867N.01/836: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Everett) to the Secretary of State

251. Consulate’s 246, July 22, 4 p.m.

1. On July 30 the Mandates Commission began its consideration of Palestine24 which has thus far consisted of hearing the statements of the British accredited representative and of drawing up its program. As indicative of the Commission’s approach to the problem I quote below a portion of a communiqué issued by the Secretariat on March 2:

“The Commission interrupted its hearing of the accredited representatives this morning to consider its programme of work.

As a result of an exchange of views, it was considered that the task of the Commission should be: (1) to examine the administration of Palestine in the last 2 years. This was thought necessary not only because the Covenant and the mandate imposed this duty, but also because it was calculated to cast light upon the fundamental issue, namely, the modification of the Palestine régime proposed by the Mandatory Power; (2) to ascertain whether the material now before it is sufficient to enable the Council to form an opinion on the problem as a whole, as well as on the various solutions suggested (should it be necessary, the accredited representative will be asked to supplement the information in the course of the session [)]; (3) to give the Council an account of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possible solutions to the problem, namely:

maintenance of the existing mandate;
modification of the mandate;
partition; or
any other possibility which might arise out of the discussion.

In the course of the examination of the foregoing documentation, it will be necessary to ascertain whether the mandate as drafted in [Page 900] 1922 is in itself unworkable, or whether intervening circumstances have made it impossible to contemplate its being carried out without fundamental changes.

It decided to adopt as the basis of its work the 1936 report on the administration of Palestine, while taking account in considering the various matters dealt with in this report of the information and comments on these matters contained in the report of 1935 and in the report of the Royal Commission. The Committee will also consider the petitions sent to it in connection with the disorders and the proposals of the Royal Commission.”

2. I learn in confidence from an official who attended the meetings that the British statements thus far have been largely on the lines of the Government’s declarations to Parliament on presenting the Royal Commission’s report except that in addition confidential details have been imparted concerning the attitude of certain of the Arab leaders.

Ormsby-Gore25 has notified the Commission that he is leaving August 5 but has agreed to return later if his presence is desired.

A member of the Commission referring to paragraph 4 of the Government’s statement of policy published as Command Paper 551326 inquired what were the “other international instruments” alluded to therein. Gore replied that this referred particularly to the treaty of 1924 with the United States and added that when the League had expressed its opinion on the matter it would be necessary to consult the United States. He explained that negotiations with the United States could take place only after the League had expressed an opinion inasmuch as the Mandatory Power was responsible to the League for the mandate. A member inquired whether this did not give the United States a de facto power of veto. Gore replied that the juridical status of the United States with respect to the mandate was not clear due to the divergence of opinion resulting from the circumstances that the United States had not technically been at war with Turkey.

3. My informant tells me that the Commission is showing itself unusually independent in its attitude and that it has by no means committed itself by inference or otherwise to any plan.

  1. For the full record of these meetings and hearings, see League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the 32nd (Extraordinary) Session.
  2. British Secretary of State for Colonies and accredited representative on the Permanent Mandates Commission.
  3. British Cmd. 5513: Palestine, Statement of Policy by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, July 1937.