3 MARCH 1939, Page 1


THE Palestine Conference is now threatened with collapse. The Government's proposals have at length been laid before the two delegations ; they are reported to include abolition of the mandate, establishment of an independent State in Palestine allied with Great Britain and a guarantee of minority rights for the Jews ; they provide for an interim period before the new predominantly Arab State comes into being. The proposals have been rejected by the Jewish Agency, and the Jews may now leave the Conference. The Palestinian Arabs also show unexpected hostility to the plan. Criticism of the proposals must be delayed until fuller information is available ; from what is known of them they appear to go much farther towards satisfying the Arab demands than the Jewish, but it is not yet clear what form or degree of autonomy for predominantly Jewish areas is provided for in the plan. Further conversations between Mr. MacDonald and the respective delegations may diminish the hostility of both sides to the new proposals, but the outlook is not hopeful. It is disappointing that the Govern- ment has not been bold enough to give the whole problem a new and more fruitful form by attempting to inaugurate, either in Palestine itself or if possible in the two mandate areas of Palestine and Syria, a federated State in which the Jews could enjoy autonomy.