Palestinian Arab leaders derive legitimacy from the belief that their predecessors fought a National Liberation war against British-backed Jewish colonists. A 1948 Nation magazine study proves the opposite happened.
How Britain Organized anti-Jewish Terror in Palestine in 1948
“The British Record on Partition”
Reprinted from The Nation, May 8, 1948
Comments by Jared Israel, Emperor’s Clothes
[Posted 26 July 2005]
1948 Report to the UN Explodes
the PLO’s Myth of National Liberation
by Jared Israel
Emperor’s Clothes here makes available, for the first time on the internet, the Nation’s 1948 UN Memorandum on British instigation of anti-Jewish terror. The memorandum is posted in full, in text form, following Jared Israel’s comments below, and also as a PDF file, scanned from the original.
Taught to use the language of National Liberation politics at Soviet bloc schools in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, today’s Palestinian Arab leaders employ the rhetoric of Third World anti-colonial struggle. This has given us the spectacle of Cuba, which has been the passion of leftist intellectuals from the 1960s until today, teaching Arabs to blow up Israeli Kibbutzim, which were the passion of leftist intellectuals in the 1950s.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli war plays a key part in the Arab National Liberation tale. The Israeli victory in that war is presented as the defining event, the nakba or catastrophe. In order to claim that the PLO and Fatah are fighting for National Liberation in 2005, their promoters argue that British imperialism, using Jewish proxies, crushed Palestinian Liberation in 1948. The corollary: if the Jews will just grant Arabs the National Liberation they were denied in ’48, Arab leaders will deliver on peace with Israel.
Of course, if this story is false, if in 1948 the Arab armies fought for genocide, not National Liberation, and if it was not the Jews but Arab leaders who were agents of imperial Britain, then it certainly suggests that their protégés are not fighting for National Liberation today.
Below is our text transcription of The Nation magazine’s 1948 memorandum on Britain’s role in the Arab attempt to kill Israel in the cradle. Based on British intelligence documents and written for the United Nations, the memorandum is significant today because it contradicts widely held views about the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including those put forward in today’s Nation magazine.
Just for starters, the memorandum proves the falsity of the common perception that the creation of Israel was a project of Western colonialism. The Nation shows that during the half year prior to the all-out Arab invasion on 15 May, Britain incited, micro-managed and did public relations work for a campaign of Arab troop infiltration and terror. And this at a time when Britain was responsible for security in its Palestine Mandate territory.
The intelligence documents cited below show that before the 15 May invasion, British intelligence knew that the Arabs terrorizing the future Israel were being led in part by Nazi advisers. These included Bosnian Islamist Nazis from the infamous Handzar Division of the Waffen SS. According to a French intelligence document published by The Nation seven months later, the British sent thousands of Nazi prisoners of war, including top war criminals, to assist the Arab attack. This was after the Arab invasion. 
Consistent with British tolerance for and apparent employment of Nazi war criminals against new-born Israel, the Nation memorandum shows that the British adopted a propaganda line reminiscent of the Nazis’ “Jewish-Bolshevik plot” motif. The British accused Jewish Holocaust survivors trying to get to Palestine of being Soviet Communist infiltrators. A 1948 article in the London Times shows that Arab leaders were saying the same thing:
From London Times, 8 May 1948
An Emperor’s Clothes researcher found the Nation memorandum, “The British Record on Partition,” in a bound volume of The Nation for 1948, while researching the Israeli War of Independence. It’s a good thing we looked there rather than The Nation’s online digital archives because the memorandum isn’t in the archives, which supposedly includes the full contents of every issue of The Nation. The Nation, today controlled by a Left of a different color, has reversed its position on the Arab-Israeli conflict, more or less adopting the Arab line. Could that be why this memorandum, which so powerfully attacks Arab myths about 1948, is not in the archives?
The Nation’s about-face on the Middle East is typical of current writers on the Left. They describe the Middle East conflict as an Arab struggle for National Liberation, and, to make this view credible, they accept (or invent) fables about what happened in 1948, thus obscuring politics then and now.
The politics of Arab leaders was the subject of a 7 December 1946 Nation column by Julio Alvarez del Vayo. Mr. Del Vayo, a socialist who had been Foreign Minister of the Spanish Republic before it was overthrown by Francisco Franco’s thugs, knew fascism first hand. He did not view Arab leaders such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, as heroes of National Liberation. That perspective was imposed after the fact, starting in the 1960s, when young leftists adopted a starry-eyed view of anything that smacked of Third World revolution. Rather, he saw them as fascists, experts in antisemitism and murder, offering their expertise to Big Power patrons. Observing that the British were utilizing notorious Nazi operatives such as Haj Amin al-Husseini in their divide-and-conquer strategy, del Vayo wrote that the Fascists did not then have a significant political base:
[Excerpt from Julio Alvarez del Vayo’s 7 December 1946 Nation column, “The People’s Front,” starts here]
But in general the strength of the [Arab] league is based on the suppression of all progressive movements and civil rights at home. Only last week an eminent Moslem liberal, Fawzi al Husseini, cousin and opponent of the Mufti [i.e., Haj Amin al-Husseini], was assassinated because he advocated friendly relations with the Jews.
The so-called irreconcilable conflict between Arabs and Jews is another bluff invented out of whole cloth by the big powers to serve their special interests. I remember the day at Geneva, in the early twenties, when at a private dinner Feisal [Emir Feisal, son of the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks ] openly expressed himself in support of the Zionist cause. At that time the other Arab countries were much less concerned about Palestine. The “war” between Jews and Arabs started later, as a result of the work done by [Anglican] Bishop [Rennie] Macinnes, a notorious anti-Semite who was sent by the British to Jerusalem, and by Cardinal Barlassina, the Vatican representative. With the aid of General Storrs, who was then governor of Jerusalem, they brought the Mufti’s family to power, supplying funds and other forms of help in an effort to delay the logical solution of the Palestine problem.
To suggest that the Arab League is a British invention designed solely to combat Zionism would be to narrow the issue and ignore the great dangers involved. After all, the Palestine problem will sooner or later be solved. But there will remain the Arab states, which today, because of Anglo-Soviet rivalry in the Middle East, are playing an international role out of all proportion to their importance. Ultimately they may prove a nuisance to both the major powers. The present pro-British orientation of the Arabs is, to say the least, ephemeral; replying to the charge that the Arab League “speaks Arabic with a British accent,” Secretary General Accam [Azzam] Pasha said: “This suit is made of British cloth, but I am wearing it.” As for Russia, if it plays ball with the Arab states, it will come off no better than it did in Peron’s Argentina. Fascists remain fascists, and nothing can change them. –DEL VAYO 
[Excerpt from Julio Alvarez del Vayo’s 7 December 1946 Nation column, “The People’s Front,” ends here]
Prophetic words. The Soviets did indeed reverse themselves and play ball with Arab fascists, and it did not come off well. It is worth recalling that those fascists had no hesitation slaughtering Middle East Communists, just as they have been murdering independent-minded Arabs for more than 80 years. And they had no hesitation providing money and manpower for a Holy War against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, a war which played a part in the demise of the Soviet Union. A lesson for Leftists, in Israel and around the world: the PLO and other Muslim extremists will accept any and all help, and they will repay that help, but not with kindness.
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes
Note on the text: We’ve made the text look as much like the original as we could. If you find any typos, please let us know at [email protected]
 Emir Feisal famously signed an agreement in 1919 with Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement. To read the text of that agreement, go to http://www.mideastweb.org/feisweiz.htm
For a picture of Feisal and Weizmann together, go to
 Julio Alvarez del Vayo, “The People’s Front,” The Nation, Volume 163, Number 23, December 7, 1946
Table of Contents – British Record on Partition
[Below is The Nation’s 1948 UN Memorandum in text form. We have tried to make it an exact duplicate of the original Memorandum. For a PDF file of the Memorandum, go to
Introductory note from Freda Kirchwey, President,
The Nation Associates
I. British Pledge of
Cooperation not Carried out
II. The Intention behind British Policy in Palestine
III. British Representatives Present
when Arab League Projected Revolt
IV. British know every Arab invasion plan
V. Arab Legion cannot Move without British Signal
VI. The British “Protection” of Jerusalem
VII. Mufti [of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini]
Turned down Request that Haifa be Declared an Open City
VIII. Arab Governments
behind Invasion of Palestine
IX. [There is no Section IX]
X. Stringent Measures against the Jews
XI. British Pro-Arab Bias
XII. British Smear Campaign
Shown by Official Records
XIII. British Dissipate
XIV. The Breakdown
of Central Authority
XV. How the British Safeguard
their Interests in Palestine
The British Record on Partition
as revealed in
British Military Intelligence and other Official Sources
A Memorandum Submitted to the Special Session
of The General Assembly of the United Nations
The Nation Associates
20 Vesey Street
New York 7, N.Y.
Volume 166 New York * Saturday * May 8, 1948 No. 19, Part II
The pages which follow present in condensed form a memorandum which was submitted by The Nation Associates to the General Assembly of the United Nations on April 30,  covering the British record in Palestine since November 29, 1947. Deletions made in this version merely eliminate the less pertinent parts of certain documents and a section comprising photostat reproductions of documentary texts.
Additional copies of this supplement may be obtained from The Nation, 20 Versey Street, New York 7, N.Y., at the rate of twenty-five cents apiece.
The General Assembly of the United Nations, for the third time in twelve months, is meeting to discuss “the future government of Palestine.” Discussions are taking place in an atmosphere of violence which may touch off an explosion far beyond the boundaries of the Holy Land.
The question which the General Assembly must face, and world opinion as well, is this: was an inherent injustice in the November 29 resolution of the General Assembly responsible for the current explosion?
The Nation Associates presents the facts in this memorandum as essential to a wise and just decision. An examination of the facts will show that the present violence in Palestine results from:
1) British sabotage of Partition — This British sabotage was deliberately undertaken in order to insure British base rights in Palestine in perpetuity, as well as to safeguard British oil and trade and military interests in the Middle East.
2) British Alliance with Arab League — To achieve these ends, the British have embarked on an alliance with the Arab League, composed of the governments of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Transjordan, and Yemen. The Arab League, and not the Arab Higher Committee, controls the military and political developments among the Arabs of Palestine. Representatives of the British government were present at the meetings of the Arab League where the revolt was planned and organized and are in continuous connection with it. Within a month after the November 29th resolution, the Arabs were encouraged to believe partition would be substituted by a Federal State, and arms shipments continued to the Arab States despite their known use for Palestine warfare. On April 28  Foreign Minister Bevin was still refusing to halt them.
The facts will show, moreover, that:
The British have allowed 10,000 foreign invaders to enter Palestine, offering the feeble excuse that the British armed forces, consisting, at the outset, of over 80,000 men, could not adequately protect the border.
Although since December 11, 1947 the British have been promising to return to Transjordan the contingents of the Arab Legion brought to Palestine for police duty, they have allowed the members of that force to remain in Palestine and to attack Jewish communities. The only conclusion to be drawn is that the Arab Legion constitutes a major part of the effort to coerce the Jews into accepting less than the Jewish State granted by the United Nations.
At no time has the British government, in spite of its alleged impotence, requested any help from the United Nations; in fact, as the record shows, the British have continued to deprecate the situation, refused to identify the invaders, and have consistently denied that the Arab states as such are involved.
Through their action they have admitted into Palestine Arabs of known Nazi allegiance in command of the invading forces, and have even admitted escaped Nazi prisoners of war, now to be found in command of Arab detachments.
From secret British intelligence reports, which are quoted extensively in this record, it is clear that the British know and have always known of every single Arab troop movement in Palestine, and that their relations with the Arabs are such that they could ask Arab leaders to request the invading forces to remain unobtrusive.
British sabotage has resulted in turning Jerusalem into an armed camp, has permitted the Arabs to seize the Old City and to hold as hostages some 2000 Jews.
The British have failed to take any action to insure that Haifa should remain an open city, even though they were fully aware of the desire of local Arabs to achieve this and that the Jews wanted only to be safe from attack.
Their prejudice against the Jews has been clearly indicated in their refusal to allow the Jews to arm for defense against Arab attack, and their blowing up of Jewish defense posts; in their turning over to the Arabs – and to certain death – members of the Haganah; in their confiscation of Haganah arms; in their treatment of Jewish defense personnel as criminals. The British have connived at the starving of the Jewish population of Jerusalem by their failure to keep the highways open. They have refused armed escorts to the Jews.
Their attitude to the Arab community is quite different. By British admission, the Arab community has been armed by the British. Arab train robberies, which have been frequent, have been met with shooting over the heads of the robbers. Arab desertions from the police, for the purpose of joining the attackers, accompanied by the stealing of arms, have never been prevented, and Arab violators of the peace go unpunished.
