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Electric Power Concession

Volume 148: debated on Monday 7 November 1921

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75.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Palestine Government have given a contract for the erection of a large plant for electric power supply to Mr. Rutenberg, a Russian Jew; whether tenders were obtained from other firms; and whether it is intended to employ Jewish labour in carrying out this work in exclusion of Palestinian labour?

Mr. Rutenberg, acting by the consent and with the co-operation of the Zionist Organisation, applied to the Palestine Government for the grant of a concession for the utilisation of the waters of the Rivers Jordan and Yarmuk and other rivers in Palestine for generating electrical power, and for the distribution of that power throughout the country. The project was examined exhaustively, both by the Palestine Government and by the Colonial Office, and it was decided that it would be advantageous to Palestine and its population generally that the project should be carried out. An agreement has therefore been entered into with Mr. Rutenberg, by which the Palestine Government binds itself to grant him a concession subject to his fulfilling certain conditions. No other applications for such a concession have been received from other parties, and, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, apparently no other person or organisation was in a position to apply for such a concession, or to carry the project out satisfactorily. As regards the third part of the question, Mr. Rutenberg, so far from intending to exclude Palestinian labour, may be expected to give employment to Palestinians in large numbers.

Is it not somewhat unfair to insinuate that a Jew has not just as much right to a concession in Palestine as anyone else?