Monday, March 22, 2010

The Flareup Over Jerusalem - in 1928-1929

From Hansard, the record of English Parliament debates:

WAILING WALL, JERUSALEM.HC Deb 26 November 1928 vol 223 cc10-1 10

§ 15. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of further infringements of the status quo at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem by the Moslem authorities, including the establishment of a hospice at a house adjacent to the Wall, besides other building activities and alterations; that a muezzin now appears on a roof adjacent to the corner where the Aronkodesh, or Ark of the Holy Scrolls, stands on Saturdays and calls to prayer five times during that day according to the Islamic rite; that this was not permitted under the Ottoman regime; that the Jewish religious authorities have protested to the District Commissioner; and whether he will take steps to prevent such action in the future by the Moslems and further infringements of the status quo?

§ Mr. AMERY No, Sir, I am not aware of any such incidents, but I am still awaiting further reports on the whole question. I am confident that the Acting High Commissioner for Palestine would do everything in his power to prevent an infringement of the status quo.

§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY When is the right hon. Gentleman's White Paper on the whole matter to be laid?

§ Mr. AMERY I hope quite shortly; but I cannot give an exact date.

§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to inquire into these particular charges, which might not appear very serious to him, but which, he will be aware, were an infringement of the status quo?

§ Mr. AMERY I have inquired into the whole position.

§ Colonel WEDGWOOD Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the action of the Governor on this occasion; and is the inquiry into the action of the police or into the action of any superior officer?

§ Mr. AMERY I have full confidence in the Acting High Commissioner.

and this:

WAILING WALL, JERUSALEM.HC Deb 12 November 1928 vol 222 cc471-3 471

§ 16. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the Moslems in Jerusalem are erecting masonry constructions on top of the Wailing Wall; why this is being permitted by His Majesty's Government in Palestine, especially in view of the action taken by the authorities in Jerusalem to enforce the removal of temporary screens placed by Jewish devotees against the wall as infringing the status quo; and if he will give instructions that the status quo is to be preserved and that this new construction on this ancient wall should be forbidden?

§ Mr. AMERY The matter to which the hon. and gallant Member refers is engaging my close consideration, and I propose to take the highest legal advice open to me before coming to any definite decision.

§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Has the right hon. Gentleman in the meantime taken any steps to inform the Administration of Palestine of the very deep feelings that have been aroused by the alleged action of the police in this case, and by the attitude of His Majesty's Government to the Moslems in allowing this building?

§ Mr. AMERY The Administration of Palestine is very well aware of the state of feeling in Palestine, and the question whether this building is a violation of the status quo is the very question on which I wish to make quite sure before I come to a decision.

§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that under the Turkish Government this kind of thing was never permitted, and that this is an entirely new departure?

§ 17. Mr. FENBY asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that on 24th September last, being the Jewish Day of Atonement, British 472 police, acting on the instructions of the deputy district commissioner for Jerusalem, broke through the Jewish worshippers at the Kotel Maaravi, generally known as the Wailing Wall, and forcibly removed a portable screen which had been placed there on the previous evening in connection with the Atonement services; and what steps it is proposed to take with a view to enabling Jewish worshippers to conduct their devotions without molestation at this holy place?

§ 18. Sir FRANK SANDERSON asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the action of certain Jews, the Government will take steps to make their intention clear of protecting the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem from acts of aggression, and so remove the cause of what may become a dangerous agitation?

§ Mr. AMERY I intend within the next few days to lay before the House a White Paper on the subject of the recent incident at the "Wailing Wall." That paper will deal fully with the events which led up to the intervention of the Police, the position of His Majesty's Government and the Government of Palestine and the steps which have been taken with a view to minimising the risk of the occurrence of a similar incident in future. I do not wish to anticipate what will be said in the White Paper, nor could I do so satisfactorily within the narrow limits of Question and Answer. But I think it necessary to make one or two points clear. In the first place I would explain that the concern of His Majesty's Government and the Palestine Government in this matter is to maintain the satus quo as between Jews and Moslems in strict accordance with Article 13 of the Mandate, and such action as was taken by their representatives on this occasion was solely directed to preserving this delicate equilibrium. At the same time His Majesty's Government deeply deplore the shock which was caused to large numbers of worshippers on a day so holy to Jews. The hon. Member for Darwen is, I think unnecessarily apprehensive on behalf of the Moslems. While it is not contested that those responsible for the arrangement for the conduct of the service at the Wall, acting in defiance of Government instructions, introduced certain innovations involving a departure from the established 473 practice and thus disturbing the status quo I am in a position to give him an absolute assurance that no question as to the ownership of the Wall has been raised by the Jews and that they have no intention of asking for anything inconsistent with the inviolability of the Moslem Holy Places, which is unreservedly acknowledged.

