BevinSilent on British Policy if Arabs Invade; Won’t Stop Sending Arms to Them

By Jack Tait From the Herald Tribune Bureas Copyright, 1948 New York Herald Tribune Inc.

LONDON. April 28.-Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin assured the House of Commons today that Great Britain will quit Palestine on schedule May 15, but withheld comment on British policy toward possible armed intervention by Arab countries pending a final United Nations decision on the future of the Holy Land.

Mr. Bevin was badgered by Laborite questioners who demanded that he state the government’s policy on threatened intervention in Palestine by Arab nations, with particular reference to the reported “declaration of war on Zionism” by King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. Repeated questions engendered a good deal of heat, and Mr. Bevin, thrown on the defensive, spoke sharply to pro-Zionists in the House.

Won’t Stop Shipping Arms

In answer to a request that Britain suspend arms shipments to certain Arab countries until a Palestine settlement has been achieved. Mr. Bevin said he had “no intention of interfering until he received the decision of the United Nations.”

“Murder will be committed before you do anything,” M. Endelman, Laborite, told the Foreign Secretary.

“I appealed to both the Jews and Arabs in London,” Mr. Bevin retorted, “and warned them that we would leave Palestine.” Then he added, amid cheers, “The sergeants were hanged to the tree not by Arabs.”

[Mr. Bevin’s reference was to Sergeants Clifford Martin and Mervin Paice, of the British Army, who were found hanging from twin eucalyptus trees in Nathanya, Palestine, last July 31, following their kidnapping by the Irgun Zvai Leumi, Jewish underground organization. British troops killed five Jews and injured others in retaliation.]

B. Janner, Laborite, again asked Mr. Bevin whether he would “take steps to prevent the use of arms supplied by us to kill people in Palestine.”

Mr. Bevin shouted this reply at Mr. Janner, who sat in a distant part of the House- “I say to the Jews and Arabs-the Arabs are not in this House-the way for both of you to settle this is to stop fighting.”

Recalls Stand in U. N.

Opening the Palestine discussion. Mr. Bevin reminded the House that Arthur Creech-Jones, Colonial Secretary, had told the U. N. General Assembly last October that in the event of a settlement between Jews and Arabs, Britain would consider staying on in Palestine temporarily in “partnership” with other members of the U. N.

“But there has been no agreement between Jews and Arabs,” Mr. Bevin said. “Moreover, the withdrawal of British administrative personnel has now begun and is rapidly proceeding, and the government cannot reverse the process at this late hour.” Later in the discussion Mr. Bevin said, “Britain will be withdrawn by May 15.”

Mr. Bevin denied there are any negotiations taking place between Britain and the United States on the Palestine situation. “The only negotiations going on are in the United Nations Assembly,” he said.

Trans-Jordan Policy

Replying to questions on King Abdullah’s reported declaration and on the position of the Arab Legion on the mandate termination date, Mr. Bevin said- “My attention has been drawn to press reports of April 23 on the declaration by King Abdullah in this sense. I do not see what steps under the terms of our alliance with Trans-Jordan this announcement requires.

“As regards the Arab Legion the intention is that withdrawal from Palestine should be completed before the termination of the mandate. His Majesty’s government is obliged by the treaty to pay a subsidy to Trans-Jordan in respect of the Arab Legion and provide certain British service personnel for service with that force. This obligation will still be in force after the termination of the mandate in Palestine. The treaty provides, of course, that nothing in it shall prejudice the rights and obligations devolving on either party under the U. N. Charter.”