Passfield white paper

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The Passfield White Paper, issued October 20, 1930, by colonial secretary Lord Passfield, was a formal statement of British policy in Palestine, which previously had been set by the Churchill White Paper of 1922. The new statement resulted from the Hope-Simpson Commission's investigation into the deeper causes of the 1929 Palestine riots, that initially started over access to the Wailing Wall. The white paper limited official Jewish immigration to a much greater degree. The paper's tone was decidedly anti-Zionist since several of its institutions were severely criticized, including the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) and the Jewish Agency, which both promoted Jewish employment of only Jewish labor. Like the Hope-Simpson Report, the Passfield White Paper found this Zionist policy damaging to the economic development of the Arab population.

Zionists claimed it backtracked from what they felt were commitments in the Balfour Declaration and, if implemented, would limit Jewish immigration to Palestine. Contrary to these claims, the White Paper states that the development of a Jewish National Home in Palestine is a consideration, which would enjoy continued support, but it was not central to mandate governance. The paper states that the British intend to fulfill their mandate obligations to both Arabs and Jews, and they would resolve any conflicts that might surface as a result of their respective needs.

Zionists organizations worldwide mounted a vigorous campaign against the document. In Britain it led to Ramsay MacDonald's clarification of the white paper in front of the British House of Commons and in a letter to Chaim Weizmann in 1931 (see below). Known as the MacDonald Letter, it aimed to placate the Zionists while disturbing as the Arabs as little as possible. When many Zionists took the letter as a withdrawal of the white paper, it became labelled the 'black paper' by Arabs. This was despite the fact that Prime Minister said in parliament on 11 February 1931 that he was "very unwilling to give the letter the same status as the dominating document" i.e. the Passfield White Paper. And the letter itself aimed to provide justice to "non-Jewish sections of the community".[1]

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  1. ^ Hyamson, Albert Montefiore Palestine: A Policy Methuen, 1942, p. 146 Hyamson mentions that this Arab disappointment probably had something to do with the fact that following the white paper Jewish immigration continued at higher levels than they wanted, the purchase of land by Jews continued without restrictions, and the steps taken to protect Arab tenant farmers from being removed from their land was ineffective. p.145

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