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Feb
03

From the Observer archive: this week in 1947

The partition of Palestine suffers a shaky start

Delay often worsens dilemmas; it has done so, disastrously, in Palestine. In these columns we have always argued that, as voluntary agreement between Jew and Arab was unobtainable, sooner or later a plan would have to be imposed. Although the talks with both parties are proceeding in London, there is still no sign that their standpoints are approaching reconciliation; and in the meantime conditions in Palestine are going from bad to worse, with the prospect of martial law having to be applied to protect British lives and to prevent Civil war from breaking out.

So long as the British Government fails to table a plan, Arabs and Jews will both hesitate to set a limit to their claims. Each side will hope that by further demands it will succeed in modifying the final settlement in its own favour. The Arabs, particularly, have no sharp motive for haste; they consider that the more trouble there is in Palestine, and the more outrages are committed by the Jewish terrorists, the stronger their own case will look in the eyes of the world.

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