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Arab Office Report to Anglo - American committee, 1946
Following WWII, an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was sent to Palestine to study conditions there and report to the UNO regarding the nature of a desirable settlement. Some of the main findings of the Commission, which submitted a report covering three volumes, were that, according to them, Palestine could not support a much larger population, owing to their belief that the amount of available water could not be increased by pumping water from the Jordan (this turned out to be false). The commission also found that that during the years of the British Mandate there had been unprecedented growth in the size and prosperity of the Arab population of Palestine, as well as the Jews, but that economic conditions of the Arabs were inferior to those in the Jewish settlement areas.
The following is part of the report submitted by the Arab Office, Jerusalem, to the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry, in March, 1946 It has been excerpted from Lacquer & Rubin, "The Israel-Arab Reader," pp. 100ff. The selection includes sections 8-14 providing proposals for resolution of Palestine issue. These follow extended discussion or principles, information, and argument. The document rejected both partition and the binational state as possible solutions to the conflict, and called for creation of a single democratic state, to be in the control of the Arab majority. This state would guarantee the rights of the existing Jewish minority it was claimed. However, further land-transfer and immigration would be decided in a "democratic way." The Palestinians never made any preparation to implement such a state.
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Arab Office Report to Anglo - American Commission, 1946
8) In the Arab view, any solution or the problem created by Zionist aspirations must satisfy certain conditions:
(i) It must recognize the right of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine to continue in occupation of the country and to preserve its traditional character.
(ii) It must recognize that questions like immigration which affect the whole nature and destiny of the country should be decided in accordance with democratic principles by the will of the population.
(iii) It must accept the principle that the only way by which the will of the population can be expressed is through the establishment of responsible representative government.
(The Arabs find something inconsistent in the attitude of Zionists who demand the establishment of a free democratic commonwealth in Palestine and then hasten to add that this should not take place until the Jews are in a majority.)
(iv) This representative Government should be based upon the principle of absolute equality of all citizens irrespective of race and religion.
(v) The form of Government should be such as to make possible the development of a spirit of loyalty and cohesion among all elements of the community which will override all sectional attachments. In other words it should be a Government which the whole community could regard as their own, which should be rooted in their consent and have a moral claim upon their obedience.
(vi) The settlement should recognize the fact that by geography and history Palestine is inescapably part of the Arab world; that the only alternative to its being part of the Arab world and accepting the implication of its position is complete isolation, which would he disastrous from every point of view; and that whether they like it or not the Jews in Palestine are dependent upon the goodwill of the Arabs.
(vii)The settlement should be such as to make possible a satisfactory definition within the framework of U.N.O. the relations between Palestine and the Western powers who posses interests in the country.
The settlement should take into account that Zionism is essentially a political movement aiming at the creation of a Jewish state and should therefore avoid making any concessions which might encourage Zionists in the hope that their aim can be achieved in any circumstances.
9 In accordance with these principles, the Arabs urge the establishment in Palestine of a democratic government representative of all sections of the population on a level of absolute equality; the termination of the Mandate once the Government has been established; and the entry of Palestine into the United Nations Organization as a full member of the working community.
Pending the establishment of a representative Government, all further Jewish immigration should be stopped, in pursuance of the principle that a decision on so important a matter should only be taken with the consent of the inhabitants of the country and that until representative institutions are established there is no way of determining consent. Strict measures should also continue to be taken to check illegal immigration. Once a Palestinian state has come into existence, if any section of the population favours a policy of further immigration it will be able to press its case in accordance with normal democratic procedure; but in this as in other matters the minority must abide by the decision of the majority.
Similarly, all further transfer of land from Arabs to Jews should be prohibited prior to the creation of self-governing institutions. The Land Transfer Regulations should be made more stringent and extended to the whole area of the country, and severer measures be taken to prevent infringement of them. Here again once self-government exists matters concerning land will be decided in the normal democratic manner.
10 The Arabs are irrevocably opposed to political Zionism, but in no way hostile to the Jews as such nor to their Jewish fellow citizens of Palestine. Those Jews who have already entered Palestine, and who have obtained or shall obtain Palestinian citizenship by due legal process will be full citizens of the Palestinian state, enjoying full civil and political rights and a fair share in government and administration. There is no question of their being thrust into the position of a "minority" in the bad sense of a closed community, which dwells apart from the main stream of the State's life and which exists by sufferance of the majority. They will be given the opportunity of belonging to and helping to mould the full community of the Palestinian state, joined to the Arabs by links of interest and goodwill, not the goodwill of the strong to the powerless, but of one citizen to another.