To this record can be added the detailed facts concerning the fashion in which the British have destroyed central authority, and, under the guise of establishing greater local authority, turned over in largest part to the Arabs the various services of the Palestine government created and maintained chiefly by taxation of the Jewish community. Simultaneously, assets have been dissipated and vital communications disposed of to foreign agencies. The effect of this has been to seal the Jewish community in a limited area, cut off its access to the outside world by land and sea, and surround it by Arabs in order to create such a state of siege as would cause the Jews to send up a white flag.
By arrangement with the Arab League, if partition is shelved through any one of several schemes to assure Arab dominance in Palestine, the British are to receive base rights in Haifa, the Negev and Galilee.
But the British are not depending on Arab promises alone. They have already taken the necessary steps to assure the permanent rights in Palestine to air bases and land and sea communications. To be able to carry out this program, the Mandatory has required a free hand. That is why it has kept the United Nations Commission out of Palestine and refused it cooperation.
The facts contained in this document come for the most part from the confidential reports of British Intelligence.
So intent are the British upon destroying partition that they have shown themselves oblivious to the fact that with it they may destroy the authority of the United Nations, and even the peace of the world.
Freda Kirchwey, President
The Nation Associates
I. British Pledge of
Cooperation not Carried out
On November 13, 1947, Sir Alexander Cadogan, British delegate, told Sub-committee I of the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine, in reply to a question as to whether the United Kingdom would accept the recommendations of the General Assembly:
“If the Assembly by a two-thirds majority approves any solution, His Majesty’s Government would not take any action contrary to it.”
On December 11, 1947, Arthur Creech Jones, British Colonial Secretary, told the House of Commons:
“I could not easily imagine circumstances in which the United Kingdom would wish to prevent the application of the settlement recommended by the General Assembly.”
A day later, Foreign Minister Bevin told the House of Commons:
“I am not going and His Majesty’s Government is not going to oppose the United Nations’ decision. . . . There that decision is of that world organism whether we agree with it or not. It is on the statute book of that great organisation. May it be possible to implement it! If it is, and if my colleagues or I can render any assistance, with advice, with help, with our officials, with our administrative ability, with our historical knowledge, to smooth out the transition, to try to prevent the divisions from being widened – in other words to do anything possible to promote concord, friendship and amity between these peoples – we shall do it.”
British pledge to maintain peace and security
A specific promise that the British would maintain law and order in Palestine was made by Colonial Secretary Creech Jones. In the House of Commons on December 11, 1947, he said:
“So long as the British remained in any part of Palestine they would maintain law and order in the area of which they were still in occupation. . .. It has been made quite clear by the High Commissioner to the leaders of the Jewish and Arab communities that so long as the Mandate continues the Mandatory Government is responsible for law and order and will do its duty in protecting the life and property of citizens irrespective of race. . .. Between now and the termination of the Mandate, the British Government in Palestine will remain responsible for law and order.”
None of these pledges have been fulfilled.
Colonial Secretary Gives Preview of British Non-Cooperation
Actually, a preview of the form British non-cooperation would take was offered by Creech Jones on December 11, 1947, in the very same speech in which he assured the House of Commons of British compliance with the Assembly’s resolution. He then made clear that the primary objective would be an orderly withdrawal of the British from Palestine. Then he set down the following principles:
1. “In order that the withdrawal may be conducted in the most orderly manner and with the least destruction of the ordinary life of the country, it is essential that the Mandatory Power should retain undivided control of the country until the evacuation is well under way. It will be appreciated that Mandatory responsibility for government in Palestine cannot be relinquished piecemeal. The whole complex of governmental responsibility must be relinquished by the Mandatory Government for the whole of Palestine on an appointed day. . . . And the date we have in mind for this, subject to negotiations with the United Nations Commission, is 15 May”. . . .
2. “As His Majesty’s Government have made it clear that they cannot take part in the implementation of the United Nations plan, it will be undesirable for the Commission to arrive in Palestine until a short period before the termination of the Mandate. For reasons of Administrative efficiency, responsibility, and security, this overlap period should be comparatively brief.” . . . .
3. “Other matters on which negotiations with the United Nations Commission will have to be made include the proposal in the partition plan that an area situated in the Jewish state, including a seaport and hinterland, shall be evacuated by February 1, 1948. This presents considerable difficulty and must be studied further with the UN Commission in connection with the thorny problem of immigration. . . . If the traffic (immigration) is encouraged during the next few months a grave situation in Palestine will arise which will make an orderly withdrawal and transfer of authority extremely difficult. The camps in Cyprus also have to be emptied.
“The Government are aware of the strong resentment already expressed by the Arab States in regard to what may appear to them as encouragement to immigration for strengthening the Jewish State. It is essential to maintaining orderly life in Palestine, while at the same time, preparing, in accordance with international decision, to transfer authority.”
Bevin Refuses to Assign Port
The following day, December 12, 1947, Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, made clear that there would be no consultations with the United Nations Commission, declaring: “that the date for the termination of the Mandate had been fixed.”
He told the House of Commons:
(1) “We have fixed, after the most careful consideration, the date of May 15. (2) We should have liked to have accepted the suggested date in February but we found it physically impossible to do so. [The reference being to the clearance of a port and area for Jewish immigration].
“I cannot agree to open a port until we lay down the Mandate. We cannot have two administrations at one time. Really, it is impossible.”
The security situation was further offered as an excuse for failing to open a port for Jewish immigration, for refusing to permit recruitment of a Jewish militia as provided in the Assembly’s resolution.
On March 10, 1948, Creech Jones again told the House of Commons:
“We have been unable on grounds of security to make a port available for the Jews from 1 February for immigration of men and arms. We could not thus render our authority over a part of Palestine while still retaining responsibility for law and order in the country.”
He said further:
“We were also asked whether we would agree to allow the provisional councils of the two successor states to recruit armed militias from their residents, leaving political and military control to the Commission. We have made it clear that we could not permit any authority other than our own to exercise governmental functions in Palestine before the end of the Mandate. To allow the recruitment of militias would involve two distinct authorities in the country at one time, one of them taking steps to implement the United Nations plan. Further, such a procedure could not fail to increase immeasurably the possibility of grave disturbances while the Mandate still ran. The suggestion did not take account of the realities of the situation. The possible result of an attempt to form a representative militia for the proposed Jewish State, which includes some 400,000 Arabs in its area, when the Arabs were strongly resisting the implementation of the partition plan, should be apparent to everybody. The objections to this step, of course, apply with even greater force to the Jewish request that the Commission should immediately start to establish a purely Jewish militia for the Jewish State, with full training facilities and the acquisition of the necessary equipment and stores.”
British Declare November 29 Resolution Unworkable
That same day, moreover, he told the House of Commons the decision was unworkable and forecast that the Commission would be unable to go to Palestine.
“The situation in Palestine has tragically deteriorated since the Assembly resolution. Consequently, the Assembly’s plan, conceived as it was in conditions of strong partiality, has in some respects proved impractical and unworkable. . . . It is possible that the Palestine Commission of the UN may find itself unable to proceed to Palestine because suitable arrangements have not been made either by the Security Council or by other organs of the United Nations for it to take up its duties there.”
On March 2, 1948, Creech Jones, in the Security Council of the United Nations, openly charged the partition plan with prejudice, declaring:
“It is not for me to comment on certain obvious defects in the partition plan which arose from its being conceived in conditions of strong partiality.
“The United States asks us to endorse the plan adopted by the General Assembly. For reasons which we have so often explained, we cannot do so. . .. We cannot participate in any way in the implementation of a plan which involves the coercion of one of the Communities, and in Palestine, that is the larger community.”
Small wonder that on April 10 the Palestine Commission reported to the General Assembly that:
(1) Security has not been maintained and that “unless security is restored in Palestine, implementation of the resolution of the General Assembly will not be possible.”
(2) That as a consequence of the non-cooperation of the Mandatory power:
“(a) The provisions of the Assembly’s resolution for a progressive transfer of administration from the Mandatory Power to the Commission have not been complied with. The Mandatory Power has insisted on retaining undivided control of Palestine until the date of termination of the Mandate and on relinquishing the whole complex of governmental responsibilities on that day, except for the areas still occupied by British troops. In the view of the Mandatory Power the progressive transfer of authority refers only to those areas.
“(b) The Commission could not proceed to Palestine until two weeks prior to the termination of the Mandate. The insistence of the Mandatory Power on this point, even though the Commission has been prepared to restrict its activities in Palestine prior to 15 May 1948, to preparatory work and would not attempt to exercise any authority there, made it impossible for the Commission to take the necessary preparatory measure to ensure continuity in administration after the date of termination of the Mandate.
“(c) The Commission could not take any measures to establish the frontiers of the Arab and Jewish States and the City of Jerusalem, since the Mandatory Power informed the Commission that it could not facilitate the delimitation of frontiers on the ground.
“(d) The refusal of the Mandatory Power to permit any Provisional Council of Government, whether Arab or Jewish, if selected, to carry out any functions prior to the termination of the Mandate, made it necessary for the Commission, in accordance with Part I, B, 4 of the resolution of the General Assembly, to communicate that fact to the Security Council and to the Secretary-General.
“(e) The refusal of the Mandatory Power to permit the taking of preparatory steps toward the establishment of the armed militia, envisaged by the resolution for the purpose of maintaining internal order and preventing frontier clashes, has made it impossible to implement the Assembly’s resolution in that respect.”
II. The Intention behind British Policy in Palestine
On December 29, 1947, exactly one month following the United Nations decision on partition with economic union, the Lebanese Envoy in London, reporting to the Foreign Minister of Lebanon on a meeting between himself and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, quoted Mr. Bevin as telling him the following: “Now that the question has reached this stage, we are determined to withdraw from Palestine so that Arabs and Jews should remain alone to face each other and the hard facts.”
British Aim: A Federal State
In the same report, the Lebanese envoy wrote: “Official circles here believe that if America. . .were to change its position. . .the Arabs and Jews would remain alone face-to-face with the facts. The result would then be the attainment of a solution of the question on the basis of a federal state.”
United States Minister to Beirut Tells About Federal Plan or Abdullah Conquest
On February 11, 1948, the United States Minister in Beirut, Mr. Lowell C. Pinkerton, informed the United States State Department of the plans being discussed in Lebanon for substituting the partition plan with a new scheme either in the form of a federal state or in the form of a Jewish state within a Greater Palestine. In his communication Mr. Pinkerton wrote:
“Many Lebanese feel that they have already shown an earnest of their intention to prevent partition at all costs, and that Jews now doubt their own ability to defend the territory allotted to them by the partition plan.
“Two proposals, at least, have been discussed, either of which might be acceptable to a sizeable number of the Arabs. If adopted, the first might be only prelude to the second:
“‘1. Revival of the eleventh hour Arab compromise suggestion at Lake Success – cantonisation, or a federal state.
“‘2. An autonomous Jewish state within a Greater Palestine, under King Abdullah, which would have all its own machinery of government. It has even been suggested that such a state might take all of the Jews now in displacement camps in Europe, since the question of a majority would not arise. This proposal would certainly meet widespread opposition in Syria, [Saudi] Arabia and possibly Egypt.’
“Visitors recently arrived in Lebanon from the United States are all eagerly questioned on the possibility of a change in the attitude of the United States towards partition, but no satisfactory reply has been received.”
British Knowledge of Abdullah Plan to Occupy Palestine
On April 17, a day after the Security Council had adopted a resolution calling for a truce between the Arab Higher Committee and the Jewish Agency, and upon the neighbouring states to refrain from activity which would upset the truce, King Abdullah of Transjordan let it be known that he would send the Arab Legion into Palestine to defend the Arabs allegedly against the Jews.
On January 31, The Nation had reported a plan whereby King Abdullah of Transjordan would be permitted to overrun Palestine in exchange for giving up his ambition to establish the Greater Syrian Federation through the annexation of Syria and Lebanon.
On February 13 the British Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61 Hq. Palestine confirmed The Nation’s story and anticipated the April 17 declaration of Abdullah. British Intelligence reported that Musa Al Ami, head of the Iraqi-supported Arab Office, who had been living abroad for a year, had returned to the Middle East.
This is its explanation:
“Apart from the question of the Arab officers, there is reason to believe that Musa Al Ami’s visit had certain political implications. It has been rumoured that in return for the shelving of the Greater Syria scheme, Syria and the Lebanon may be asked to consent to King Abdullah’s occupying Palestine. Musa Al Ami’s recent visit to the King may well have something to do with this.”
III. British Representatives Present
When Arab League Projected Revolt
The Arab revolt was openly projected in the fall of 1947 at the very time when the United Nations were meeting in the regular Assembly session and discussing the Palestine issue. The decision to launch the revolt was made at a meeting of the Council of the Arab League in Sofar, Lebanon.
