MR. LLOYD GEORGE
SATURDAY JUNE 20 1936 PAGE 7
Mr. [David] LLOYD GEORGE (Caernarvon Boroughs, Ind. L.) said he wished to make a few observations, because he had a certain share of responsibility for the Balfour Declaration, which was the basis for our Mandate in Palestine. He would certainly respond to the appeal made by the Secretary of State [for the Colonies] in his statesmanlike speech to say nothing that would cause any exacerbation of the racial and religious antagonisms that existed in Palestine. Everybody knew how difficult it was to deal with a situation where either religion or race was involved. When both these factors existed the difficulties were almost insurmountable. But we had our duties and our obligations. Unfortunately, the demand put forward by the Arabs was a demand for the revocation of the Mandate. It was no use pretending that it was not.[…]
“But we could not forget the obligations of the Mandate. It was, as the Secretary of State has said, an obligation of honour, and we could not go back on it. He was very glad to hear what Lord Winterton said about its being more incumbent than ever upon us to make it quite clear that we were not going to run away from our obligations. (Cheers and laughter.) Whatever might have prompted this movement [of growing violence] in Palestine he was perfectly certain, from information that he had received, that the troubles in Abyssinia had a good deal to do with it, on both sides, and that they were firmly convinced that this was the time to press the British Empire, that we were more or less on the run.
A BELIEVER IN EMPIRE
“I am all for the British Empire. I am a great believer in the British Empire, and I became a greater believer in it when I saw it in action during the War. I believe that it saved the world, and that it will do it again, if it is properly led. (Cheers.) The obligations of the Mandate were specific and definite. They were that we were to encourage the establishment of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine without detriment to any of the rights of the Arab population. That was a dual undertaking, and we must see that both parts of the Mandate are enforced. Just look at the conditions under which we entered into it.
“It was at one of the darkest periods of the War that Mr. Balfour first prepared his Declaration. At that time the French Army had mutinied; the Italian Army was on the eve of collapse; America had hardly started preparing in earnest. There was nothing left but Britain confronting the most powerful military combination the world had ever seen. It was important for us to seek every legitimate help that we could get. The Government came to the conclusion, from information received from every part of the world, that it was very vital that we should have the sympathies of the Jewish community.”
He assured the Committee [on the Colonies?] that the Government did not come to the conclusion from either predilections or prejudice. We certainly had no prejudices against the Arabs because at the moment we had hundreds of thousands of troops fighting for Arab emancipation against the Turk. Under those conditions and with the advice they received, the Government decided that it was desirable for us to secure the sympathy and cooperation of that most remarkable community, the Jews, throughout the world.
AN OBLIGATION OF HONOUR
They were helpful to us in America to a very large extent; and they were helpful even in Russia at that moment because Russia was just about to walk out and leave us alone. Under those conditions we proposed this to our Allies. France, Italy, and the United States accepted it, and all the other Allies. Afterwards the whole of the nations that constituted the League of Nations also accepted it. The Jews, with all the influence that they possessed, responded nobly to the appeal that was made. […]