when coming into existence two months after the termination of the Armed Forces of the Mandatory Power has been completed in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations Assembly.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The responsibility of His Majesty’s Government will cease on the termination of the Mandate. The question of arrangements for the administration after that date is one for the United Nations.
1 March – CAIRO-HAIFA TRAIN OUTRAGE (Columns 33-34) [Written answer]
Sir R. Eden (by Private notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he any statement to make on the mining of the Cairo-Haifa train yesterday.
Mr. Rees-Williams has been asked to reply.
It is with the deepest possible regret that His Majesty; Government announce that at approximately 8.40 in the morning of 29th February the passenger train from Kantara to Haifa was blown up by unknown persons a short distance north of Rehovoth railway station. This train consisted of 13 coaches, five of which were military, and the last three coaches which contained military personnel only were completely weeks. The following casualties, all British Service personnel, were caused by the explosion: dead 27; dangerously wounded, six; seriously wounded, nine; slightly wounded, 20. The casualties were cleared by 10.30 a.m. and were admitted to the British Military Hospital at Beer Yaacov.
On investigation it was found that four charges had been laid under sleepers approximately 10 yards apart. Three of these had been detonated and the fourth, which failed to explode, was found to contain 100 lbs. of ammonia in sandbags. All four charges were wired to an ignition point in an orange grove 300 yards from the track. No assistance was given to military personnel who were carrying out investigations, by persons in the locality. There is as yet no information available as to the identity of persons responsible for this outrage, except a report that the Stern Gang have claimed responsibility.
I wish, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government and the Government of Palestine to express deep sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives is a result of this shocking outrage.
A statement has been issued by the Government of Palestine in Jerusalem today recalling the catalogue of enormities perpetrated. by Jewish terrorists in recent months, and drawing attention to the failure of the Jewish community to assist in bringing the guilty to justice and, in particular, the refusal to give evidence in the official police inquiries into the Ben Yehuda Street explosion.
The statement declares:
The statement concludes:
BRITISH ARMS SUPPLIES TO MIDDLE EAST DEBATE (Columns 176-178)
During the debate, the Minister of State (Mr. McNeil) made the following statement on behalf of the Government:
“There is as yet no legal conflict between our obligations and our previous undertakings. The Government have acted throughout this piece most responsibly and most carefully, and, so far as has lain in our power, we have taken steps to prevent military supplies reaching either Jews or Arabs so that if there were a conflict that conflict might be, as far as we could make certain, reduced to a minimum and might be localised. Arms and munitions stored in Palestine, which are of value, have been a great worry to us and have been removed and have been destroyed in the course of our withdrawal. Further, military supplies entering from abroad are prohibited by embargo which the Palestine Government are enforcing to the limit of their ability. Still further, we have maintained and will continue to maintain the strictest control over the sale of all British military supplies to the Middle East, including the total prohibition – the total prohibition – of the supply of material of military value to all private purchasers.
We have limited such supplies as we have given to these Governments whom we are by treaty bound to supply. These treaty obligations, as my hon. Fried said clearly and carefully, affect only three countries, Transjordan, Irak and Egypt. With each of them we have a treaty of which provides for close co-operation in mutual defence. As one means of making this defence effective, we are bound to provide equipment to the Allies of His Majesty’s Government. I will not attempt to deal with the passages of the treaty in detail, but they are of a quite simple and general type. The Government of Irak, for example, relies upon British supplies for the maintenance of her Armed Forces in a condition of readiness to meet any threat which may develop to the internal security of Irak and, if necessary, to protect her frontiers. That is a very serious international obligation, and we have comparable obligations to the other two Powers. The obligations of this country towards any Power for providing for its defence may not be rigid, but they are serious, they are well-defined, and this above all times would not be the thee to decry then.
I should make another point. It has already been made in this House, and it has already been conveyed to our missions in the Middle East – and I would make the point again – that if at any time we find the equipment and supplies that we are sending to any of the three Arab Governments under the terms of the treaty obligation are being diverted to improper use in Palestine, we shall at once reconsider our Treaty commitments in the light of that evidence. But I am certain the House will not ask me, and my hon. Friend has asked me, lightly to abrogate a Treaty of this kind, by unilateral action, exclusively on the ground that there is conjecture or suspicion by others as to the possible totem intentions of those contracting parties. There is nothing but conjecture, and the hon. Member who has had his opportunity, has offered us no evidence at all. The Government will continue to search for such evidence.