It is to be hoped that in course of time the exclusiveness of the Jews will be neutralized by the development of loyalty to the state and the emergence or new groupings which cut across communal divisions. This however will take time and during the transitional period the Arabs recognize the need for giving special consideration to the particular position and the needs of the Jews. No attempt would be made to interfere with their communal organization, their personal status or their religious observances. Their schools and cultural institutions would be left to operate unchecked except for that general control which all governments exercise over education. In the districts in which they are most closely settled they would possess municipal autonomy and Hebrew would be an official language of administration, justice, and education.
The Palestinian State would be an Arab state not (as should be clear from the preceding paragraph) in any narrow racial sense, nor in the sense that non-Arabs should be placed in a position or inferiority, but because the form and policy of its government would be based on a recognition of two facts: first that the majority of the citizens are Arabs, and secondly that Palestine is part of the Arab world and has no future except through close cooperation with the other Arab states. Thus among the main objects of the Government would be to preserve and enrich the country's Arab heritage, and to draw closer the relations between Palestine and the other Arab countries. The Cairo Pact of March 1945, provided for the representation of Palestine on the Council of the Arab League even before its independence should be a reality; once it was really self-governing it would participate fully in all the work of the League, in the cultural and economic no less than the political sphere. This would be of benefit to the Jewish not less than the Arab citizens of Palestine since it would ensure those good relations with the Arab world without which their economic development would be impossible.
12 The state would apply as soon as possible for admission into U.N.O. and would of course be prepared to bear its full share of the burdens of establishing a world security system. It would willingly place at the disposal of the Security Council whatever bases or other facilities were required, provided those bases were really used for the purpose which they were intended and not in order to interfere in the internal affairs of the country, and provided also Palestine and the other Arab states were adequately represented on the controlling body.
12. The state would recognize also the world's interest in the maintenance of a satisfactory regime for the Moslem, Christian and Jewish Holy Places. In the Arab view however the need for such a regime does not involve foreign interference in or control of Palestine; no opportunity should be given to Great Powers to use the Holy Places as instruments of policy. The Holy Places can be most satisfactorily and appropriately guarded by a Government representative of the inhabitants, who include adherents of all three faiths and have every interest in preserving the holy character of their country.
Nor in the Arab view would any sort or foreign interference or control be justified by the need to protect the Christian minorities The Christians are Arabs, who belong fully to the national community and share fully in its struggle. The would have all the rights and duties of citizens of a Palestinian state, and would continue to have their own communal organizations and institutions. They themselves would ask for no more, having learnt from the example of other Middle Eastern countries the dangers of an illusory foreign "protection" of minorities.
13. In economic and social matters the Government of Palestine would follow a progressive policy with the aim of raising the standard of living and increasing the welfare of all sections off the population, and using the country’s natural resources in the way most beneficial to all. Its first task naturally would be to improve the condition or the Arab peasants and thus to bridge the economic and social gulf which at present divides the two communities. Industry would be encouraged, but only in so far as its economic basis was sound and as part of a general policy of economic development for the whole Arab world; commercial and financial contact with the other Arab countries would so far as be possible strengthened, and tariffs decreased or abolished.
14. The Arabs believe that no other proposals would satisfy the conditions of a just and lasting settlement. In their view there are insuperable objections of principle or of practice to all other suggested solutions of the problem.
(1) The idea or partition and the establishment of a Jewish state in a part of Palestine is inadmissible for the same reasons of principle as the idea of establishing a Jewish state in the whole country. If it is unjust to the Arabs to impose a Jewish state on the whole of Palestine, it is equally unjust to impose it in any part of the country. Moreover, as the Woodhead Commission showed, there are grave practical difficulties in the way of partition; commerce would be strangled, communications dislocated and the public finances upset. It would also be impossible to devise frontiers which did not leave a large Arab minority in the Jewish state. This minority would not wittingly accept its subjection to the Zionists and it would not allow itself to be transferred to the Arab state. Moreover, partition would not satisfy the Zionists. It cannot be too often repeated that Zionism is a political movement aimed at the domination at least of the whole of Palestine; to give it a foothold in part of Palestine would be to encourage it to press for more and to provide it with a base for its activities. Because of this, because of the pressure of population and in order to escape from its isolation it would inevitably be thrown into enmity with the surrounding Arab states and this enmity would disturb the stability of the whole Middle East.
(2) Another proposal is for the establishment of a bi-national state; based upon political parity, in Palestine and its incorporation into a Syrian or Arab Federation. The Arabs would reject this as denying the majority its normal position and rights. There are also serious practical objections to the idea of a bi-national state which cannot exist unless there is a strong sense of unity and common interest overriding the differences between the two parties. Moreover, the point made in regard to the previous suggestion may be repeated here: this scheme would in no way satisfy the Zionists. It would simply encourage them to hope for more and improve their chances of obtaining it. . . .