I am satisfied that the question at issue is one which could best be settled by friendly agreement between the two parties and I trust that as excitement on the subject dies down such a settlement, which would be most welcome to His Majesty's Government, will he reached. I need hardly say that His Majesty's Government would be most willing to use their good offices to that end.

§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Will the White Paper contain any report of the alleged action of the police, and the alleged brutality that took place among the worshippers?

§ Mr. AMERY I think that the hon. and gallant Member will find that the White Paper gives a very full account.

§ 19. Sir F. SANDERSON asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any rioting has occurred in Jerusalem; if so, how many arrests have been made; and what sentences have been given?

§ Mr. AMERY No, Sir; there has been no rioting in Jerusalem.

§ Sir F. SANDERSON Has the Government received evidence of the widespread feeling existing among a large proportion of the Moslem population?

§ Mr. AMERY Yes, there is considerable excitement among all sections of the population.

Mr. BECKETT Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the status quo will be maintained?

and finally, the White Paper and this:-

WAILING WALL, JERUSALEM.HC Deb 03 December 1928 vol 223 cc813-4 813

§ 12. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the White Paper Cmd. 3229, purporting to deal with recent incidents at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, contains no mention of alleged infringements of the status quo by the Moslem religious authorities; if he intends to issue a further White Paper on this aspect of the matter; and whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the addition of further masonry courses to the wall itself by the Moslem religious authorities and the other alleged infringements of the status quo?

§ Mr. AMERY The White Paper is confined to the incidents which formed the subject of the question put to me when I undertook to lay that Paper before the House. It does not deal with matters in regard to which, as I have already informed the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I am awaiting further reports from 814 Palestine. I am not prepared to anticipate either the nature of those reports or the action which I shall take when I receive them. As I stated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman on 28th November, I am not satisfied that there has been a violation of the status quo by the Moslem authorities.

§ Lieut. Commander KENWORTHY How will the right hon. Gentleman make the further information known? Will he issue a further White Paper?

§ Mr. AMERY I will consider in what way.

§ Lieut. Commander KENWORTHY Will the right hon. Gentleman let me know when he has the information, so that I can put a further question, if necessary?

§ Mr. AMERY Yes, Sir.

and, a year later, after the riots, after 133 Jewish dead, we still have pro-Arabs in Parliament:-

WAILING WALL.HC Deb 13 November 1929 vol 231 cc2024-5 2024

§ 40. Colonel HOWARD-BURY asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the present position with regard to the Burak; whether he is aware that the Wailing Wall is legally the absolute property of the Moslem community, with the strip of pavement facing it; that the placing there of tables, chairs, screens, etc., is against the status quo; whether he can state the temporary regulations that are now being enforced; whether he is aware that this enforcement is giving rise to a serious situation; and when these temporary regulations are to be withdrawn?

§ Mr. LUNN A memorandum relating to the Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem was presented to Parliament in November last as a White Paper (Cmd. 3229), and I would invite the hon. and gallant Member's attention to the statements contained in that paper with regard to the status quo, which could not conveniently be summarised in a reply. I will place a copy of the temporary Regulations in the Library of the House. These regulations were promulgated, with the Secretary of State's approval, as a matter of urgency with a view to the preservation of good order and docorum. As the High Commissioner has announced locally, the regulations are of a temporary and provisional character. They do not purport to define the existing rights of either Moslems or Jews, nor do they prejudice the rights and claims either of Jews or of Moslems. I appreciate the necessity of an early and authoritative settlement to replace these temporary regulations, and His Majesty's Government are giving close and active consideration to this difficult question.

So familiar, yes?


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