I have confessed that we have been anxious about this subject, and have instructed our people on the spot that the three Governments with whom we are in Treaty relations are in no doubt as to our intentions if there should be such improper use. It has been suggested that we should follow the example of the United States Government and have a total embargo. There no parallel here. Then have no obligations in this vitally strategic area, and I do not pretend that we are uninterested in this vitally strategic area. My hon. Friend is always interested in peace, and he cannot deny that we have a sincere obligation as a member of the United Nations to discharge our contract and to try to maintain stability in that area. If, as I hope they will not, the Arab Governments act in such a way as to create a conflict, the kind of conflict to which my hon. Friend referred, a conflict between our responsibility to them and to the United Nations, we would have to think again. For the present we shall, and must, continue to honour our Treaties. On behalf of His Majesty’s Government. I say, as my right hon. Friend has already said, that if there are any facts brought forward, we will reconsider the position, but we cannot not on suspicion.”
Marketing Board to acquire packing materials for that part of the 1948-49 citrus crop which the United Kingdom is likely to require. The United Kingdom Delegation has also been asked to raise with the United Nations Palestine Commission the question of financial assistance through that body.
GOVERNMENT OFFICERS (COMPENSATION) [Written answers] (Columns 21-25)
95. Mr. Ivor Thomas asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether be is now able to make a statement on the terms to be offered upon the termination of the Mandate to the Palestine Police and members of the Administration.
Mr. Rees-Williams: 1. The terms of compensation for members of the Palestine Civil Service whose careers will be affected by the termination of the Mandate as set out in Annexure I.
2. His Majesty’s Government hope that many of the British staff concerned will be offered and will accept suitable alternative employment in the Colonial Service or in other public service. It is also hoped that a large proportion of the local Palestinian staff will be absorbed in employment under the successor authorities in accordance with the expressed intention of the United Nations Palestine Commission. The terms of compensation have been framed with these considerations in mind.
3. In the view of His Majesty’s Government the financial commitment involved in the payment of this compensation constitutes a liability to be assumed, equally with the cost of superannuation benefits now being paid or falling due in the future, by the successor authorities. This view has been conveyed to the United Nations Commission and the terms of compensation have at the same time been communicated to them in order that they may be aware of the extent of the liability.
4. Meanwhile the expatriate officers concerned have the assurance of His Majesty’s Government that they will receive the compensation and statutory benefits and leave rights to which they are entitled. In the circumstances of the termination of the Mandate, His Majesty’s Government feel that in the interim period pending the establishment of successor states the local non-expatriate staff who have served the Mandatory Government loyally and well should also have an assurance that, so far as may be practicable, they will receive the payments due to them. This assurance will hold good until such time as successor authorities have emerged, which, in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government, are capable of taking over the liability.
5. Any payments made under either of these assurances will be regarded as recoverable from the successor states and will be taken into account in any financial agreement to be negotiated with the United Nations Commission or the successor states.
COMPENSATION TERMS FOR OFFICERS OF THE PALESTINE GOVERNMENT ON TERMINATION OF THIS MANDATE.
I. Officers of the Palestine Government will receive the following special benefits in compensation for loss of career and prospects in addition to the proportionate retiring benefits due to them meter the existing laws of Palestine or under such terms of their contracts.
II. RE-EMPLOYMENT PUBLIC, ETC.
(i) Transfer in the Colonial Service.
In the case of transfer of expatriate officers to other pensionable employment in the Colonial Service compensation will not be payable and the normal procedure covering such transfers will apply with the following modifications which are designed to facilitate the absorption of as new expatriate officers as possible in this way.
(a) An officer transferred to an appointment in the Colonial Service involving an immediate reduction in pensionable emoluments will receive a lump sum payment of five times the reduction.
If, however, he is within less than five years of the compulsory age of retirement in his new post, the payment will be reduced in proportion to the number of completed months by which his expectation of further that service falls short of five years.
(b) An officer transferred to another appointment in the Colonial Service who is subsequently retired through no fault of his own in such circumstances that his pension is less than that which he would have received if he had retired on grounds of ill health at the date of the termination of the Mandate shall have his pension made up to the latter figure.