This meeting was attended not only by the heads of the Arab governments constituting the League, the Mufti and Fawzi Kawukji, later of the Arab liberation army in Palestine, but by Brigadier P. A. Clayton, the British representative in Egypt, and a number of his associates from Cairo and Jerusalem. It was at this meeting that the formation of a so-called volunteer force for the liberation of Palestine was decided upon, as against the use of regular troops of the Arab governments. The decision to substitute so-called volunteer forces for the regular armies was adopted under the influence of Brigadier Clayton and his associates. [My emphasis – J.I.]
The Arab League was in fact first projected in 1943 by Brigadier Clayton who was able to convince Anthony Eden, then Foreign Minister of England, of its usefulness. The League was formed in 1945 and Brigadier Clayton continues to be the only non-Moslem who regularly attends the meetings of the Arab League.
The participation of British representatives in Arab League meetings was confirmed by Richard H. S. Crossman, British MP in the House of Commons on December 11, 1947. He said:
“British diplomacy has, alas concentrated Arab attention to the Zionist issue. At meetings of the Arab League British representatives have been in attendance regularly even when the most violent anti-Jewish actions were approved. We are now suffering the consequences of creating the Arab League on the basis of a single programme of denying a Jewish state to the Jews.” [My emphasis – J.I.]
Arabs careful not to attack the British
On March 6, 1948, E. D. Horn, acting for the Chief Secretary of Palestine, addressed a communication to the District Commissioner of Jerusalem, copies of which were dispatched to all district commissioners, asking them to request Arab leaders to see to it that the foreign soldiers in Palestine remained as unobtrusive as possible. In this communication, numbered C.S.749 and marked “top secret,” Mr. Horn wrote:
“It is the opinion of the Committee that this development greatly increases the risk of clashes taking place between these persons and the security forces and I am to request that you will take whatever steps are possible to bring this danger to the notice of Arab leaders who would be well advised to secure that the foreign soldiers remain as unobtrusive as possible.”
British condone invaders
British Intelligence in Palestine is authority for the statement that the Arabs have careful instructions not to fight the British. Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61 of February 13, 1948, issued by Hq. British Troops in Palestine, reported that the Arab irregulars are “anxious to avoid being involved with the British troops, in fact, they have orders to surrender rather than fight their way out if challenged by British troops.”
The Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 62, Hq. Palestine, dated February 27, 1948, further says:
“The Arab leaders are anxious not to aggravate the British in any way but the question is whether so many men, possibly ten thousand of them at present in this country, with their bitter hatred of the Jews and their excitable character, whose sole raison d’etre is the killing of Jews, can hold themselves in check until the British forces have quitted.”
In proof of this careful Arab attitude, the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 63 dated March 12, by the Hq. British Troops in Palestine, reported the following:
“18. On three different occasions, the GOC’s car and escort were attacked in the vicinity of Bab el Wad on the Jerusalem-Jaffa road. On the first occasion a Brigadier travelling from Sarafand to Jerusalem in the car was shot at and a bullet penetrated the bonnet. On the second occasion the car was hit three times, once through the door, once through the window and once through the petrol tank. Fortunately there were no passengers and no one was hurt. Two days later the car ran into the line of fire when at Kilo 21 on the same road a Jewish convoy was engaged by fire from Arabs. Doctor Hussein Khalidi of the Arab Higher Executive told an officer of this Headquarters that in his opinion the car had not been attacked by Arabs as they had been instructed to avoid conflict with the security forces. A phone call received by this Headquarters from a person who claimed to be Abdul Kadir el Husseini, denied that Arabs had fired at the GOC’s car. Arabs held great respect for the British and especially the GOC, the speaker claimed.”
IV. British know every Arab invasion plan
On April 10 the Palestine Commission of the United Nations, in its report to the General Assembly, stated that violence in Palestine as of April 3 has resulted in 6,187 killed and wounded, including 121 British dead, 309 wounded; 959 Arabs dead, 2,118 wounded; 875 Jews dead, 1,858 wounded.
The casualties were inflicted in the course of Arab attacks and Jewish reprisals. Responsibility for the violence rests in chief part on some 10,000 Arab invaders who have entered Palestine as members of the Arab Army of Liberation formed by the Arab League and representing incursions from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Transjordan, and upon members of the Transjordan Arab Legion, units of which are stationed in Palestine.
The British government, which maintains a number of liaison officers with the Palestine Commission, has reported to that Commission only six incursions involving small numbers. And it has offered as the excuse for not stopping these incursions the length of the frontier, the difficult nature of the terrain, and therefore the impossibility of one hundred percent frontier control.
Secret British Reports Give Full Data
The fact is, however, that the British are fully aware of every incursion of foreign invaders and their exact deployment. This is indicated in the reports of British Military Intelligence in Palestine and the Middle East. A few typical excerpts from these reports indicate as early as last January the full knowledge of British Military Intelligence, and therefore of the Palestinian administration, the British Colonial Office, and the British Foreign Office.
A report on Arab infiltration was offered on January 30, 1948, in the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 60 issued by HQ Palestine:
“19. The main item of interest is undoubtedly the arrival of Arab bands from outside Palestine. The figures have varied considerably, but it is thought that they can be put at between 1,000 and 1,500. They are almost certainly members of Fawzi Qauqji’s [Kawukji – EC] Yarmuk Division, to which reference has been made in previous newsletters. Contrary to numerous rumors, however, Fawzi himself has not entered Palestine. He has constantly stated that he has no intention whatever of returning to this country like a thief in the night as the head of a rabble, and that he will come when preparations are complete and he can do so openly as a soldier.”
On February 13, 1948, the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61 issued by HQ British Troops in Palestine, reported:
“More and more Arab irregulars have crossed the Syrian and Lebanese borders and moved into villages in the Safed area and the Galilee hills.”
British Intelligence Reports Detailed Invasion Plan
On March 5, in a secret report entitled “Intelligence Summary No. 68” by the Sixth Airborne Division, a detailed record of the Arab invasion was presented:
“12. The infiltration of Arab bands from the neighbouring Arab States is continuing and an Arab source thought reliable has estimated the strength of the Arab Liberation Army in Samaria as being approximately 5,000, organised into four detachments:
“‘(a) The Yarmuk: This was the first to arrive and is now located in the Jenin sub-district with its Headquarters at Sir 179196.
“‘(b) The Huttein: (Named after the battle of the Horns of Huttin 1187), located in the Tulkarm sub-district and reported to be commanded by an Iraqi named Nashed Bey.
“‘(c) The Hussein: (Probably named after the Mufti), occupying the Tubas area but believed to be incomplete. This detachment is said to be equipped with a British type rifle, and to be about 800 strong at present.
“‘(d) The Circassian: Composed of about 300 men – a further draft of 300 is expected shortly. This detachment is commanded by an ex-Captain of the Syrian Regular Army, and is reported to be moving into the hills to the west of Nablus.’
“Whilst the main Arab forces are located in the Nablus-Jenin-Tulkarm area, it is known that a strong force is being built up in the Galilee hills and further reports have been received of the movement of small Arab bands across the Lebanese frontier into the villages of Upper Galilee.
“13. According to a reliable source, approximately 1,000 men crossed the Transjordan and Lebanese frontiers into Palestine on 25 February in 100 trucks. These Arab irregulars are reported to be dressed in American type battle dress with orange hattas. One detachment of some 500 men went to the Nablus area via Tubas and was received by members of the National Committee. A parade was held in their honour attended by Arab Scouts and Youth Organisations. More than 10,000 local Arabs are said to have been present and the Mayor of Nablus and the President of the National Committee both made short addresses to the assembly. Mohd Saffar, Arab Commander in the Nablus area, then lectured this detachment of newly-arrived irregulars in the Palestine Hotel, Nablus. Following this address which lasted for two hours, the group is reported to have left for the Beisan area where the report states, they will be used in attacks on Jewish colonies which are expected to take place in the near future.
“14. The second detachment, also of approximately 599, are reported to have crossed the Lebanese frontier in the area of Bint Jhall 190280 where they were met by high-ranking officers in the ‘National Liberation Army.’ This detachment later dispersed into villages in the Upper Galilee area. The report indicates that these two contingents are the most well-equipped to cross the frontier to date. They are armed with rifles, Brens and other automatic weapons, and heavier type gun of unspecified calibre for use in the hills. Each man is said to be carrying arms sufficient for two persons, as the band is hoping to be backed up by local guerillas who will be recruited throughout the area. The leader of the force is an Iraqi officer, who informed local leaders in the Acre sub-district that the detachment would remain in the villages in Galilee as a force available for defence, until orders are received from the Arab Liberation Army Headquarters in Damascus to start the offensive.”
British Reveal Kawukji’s ‘s Entry into Palestine
On March 12, Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 63 issued by Hq. British Troops in Palestine, supplemented his report with the following:
“13. The arrival in Samaria of Fauzi Qauqji [Kawukji – EC] is definitely confirmed, but he is believed to be paying a short visit only this time. He has indicated his desire not to embarrass the authorities in any way, but when in Transjordan recently it was reported that he talked about renewed activity against Jewish settlements, possibly with the intention of influencing the UN Security Council. It has not yet been confirmed which route he used to enter Palestine although strong rumor has it that he came across Allenby bridge at night.”
German Officers and Jugoslav Moslems Join Liberation Army
On January 19, C. T. Evans, the District Commissioner for the Galilee District, wrote to the Chief Secretary of Palestine, Sir Henry Guerney, that the training of the Arab Liberation army is by European volunteers and that, in fact, one of the incursions was led by a German officer. In this connection, Mr. Evans wrote:
“There is no doubt that well equipped volunteers are coming across the Lebanese frontier and bivouacking in Palestine in such inaccessibly places as Wadi Kurn. They appear to be bound mainly to Jaffa and that such local Arabs trying to join have been turned away. The volunteers are not coming down on the villages for provisioning.
“It is reported that European volunteers are being brought to Syria and the Lebanon as instructors and one of the parties who have crossed the frontier is stated to have been led by a German officer.”
On March 12, in the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 63, issued by the HQ British Troops in Palestine, the British revealed the presence in Palestine of non-Arab volunteers as members of the Arab Liberation army, including German officers and Yugoslav Moslems. The report declares:
“11. An observer of the Arab scene in Palestine has given an appreciation of the non-Arab volunteers who have been working with Arabs in Palestine owing to allegiance to the Mufti. Firstly there are the Jugoslav Moslems, estimated at less than a dozen in number who are attached to Abdul Qadir Al Husseini in the Jerusalem area. They have had experience in warfare and have expert knowledge of underground activities. Their number is almost certain to be increased later. Then there are three or four German Officers attached to Sheikh Hassan Salameh in areas around Jaffa and Lydda. One popular rumor has it that they are survivors of the Germans who parachuted down during the last war in the Jericho region to contact Salameh, with whom they have kept in touch ever since. These Germans refuse to meet any British volunteers. Thirdly, there are constant rumors of some British nationals, but little or nothing is known about them.” *A
“12. The infiltration of the Arab Liberation Army into Palestine continues, particularly in the Ras el Ain area *B and Jaffa, where the new commander, Abdel Bey Najin ed Din, who took over from Abdul Wahab Bey when the latter went to Syria, probably has some 1,500 regulars under his command. The Jaffa-Tel Aviv struggle has already entered a new phase, the Arabs having adopted a plan of attack as opposed to their former policy of defence.”
*A Despite this, Foreign Minister Bevin still says he has no knowledge of non-Arab fighters in Palestine.
*B Area of the water pipe line to Jerusalem, mined by Arabs on April 8.
British Know Every Detail of Invaders’ Deployment
On March 19, British Intelligence put out a document on the Arab liberation army detailing its location in every area of Palestine, its numbers, and its command as follows:
– ARAB LIBERATION ARMY –
Information as at 19.3.48
General: – G.O.C. Gen. Ismail Safwat Pasha, formerly Deputy Chief of Staff to the Iraqi Army, H.Q. DAMASCUS
Commands in Palestine: –
North Pal: O.C. Fawzi Al Kaukji Bey.
2. i/c Mohd Bey As Safa.
[I assume this means that Fawzi Al Qauqji Bey was the Commanding Officer and Mohd Bey As Safa was his Deputy- Emperor’s Clothes
– Jared Israel ]
East Pal: O.C. Abdul Qadir Husseini.
West Pal: O.C. Sheik Hassan Salama.
2. i/c a German Engineer Officer.
South Pal: Acting O.C. Col. Tarik Bey, a Sudanese.
Forces at present in this area are mainly concentrated in the Samaria district. They consist of four regiments, each of two or three battalions. Total strength is reported as about 4,000. The Safad-Nazareth-Acre area does not seem to be garrisoned by A.L.A. troops, but is used by troops in transit. Attacks in this area would appear to be the work of local gangs or troops on sorties from Syria.
