Courtesy Reuters

The Palestine Report

The Arabs and the Future of Palestine

THE Report of the Royal Commission on Palestine closes an episode for whose origins we have to go back nearly a quarter of a century. In 1913 Abdullah, second son of Sherif Hussein, the Emir of Mecca, was passing through Egypt on his way to Constantinople, where he and his younger brother Feisal represented the Hejaz in the Turkish Chamber of Deputies. Lord Kitchener, then British Agent in Egypt, took advantage of Abdullah's temporary presence at Cairo to pay him a semi-formal visit of courtesy. Accompanied by Mr. (now Sir) Ronald Storrs, the British Agent thanked the representative of the Hejaz for his father's kindness and consideration towards the pilgrims visiting Mecca from British India. Nothing more was said. A friendly foundation had been laid for future parleys. Abdullah hastened to inform the Turkish High Commissioner at Cairo of what had passed at an interview which was sufficiently unusual to occasion comment -- and suspicion.

A year passed. Abdullah again passed through Cairo, in July 1914. The forward policy of the Turks in the Hejaz was causing a good deal of friction and trouble. The clouds of war were gathering fast. Lord Kitchener again met Abdullah and this time discussed politics -- cautiously. The British Government was anxious for the continuance of its friendly relations with Turkey. Subject to this it was ready to help the Arabs in pursuance of its traditional policy. Abdullah was at Constantinople on the out-break of war. On August 22, 1914, he was back at Cairo. Lord Kitchener was away on more important business, but Mr. Storrs handed to Abdullah a letter for his father from the British Government. Friendly sentiments this time accompanied a statement that Great Britain "would not oppose the restoration of the Caliphate to the Arabs." A month passed and Mr. Storrs sent to Abdullah by the hand of a trusty messenger the following letter: "Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of State for War, has directed me to write to your lordship, enquiring whether you are

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