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Palestine (Enemy Aliens, Internment)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that German colonies and settlements have existed in Jerusalem and Haifa for upwards of 50 years; that many of these settlers, their parents and grandparents were either born in the mandated territory or have lived there for many years, becoming automatically citizens of that territory by Statutory Rule and Order, No. 777 of 1925; and why many of these citizens were deported to Australia and elsewhere causing disruption and separation of families in this mandated territory?

I have insufficient information at present to enable me to give a full reply to this Question. I am therefore asking the High Commissioner for Palestine for a report and will communicate with the hon. Member when I have received it. Meanwhile, I may say that in August, 1941, a party of 835 internees of enemy nationality, including their wives and families, were transferred to Australia. These internees were regarded as extreme Nazi and Fascist elements and therefore potentially most dangerous to security should Palestine have become an operational area. In July, 1942, in view of the serious deterioration in the military situation in the Middle East, it was de-decided, at the request of the military authorities, to transfer urgently to East Africa a further number of enemy aliens interned in Palestine. This party included 68 enemy aliens who had either been resident in Palestine or were in Palestine at the time of their arrest. (The remaining members of the party were enemy aliens who had previously been transferred to Palestine from neighbouring territories.) The wives and families of three of these internees were included in the party sent to East Africa.The question of the future of the enemy aliens in East Africa is now under consideration in view of the change in the military situation as affecting Palestine. I have no information of any other internees having been transferred outside Palestine nor do I know how many, if any, of the internees included in the above parties had acquired Palestinian citizenship under the provisions of S.R. & O. No. 777 of 1925. These points, however, will be covered in the report for which I am asking the High Commissioner.