Yarmuk Regt. – O.C. Mohd Bey As Safa, Lebanese.
Located in the Jenin area with an H.Q. at Sir 179176. Responsible for the attack on Tirat Tsevi on 16 February.
Huttein Regt. – O.C. Nashed Bey.
Located in the area south of Tulkarm, with a battalion 600 strong under an Iraqi at Ras Al Ain 144167. Responsible for the attack on Magdiel 141 174.
Hussein Regt. – O.C. Abdul Wahab.
Located north of Tulkarm, with an H.Q. at Attil 157197. Responsible for the attack on Marbata 15282070 on 28 February.
Circassian Regt. – O.C. Issan Bey.
Located in the Nablus area. Reported to have made no attacks as yet.
Forces are mainly in the Jerusalem area. They consist of Husseini gangsters and do not appear to be properly organised or disciplined.
Area corresponds to the Civil District of Lydda together with that part of the Gaza District North of a line Al Majdal 111119 to Falluja 126114.
Jaffa area – O.C. Lt. Col. Abdel Najn Ad Din Bey.
Strength reported to be more than 2,000 men, possibly part of the Yarmuk regiment. This garrison includes Yugoslavs trained in sabotage.
Strength two battalions of 500 men, each commanded by an Iraqi captain. One battalion H.Q. reported at 13671504; the other at Salama village.
H.Q. of the district is at Mughazi camp 091092.
1,000 men reported to be forming up at Julis camp 119122, which is at present commanded by Capt. Ibrahim Isdar, a Syrian. This area may be used as a base hospital.
Gaza area – Mustafa Al Wakil bn, an Egyptian unit, is at Gaza air field 199198. 200 men are reported at Maghazi.
A training camp is in the process of being established at Nabi Husein 108118.
V. Arab Legion cannot Move without British Signal
On December 12, 1947, Foreign Minister Bevin told the House of Commons that the units of the Transjordan Arab Legion would be withdrawn from Palestine. He said:
“I was asked a question about the Arab Legion. I should explain that this is a Force, which owes allegiance to the King of Transjordan, but units of it have, for some time, been serving under the orders of the British G.O.C. in accordance with a long-standing arrangement with King Abdullah. It has been decided that all these units will be withdrawn from Palestine at the same time as the withdrawal of the British Forces. That withdrawal will be completed when the withdrawal of the British Forces is completed.”
British Promise to Withdraw Arab Legion from Palestine
But on April 16, these units numbering some thousands were still in Palestine, encamped near the units of Arab invading forces, still engaged in a series of unprovoked aggressions on peaceful Jewish residents and passersby. On that date Sir Alexander Cadogan told the Security Council: “We have already announced that the units of the Arab League in Palestine will be withdrawn before the Mandate comes to an end.”
The following day, however, on April 17, King Abdullah of Transjordan announced that he would send his Arab Legion into Palestine to help the Arabs, and was seconded by his Foreign Minister, a threat which has since been repeated. On April 26, King Abdullah announced that on May 1st he would march into Palestine in personal command of the armies of Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Could King Abdullah carry out his threat without British knowledge and consent? The facts show that Transjordan is a military appendage of the British and could not act without their knowledge and consent.
The Arab Legion, regarded as the finest military force in the Middle East, is under the command of a Britisher, Brigadier J.B. Glubb. The Legion is organized, trained, officered, and paid for by the British government at a cost of more than $7,500,000 annually. Nonetheless, Foreign Minister Bevin told the House of Commons on April 28:
“I am not going to be drawn into promises and commitments about the Transjordan Force until I know the final decision of the U.N. on Palestine.”
Do the British Control the Arab Legion?
The first partition of Palestine took place in 1922 when the British separated Transjordan from it. In January 1946, Great Britain, without the consent of the United Nations, announced the independence of Transjordan which, since 1922, had been governed under the Palestine Mandate.
On March 22, 1946, the British Government announced the conclusion of a Treaty of Alliance with Transjordan, which recognized Transjordan as an independent Kingdom, and the Emir Abdullah as its sovereign. In an annex to the Treaty, provision was made for British bases in Transjordan and the training of the armed forces of that country by British military personnel.
On March 15, 1948 a new Treaty of Alliance was signed between Transjordan and Great Britain. Under the new Treaty, Britain continues its annual grant for the maintenance of Transjordan’s armed forces. Brigadier John Bagot Glubb, commander of the Transjordan Arab Legion, retains his post under King Abdullah. The British are responsible as well for equipping the Legion, and supply, in addition to Brigadier Glubb, more than 40 British senior officers.
Provisions of 1948 Treaty with Transjordan
Under the March Treaty, the British receive the right to maintain units of the R.A.F. in Transjordan. The British finance the maintenance and development of airfields, ports, roads and other lines of communication. The British undertake to train Transjordan Forces in the United Kingdom or in any British colony. In Transjordan joint training operations are to be maintained with the British providing training personnel. The British undertake to provide arms, ammunition, equipment, aircraft and other war materials; all Transjordan war materials to be standardized with that of the British. The British receive port rights. To carry out the military alliance a permanent Joint Defense Board has been set up.
VI. The British “Protection” of Jerusalem
On December 11, 1947 Arthur Creech-Jones, Secretary of State for the Colonies, told the House of Commons:
“Up to the date of the relinquishment of the Mandate the Palestine Government remains responsible for the security of Jerusalem and its Holy places.”
But not even the special position of Jerusalem has deterred the British from sacrificing it to its own plans for an Arab alliance.
To be sure, soon after the passage of the November 29 resolution, the British government did cooperate with the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations in drawing up a draft statute for Jerusalem establishing it as an international city under international trusteeship. But when the Arab Higher Committee objected to its efforts on the score that it was implementing one of the November 29 General Assembly resolutions, the line of cooperation was dropped and supplanted by the line of capitulation.
Under the guise of spurious neutrality it made possible a series of events initiated by the Arabs which have splattered the sanctity of the Holy City with blood.
Thus, thanks to British neutrality:
1. Ben Yahuda Street, the chief commercial center of Jewish Jerusalem, was bombed.
2. A band of the Mufti’s henchmen, calling itself the Arab National Guard, could seize and hold with impunity the Old City of Jerusalem, where the ancient shrines of all the religions are to be found; and keep 2,000 Jews as hostages. The British have even concluded an agreement with this band permitting passage to distribute food and other supplies.
3. Thus the Arabs could bomb the offices of the Jewish Agency on March 11, killing 13 and wounding forty-five.
4. The Arabs could on April 13, within full sight of a British army post, attack a Hadassah medical convoy flying a medical symbol in the course of which 76 persons were killed and 20 wounded. The casualties included the Director of the Hadassah Hospital, Dr. H. Yassky, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, as well as academic staff including scientists attached to the Hebrew University of Mt. Scopus.
This attack took place within two hundred yards of a British Army Post. Iraqi soldiers were among the Arab gangs which attacked the convoy. The attack lasted for six hours before the eyes of the British Military, who not only failed to halt the attack, but prevented the Haganah from coming to the rescue.
The April 13 attack was the climax of a series begun on December 30, 1947. Continuous complaints and a request for protection of the road, which leads to the Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University, had been made by the Jewish Community Council of Jerusalem and by Hadassah itself.
The area requiring protection was half a mile in length on the Scopus Road. Between March 26 and April 6 no incidents occurred. On December 27 the Arab Higher Committee, and on January 13 the Palestine Arab Medical Association issued memoranda asking the Arabs to refrain from attacking hospitals, ambulances, doctors, nurses. None the less, these attacks were accelerated. On March 17 Abdel Kadi el-Husseini, then the Arab Military Commander in the Jerusalem area (subsequently killed by the Haganah) publicly announced that he would occupy or even demolish the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center.
Despite the full evidence concerning this, no effective action was taken by the British.
On April 13 British soldiers watched the Arab onslaught, and instructed the Haganah not to send reinforcements. When Jewish reinforcements finally reached the scene, they were blocked by the British. When British troops ultimately intervened they fired mortar shells not only at the Arabs, but at Jews trying to defend themselves from the Arabs.
When Jacques de Reynier, representative of the International Red Cross, attempted to arrange a truce, it took the British five and one half hours to bring M. de Reynier to the scene of the attack, which is not more than a 10 minute ride from the heart of Jerusalem.
Not even the events of April 13 caused the British to safeguard the road, with the result that on April 24 the Hadassah Hospital had been, for a week, without food replenishments.
When on April 25, the Haganah attempted to insure safe passage on the road and captured a key Arab attacking post, Sheikh Jarrah village, the British in force encircled the Haganah and compelled their evacuation.
5. Though the Mufti’s Organization, the Arab Higher Committee, with its headquarters in Jerusalem is directing the whole operation, not one of its leaders has been arrested.
On the contrary, the British have refused permission to the Jewish population to organize their own defense.
They have blown up Jewish defense posts.
They have advised the Jews to evacuate the commercial section of Jerusalem.
The British authorities are conniving at the starving of the Jewish population of Jerusalem.
They have failed to protect the highways and refused to allow armed escorts and self-arming by the Jews.
British Attack Jews
When the Jewish Agency told the UN Palestine Commission that the Jews of Jerusalem were starving because of Arab road blocks on the road from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, and that the British Government had neither offered to escort food convoys nor stipulated conditions under which escort might be provided, J. Fletcher Cooke, British Liaison with the UN Commission, replied on April 12, 1948 with an attack on the Jews.
“It should be emphasized again that the problem is not one of food shortage in Palestine as a whole. The Government of Palestine has reported that there is food available in Palestine to maintain the necessary supplies for Jerusalem. The problem is entirely one of the transport of this food from the ports to Jerusalem.
“It may be added that transport by rail to Jerusalem is ruled out because, even if trains succeeded in escaping Arab attacks or sabotage en route, the railway station at Jerusalem is in a predominantly Arab area, and the Arabs would not permit off-loading of food destined for the Jews. Any attempt to do this would result in a major engagement.”
He then proceeded to place the blame on the Jews.
“(2) Very early in the disturbances which have occurred in Palestine since 29 November, 1947, attacks on traffic using this road were made by both Jews and Arabs. It is difficult to say who initiated these attacks, but it is fairly certain that firing action was first taken by the Jews after their vehicles had been stoned by Arabs in Ramleh.
“(3) The situation then developed into a fight for control of the road. The Arabs, no doubt in order to facilitate action by their troops, withdrew all their own vehicles from the stretch of the road in question and were then secure in the knowledge that any civilian traffic which they cared to attack must be Jewish.
“(4) The Jews then appealed for assistance. During December certain escorts were provided by the Army and the Police; but it became the Jewish practice to produce at the convoy rendezvous more vehicles than had been arranged for, with the result that the escort provided was insufficient. The blame for this was laid by the Jews on the Government of Palestine.”
He then charged the Jews with being responsible for the failure of their food convoys to get through because of “the employment by Jews of long slow columns of armored and unarmoured vehicles.”
The British representative also disclosed an attempt to get Arab permission for Jewish food convoys, “provided nothing but food was carried; that Jewish accompanying personnel were reduced to a minimum and that convoys were subject to search at some selected point.”
Mr. Fletcher Cooke was greatly surprised that Jewish Agency officials refused this offer of capitulation to the Arabs.
British Draft Capitulation Under Truce Guise
Last month the British were agents for another proposal for capitulation by the Jews. Mr. R. Graves, nominated by the Palestine government as the Chairman of the Municipal Commission of Jerusalem, drafted a peace project for Jerusalem, later amended by Sir Henry Gurney [Guerney – EC], the Chief Secretary of Palestine.
This peace project proposed that “all armed men should leave the portion of the Old City occupied by Orthodox Jews whose safety would be guaranteed by the Arabs if this were done. And the old Montefiore quarter should be similarly evacuated by all armed men and placed under the protection of British forces and the municipality.”
Other provisions of the plan were:
“(a) Each Community should for the time being restrict the movement of its members to its own areas which will be policed by its own members of the Municipal Police Force.
“(b) Each Community should solemnly undertake not to attack the other by sending armed men into that Community’s area or by firing from one area into another.
“(c) Each Community should bind itself to exercise the utmost self restraint and control the violent elements in its midst.
“(d) Each Community should refrain from retaliation and reprisals, which can only make it more difficult for the leaders of either Community to prevent further attacks and counter reprisals. This recommendation is the most difficult of fulfilment, but it is the most important of all.
“(e) Each Community should fully respect all vehicles carrying the Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Shield, and should undertake that any such vehicle would not be used for any purpose not authorized by these signs.
“(f) Passage by members of one Community through the territory of the other would be permitted in the case of funeral parties or revictualling parties under a flag of truce. A minimum number of omnibuses should be permitted to operate.