(ii) Where an expatriate officer secures suitable permanent reemployment in public or semi-public service or in socialised industry with superannuation benefits, he will not be entitled to special compensation benefits other than the disturbance grant, but will receive the normal statutory and contractual benefits due to him in respect of the abolition of his Palestine appointment. In the case of such reemployment of British Police in addition to the disturbance grant the special gratuity payable under I (iv) above will not be refundable.
(iii) Where a non-expatriate officer is re-employed by a successor authority on the same terms and with the same rights as those enjoyed by him under the Mandatory Government or where a definite offer of such employment has been made, he will not be entitled to any special compensation as distinct from the statutory or contractual benefits due to him provided that in every case the Mandatory Government reserves the right to pay compensation if it is satisfied that the merits of the case justify such payment.
3 March HOLY PLACES (column 381)
37. Sir R. Glyn asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the High Commissioner and Government of Palestine have agreed to assist in the formation at an International Police Force to undertake the guardianship of Jerusalem and the reserved area of the Holy Places when sanctioned by the United Nations Organisation.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The United Nations Commission has been informed that no obstacle will be placed in the way of any members of the British section of the Palestine Police Force volunteering, on termination of their present engagements, for service with such force.
Sir R. Glyn: Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether there has been any proposal by the United Nations for the formation of this force?
Mr. Rees-Williams: I should want notice of that question.
POLICE (ABSENTEES) (Columns 382 – 383)
41. Mr. Mikardo asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many members of the Palestine Police were, at the latest convenient date, deserters or absent without leave; and how many vehicles belonging to the Palestine Police were at the same date missing as a result of theft.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Numbers missing who have been posted as deserted or absent without leave are as follows:
British, five during 1947 and. six since 1st January, 1948.
Arabs, two members of the Regular Police and 477 temporary and supernumerary policemen, during the three months ending 29th February, 1948
As regards the last part of the Question, vehicles missing are: one armoured light reconnaissance car, two armoured cars and one 3-ton truck, all missing, since 1st January, 1948.
DETAINEES, KENYA (TRANSFER) (Columns 383 – 384)
42. Mr. Mikardo asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the termination of the Mandate for Palestine, what are his intentions, in respect of the 290 persons deported from Palestine in October, 1944, and at present in a detention camps at Gilgil, Kenya.
60. Major Beamish asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews and Arabs, shown separately, have been deported from Palestine for terrorist activities and are still held outside Palestine; in what countries under the administration these people are held; and what decision has been taken regarding the future of these people after His Majesty’s Government cease to be responsible for law and order in Palestine.
Mr. Rees-Williams: The only detainees from Palestine now held outside that country are the 291 Jews in Gilgil camp, Kenya. It is the intention to transfer the detainees from Kenya to Palestine. Arrangements to this and are now under consideration.
ARAB INCURSIONS (Columns 65- 66) [Written answers]
58. Mr. Werbey asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how Jews and Arab form have moved the frontier into Palestine since 29th November; 1947; from which countries they have come; what are the approximate numbers in each name; under whose orders are they active; and what action has been taken by the Palestine Government to protect the territory of Palestine against such aggression.
65. Mr. Janner asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what in the approximate number of armed Arabs have entered Palestine in the last three months and the countries from which they came.
Mr. Rees-Williams: Since 29th November, 1947, it is estimated that armed Arab bands totalling over 5,000 men have crossed the frontiers of Palestine. A number of these have since returned to the countries from which they came after being repulsed by our Security Forces. The countries from which they have come are Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan, although in the latter case it is thought that the forces in question merely passed through Transjordan from Syria. The bands which remain in Palestine have dispersed into the hilled villages and it impossible to give a reliable estimate of the numbers to each group, or to say with certainty under whose orders they operate, although the forces in the Jerusalem area are known to be under the command of Abdul Khader Husseini and general direction of the force in Northern Palestine is believed to be exercised from Syria by Fawzi Kawukji. The Security Forces in Palestine take all possible steps to prevent each incursion, but owing to the nature of the frontier it is not always possible to ensure continuous control over all possible points of entry.
