6 SEPTEMBER 1946, Page 2

The Palestine Discussions

Both the Arab Higher Executive and the Jewish Agency have refused to participate in the London Conference opening on September 9. Assuming that both sides are sincere in wishing te break the existing deadlock, the only interpretation of this attitude that makes any sense is that each side believes that a policy of intransigence now will more easily enable it later to make the con- cessions without which attendance at the conference would be purely a waste of time. The wishes of both have already been made abundantly clear. The Arabs are demanding the creation of an independent State, embracing Palestine, in which the Jews would share government in proportion to their numbers. The Jews are asking that the basis of negotiations should be an independent Jewish State larger in area than was suggested in the Anglo-American federal plan. If either side is serious in wanting a conference which may result in a mutual readjustment of differences, giving partial satisfaction to each, the most favourable outcome that is possible at present, it is obviously useless to start by insisting on acceptance of its maximum demands as the basis of further discussion. The British are wisely leaving the door wide open for any alternative proposals, merely insisting, most properly, that the federal plan shall be the starting-point for what may become wider discussions At the moment it looks as if the Conference would consist of British and Arab League official representatives with a certain number of un- official Jews. In such circumstances the prospects of a successful outcome—in the shape of an approximation to any kind of agreed settlement—appear slender. But Mr. Bevin has set his mind on a settlement and he is right to make every conceivable effort so obtain it.