“(g) No armed men should be permitted to live within any area reserved for the other Community.”
On March 9 Mr. Graves told the Chief Secretary, Sir Henry Gurney [Guerney]:
“I have the honor to inform you that I have handed copies of my Peace Project for Jerusalem as amended by you, and with a few minor additions, to Dr. Hussein Khalidi, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, and Mr. David Ben Gurion, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
“2. Dr. Khalidi was very polite and thanked me for my initiative, promising to submit the Project to his Executive. He has now sent me a letter, of which I enclose a copy, stating that he and the Higher Executive consider that the arrangements contemplated are premature at the present stage.
“3. I saw Mr. Ben Gurion yesterday and discussed the Project which had been in his hands for a few days.
“4. He disagreed with the number and the variety of the clauses, and would not accept the proposal that the Jews of the Old City should be guaranteed by the Arabs after the withdrawal of the Haganah which he said was insulting to Jewry, and considered that the proposed restriction of Jews to Jewish areas and Arabs to Arab areas was undesirable and offensive to both Communities.
“5. However, he said that he and the Yishuv were very anxious for the peace of Jerusalem and were prepared to undertake that not a shot would be fired by any Jew in the City for a specified agreed period – a week, a month or a year – if the Arabs would make and observe a similar undertaking. When I mentioned that he might have some difficulty in making Jewish dissidents comply with such an undertaking, he said that he would be able to do so.
“6. I promised to convey his views to the Arab Higher Executive.”
The Breakdown of the Jerusalem Water Supply
On April 8, 1948 an Arab mine blew up the main water pipeline to Jerusalem at Ras-el-Ain. For seven hours water flooded the fields. The line was finally repaired by the Haganah and British army engineers.
The British authorities claimed that the destruction of the pipeline was accidental and that the Arabs did not know that the pipeline passed under the road at the point where the mining operation took place. But the revelations of British Intelligence on March 12 contradicts the British assertion.
Until the end of World War I Jerusalem was dependent upon wells and cisterns. After World War I, Jerusalem began to bring its water from two nearby sources, Solomon’s Pools, south of Bethlehem, and the spring of Ein Farah, six miles from Jerusalem. In 1937, to meet the needs of a growing population, the Palestine government built a pipeline bringing water from the coastal plain, Ras-el-Ain, forty miles from Jerusalem, which was pumped through the hills to Jerusalem and supplies Jerusalem with 1,500,000 cubic meters of water annually.
The pipeline runs entirely through Arab territory. Part of the area through which the pipeline runs was captured by the Jews, but a 20-mile section from Ras-el-Ain to Bab el Wad remains under Arab control, exposing the pipeline to continuous danger of being cut.
The chief victim of an interruption of the water supply would be the Jewish community of Jerusalem. Most of the Arabs in Jerusalem have cisterns and wells.
But the fact of the matter is that the threat to the Jerusalem water supply has been so serious and constant that as far back as January 1948 negotiations were begun by the chairman of the Municipal Commission, Mr. R. N. Graves, in an effort to safeguard the water supply station. Ultimately the station at Ras-el-Ain was abandoned to Iraqi armed troops which took over the military camp there. And Mr. Graves withdrew his demands for protection when the Lydda District Commissioner and the military commander of the South Palestine District explained that security forces were not inclined to drive them out by force and the Haganah probably could not do so.
Today, the sole deterrent to another attack on the pipeline is the supposed desire of the Arabs to maintain the water supply for their own use.
VII. Mufti Turned down Request that Haifa be Declared an Open City
On April 22, the city of Haifa was captured by the Haganah and the Arabs sued for peace. That same afternoon the representative of Syria, Faris el-Khouri, complained to the Political Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations at Lake Success concerning what he called the massacre of Arabs. But the fact is that it was the Mufti, Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee, who prevented Haifa from being declared an open city. And it is the British Intelligence in Palestine which is the authority for that statement.
Nor did the British make any attempt to assure this even though as far back as December, Creech Jones in the House of Commons, anticipated disturbances in that city.
In its Fortnightly Newsletter No. 61, dated February 13, 1948, the British Intelligence reported the Arab effort to make Haifa an open city.
“Toward the end of January a delegation representing all classes of Arabs from Haifa, headed by Archbishop Hakim, visited the Mufti in Cairo with the intention, it was rumored, of obtaining support for a plan to declare Haifa an ‘open city.’ It was unsuccessful. (However, it is learned that all sections of the Arab community have been placed under the command of the Haifa Arab national committee, who feel that it is in their own interest to maintain peace in the city for as long as possible. This, and the fact that the moneyed Jewish community in Haifa wishes for peace, provides some grounds for the hope that order may be maintained there for some time. Both communities are well armed and tension of course exists. The situation depends entirely upon the control the leaders of both factions are able to maintain over their more irresponsible followers.)”
On April 24, Sir Alexander Cadogan told the Security Council that the Syrian charges were without justification and that in fact only about 100 Arabs had been killed.
From Jerusalem, Sir Allen Cunningham, British High Commissioner, informed the British Foreign Office that the attacks had been started by the Arabs and that the charges of massacre were untrue. The exoneration of the Haganah by the British represented the first such action in recent disturbances in Palestine.
The fact is that Haifa had been one of the areas in Palestine where the most friendly relations existed between Jews and Arabs, not only during the recent conflict, but as a matter of record even during the 1936 – 1939 disturbances.
The most recent disturbances in Haifa are due to the incursion of foreign Arabs. These foreign Arabs conducted a continuous warfare, attacking the Jewish residential area and Jewish traffic, inviting Jewish retaliation.
The Commander of the Haifa Legion, until he was killed, actually was a Lieutenant in the Transjordan Arab Legion and his identity card is produced elsewhere in this document. On March 9, 1948, an advertisement by him appeared in Al Urduni Amman daily. The advertisement declared:
“Muhammed Bay el Hamad, Commander of the Haifa region announces that he is prepared to accept volunteers of all ranks who have previously served in the Arab Legion or the Transjordan Frontier Force. The registration of such volunteers will take place in Haifa.”
The presence of Germans and Nazis in the Arab ranks in Haifa was revealed by the Haganah in the truce terms which it laid down. These truce terms asked for the deportation of all foreign Arab fighters from Haifa and the handing over to the British military authorities of all Germans and Nazis in Arab ranks. Five Nazis were handed over. The safety of all citizens was guaranteed by the Haganah which asked for the laying down of arms and the surrender of them to the Jews, as well as a 24-hour curfew in order to arrange for the disarming.
The presence in Haifa of well-armed foreign invaders, as far back as March 5, was verified in Intelligence Summary No. 68 of the Sixth Airborne Division. Reporting on the Haifa area, it said:
“At a recent meeting of Arab Commanders in the Haifa area it was decided that a request be sent to Syria for the assistance of a further 100 trained street-fighters to assist in attacks planned against the Jews. Pending the arrival of these men, Mohd Bey El Hamed, the Arab Commander in Haifa, ordered that bomb attacks against the Jews were to be postponed for the time being, as he considered that such attacks would only provoke reprisals which the Arabs are not yet in a position to counter effectively. He, however, gave instructions for squads of nine men from the Munazzamat Fi Di’aya (Arab Commando Organization) to be formed to carry out attacks against Jewish traffic on the roads leading out of Haifa. Three taxis are reported to have been allocated for this purpose. The ‘Commandos’ are said to be armed with Stens, TMGs and grenades.
“Further supplies of arms and ammunition are known to be arriving in Haifa to replace those confiscated by the Army during searches in town. On 22 February, seven Bren guns together with 5,000 rounds of ammunition are reported to have arrived in Haifa from Damascus, and the following day 15 boxes of grenades and 3 machine guns were brought to Haifa by a Druze from Syria. Considerable quantities of explosives and ‘Molotov Cocktails’ are said to have recently arrived, together with five bomb experts from Syria. These bomb experts are stated to have already prepared three bombs of considerable size for use against Jewish targets. Several local Arabs have been attached to this group for instruction in the manufacture of bombs. A further report indicates that 25 Yugoslavian bomb experts are en route to Haifa from Damascus to assist in the preparation of bombs to be used in attacks on Jewish quarters in the town.”
VIII. Arab Governments
behind Invasion of Palestine
On February 16, in its first report on security to the Security Council, the Palestine Commission stated:
“(a) The security situation in Palestine continues to be aggravated not only in the areas of the proposed Jewish and Arab States, but also in the city of Jerusalem, even in the presence of British troops.
[. . .]
“(c) Powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the general Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.”
If the activity of the Arab League, comprising the states of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan, all members of the United Nations except Transjordan, were not sufficient evidence that the Arab states as such are in revolt against the November 29th decision of the General Assembly, British Intelligence reports offer proof of the support by Arab Governments of the armed invasion of Palestine by the so-called Arab Army of Liberation.
Thus the Weekly Intelligence Report No. 45, issued on January 16, 1948 by the HQ British Forces in the Middle East (M. E. L. F.) reported: “The training of volunteers in Syria is with government help and the contribution of materials by the Lebanese government.” This report says:
[. . .]
“The ‘Palestine Liberation Army’ is reported to be organized in four ‘divisions’, though as yet little is known of these beyond their names, which are the ‘Qiadet el Yarmuk’ (or Holy Battle Brigade), ‘Haj Amin’ (named after the Mufti), ‘Fawzi Kawukji’, and ‘Palestine Federation’. The Training centre at Qatana outside Damascus is working to capacity, and there is good reason to suppose that training is going on in other parts of the country as well, assisted by the Syrian Army. Volunteers from universities and schools, probably numbering some 5,000 in all, are being trained in elementary military subjects, though their supplies of arms and equipment are at present very limited. For the regular forces, the Government passed, in December, a conscription law, whereby all men over the age of 19 must do up to two years’ military service, followed by 18 years on the reserve. Exemption from this service is said to cost 1,000 pounds but it is not known how many have as yet taken advantage of the concession.”
“The Lebanese contribution to the Palestine ‘war effort’ will, it appears, be confined to the provision of materials rather than men. Owing to the pro-Jewish attitude of the Lebanese Christians, who form a considerable proportion of the population, no training will take place in the country, but the best of those who wish to volunteer will be selected and sent to the Syrian centres. The government has ordered the C-in-C of the army to purchase a quantity of small arms and ammunition, tenders for which have been invited from both Czechoslovakian and Belgian companies, as was done in Syria a month ago.”
The press of the Arab countries has revealed that the recruiting regulations for the so-called Arab volunteers were issued by the Syrian Minister of Defense; that the Syrian Prime Minister himself supervised the training of troops for war in Palestine at the Qatana Barracks in Syria; that the President of the Syrian Republic presided over the meeting on February 5 at his official residence where the commanders were appointed of the Arab forces of invasion.
There is ample evidence, further, that the Egyptian government has made financial allocations for operations in Palestine, that it has allotted military barracks at Hilmiyeh and Helwan for the training of troops, and that the Lebanese Prime Minister announced on February 25 his government’s intention to supply Palestine with arms, money, and men.
On February 13, 1948, the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61, issued by Hq. British Troops in Palestine, reported on the visit of the Mufti, who is chairman of the Arab Higher Committee, with the President of Syria, and on his meetings with the military committee of the Arab League. The report detailed the decisions reached with respect to the military campaign in Palestine as follows:
“Haj Amin el Husseini visited Damascus at the beginning of February and had talks with President Kuwatly. On 4-6 February he attended meetings of the Arab League Military Committee there, presided over by Taha el Husseini with Subhi el Hadra present. Further in the military organization of Palestine it was decided to divide the country into four major fighting zones. The Mufti proposed that each zone should have two commanders of equal status, one nominated by the Arab Higher Executive and the other by the Arab League military committee. Taha el Husseini, however, insisted on a single commander for each zone and finally it was agreed that under General Ismail Safwat as Commander in Chief, Abdel Kader el Husseini should command the Jerusalem zone, Hassan Salame the Jaffa-Jerusalem road areas, Fawsi Kawujki the Nablus Tulkarm area and that the southern sector should be operated under Egypt. A delegate of the Arab Higher Executive is to be attached to each Commander. The Mufti returned to Cairo in time for the ten-day Arab League Council meeting there on 7 February.”
How the Arab governments have gotten around the use of army regulars is further revealed in the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 62, HQ Palestine, dated February 27, 1948:
“20. In Jaffa, Colonel Abdul Wahab Bey arrived with 100 Iraqis who are said to be regular soldiers temporarily retired for the Palestine venture. The Colonel was formerly in an Iraq Tank Regiment and took part in the ‘Golden Square’ rebellion during the war, as a result of which he spent three years in prison. He speaks English fluently, is displaying a pro-British attitude and discourages any action that would bring the Arabs into conflict with the Security Forces. His presence has had a decidedly pacifying effect on the local population similar to that in the forces in Samaria. Naturally enough the ex-gang leaders of the 1936 Arab revolt accept his presence and what amounts to military governorship with considerable reluctance. Sheikh Hassan Salameh still remains in charge of the guerillas in the area.”
