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
Reprinted from The Nation, May 8,
Comments by Jared Israel, Emperor's Clothes
[Posted 26 July 2005]
1948 Report to the UN Explodes
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
 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
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,
from Freda Kirchwey, President,
The Nation Associates
I. British Pledge
Cooperation not Carried out
II. The Intention behind British Policy in Palestine
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
Measures against the Jews
XI. British Pro-Arab Bias
XII. British Smear
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
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
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
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
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
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
Freda Kirchwey, President
The Nation Associates
I. British Pledge of
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
"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
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
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
(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
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."
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. . .
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
(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
"(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
"(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
"(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
"(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
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
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
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
"'1. Revival of the eleventh
hour Arab compromise suggestion at Lake Success - cantonisation, or a
"'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]
"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
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
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
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."
British Representatives Present
When Arab League Projected
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.
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 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,
"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
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.
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
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."
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
"'(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
"'(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
"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."
'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
"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
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."
Despite this, Foreign Minister Bevin still says he has no knowledge of
non-Arab fighters in Palestine.
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
- 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.
Commands in Palestine:
O.C. Fawzi Al
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
2. i/c a German
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
Huttein Regt. - O.C.
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
Hussein Regt. - O.C. Abdul
Located north of Tulkarm,
with an H.Q. at Attil 157197. Responsible for the attack on Marbata
15282070 on 28
Circassian Regt. - O.C. Issan
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"(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
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
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
"(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
The Breakdown of the Jerusalem
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
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
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
"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
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."
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
[. . .]
"(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
[. . .]
"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
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
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
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."
Against the Jews
[Note: There is no
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:
"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
[* S.P is Superintendent of Police
**AIG CID is Acting Inspector General Criminal
"To: S.P. Haifa.
"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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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,
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
[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
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
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
2 January 1948
[Captain Linklater's report
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.
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
"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,
"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.
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
"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
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 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
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
"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
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
In dividing the assets of the country the British
allocated for themselves the Haifa enclave with all its services and
XV. How the British
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
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
Transfer of the El Kantara-Rafa line to the Egyptian
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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