63. Mr. Jenner asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies by what route armed Arabs entered Palestine from Transjordan from 24th January; and what guard is being kept in all the bridges across the Jordan against such intruders.
Mr. Rees-Williams: I am not aware of any party of armed Arabs having entered Palestine from Transjordan on the 24th January. The bridges at Damlyeh and Sheikh Hussein have been obstructed by the Palestine Government to prevent their use and all main routes across the Jordan are being watched by the security forces.
5 March – ARAB COUNTRIES (BRITISH ARMS SUPPLIES) [Written answers] (Column 97-98)
Mr. Wilkes asked the Minister of Defence the number of aeroplanes, tanks, jeeps and armoured vehicles generally made available to the Arab countries since July, 1945, through the British Military Missions attached thereto.
Mr. A V. Alexander: The following have been supplied from the country:To Egypt: 34 jeeps, 38 scout are, 298 carriers, 40 military aircraft. To Transjordan: 60 armoured cars. To Iraqi: 15 Tiger Moths. To other Arab Countries: Nil.
It is possible that, in addition, small numbers of some of the military items mentioned may have been supplied locally. These supplies are made in accordance with Treaty obligations. There are no British Military Missions in Egypt or Transjordan.
10 March – PALESTINE BILL DEBATE (Columns 1246 – 61)
A statement was made on behalf of the Government by Mr. Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies
[?] March PALESTINE POLICE FORCE (Column 186) [Written answers]
Mr. Prescott: asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is anticipated that the duties of members of the Palestine Police Force will terminate; and by what date all members or the Force will be returned to the United Kingdom.
Mr. Rees-Williams: On 15th May, 1948, when those members of the British section of the Force who have not already done so will leave Palestine. Certain individual members of the Force away, however, volunteer or remain for temporary service with the Army in order to facilitate the withdrawal.
17 March – ARAB BANKS (INCURSIONS) (Columns 2077 – 2080)
18. Mr. Warbey asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what representations have been made by the Palestine Government since 29th November, 1947, in respect to hostile Arab incursions into Palestine.
Mr. Creech Jones: Representations on this subject are made by Majesty’s representatives in the States concerned. Since the last question, protests have been delivered to the Governments of Syria and Transjordan urging them to take all possible steps to prevent incursions by Arab bands from their territories into Palestine. Representatives have also been made to the Government of the Lebanon.
Mr. Warbey: In view of the importance of this matter, can my right hon. Friend say why these protests and representative have not been placed on public record so that the whole world could know that the attitude of the British Government towards this question is one of genuine impartiality?
Mr. Creech Jones: That question should be addressed to me right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Mr. Manningbam-Buller: Can the right hon. Gentlemen tell us the number of illegal groups dealt with in the same period?
Mr. Creech Jones: I should require notice of that question.
Mr. John Lewis: To whom did His Majesty’s Government make representations?
Mr. Creech Jones: That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
Squadron-Leader Fleming: Is it a fact that since those representations started in November last the Arab incursions have increased?
Mr. Creech Jones: The representations have been made when the incursions have taken place.
Mr. Janner: Has my right hon. Friend impressed upon the States the sincerity of the Government in that regard, particularly in view of the fact that some 700 Arabs crossed over a bridge which was supposed to be guarded by soldiers of the Arab Legion and by some of our own soldiers, and although the Government were warned about two days before it happened that these people were coming?
Mr. Creech Jones: I have no evidence in support of that allegation.
19. Mr. Warbey asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to give a full report of the activities of Fawzi Kawukji in Palestine; and of the steps taken by the Palestine administration to deal with military incursion into Palestine.
27. Mr. Janner asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now aware that Fawzi el Eavukji has entered Palestine with a baud of armed Arabs and has declared that he proposes to establish himself there; and what steps have been taken to deal with this situation.
Mr. Creech Jones: The information available to me about the activities of Tema rawukji in Palestine is as follows: On the night of 11th-6th March, he entered Palestine with a few companions, mainly members of his personal staff. He was reported to be on a visit to the Arab bands dispersed in certain parts of the country. On 9th March it was rumoured that he intended to make a personal appearance at Jenin but this project was apparently abandoned in view of action by the British authorities to forestall it. He is reported to have left Palestine on the night of 14th March.