Thus British Intelligence challenges the claim on March 16, 1948 of Faris el Khouri, Syrian delegate in the Security Council of the U.N., that “The Arab States, including Syria, have not interfered by taking part in these encounters.”
On March 12, 1948, the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No.63 reported that:
“7. The Arab League’s Palestine Committee held a brief meeting in Damascus on 4 March to discuss the Palestine military situation. It is generally believed that as a result of this meeting the military situation will enter a new stage during the forthcoming weeks and this will be in the form of increased large-scale operations. In addition the committee discussed the first aid arrangements for Arab wounded, the construction of field hospitals on the Palestine Syrian frontiers and future administrative arrangements for Palestine. After this first session it was decided to postpone the meeting of the committee indefinitely.”
X. Stringent Measures
Against the Jews
[Note: There is no Chapter IX]
In contrast with the attitude of the British toward the Arabs and the Arab incursionists is the stringent measures undertaken to prevent the Jews from getting arms.
The following series of communications exchanged in the early months of 1948 are illuminating. As this correspondence indicates, the British were attempting to prevent any possibility of the Jews receiving arms at a time when no obstacles were being placed in the way of armed Arab incursions and attacks on Jewish Palestine:
“To S.P.* Haifa.
“Your attention is invited to the Defence (Emergency) Regulations published in Palestine Gazette 164 Supplement No. 2 providing powers for the Port Authority to control ships in the territorial waters of Palestine. The purpose of these regulations is to deal with the possibility of arms smuggling to Tel-Aviv Port where there are only Jewish Customs Staff. There is reason to believe that the importation of arms and explosives through Tel-Aviv Port will be attempted from U.S. and Yugoslav ports. It will therefore be desirable that ships from these ports should be required to discharge all cargo at Haifa only. If no approach has yet been made on the subject I feel that you should see the General Manager Pal. Rly., and perhaps the Port Manager to consider what steps will be necessary to implement the new legislation.
[* S.P is Superintendent of Police
**AIG CID is Acting Inspector General Criminal Investigation Department]
“To: S.P. Haifa. 2.2.48
“I am writing about the implementation of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations H 48 published in Palestine Gazette 164, providing powers for the Port Authority to control ships in the territorial waters of Palestine. (This office letter of even number dated 19/1 refers).
“O’Sullivan tells me that he saw you about this matter last Thursday. The position, now, as I understand it, is that some ships, including American vessels, normally discharge at Breakwater and Stevedores are mixed Jews and Arabs. Customs normally examine any such cargo as is actually discharged. There does not appear to be much opportunity for the evasion of Customs examination though it is possible for a ship lying out (and a good many ships have to do this) to discharge illegal cargo by night on to small craft and so get it ashore. But it appears that some ships, for recent example the ‘Exporter’ are allowed to proceed to Tel-Aviv afterwards, after first being directed to Haifa, and so get an opportunity to discharge ‘hot’ cargo. The ‘Exporter’ discharged a quantity of apples at Tel-Aviv after first having been directed to Haifa. Of course there would have been ample opportunity to discharge illegal arms etc. and so defeat the whole object of the new legislation. Surely a ship is not being allowed to go to Tel-Aviv once it has been found necessary to direct if from there, unless steps have been taken to ensure that nothing is left on board which it is not desired should be landed (which I very much doubt).
“Would you please take up this aspect of the matter and let me know the outcome.
(Sgd) Fforde AIG CID”
“To: I.G. Secret No. CS/758
“I am directed to append the following extract from a letter received from the General Manager, Palestine Railways, regarding the enforcement of directions given by him as Port Authority under the Defence (Emergency) Regulations made on 10/1.
‘I should be grateful to know whether I should be in order in invoking the assistance of the R.N. [Royal Navy – EC] if any vessel should fail to comply with any order given by me prohibiting the vessel from entering any port or the territorial waters of Palestine.’
“The Naval authorities have been consulted and have indicated that in their view the primary responsibility for enforcing compliance rests with the Police to whom the Port Authority should apply for assistance, if he considers it necessary.
“Only in the event of the Police being unable to enforce compliance would the RN be prepared to intervene. The application for Naval assistance would be made by Police and NOT by the Port Authority.
“I am to request you to state whether you concert with the procedure suggested
G. G. Grimwood
For Chief Secretary”
British Attempt to Charge Jews with Responsibility for Violence
At the same time, in the United Nations, the British are making a concerted effort to involve the Jews on an equal plane with the Arabs in offensive violence in Palestine. Thus on January 21, 1948, the Mandatory power told the Palestine Commission, as regards Arabs and Jews in Palestine, that “elements on each side were engaged in attacking or in taking reprisals indistinguishable from attacks.”
This statement ignored the fact that only a month earlier, Creech-Jones, colonial secretary, told the house of Commons on Dec. 11: “There have been serious disturbances in Palestine since the United Nations’ decision was announced, do mainly to Arab incitement.”
The attempt to place blame on the Jews for the current violence was continued in the answers which the United Kingdom delegation gave to a series of questions asked by the four permanent members of the Security Council at an informal meeting on March 9.
On March 12, the answer submitted in behalf of Sir Alexander Cadogan, reveals the bias of the Mandatory power:
Question 6: “To what extent are disorders inside Palestine due to participation by armed elements from outside Palestine?”
Answer 6: “The present series of disturbances began in December last against a background of Jewish inspired disorder which had been going on for 2½ years. The Arabs implicated in this series of disturbances were originally all Palestinians. Since then both Palestinian and non-Palestinian Arabs have been engaged.”
Question 7: “To what extent are disorders inside Palestine attributable to incitement to violence from outside Palestine?”
Answer 7: “As far as the Palestine Arabs are concerned, their opposition to partition is spontaneous and universal. Inflammatory material has appeared in the press of the neighboring Arab countries, although the situation in this respect has recently improved. On the Jewish side, widespread propaganda has of course been conducted for some time in the press of the United States and other countries by persons and organizations3 inciting the Jewish community to violence and terrorism principally against the Mandatory power.”
Asked whether arms are flowing into Palestine from outside sources to individuals or groups unauthorized by the Mandatory power to possess arms, the United Kingdom gave the following answer:
“Both Arabs and Jews in Palestine are now receiving illicit consignments of arms from outside sources. While the Palestine Government have no exact knowledge of the quantity and description of arms possessed by either side, it is their opinion that the Jews are better armed than the Arabs. In this connection4 it will be recalled that there have recently been instances of the seizure in the United States by United States authorities of large consignments of high explosives destined for Jewish organizations in Palestine.
“As regards the possibility which has been suggested of illicit importation of arms by aircraft landing in the desert, the Palestine Government consider this unlikely. Such clandestine importation by air would, however, be easier for the Jews than for the Arabs, in view of the better facilities possessed by the former for wireless communication and for distribution of arms after receipt.”
In response to a question as to what measures, military and civil, the British took to prevent the movement of hostile elements in Palestine from outside Palestine, the British again tried to implicate the Jews, putting Jewish refugees seeking asylum on the same plane with armed Arab invaders:
“The principal points of entry by land are guarded by troops or police but owing to the length of the frontier and the difficult nature of the terrain, it is impossible for frontier control to be one hundred per cent effective. As regards the sea frontier, the measures taken by the mandatory authorities to prevent the entry of Jewish illegal immigrants are well known.”
XI. British Pro Arab Bias
Quite different is the attitude of the British to the Arabs. When asked by the United Nations whether the incursion of the Arabs from neighboring countries represents a threat to international peace, the representative of the British government replied that his government “would furnish all the facts available” and “the question of what constitutes a threat to the peace is for the Security Council to decide.” This despite the fact that Creech-Jones, anticipating trouble, told the House of Commons on December 11: “The Security Council may have to be evoked by the United Nations Commission if insurmountable difficulties occurred.”
And when the United Kingdom was asked to identify Arab personnel who have invaded Palestine, and to say whether the incursions were privately organized or are supported or encouraged by governments outside Palestine, the United Kingdom’s answer on March 12 was an attempted exoneration of the Arabs, as the following indicates:
Question 2: “Has the Mandatory Power been able to identify personnel involved in such incursions?”
Answer 2: “The information of the Palestine authorities regarding the origin of personnel involved in these incursions is derived from common knowledge available locally and from intelligence reports. As regards the character of these forces, they consist of irregular formations and not organized units of any national armed force.”
Question 3: “Are these incursions privately organized by individuals or unofficial groups, or are they supported or encouraged by Governments outside Palestine?”
Answer 3: “H.M.G. [the British government] have no special information on this point other than that given in the answer to question 2.”
British Praise Invaders
In fact in February, 1948, the British were finding praise for the Arab invaders as a stabilizing element, offering the following proof as reported in the Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 61:
“In Nablus itself the good behavior of the Arab invaders is having a stabilizing effect on the untrained and excitable Palestinians. A complaint was made to them recently that a lorry load of wheat had been stolen and 20 [pounds] robbed from the driver. In a very short time the lorry and load had been returned and also the 20 [pounds], together with a further 60 [pounds] which it was explained was the fine imposed on the thief. A local villager, a spectator to this transaction, became a little vociferous. Two hours later he was dead. Four Arab train robbers have recently been dispatched to Syria by Fawzi Kawukji’s men for execution.”
On March 10, 1948, Mr. Rees-Williams, Deputy to Arthur Creech-Jones in the British Colonial Office, replied to questions in the House of Commons as to whether he was aware (a) that Fawzi Kawukji had established field headquarters in Palestine; (b) whether he was aware that an Arab liberation force had declared martial law in Nablus; and (c) what the government was proposing to do with respect to the incursion of Fawzi Kawukji and his followers. He said:
“The High Commissioner has informed me of a local rumor that Fawzi Kuwajki recently arrived in Palestine and is in the Samaria district. . .
“The developments referred to by my hon. Friend in the Nablus area appear to be measure adopted by the leaders of Arab irregular forces to control their adherents and represent no attempt to replace or curtail the authority of the Mandatory power in this area. The District Commission of the Samaria District continues to reside in Nablus and his headquarters and sub-district officers are functioning normally. Palestinian members of the Police Force continue to perform their normal duties throughout the district under the supervision and control of British police officers. The District Commissioner is in a position to call for the assistance of such military forces as he may require to assert the authority of the civil power. The security forces in Palestine will continue to protect members of either community who may be threatened with attack.”
XII. British Smear Campaign
Shown by Official Records
The smear campaign conducted by the British against the Jews, since the Russian vote for partition in the Fall Assembly, has taken the form of charging Communist infiltration, with Jewish help, into Palestine.
A striking example of this was the charge which the British Foreign Office has allowed to be brought against the Jews in connection with the arrival in Palestine on January 1 of the Pan York and the Pan Crescent, two ships which sailed from Rumania at the end of December carrying unauthorized Jewish immigrants. The British Foreign Office first permitted Mr. Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times to charge that among the 15,000 immigrants were “many Communist agents, according to official British sources.”
The Times story dated London Jan. 31, charged that “one thousand of the 15,000 immigrants spoke Russian, belonged to militant organizations. Some may have been non-Jews and some had documents showing that they had served in the Soviet forces in WW II.”
The Times story said further that “the immigrants on these vessels and the number of others that sailed earlier from the Black Sea were collected and sent toward Palestine with the knowledge, and sometimes with the active connivance, of the Soviet Union and its satellites, according to British officials.”
Later the British Foreign Office said the same thing. When this story first appeared Sir Godfrey Collins, Commissioner for the Jewish immigration camps in Cyprus, said he had no information on the subject. Subsequently, on February 5, the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office queried Sir Godfrey, and a London dispatch to the Times on February 5 stated that Sir Godfrey had denied that he had stated that there were no Communist agents aboard the ships. But a few days later he repeated he had no information on Communist agents.
Actually the top secret report of the British representative Captain Linklater who supervised the disembarkment of the refugees at Cyprus said, [in a preliminary report – marked “preliminary” only because of the size of the disembarkment – dated January 2, 1948]
“If any large guerilla groups of Communists exist among the Russian speakers of this shipment, they are either still on board or else have arrived unarmed and without documentation.”
And Captain Linklater further explained:
“Extremely large numbers of private documents, related to individual points of the journey, were taken from the Jews as they passed through the security screen at the reception camp, thereby showing a high breakdown in Jewish security. In addition to this a number of passengers were willing to discuss details. . . No documents of outstanding importance were found.”
