On December 11, 1947, Arthur Creech Jones, British Secretary of State for the Colonies, announced at the House of Commons that the Mandate in Palestine would end on May 15, 1948.

Arthur Creech Jones, British Secretary of State for the Colonies from October 4, 1946, through February 28, 1950, favored a partition of Palestine as the only practical solution to the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.

On December 11, 1947, Jones opened a two-day debate in the British House of Commons with the announcement that the British Mandate in Palestine will end on May 15, 1948 and that the troops would be withdrawn by August 1. Three months earlier, he told the UN General Assembly that after 25 years in Palestine, the British government was prepared to withdraw its forces. He expressed his hope that the UN would be more successful than the British in bringing an end to the fighting.

Jones stated: “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 1 February, 1948. This presents a considerable difficulty, and must be studied further with the United Nations Commission in connection with the thorny problem of [Jewish] immigration…”

British policy since 1939 was to restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine, largely in order to appease the local Arab population. Some Jews were able to reach Palestine, including many who were smuggled in by Jewish resistance organizations on dilapidated ships.

“I should now say a few words on the problem of immigration,” Jones continued. “I do not wish to inflame deep feelings, which exist among Jews and Arabs alike regarding this matter, nor do I wish to incriminate states and groups which, in this illegal traffic, have done infinite mischief, aroused fierce passions among the Arabs and made our task of administering the Mandate extremely difficult. We are faced with a most difficult period between now and the middle of May, and we hope all nations and the Jewish community will appreciate the importance of control until the Mandate is laid down. If the traffic 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 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 that feelings should not be fired while the British administration is trying to carry through the complicated tasks essential to maintaining orderly life in Palestine, while at the same time, preparing, in accordance with international decision, to transfer authority.”

By: United with Israel Staff
(With files from Jewish Virtual Library)