867N.01/808: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Bingham ) to the Secretary of State

498. Department’s 283, July 7, 2 p.m., and Embassy’s 493, July 21, 2 p.m.23 In the House of Commons yesterday the Colonial Secretary moved approval of the policy of the Government relating to Palestine. He said the Government was convinced by the arguments of the report and reminded the House that the debate concerned a problem affecting the whole of Jewry and the Moslem world and therefore future relations between East and West. After reviewing the history of the problem, he said that the correct facts were that the pledge to the Jews was a promise not of Palestine but of a home in Palestine, and the pledge to the Arabs was not a promise of Palestine but a general promise to promote their independence. It was indisputable that the continuance of the mandate would make the soreness worse. The chief obstacles were in the mandate itself which forbade joint education of Jews and Arabs. The essence of the problem was the [Page 896] clash of two vivid nationalisms sharpened by Jewish persecution in Germany and Arab nationalism sharpened by new grant of self government in Syria and the sudden increase of Jewish immigration. He briefly explained that only partition could remove reciprocal fears of domination and only permanent neutral guardianship of the holy places could guarantee peace. He asked for support only for the principle that the case for fundamental changes had been made out and that leave could be granted by the League to formulate a fully detailed scheme. He could not agree to refer the report to a joint select committee which would mean indefinite delay in making application to the League. He gave an optimistic account of the reception of the report.

The Labor opposition speaker subjected the scheme to detailed criticism in order to show that it was unworkable in its present form and suggested reference to a joint select committee.

The Liberal opposition speaker on much the same lines urged that only Jews had legitimate grievances and that it was much too early for the House to make an irrevocable decision.

Mr. Amery, Conservative, led the way toward compromise and thought that joint select committee might be set up at a later stage.

After several other speakers, Mr. Churchill said he would have preferred persevering with the mandate and could not vote for immediate approval of the partition in principle, the virtues or vices of that principle depending on its detailed application and no details had been settled. In view of the desirability of unanimity and the possibility that delay might bring Jews and Arabs together, he suggested as an amendment to the opposition amendment a proposal to send the report forward to the League with a view to the later preparation by the Government after adequate inquiry of a detailed plan in accordance with the policy set out in the Government’s comments on the report. After further debate and a modification in the wording suggested by Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Churchill’s motion, which the Government accepted, was carried unanimously except for third [sic] independent labor members.

In the House of Lords where the debate was resumed the suggestion was also made that the report should first be referred to a joint select committee. Lord Swinton for the Government argued that such a committee could only do over again the work of the Royal Commission. The debate which had merely been on a motion asking for information was concluded by the withdrawal of the motion.

  1. Neither printed.