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Palestine Correspondence with the Palestine Arab Delegation and the Zionist Organization (Cmd. 1700) (White Paper of 1922) – June 1, 1922

In this White Paper, Palestine Arabs express their wish for sovereignty and express their unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Secretary of State for the Colonies Winston Churchill rebuffs their claims and, in a message to the Zionist Organization, defines the British understanding of Jewish National Home and articulates the British policy in governing Palestine. The interpretation of “Jewish National Home” offered by Churchill as a cultural center for world Jewry devastated the Zionists in its precluding the possibility of a Jewish State in Palestine, and proved an ominous foreshadowing of future limitations which would be placed by the British authorities on the Zionists in Palestine.

Palestine Arab Delegation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies – Feb. 21st 1922, pp. 2-4

-Arab criticism of Palestine Mandate

“Whilst the position of Palestine is, as it stands today, with the British Government holding authority by an occupying force, and using that authority to impose upon the people against their wishes a great immigration of alien Jews, many of them of a Bolshevik revolutionary type, no constitution which would fall short of giving the People of Palestine full control of their own affairs could be acceptable.

“If the British Government would revise their present policy in Palestine, end the Zionist con-dominium, put a stop to all alien immigration and grant the People of Palestine – who by Right and Experience are the best judges of what is good and bad to their country – Executive and Legislative powers, the terms of a constitution could be discussed in a different atmosphere. If today the People of Palestine assented to any constitution which fell short of giving them full control of their own affairs they would be in the position of agreeing to an instrument of Government which might, and probably would, be used to smother their national life under a flood of alien immigration.

We, therefore, hold that the proposed constitution is wholly unsatisfactory, because-

A. In the preamble to the Palestine Order in Council “the declaration of November 2nd 1917, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People” is made a basis for this Order; the People of Palestine cannot accept this Declaration as a basis for discussion.

B. In Articles 4-9 of the Order dealing with the manner of appointment of the High Commissioner and his powers, Palestine is considered as a colony of the lowest order, whereas according to paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, Palestine comes under Grade A, where “certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nation can be provisionally subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.’…” pp. 2-3

“It is thus apparent that too much power is given to a High Commissioner who we will suppose is impartial. But when, as is the case with the present High Commissioner, he is a Zionist…and when one or two of the 12 elected members [of the Legislative Council] will most probably be Zionists, then the Zionist policy of the Government will be carried out under a constitutional guise, whereas at present it is illegal, against the rights and wishes of the people, and maintained by force of arms alone.” p.3

“The recognition of Hebrew as an official language of the State as in Article 80 is another proof of the desire to foster Zionist nationalism in Palestine, when only about 10 percent of the present Jewish inhabitants of the country speak that language…” p. 4

The Colonial Office to the Palestine Arab Delegation – Mar. 1, 1922, pp. 5-11

-Colonial office reply to Arab criticism

…His Majesty’s Government have no intention of repudiating the obligations into which they have entered towards the Jewish people. He (Sec. of State for the Colonies Mr. Churchill) has informed you on more than one occasion that he cannot discuss the future of Palestine upon any other basis than that of the letter addressed by the Rt. Hon. A.J. Balfour to Lord Rothschild…known as the Balfour Declaration.” p. 5

“There is no question of treating the people of Palestine as less advanced than their neighbours in Iraq and Syria; the position is that His Majesty’s Government are bound by a pledge (Balfour Declaration) which is antecedent to the Covenant of the League of Nations, and they cannot allow a constitutional position to develop for which they have accepted responsibility…which may make it impracticable to carry into effect a solemn undertaking given by themselves and their Allies.” p. 6
“…your delegation and the community which they represent, imperfectly apprehend the interpretation placed by His Majesty’s Government upon the policy of the National Home for the Jewish people. This interpretation was publicly given in Palestine on the 3rd June 1921, by the High Commissioner in the following words-

‘These words (National Home) mean that the Jews, who are a people scattered throughout the world, but whose hearts are always turned to Palestine should be enabled to found here their home, and that some amongst them, within the limits fixed by numbers and the interests of the present population, should come to Palestine in order to help by their resources and efforts to develop the country to the advantage of all its inhabitants.’

This interpretation was endorsed by the Secretary of State in his speech to the House of Commons on the 14th June, 1921.” pp. 6-7

The Palestine Arab Delegation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies – Mar. 16, 1922, pp. 11-15

“Our statement that the People of Palestine cannot accept the creation of a National Home for the Jewish People in Palestine as a basis for negotiation is due to the following reasons-

A. In 1915, before the Balfour Declaration was published, His Majesty’s Government made a pledge to the Arabs in which it undertook to recognize the independence of those Arab States which had formerly belonged to Turkey. Palestine is one of these States as is clearly seen by reference to King Hussein’s letter…There can be no question that Palestine comes within these boundaries.

