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Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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Balfour Declaration (Letter)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish the complete letter from Lord Balfour to Mr. Rothschild embodying the Balfour Declaration.

The letter to which my hon. Friend refers received wide publicity shortly after i' was issued and is given in full in a number of standard works of reference on the Palestine question.

Can my right hon. Friend give the date of the letter? Is he aware that his reply will cause a great deal of satisfaction among those people who believe that the whole of this thing was bogus and formed part of a much more comprehensive letter from Mr. Balfour?

If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of republishing the letter, will he also publish the correspondence, some of it confidential, between various high officials and the late King Hussein in order that the public may have an opportunity of understanding the unwisdom of the Government of the' time in giving two contradictory statements?

It is not the usual custom, of this House to print documents which are easily available, and interested people, I am certain, can find the letter in a number of publications. The one in which I saw it was the "Encyclopædia Britannica."

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that when this letter was published it stated clearly that it was a declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, submitted to and approved by the Cabinet, and will he be good enough to tell us, so that there may be no doubt in future, what were these documents and submissions?

While I cannot be drawn into a controversy by way of saying "Yes" or "No," the letter went on to discuss certain other interests which must be safeguarded.

Jewish Agency


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the declared intentions of the Jews to use force in imposing illegal immigration into Palestine, he will now take steps to close down the Jewish Agency.

My hon. Friend is no doubt referring to a resolution passed by the Elected Assembly of the Jewish Community in Palestine on 22nd May, declaring that the Jewish Community is prepared to use force for the protection of immigration, land settlement, and its own security. I regret the terms of this resolution, particularly in present circumstances. I do not consider that the occasion calls for such action as my hon. Friend suggests against the Jewish Agency.

Does not my right hon. Friend recollect that many of the responsible members of the Jewish Agency were directly involved in the King David Hotel incident, as illustrated in the White Paper; and how does he tie that up with the present threat to the Arabs which he gave in this House last week not to give any incitement to violence or strong measures would be taken? Why not take equally strong measures against the Jews?

I think it must be obvious to everyone that law and order must be preserved in Palestine and terrorism must be repressed, but in view of the special commitments of the Jewish Agency under the Mandate there is no action at present which can in any way be taken for suppressing the Agency.

I know, but does my right hon. Friend realise that the Arabs do not recognise the Mandate for a moment?

While I accept the Minister's answer, will he indicate that if any individuals in this country advocate violence in Palestine, as has been recently done in America, they will be prosecuted with the full rigour of the law?

Army General Service Medal


asked the Prime Minister if the Army General Service Medal will be issued to troops now serving in Palestine.

In view of the fact that we may have to keep considerable numbers of troops in Palestine for many months to come, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that some recognition now would be much appreciated in view of the very arduous duties which our troops have to perform?

We are looking into it but I am sure the hon. and gallant Member knows how difficult are the marginal questions in connection with this matter of medals.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the issue of a General Service medal for postwar services?

In respect of any areas where there is fighting and in which troops risk their lives.

I think it is better to treat each of these areas on its merits.