(January 1919 – March 1919)
Source: Hearings Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of Representatives, Seventy-Eighth Congress, Second Session, February 1944, pp. 42-44.Printable PDF
STATEMENTS OF THE EMIR FEISAL, LEADER OF THE ARAB DELEGATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE IN PARIS, FRANCE, EXCLUDING PALESTINE FROM THE ARAB DOMAIN AND AGREEING TO COOPERATE WITH THE ZIONISTS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH PALESTINE
EMIR FEISAL’S MEMORANDUM TO PEACE CONFERENCE
In a memorandum circulated to the delegates of the Peace Conference under date January 1st, 1919, the Emir Feisal set forth the Arab claims. After describing the national aspirations of the Arabs and claiming independence for the Arabic-speaking countries generally, the memorandum proceeds as follows:
“In Palestine the enormous majority of the people are Arabs. They Jews are very close to the Arabs in blood, and there is no conflict of character between the two races. Nevertheless, the Arabs cannot assume the responsibility of holding level the scales in the clash of races and religions that have in this one province, so often involved the world in difficulties. They would wish for the effective super-position of a great trustee, so long as a representative local administration commended itself by actively promoting the material prosperity of the country.” (David Hunter Miller: My Diary of the Peace Conference.)
EMIR FEISAL’S STATEMENT BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF FIVE
On February 6th, 1919, the Arab case was laid before the Council of Five by the Emir Feisal as the head of the Hedjaz Delegation comprising, in addition to himself, Colonel Lawrence, Rustum Haidar, Nuri Said and Auni Bey Abdul Hadi. In the official note of the meeting the Emir is reported to have referred to Palestine as follows:
“Palestine, for its universal character he left on one side for the mutual consideration of all parties interested. With this exception, he asked for the independence of the Arabic areas enumerated in his memorandum.” (David Hunter Miller: My Diary of the Peace Conference.)
LETTER OF EMIR FEISAL TO PROFESSOR FRANKFURTER
Paris, March 3, 1919
DEAR MR. FRANKFURTER: I want to take this opportunity of my first contact with American Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say to Dr. Weizmann in Arabia and Europe.
We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.
We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.
With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann, we have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a great helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete on e another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.
People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, ignoring the need for cooperation of the Arabs and Zionists have been trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in Palestine in the early stages of our movements. Some of them have, I am afraid, misrepresented your aims to the Arab peasantry, and our aims to the Jewish peasantry, with the result that interested parties have been able to make capital out of what they call our differences.
I wish to give you my firm conviction that these differences are not on questions of principle, but on matters of detail such as must inevitably occur in every contact of neighboring peoples, and as are easily adjusted by mutual goodwill. Indeed nearly all of them will disappear with fuller knowledge.
I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of civilized peoples of the world.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN EMIR FEISAL AND DR. WEIZMANN
His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them have agreed upon the following Articles:
The Arab State and Palestine in all their relations and undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial goodwill and understanding, and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited agents shall be established and maintained in the respective territories.
Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by the parties hereto.
In the establishment of the Constitution and Administration of Palestine all such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government’s Declaration of the 2nd of November 1917.
All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.
No regulation nor law shall be made prohibiting or interfering in any way with the free exercise of religion; and further the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall ever be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be under Mohammedan control.
The Zionist Organization proposes to send to Palestine a Commission of experts to make a survey of the economic possibilities of the country, and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will place the aforementioned Commission at the disposal of the Arab State for the purpose of a survey of the economic possibilities of the Arab State and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will use its best efforts to assist the Arab State in providing the means for developing the natural resources and economic possibilities thereof.
The parties hereto agree to act in complete accord and harmony on all matters embraced herein before the Peace Congress.
Any matters of dispute which may arise between the contracting parties shall be referred to the British Government for arbitration.
Given Under Our Hand At London, England, The Third Day of January, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Nineteen.
Feisal Ibn Hussein
RESERVATION BY THE EMIR FESIAL
If the Arabs are established as I have asked in my manifesto of January 4th addressed to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I will carry out what is written in this agreement. If changes are made, I cannot be answerable for failing to carry out this agreement.