256 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 35 LONDON, 22 January 1941, 10.20 p.m.


Your telegram 11 of 6th January Palestine. [1] In using the phrase which you quote, I had in mind no specific promises other than those conveyed in the Balfour declaration of November 1917 which as you may remember was formulated in a letter addressed by Lord Balfour [2] to Lord Rothschild as President of the Zionist Federation. The terms of the declaration were subsequently embodied in the Mandate of Palestine which requires mandatory to place the country under such political administrative and economical conditions as will ensure that they are carried out.

This has been the governing factor ever since in regulating our policy in Palestine. The declaration affords a general background against which all other questions have necessarily to be considered. I hope that this will make the position clear to you.

I am sorry if my words were not sufficiently explicit. It was never intended to suggest that we are under obligations to the Zionists other than those that we have publicly avowed.

1 On 24 December 1940 Cranborne dispatched cablegram 511 to the Commonwealth Govt setting out U.K. policy on Jewish immigration to Palestine. On 2 January 1941 S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, suggested in cablegram 4 that the Commonwealth Geer should ask for a specific statement of 'promises made to the Zionists', and this was done in cablegram 11. All documents are on file AA:A1608, 1.41/1/3, i.

2 U.K. Foreign Secretary 1916-19.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.1092]