23 Mr J.A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Mr N. Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered 14 February 1939,

PERSONAL FOR MR CHAMBERLAIN HIMSELF

We are following with closest attention the reported Proceedings of the Palestine Conference [1] and we would like to receive full information of the progress of the talks. We regard the situation in Egypt, Palestine and in fact the whole of the Near East as being of great importance to Australia owing to its relation to vital Imperial communications. In view of the general world situation we feel it will be highly dangerous to estrange the Moslem world at the present time by any decision over Palestine which might be regarded as unduly favourable to the Jews.

We note from the various despatches and reports that ties of friendship in contiguous countries are already being strained over the question of Palestine and we venture to suggest that no opportunity should be lost by the present Conference to reach a speedy agreement.

While we are diffident about expressing an opinion as to the nature of a settlement which might be deemed equitable we feel that all the Partition schemes put forward are impracticable and politically unwise and the best solution might be some settlement which maintains relatively the present status quo with safeguards to prevent Jewish predominance. [2]

1 See Document 20, note 1.

2 The draft of this cablegram included a paragraph expressing concern at reports that Italy would demand a seat on the Suez Canal Board, and urging opposition to any such demand. R.G. Menzies (Attorney-General) and W.M. Hughes (Minister for External Affairs) proposed, and the Prime Minister, J.A. Lyons, approved, that this paragraph should be omitted and form the subject of a later message. No subsequent cablegram to this effect has been found (see AA: A981, Palestine 8, v).

[AA: A981, PALESTINE 8, V]