Throughout his stay his exact whereabouts were unknown, as he established his headquarters and remained in the veld and broken hill country of Samaria, enjoying the immunity afforded both by the nature of the country and by the attitude of the local population. As has already been stated, the security forces in Palestine take all possible steps to prevent the incursion of armed Arabs into Palestine but owing to the nature of the frontier and the country in which these groups take refuge it is not always possible to control their movements.
Mr. Warbey: Is my right hon. Friend aware that American, Russian and French representatives upon the Security Council have expressed the view that these hostile incursions constitute acts of breach of international peace? Can my right hon. Friend say what is the view other Government on this matter?
Mr. Creech Jones: That is an entirely different matter.
Mr. Janner: Is it true that these men crossed over the Allenby Bridge, which is supposed to be protected the whole time? In view of the very serious attitude that was taken up by the Government against this man before, why is not something more active done to prevent him from carrying out.
Mr. Creech Jones: There is no reason for anyone to have suspicion in regard to the activities of the Palestine Government in preventing incursions and visits of this kind. Everything is done that is within the power of the Palestine Administration and military authorities to prevent incursions of Arab bands and to prevent it crossing the frontiers individuals who have intent upon stirring up more trouble for the authorities in Palestine.
19 March – PALESTINE BILL DEBATE
Statements were made on behalf of the Government by Mr. Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies (columns 2447 – 2448, 2479 – 2485, 2497; by Sir Hartley Shawcross, the Attorney General) (columns 2499 2503, 2507 -2508, 2511 by Mr. Rees-Williams, Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (columns 2515 – 25l7); by Mr. McNeil, Minister of State, (columns 2528)
22 March – ARAB INCURSIONS (Column 2573)
33. Mr. Warbey asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish the official protests and representations which have been made to Arab States regarding hostile Arab incursions into Palestine.
Mr. Mayhew: No, Sir.
Mr. Werbey: In view of the brilliant victory gained by Foreign Secretary for the Arab League at Lake Success, will my hon. Friend now consider sending notes of congratulation to the Arab States on the success of their violent opposition to the United Nations?
22 March – PALESTINE BILL DEBATE
Statements were made on behalf of the Government by Mr. Creech Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies; Mr. Bevin, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Sir Hartley Shawcross, Attorney-General; the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. (Columns 2810 – 2996)
24 March – ARAB STATES (BRITISH WAR MATERIAL) (Column 3012)
27. Mr. Chamberlain asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations he has made to Arab States receiving supplies of British war material in relation to its utilisation in connection with the Palestine dispute:
Mr. Bevin: The attention of the Arab Governments concerned has drawn arena to the statement publicly made on behalf of Hiss Majesty’s Government that our commitments to supply them with military materiel will be re-considered if we find that any of this material is being diverted to Palestine.
Mr. Chamberlain: Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this is being observed?
Mr. Bevin: Yes, so far as I have been able to ascertain, it is.
25 March –JEWISH POPULATION (Column 373) [Written answers]
96. Mr. Lambert asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the number or Jews in Palestine at the commencement of the Mandate; what was the number in 1938; and what is the number now.
Mr. Reese-Williams: A cenuse or the population of the population of Palestine has been taken on only two occasions, in 1922 and in 1931. The estimated figures for the Jewish population on that dates mentioned by the hon. Member are as follows: 1923 – 89,000; 1938 – 411,000; 1948 – 640,000.
7 April – FASCIST LITERATURE (Column 17) [Written answers]
21. Mr. Pritt asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has taken steps to stop the present free circulation of Mosley Fascist literature among British troops and police in Palestine, in view of the danger in present conditions of arousing anti-Semitic feeling amongst the British Forces.
Mr. Creech Jones: I know of no cases of the circulation of literature of this nature among British troops and police in Palestine, but if the hon. and learned Member can furnish me with specific instances I shall arrange far then to be investigated.
Document Type: Comments, Meeting records, Meeting report, Transcript
Document Sources: General Assembly, United Nations Palestine Commission (UNPC)
Subject: Access and movement, Armed conflict, Assistance, Casualties, Closures/Curfews/Blockades, Governance, Holy places, Incidents, Incursions, International presence, Jerusalem, Middle East situation, Palestine question, Population, Security issues, Terrorism
Publication Date: 07/04/1948