B. The object aimed at by Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations is “the well-being and development of the people” of the land. Alien Jews not in Palestine do not come within the scope of this aim, neither is their association with Palestine more close than that of Christians and Moslems all over the world…”

C. Article XX of the Covenant reads- ‘The Members of this League severally agree that this Covenant is accepted as abrogating all obligations or understandings inter se which are inconsistent with the terms thereof…In case any Member of the League shall, before becoming a Member of the League, have undertaken any obligations inconsistent with the terms of this Covenant, it shall be the duty of such Member to take immediate steps to procure its release from such obligations.’

The promise to the Zionists is not in keeping with the terms of this Article.

D. Great Britain and her Allies declared their aim in carrying on the war in the Near East to be ‘to assure the complete and final liberation of the people so long oppressed by the Turks, and the establishment of governments and administrations deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the native populations.” pp. 11-12

“The Delegation would…desire to remind the Secretary of State in this connection that the cause which has been entrusted to us is nothing less than the salvation of our small country, which has been handed down to us by our fathers and forefathers from time immemorial, from the aggression of the alien Jews.” p. 15

The Colonial Office to the Palestine Arab Delegation – Apr. 11th 1922, pp. 15-17

“[Mr. Churchill] fails to see what advantage they (Arab Delegation)…expect to derive from the purely negative attitude that they have seen fit to adopt…what interest they hope to serve by mere abstention from collaboration it is less easy to understand.” p. 16

The Colonial Office to the Zionist Organization – June 3, 1922, pp. 17-21

“The tension which has prevailed from time to time in Palestine is mainly due to apprehensions, which are entertained both by sections of the Arab and by sections of the Jewish population. These apprehensions, as far as the Arabs are concerned, are partly based upon exaggerated interpretations of the meaning of the Declaration favouring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine…Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that Palestine is to become ‘as Jewish as England is English.’ His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated, as appears to be feared by the Arab Delegation, the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language, or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded in Palestine.” p. 18

“So far as the Jewish population of Palestine are concerned it appears that some among them are apprehensive that His Majesty’s Government may depart from the policy embodied in the Declaration of 1917. It is necessary, therefore, once more to affirm that these fears are unfounded, and that the Declaration…is not susceptible to change.

“When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, a interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.”

For the fulfilment of this policy (establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine) it is necessary that the Jewish community in Palestine should be able to increase its numbers by immigration. This immigration cannot be so great in volume as to exceed whatever may be the economic capacity of the country at the time to absorb new arrivals. It is essential to ensure that the immigrants should not be a burden upon the people of Palestine as a whole and that they should not deprive any section of the present population of their employment…it is intended that a special committee should be established in Palestine, consisting entirely of members of the new Legislative Council elected by the people, to confer with the Administration upon maters relating to the regulation of immigration…”

…it is not the case, as has been represented by the Arab Delegation, that during the war His Majesty’s Government gave an undertaking that an independent national government should be at once established in Palestine. This representation mainly rests upon a letter dated the 24th of October, 1915, from Sir Henry McMahon…to the Sherif of Mecca…That letter is quoted as conveying the promise to the Sherif of Mecca to recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the territories proposed by him. But this promise was given subject to a reservation made in the same letter, which excluded from its scope, among other territories, the portions of Syria lying to the west of the district of Damascus. This reservation has always been regarded by His Majesty’s Government as covering the vilayet of Beirut and the independent Sanjak of Jerusalem. The whole of Palestine west of the Jordan was thus excluded from Sir H. McMahon’s pledge.” pp. 19-20

Palestine Arab Delegation to the Secretary of State for the Colonies – June 17, 1922, pp. 21-28

“We have shown over and over again that the supposed historic connection of the Jews with Palestine rests upon very slender historic data. The historic rights of Arabs are far stronger than those of the Jews…” p. 24

Since the immigration of a foreign element into any country affects the native population of that country – politically, economically and socially – it is only right and proper that the people who are so affected should have complete say in the matter. The committee proposed above does not give the people of Palestine control of immigration. It powers are merely consultative, while we see that in Article 6 of the draft Mandate, the Jewish Agency…a foreign body, has been given more powers than the actual inhabitants of the country. Nothing will safeguard the interests of the Arabs against the dangers of immigration except the creation of a Representative National Government which shall have complete control of immigration.” p. 25

Zionist Organization to the Colonial Office – June 18th 1922, pp. 28-29

“The Zionist Organization has at all times been sincerely desirous of proceeding in harmonious cooperation with all sections of the people of Palestine. It has repeatedly made it clear both in word and deed that nothing is further from its purpose than to prejudice in the smallest degree the civil or religious rights or the material interests of the non-Jewish population.” p. 29

Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Officer Administering the Government of Palestine – June 29, 1922, pp. 30-31

Summary of White Paper of 1922