The Chargé in Great Britain ( Wheeler ) to the Secretary of State

No. 824

Sir: Referring to the Embassy’s telegram No. 978, of December 15, 4 p.m.,50 and its despatch No. 724, of December 1, regarding the desire of the Standard Oil Company to continue geological examinations in certain areas of Palestine, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies (in triplicate) of a further note received from the Foreign Office upon this subject, dated December 28, 1921. This Note, as will be noted in paragraph four, was sent without waiting [Page 104] for the results of the further enquiries addressed to the Palestine Government, reference to which is made in the telegram above mentioned.

I have [etc.]

Post Wheeler

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Curzon ) to the American Ambassador ( Harvey )

No. E 13986/264/88

Your Excellency: With reference to my note of the 12th December,51 relative to the desire of the Standard Oil Company to resume their geological examination of certain areas in Palestine, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that I have consulted further with the department of His Majesty’s Government immediately concerned with the administration of Palestine, and I now desire to explain that it is far from the wishes of the Palestine Government to accompany the permission which has been granted to the Standard Oil Company with unacceptable conditions. The misapprehension which appears to have arisen on this point may, however, be due to the fact that the nature of the conditions mentioned in my note of the 26th October last52 was not expressed in sufficiently clear and unambiguous terms, and I would, therefore, offer the following additional observations on the subject.

The Government of Palestine is not at present in a financial position to create a Geological Survey Department competent, within a reasonable period of time, to carry out a thorough survey of the country, and all the information which at present exists in various books and publications is of a very fragmentary and unsatisfactory nature. The Palestine Government therefore proposes to lay down in a Mining Law for Palestine, which will be passed as soon as the mandate for Palestine is issued, as a condition, precedent to the grant of any mineral concession, that applicants for such concessions should bind themselves to present to the Government for its confidential information, a full and complete report of the geological results of their investigations. It is proposed to appoint a Geological Adviser to the Government of Palestine, who will assemble and put in order the information already existing, and collate with it all reports sent in by persons operating mineral concessions. In the present case, the [Page 105] Standard Oil Company has been simply asked to collaborate and to give its co-operation in this scheme, which is to be of general application, and in view of the explanations given, I permit myself to hope that the request of the Palestine Government will not be considered unreasonable and that the Company will be prepared to furnish a report of the nature desired,
With regard to the second condition, i.e. that the Company will comply with any instructions which may be given by the Palestine Government, the instructions contemplated by the Palestine Government are prompted, not by a desire to hamper the Company’s activities, but solely by considerations of public safety. In the present state of political feeling in Palestine, circumstances might conceivably arise in which the Palestine Government would find itself compelled to restrict the movements of the Company’s representatives in areas where their personal safety could not be guaranteed without prejudicing the general scheme for the public security of the country. It is hoped, however, that no such circumstances will arise, but it would not be possible to deprive the local authorities of the means of dealing with a contingency which cannot be regarded as an impossible one. There is, however, no doubt that the Palestine Government will do its utmost to impose no unreasonable restrictions on the movements of the Company’s representatives.
In conclusion, I wish to observe that His Majesty’s Government, with the object of avoiding all possible delay in this matter, and of showing their desire to meet as far as possible the wishes of the Company, have given the above explanations without waiting for the results of the further enquiries addressed to His Majesty’s High Commissioner in Palestine on the receipt of your note No. 308 of December 12th [1st].53 Although His Majesty’s Government are confident that Sir H. Samuel will concur generally in these explanations, it is possible that the Government of Palestine may have something to add of minor importance, from the point of view of local circumstances.
I shall be glad to learn that in the light of these assurances the Company will now see its way readily to comply with the justifiable and by no means onerous conditions which the Palestine Government has found it necessary to lay down.

I have [etc.]

[For the Secretary of State]
Lancelot Oliphant
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 99.
  4. Ante, p. 102.