Palestine

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Palestine

On 20 June 1946 ((C.M. 60(46)(3)) the Cabinet discussed the worsening situation in Palestine. There had been an organised series of attacks, five British officers had been kidnapped and another officer and a nursing sister had been reported missing. They also discussed the talks which were being held with the Americans about the implications of admitting 100,000 immigrants to Palestine. The Cabinet agreed that it would be a mistake to break off talks with the Americans but agreed that firm action needed to be taken to stop further trouble. The Secretary of State for the Colonies reported that he had seen Ben Gurion, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine, who had seemed distressed at the kidnapping and had agreed to publish a statement expressing his regret and appealing to the Jewish community to give assistance to freeing the officers. Ben Gurion had also given his assurance that there was no connection between the Agency and Irgun Zwei Leumi or the Stern Groups although he had not been so clear about their relationship with Hagana.

On 11 July (C.M. 67(46)(3)) the Cabinet again discussed the situation in Palestine. The military and police activity was now confined to searching for Jewish leaders still at large. Some 2,600 people had been detained although they were gradually being released having been screened. However, members of the Jewish Agency Executive remained in custody. Meanwhile the influence of Dr Weizmann and the moderates was increasing and everything possible should be done to strengthen his hands. It was also reported that some 2,500 illegal immigrants were detained and they would only be released as immigration certificates became available. The Cabinet were also informed that another ship was due to sale from Constanza with 2,000 immigrants on board and they discussed whether this and later ships should be diverted to Cyprus but they decided against this course.

The Cabinet discussed the explosion which had occurred at the Headquarters of the Government Secretariat and Army Command on 23 July 1946 (C.M. 67(46)). 41 people had been killed whilst 52 were missing and a further 53 had been injured. The Prime Minister said that although there was evidence that Hagana had been implicated in earlier acts of violence it was unclear who was responsible in this case. Talks were continuing with the Americans to reach a long-term policy and it was hoped that the results could be published quickly.