New York Post

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 1948

No Buck-Passing

Great Britain and the U.S.A.,
Not Merely Abdullah, Can Control Invasion


On May 14, Gen. Sir Allan Cunningham, the last British High Commissioner in Palestine, went from the pier in Haifa to a warship, and together with his luggage the gallows the mandatory power was shipped to Britain. He did not leave the Jewish National Home in quiet and peace; nor did he leave it secure and well fortified against foes from outside. But it was for the creation of this Home that the British obtained the mandate of 51 nations more than a quarter of a century ago.

On Apr. 14, Abdullah of Transjordan announced that his legion would fight the Jews in Palestine “in real battles.” A few days later the British brought additional contingents of the Arab Legion of Abdullah to Palestine “for police duty”: It was less than a month before the expiration of the mandate. The British gave their solemn promise—in Jerusalem and in the Parliament in London—that the Araba Legion wold be returned to Transjordan before the expiration of the mandate on May 15.

On Apr. 27, it was asserted in this column that the British would not keep this solemn promise. We wrote then: “The impression is left that the British are preparing another breach of faith. The outrageous act of bringing the Arab Legion of Abdullah for policing duties a few days after Abdullah had declared that his Legion would fight the Jews in Palestine is probably unequalled in the annals of hypocrisy.”

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The accusation was fully warranted. The British did not return the Legion to Transjordan. They considered that they had absolved themselves when they announced that “coinciding” with the end of the mandate in Palestine, British officers would withdraw—or receive leave?—from the Legion for the period of fighting in Palestine.

The Legion is free, under British interpretation of international law, to attack to Jews on the soil of Palestine with the arms they received for their “policing duty” on behalf of the mandatory power.

Moreover, while the mandate was still in force, and while Cunningham still occupied his residence near Jerusalem, the Arab legion attacked, at first, the settlement Neve-Jacob, north of Jerusalem, and then the agricultural settlement of Kfar-Etzion, south of Jerusalem, on the way from Hebron to Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. It is a lonely place where a community of orthodox Jews planted the first shade trees on the mountains of Judea since the fall of the Jewish state in the year 70.

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With tanks and field guns and flame-throwers the Arab Legion battled for tend days with the defenders of the place, Jewish pioneers, whose weapons of defense were small arms, mortars and hand grenades. The tanks and the field guns are British; the Legion itself is British-organized, British-equipped, and British-paid. Most of its defenders slain, Kfar-Etzion fell on the dawn of the day when the State of Israel was born.

The Jewish defenders were not even supposed to possess the small arms they had, since this was prohibited by the British. Until the last day of the Mandate, Jewish defenders of Palestine were searched for arms by the British, and the possession of arms was punishable by imprisonment for life. At the end of the mandate, on May 15, the Jewish population of Palestine had no right to possess a single pistol and a few hours later they had to defend themselves against armies of five states.

* * *

Abdullah is underwritten by the British and is on their service for any job required. He calls himself “king,” but his title was presented to him by the British two years ago. The separation of the “kingdom” of Transjordan from Palestine was an act unauthorized by the League of Nations or by the United Nations. Abdullah jumps when the British pull the strings. A new military alliance was signed only a few weeks ago, in preparation for these events.

This treaty was signed on Mar. 18 of this year, and in the New York Times of Mar. 18 Clifford Daniels cabled from London that, “according to the treaty, it provides for an Anglo-Transjordan joint defense board composed of equal numbers of British and Transjordan officers...” “that Transjordan will continue to have the services of British officers for each Arab Legion...” “and that Transjordan remains a British military satelline and receives a subsidy from the British Treasury...”

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But the British would not dare to do what America refuses to countenance, for to a large extent Britain is financed from the American Treasury. It is therefore entirely within the power of the President of the United States to force Abdullah’s Legion to return to Transjordan.

There should be no buck-passing. “It is not me, it is him”—says the Colonial Office as it points to Abdullah. Abdullah is stout, but still too small a man for such large figures to hide themselves behind his back.