HC Deb 28 April 1948 vol 450 cc372-5
10. Mr. Cocks

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the public declaration by King Abdullah of Transjordan that after 15th May he intends to invade Palestine and take military action against the Jews; and what steps he proposes to take on this announcement under the terms of our alliance with Transjordan.

12. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what the position of the Arab Legion will be on the termination of the Mandate for Palestine; whether by then it will have evacuated from Palestine completely; and whether it will still be subsidised by Great Britain and commanded by British officers.

Mr. Bevin

My attention has been drawn to Press reports of 23rd April of a declaration by King Abdullah in this sense. I do not see what steps under the terms of our alliance with Transjordan this announcement requires. As regards the Arab Legion, the intention is that its withdrawal from Palestine should be completed before the termination of the Mandate. His Majesty's Government are obliged by the treaty to pay a subsidy to Transjordan in respect of the Arab Legion and to provide certain British service personnel for service with that force. These obligations will still be in force after the termination of the Mandate for Palestine. The treaty provides, of course, that nothing in it shall prejudice the rights and obligations devolving on either party under the United Nations Charter.

Mr. Cocks

Is it not a fact that in our treaty of alliance with Transjordania that country agrees not to adopt an attitude that might create difficulties for us, and to concert with us to settle disputes by peaceful means according to the Charter of the United Nations? In view of that fact, would not the Foreign Secretary draw King Abdullah's attention to these clauses in order that if action of that sort is to be contemplated, the provisions of the treaty in regard to consultation should come into force?

Mr. Bevin

Certainly, we shall have consultations, but I must remind my hon. Friend that the admission of Transjordan to the United Nations has been vetoed every time.

Mr. Janner

Apart from the relationship between Transjordan and the United Nations, does my right hon. Friend say that it would be in accordance with the treaty we have entered into with Transjordan that we shall continue to subsidise the Arab Legion if they should take unilateral action against any section of the community in Palestine?

Mr. Bevin

That question does not arise.

Mr. Philips Price

Would my right hon. Friend make it clear that there is no declaration of war against the Jews but only against the Zionists?

Mr. Benn Levy

Is the supply of British equipment, money and officers to continue to Transjordania irrespective of whom they may elect to attack?

Mr. Bevin

This matter is before the United Nations and I must await the result of the discussions going on. I am not going to be drawn into any promise or commitment about this Transjordania Force until I know the final decision of the United Nations.

Major Tufton Beamish

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be inaccurate and misleading to describe the entry of Arab troops from Transjordan into the Arab parts of Palestine, for the protection of Arab interest in Palestine and at the request of Arabs in Palestine, as invasion?

Mr. Bevin

I prefer not to enter into hypothetical discussions on this subject. The United Nations organisation are discussing this matter. I do not despair. Britain will be withdrawing on 15th May and when everybody has faced that fact, much may happen.

Mr. Cocks

Is it not a fact that the Treaty of Alliance—which I hold in my hand—has nothing whatever to do with the membership of Transjordania of the United Nations? Is it not a fact also that in Article I Transjordania agrees not to adopt in regard to foreign countries an attitude which is inconsistent with the alliance and might create difficulties for the other party? There is nothing whatever to do with the United Nations. May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether he has drawn the attention of the Transjordanian Government to the terms of that Article?

Mr. Bevin

Those terms have not been violated or intended to be violated by Transjordania. I do not propose to draw their attention to the matter until I have the result of the consideration by tht United Nations. When I have it, then I must examine the whole problem.

Mr. Cocks

Should not my right hon. Friend draw attention to the matter before taking action?