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Sterling Balances (Palestine)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the sterling balance of the former Palestine Government on 15th May, 1948; and how much of this balance had been earmarked for the successor Government of the area allotted by the United Nations resolution to the Arabs.

In so far as the hon. and gallant Member's Question relates to sterling balances in the accepted sense, I would refer him to the reply given to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) on 27th May, 1948. These sterling balances are almost entirely the counterpart of liabilities, such as Palestine Currency Board notes and deposits in banks, the location of the owners of which is a matter of fact. No question of earmarking by territories therefore arises. On the other hand, the allocation of sterling assets of the former Mandatory Government of Palestine will be discussed with the Government of Israel in talks now proceeding at Tel Aviv and with any Arab successor Government.

Will the Chancellor give an assurance that, in the course of the negotiations now proceeding with the Government of Israel, he will not prejudice the position of any future Arab Government?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that Jacob has not once more stolen his brother's birthright?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that in any arrangement which is ultimately arrived at the acceptance of the assets will be coupled with a duty to discharge outstanding responsibilities?