The Pan York, Pan Crescent story is revelatory of the lengths to which the British are prepared to go to smear the Jews. As soon as the boats had left Balkan waters, British officials sent a cable to their Intelligence officers in Palestine stating that the British surmise that Communists are aboard.
As a result, when the boats landed at Cyprus, for the first time in the history of Cyprus, baggage and documents of the refugees aboard the boats were searched.
The flimsy evidence on which the charges against the Jews was based is revealed in the following partial record of Captain Linklater:
[Captain Linklater’s report starts here]
Preliminary Report on the Disembarkation from the Pan Ships, York and Crescent
1. A peculiar disembarkation of some 15,300 Rumanian Jews began at about 1,000 hours on 1 January 48 in Famagusta Harbour when the 2 Panamanian vessels Pan York and Crescent, which had been bound for the shores of Palestine volunteered to discharge their passengers in Cyprus. . .
4. Rather like the previous illegal Jewish ships which sailed under Soviet auspices from a Bulgarian port, the Pan York and Crescent contained a load drawn almost entirely from Rumania and differed at least in this way from other illegal immigrant vessels which usually contain a mixed bag of European Jews. It is also noticeable yet once again that the passengers have apparently been evacuated from Rumania by complete families including aged grandparents and very young children. In many cases these families were split up between the 2 ships.
5. The highest proportion of children in the past year was contained in these ships and the load was almost equally divided between men, women and children, some of whom however may later be counted as adult by the Jewish Agency representatives. The Pan York alone carried 700 children under the age of 5.
6. The passengers were small businessmen, shopkeepers, professional lawyers and doctors, and they carried large quantities of baggage. The Haganah authorities in Rumania had allowed them to carry up to 20 kilos of baggage each, but there was no form of weight control and this allowance was frequently exceeded. They were well dressed. Only very few turned up in rags and empty-handed. Most of them were small, rather fat and complacent. They nearly all spoke Rumanian, Yiddish and French and German. Those who did not speak Rumanian, spoke Russian and claimed to come from Bessarabia. Owing to the speed at which the operation had to be conducted, it was not possible to make a detailed examination of the Russian speakers. It was noticed however that they were not physically of a characteristically Russian-type . . . .
25. An analysis of documents carried and political parties on board will be produced in the final report by 299FS Sec after scrutiny of documents held by them. . . .
Conditions in Rumania
29. Most of the passengers on the Pan Ships were agreed that there were still a large number of Rumanian Jews who wanted to leave the country for Palestine. In several cases they explained that these Jews would be awaiting the increased legal immigration quota which they hoped for as a result of partition. They thought therefore that there would not be any more large illegal shipments at least for the next month and they believed that their Communist Government will grant them exit visas to correspond with their certificates after May.
30. The following conclusions may be drawn from the above evidence:
a) That if any large guerilla groups of Communists exist among the Russian speakers of this shipment, they are either still on board or else have arrived unarmed and without documents.
b) That the movements, planning and administration of the final evacuation from Burgas at short notice was well and thoroughly carried out.
c) That the Moscow controlled Communist Government of Rumania intended at all costs to evacuate this shipment of Jews and came to an agreement with Bulgaria to use a Bulgarian Port for this purpose after the delay at Constanza due, probably, to British representations. The abdication of King Michael at this juncture may well be NOT coincidental.
2 January 1948
[Captain Linklater’s report ends here]
Actually, only five young men were taken off the boat by British Intelligence agents. All the remainder of the passengers were taken directly to the camps where no subsequent searches or interrogations took place. The five young men were interrogated by a member of the Palestine Criminal Investigation Department who had been sent to Cyprus in order to conduct the investigation. He told them outright that he was concerned only with information about Soviet activities in Bulgaria and Rumania, with particular reference to Soviet ship movements in the Black Sea and Soviet troop movements in Rumania and Bulgaria. When the questions failed to elicit any information the five immigrants were slapped and kicked and finally returned blindfolded from the interrogation center to the camp under escort. There were no further interrogations of passengers.
XIII. British Dissipate
On December 11, 1947, Arthur Creech-Jones told the House of Commons:
“. . .We certainly did not wish to leave Palestine in disorder after the tremendous and costly contribution Britain has made in developing Palestine and discharging our responsibilities under the Mandate. . . .I can assure the House that we shall wind up our affairs in Palestine in a fair and reasonable manner and, I hope, with little suspicion and ill feeling about the arrangements we make.”
This is a promise honored only in the breach.
The refusal of the Mandatory power to permit the Palestine Commission to reach the country until May 1st, two weeks before the scheduled termination of the mandate, was predicted on the intention, as the facts substantiate, to dismember the Palestine administration so as to have little or nothing to turn over to the Palestine Commission, and to take such action as would safeguard British interests after the end of the mandate.
Today, virtually all departments in the Palestine government have ceased to function. The exceptions are those like the Palestine Broadcasting Service, the Attorney General’s office and the Chief Secretariat, which serve the British primarily.
Railway and Port Services Collapsing
1. Typical examples of collapsing public services are the railways and the port services, so that it appears unlikely that after May 1 any operating system will exist. Yet this did not come as a sudden development. Actually the Chief Secretary had received a number of warnings concerning such an eventuality as early as December 17, 1947 from the manager of the railways, Mr. A. F. Kirby.
On that date Mr. Kirby wrote to Sir Henry Gurney as follows:
“If there is to be no satisfactory transfer of function through the U.N., I consider that a collapse of the services is likely to come about some time before the termination of the mandate.”
In the same letter, he expressed his anxiety concerning the disposition of the property of the railroads:
“If there is to be no handing over, what will be done with all the rolling stock on various parts of the system, who will take over the stations, buildings, valuable work shops, the permanent way, etc.; how will rolling stock on foreign railways be accounted for; what will happen to goods in transit, etc., etc. . . .There must obviously be some process of handing over – and an orderly handing over would take several weeks. . . .
“The railways outside the Haifa enclave cannot well be operated separately, in that the main locomotive running shed, workshops, and operational and maintenance headquarters are in Haifa. Withdrawal into the enclave and the operation of the railway therein only for military evacuation purposes would entail the most effective frustration possible to a succeeding authority. This course would also cut off the supplies of bulk oil and other essential supplies which are now distributed by rail to the main centers of population. The closing down of the main workshops and other activities of the railway following the termination of the mandate would probably mean that the railway would not be able to operate again for a prolonged period.”
Three days later, on December 20, 1947, Mr. Kirby again wrote to the Chief Secretary, this time about the port situation, declaring:
“There is nothing that this administration or the Director of Customs can do to ease the situation there. Pressure of financial interests is the only possibility of being effective in solving the present situation at Haifa port.”
Willing to Isolate the Jews
The Mandatory was willing to allow this breakdown on the assumption that Jewish need for supplies would force the Jews to keep roads open for themselves as well as the British. If the Jews failed, they could starve and for military purposes the British could make other arrangements. This was clearly indicated last November 27, two days before the General Assembly passed its partition resolution, in instructions issued by the Chief Secretary of Palestine to military commanders and heads of government departments. In his directive of that date, he stated:
“(a) Activism in Jewish areas is likely to be negligible. Jews cannot afford to close roads for supplies upon which they depend as their areas are not self-supporting. They will therefore do all they can to keep the roads open. Should, however, the situation develop adversely and supplies through Jewish areas not be possible, the following roads will be followed: Gaza-Haifa, Jerusalem-Haifa.
“(b) More serious will be Arab troubles, which may assume large proportions and likely constitute a serious threat, specially in the hilly country. Arab villages and towns are self-supporting and the populace can forego a great deal – Jews cannot – and can therefore hamper seriously without much harm to themselves. Serious troubles may not come about until the end of the citrus season.
“Military authorities will decide in concertation with government from time and time as to the methods which should be adopted to safeguard military supplies.”
Government Disposes of its Property
2. As early as April 1 the Land Settlement Department closed down its offices. This was done after the head of the department, R. F. Jardine, sold out the lands in the state domain to private persons, mostly Arabs. Parcels of land in the Haifa Harbor Estate were sold by him. All plans and documents relating to irrigation projects in Palestine were shipped by him to the United Kingdom. Water installations were handed over to the Arab town and village councils. Having closed his offices he secured release from his post and has now been named by the Iraqi government as its irrigation expert.
No Possibility of Handing Over Land Registry to U.N. Commission
3. The land registers have been distributed by the Palestine government among several centers while microfilms of these registers have been shipped to England. The effect of this is to create chaos in the event of any disputes arising on land questions.
This has been done despite the fact that on January 5, 1948, the Solicitor General of Palestine, M. J. P. Hogan, wrote to the Chief Secretary:
“Under the law at present, any disposition of land, which has not yet received the consent of the Director of Land Registration and is not perfected by the registration of a deed, is void. This means that if the land registries are closed, no valid disposition of land can be made.
“I understand that the Director of Land Registration has suggested that the land registries should be closed at least two weeks before the termination of the mandate, and, should the end of the mandate be followed by an interregnum in the whole or any part of Palestine, it will not be possible there to make any valid disposition of land during that time.”
Disruption of Postal Services
4. The disruption of the postal service has ensued as a result of instructions to create a vacuum. This is confirmed by Mr. Eric Mills, Commissioner of Withdrawals, who wrote:
“The Postmaster General is proceeding in circumstances of great difficulty with his plans for withdrawal, but his recommendations on important point[s]. . .have been made on the assumption of a vacuum.”
On December 3, 1947 Mr. Mills in a circular to heads of departments and district commissioners declared:
“You will observe that the information called for. . .makes no distinction between withdrawal leaving a vacuum or handing over to a UNO Commission. The reason for this lack of differentiation is that in either case a certain amount of derangement must be expected. . . .”
Artificial Deficit Produced
5. The Palestine Commission has charged the British government with deliberately inducing a deficit where a surplus existed and thus creating ensuing financial and economic difficulties. Four specific charges in this connection are made by the Commission in its reports submitted both to the Security Council and to the General Assembly.
It is stated that the deficit was created by the Mandatory power by charging against its funds what the Commission called “certain extraordinary items,” such as the maintenance of Jewish illegal immigration camps, and the payment of pensions to British civil servants. The commission objected to both these charges.
As a further means of creating a deficit the British paid out 300,000 pounds recently to the Supreme Moslem Council, knowing full well that the treasury of this organization represents the war chest of the Mufti.
The lack of a working fund, moreover, according to the Commission, has been created by the action of the Mandatory power on March 20, 1948 in freezing an unspent balance of 3,000,000 pounds remaining from three issues of bonds made in Palestine since 1947. This balance was invested in British securities, pending a general financial settlement, and the Mandatory power had decided not to make any disbursements from this total prior to the termination of the mandate. These transactions were brought to the notice of the Commission only after they had been arranged.
Discussing the disappearing surplus, the Commission charged on April 10, that “the disappearance of the existing treasury surplus is almost entirely due to special and extraordinary claims,” which the Commission feels “should not have precedence over securing essential food supplies and the provision of essential working funds.”
The Commission also expresses fears concerning the control of the Haifa dock by the mandatory power, pointing out that “the ordinary revenue of Palestine after May 15 will depend in a high degree on customs duties on imports. These imports will come in mainly through the port of Haifa. Hence the fiscal position. . .will depend partly on the manner in which the control of the Haifa dock will be shared with evacuating troops between May 15 and August 1.”
As a consequence of these acts, Palestine was in danger of suffering a famine as a result of food shortages, which would be created by the termination of the mandate. Although the Palestine Commission had been discussing this problem for months, and had even sent a special representative to London to take this matter up with the mandatory government, no agreement was reached. The excuse of the British government was that it could not undertake to make commitments for food after May 15 as it had no funds with which to do so. Moreover, it refused to advance the money to the Palestine Commission even on the promise that the United Kingdom would be reimbursed from the future revenue of Palestine.
On April 19 a private arrangement was agreed to by the importing firm of Steel Brothers in Palestine. The arrangement is with Steel Brothers, the Jewish Agency, and certain Arab Chambers of Commerce, and involves a transaction of about $5,200,000.
Under this arrangement Steel Brothers will guarantee to bring into Palestine until July 15 normal food supplies in the amount of some 30,850 tons. Steel Brothers will advance 80% of the cost of wheat, meat, and sugar to be imported. The Jewish Agency will pay for 20% of the food going to the Jews, and the Arab Chambers of Commerce, 20% for food going to Arabs. The food will be imported and delivered to the warehouses of Steel Brothers in Haifa. Distribution to the Arab and Jewish groups is left to the two communities.
Palestine Excluded from Sterling Area
6. The Palestine Commission also charged financial complication resulting from the action taken by the Mandatory power of February 22, 1948, without consultation or even information to the Commission, blocking the accumulated Palestine sterling balances held in London and excluding Palestine from the sterling area.
The Commission describes the effect of this act as creating uncertainty among Palestine importers, and says that it regards that the release of the sterling balances in particular is essential; otherwise, “sterling may become a scarce currency of Palestine, and imports from the sterling area may be difficult to obtain.”
XIV. The Breakdown
of Central Authority
A continuous transfer of authority to municipal corporations and local councils by the Palestine administration has been going on based, not on a desire to prevent chaos, but rather to destroy central authority, to undermine partition, and to pave the way toward a revival of a scheme for a federal Palestine, which is the real British desire.
Preparations for this transfer were made as far back as February 14, 1948 by Sir Henry Guerney, the Chief Secretary. In a communication on that date to heads of departments and district commissioners throughout Palestine, he proposed:
“I am directed to refer to the preliminary advice which has been given to you by the Commissioner on Special Duty to the effect that it is hoped that various government activities, buildings, stores, etc., will be transferred as it were in trust to local authorities until a new central authority makes other arrangements.
“Action in this direction has been taken in certain matters such as water supplies where experience is advisable and central government staff is still available to give advice and assistance. I am now to require you to communicate to the District Commissioner of the District concerned full information regarding all other activities, buildings and stores which you consider might be similarly placed with local authorities if the U.N. Commission in Palestine prove not to have the necessary powers and staff to perform all the functions of the Palestine Government.
“I am also directed to say that a decision whether each such activity or property will finally be handed over to a local authority will depend on consultation with the U.N. Commission; but, unless the necessary preparatory work is done on this provisional basis, there will be not enough time later to make definite arrangements under the general assumption which governs this direction.”
In February, 1948 a special law, to amend the Municipal Corporation Ordinance of 1937, was enacted empowering municipal corporations and local councils to collect property taxes due up to April 1, 1948, and thereafter, for the fiscal year 1948 – 1949.
The purposes of this new law were explained by the Attorney General in the following terms:
“It is anticipated that during the year 1948 – 49, the councils of municipal corporations and local councils will have to carry out many of the functions which would normally be carried out by Government, and consequently they will need additional sources of revenue. On the other hand, they may not be able to obtain from the Government the grants-in-aid which they have received in the past.
“Government has therefore decided to enable such councils to collect and recover arrears of urban property tax remaining due on the first day of April 1948, and urban property tax due in respect of the year 1948 – 1949, and this draft Ordinance is designed to give effect to that decision.
“Arrangements will be made for the handing over to such councils of the records relating to the house property and land in respect of which they will be entitled to collect and cover urban property tax, and such councils will be empowered to do such acts as may be necessary to ensure that those records will be kept up to date.
“Furthermore, in order that it will not be necessary to prepare during the year 1948 – 1949 valuation lists to replace those valuation lists which on the first day of April 1949 will have been in force for five years, the period of validity of valuation lists has been extended from five to six years.”
Anticipated No Successor Government
The draft law, it was explained in a communication by Mr. L. B. Gibson, Attorney General of Palestine, to Sir Henry Gurney, was in anticipation of the possibility of no successor government being named. He declared:
“My view is that it is not for this Government to legislate for things after the termination of the Mandate – at least if there is some other Government which enjoys legislative authority after that date. We should, however, make available our draft to the Commission, and there would be advantages in publishing it as part of the Bill so that any public comment would be available for the benefit of the Commission. We should, no doubt, inform the Commission that, although we had published the Bill in its entirety, we did not intend in fact to enact the Second Schedule ourselves, but there is a further question of whether we should tell the public the same thing when publishing the Bill for public information. On the whole I think it is unnecessary to do so, because in the event of there being no successor Government, we might enact the Second Schedule before we leave, but we do not want to discuss such possibilities in public notices.”
Arabs, Chief Beneficiaries of Transfers
As a result of this special legislation the three regions heavily populated by Jews, have been placed under Jewish control. All the remaining regions have been left to the Arabs. The exception are Jerusalem, Haifa, the valley of Ezdraelon, and Eastern Galilee.
Ceded to the Arabs were such important installations as the water plants at Ras-el-Ain and Safed.
In addition, the Arabs have received most of the government services including Health, Education, Social Welfare, Agriculture and Broadcasting Departments – services which are paid for by the taxes imposed on the population to which the Arabs, constituting two-thirds off the population of Palestine, contribute 26%, and the Jews, 74%.
In dividing the assets of the country the British allocated for themselves the Haifa enclave with all its services and installations.
XV. How the British Safeguard
their Interests in Palestine
While liquidating the mandate, the British have concentrated on safeguarding in perpetuity the British hold in Palestine in key areas, including Haifa and the Negev, and to insure uninterrupted lines of communication by air, sea and land.
New Laws to Assure British Airfields in Palestine
1. Thus on March 2, 1948 the Attorney General of Palestine drafted a law, the purpose of which is to establish the legal basis for transferring airfields or other lands now held in the name of the High Commissioner, to various British Ministries for War, Air, or to the President of the Air Council in London. In particular the new legislation aims to assure continued British control of the R.A.F stations in Aqir, Ramle, Gaza, as well as certain property in Jerusalem.
Preparations for this action began in October 1947 while the General Assembly for the United Nations was in session.
On October 19, 1947, in a secret dispatch cabled to the Air Ministry in London from Air Headquarters Levant, the Air Ministry was informed that, in view of the political situation, legal difficulties might arise with respect to the property bought by the Air Ministry in Palestine, held in the name of the High Commissioner, in trust for the R.A.F. In subsequent cables, in view of the pending liquidation of the Palestine government, warning was given that the British government might lose control of these assets, and that action was necessary. This is explained in the following exchange of cables:
From Air Headquarter Levant
To Air Ministry
“OX 303. Oct. 19. Secret. Subject – Registration of Properties acquired in Palestine on behalf of R.A.F. One. All property bought by Air Ministry in Palestine held in name of High Commissioner in trust for R.A.F. leases held name of High Commissioner in trust for R.A.F. held similar manner. Two. In view of political situation of entries in Land Registers appear to be open to objection from legal point of view. Three. Palestine Government request decision made into whose name this property and leases should be vested. Four. Request you advise.”
From Air Ministry London
To Hq. MEDNE
“F. 7283/4 Nov. unclassified
Reference Levant Signal 0.303 October repeated to you on subject registration of properties acquired in Palestine on behalf R.A.F. Colonial Office had no knowledge of this question and we find it difficult to know precisely what is the tenor and purpose of Palestine Government’s suggestion. Request you investigate and advise us in greater detail what are Government’s proposals and why they are put forward. We are quite ready to consider them.”
From A.H.Q. Levant
To Air Ministry
“0.63 Nov 12. Secret. Your F.7283 Nov 4 and my 0.303 Oct 17. Subject – Registration of properties acquired Palestine on behalf R.A.F. One. On acquisition it has been customary to enter this property in the Land Registry in the name of the High Commissioner in trust for the President of the Air Council or in some cases the Secretary of State for Air. The position of trust in Palestine law is obscure and this form of registration may be open to objection on that account alone. In addition registration in name of High Commissioner might give rise to difficulties particularly when Government of Palestine is transferred from High Commissioner to Palestinian or to a U.N.O. authority and it seems desirable that the land should be registered directly in the name of whatever authority the Air Force considers most appropriate either the President or the Air Council, the Air Council or the Secretary of State for Air. Two. Legal advice is that if properties remain in name of High Commissioner there is risk that we may lose all chance of realizing value or of retaining control of these assets. Three. Main properties concerned are R.A.F. stations Aqir, Ramle, Gaza and certain property in Jerusalem.”
As the result of this exchange a draft law was prepared by the Attorney General transferring the land now registered in the name of High Commissioner to the British Secretary of State for War, the British Secretary of State for Air, or the President of the Air Council in London.
In submitting a draft of this proposed law to the Chief Secretary of Palestine the Attorney General stated:
“It is probable that when all parties concerned have approved the substance of the Bill, we shall convert it into an Order under the Palestine Order in Council, 1948. But I think that the first step is to get the earliest possible consideration by the parties concerned.”
The Transfer of the Hejaz Railway
2. Early in 1948 the Hejaz Railway linking Palestine, Transjordan, and Syria was transferred by the Palestine Government to the Government of Transjordan. The explanation given was that actually the British Government was the Mandatory power, initially for Transjordan as well as Palestine, and therefore was trustee for Transjordan.
Transfer of the El Kantara-Rafa line to the Egyptian State Railways
3. On April 1, 1948 the El Kantara-Rafa Railway Line was turned over to the Egyptian State Railways by the Palestine Government. The Egyptian Railways System is partially controlled by British capital. Moreover, the El Kantara-Rafa Line links with Rafa in the Southern Negev, now being transformed into a military base by the British.
By disposing of the El Kantara-Rafa Railway and the Hejaz Railway, the British government has attempted to seal off Jewish Palestine from access to the outside world.
The El Kantara-Rafa Railway is the principal Palestine railway connection to the outside world and consists of three sections: (1) The El Kantara-Rafa line which starts at El Kantara in the Suez Canal, continues across the Sinai Peninsula into Rafa, Palestine; (2) The Rafa-Lydda link to Jerusalem; (3) The Rafa-Haifa connection.
The Kantara-Rafa line, built by the British during World War I, was owned by the British government, with 12% share of the capital held by the Palestine government. Until its transfer it had been operated by the Palestine Railways in behalf of the British government. All profits have gone to the British government with the exception of 12%, the proportion to the Palestine government. The Rafa-Haifa line was sold to the government of Palestine after the establishment of the Mandate.
In disposing of the El Kantara-Rafa line to the Egyptian Railways, which British capital also owns, the British have assured themselves a continuous railway connection from the port of Haifa to Egypt where their soldiers are still stationed. They have also assured a railway link between their new military encampment at Rafa and their military encampment in Egypt. At the same time, by placing this railway link in the hands of the Arabs, they have placed the railway access of the Jewish community to the outside world at the mercy of the Arabs.
The Hejaz Railway, built by the Turks, has been under British control, although its ownership remains in dispute. In a survey of Palestine submitted to the Anglo-American Committee of inquiry by the Palestine administration, it is stated that the Hejaz Railway “is operated by Palestine Railways in behalf of His Majesty’s Government who hold it in trust.”
The Hejaz Railway runs from Damascus, Syria to Ma-an, Transjordan, from Ma-an to Haifa in Palestine. Two branch lines from Haifa run from Haifa to Acre and from Haifa to Zamakh in Palestine, which is just south of Lake Tiberias.
The effect of the transaction is to assure British rail connections from Haifa to Transjordan and uninterrupted military links between the military enclave in Haifa and the British military base in Transjordan, which continues to exist under the new British military Treaty with Transjordan.
British Establish Negev Foothold
4. A main military base has been established by the British at Rafa at the Southern border of Palestine.
To insure undivided control, the British authorities, three days after the passage of the partition resolution by the United Nations General Assembly, which gave the Negev to the Jewish State, invited the Jews to evacuate the area. The ostensible reason was the inability of the British to protect the Jews against Arab aggression. The real reason was the desire of the British to hold the whole of the Negev as a base for themselves.
Ask Jews to Leave Base Area
On December 2, 1947 the British Assistant District Commissioner for the Gaza District, W. F. M. Clemens, informed the representative of the Jewish settlements in the South, that he could not see how Jews could be protected against Arab attack. He suggested the Jewish settlement south of Gaza-Beersheba be transferred to the north of this road.
Two days later, on December 4, the Jewish representative was summoned by Brigadier Nelson, the Commanding Officer of Camp Julius, who reiterated the request for evacuation, again on the score that the Jews could not hold out against Arab attack even for a few minutes. The offer was declined.
Thus far the Jews have retained every settlement in the Negev, as elsewhere throughout Palestine.
British Government Grants New Concession to the Iraq Petroleum Company
5. In March, 1948 the British government granted a new concession to the Iraq Petroleum Company in the form of a right to build a second pipe line terminating at Haifa.
The Iraq Petroleum Company holds the exclusive concession to the oil fields of Iraq, Quatar, the Trucial Coast, Muscat, Oman.
A 23¾ % interest in the Iraq Petroleum is held by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, in which the British government owns 50% of the shares. Royal Dutch Shell, closely allied with British interests, holds a similar percentage. The French interests own 23¾ %, and American interests, (Socony Vacuum and Standard Oil of New Jersey) 25%. Five percent is owned by Participations and Investments, Ltd.
The excuse offered for the granting of this concession four months after the United Nations decision, without consultation with the United Nations or the Palestine Commission, is that it represented the conclusion of discussions entered into in March of 1947.
(C) The Nation, 1948 * This text is reprinted for educational purposes only
To read a pdf file of the memorandum, scanned from the original, please go to http://emperor.vwh.net/history/pdf.htm