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Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry

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Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry

The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was a joint British and American committee assembled in Washington on 4 January 1946. The Committee was tasked to examine political, economic and social conditions in Mandatory Palestine as they bear upon the problem of Jewish immigration and settlement therein and the well-being of the peoples now living therein; to consult representatives of Arabs and Jews, and to make other recommendations 'as may be necessary' to for ad interim handling of these problems as well as for their permanent solution.[1] The report, entitled "Report of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry Regarding the Problems of European Jewry and Palestine",[2] was published in Lausanne on 20 April 1946.

The British government suggested the joint inquiry in effort to secure American co-responsibility for a Palestinian policy, fearing Arab resistance to an in-flux of Jewish immigrants into Palestine. The report dealt with five subjects: immigration, land, form of government, development, and security. It recommended the admission of 100,000 displaced Jews, the annulment of the Land Transfer Regulations restricting Jewish purchasing of Arab land set forth by White Paper of 1939 and that Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.

The British had conditioned the implementation of the report's recommendations on the admission of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants contingent on US providing assistance in case of Arab revolt. It wasn't offered and the British government, continued to carry out its White Paper of 1939 policy.

The plan was the base for "The Morrison Grady Plan", calling for federalization under overall British trusteeship. Ultimately this Committee plans' as well was rejected by both Arabs and Jews; and Britain decided to refer the problem to the United Nations.

David Ben-Gurion testifying before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Judah Leon Magnes and Martin Buber testifying before the Anglo-American Committee (1946)


In 1917, Britain drafted the Balfour Declaration, becoming the first Great Power to support Zionist calls for a 'Jewish National Home' in Palestine. Shortly thereafter, Britain defeated the Ottoman Empire in World War I and as a result took control of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was recognized by the Great Powers and incorporated into the Treaty of Sèvres. The Great Powers once again incorporated the declaration into the draft Mandate for Palestine that they submitted to the Council of the League of Nations.[3] The US Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles and as a consequence the United States never joined the League of Nations. The House and Senate passed a non-binding Joint Resolution, HR 360, 30 June 1922 favoring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. On 21 September 1922, President Warren G. Harding also signed the resolution. A commission had been proposed by the United States at the Peace Conference as an international effort to determine if the region was ready for self-determination and to see what nations, if any, the locals wanted to act as mandatory powers. The report of the King-Crane Commission was not made public until after the Congress had voted on their Joint resolution. Public opinion was divided when it was learned that the Arab majority had requested that the mandate be administered by the United States, and that they intended to establish a democratically elected constituent assembly.[4]

The rise of Nazism and the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine led the British to reverse the Balfour Declaration in the 1939 White Paper. This policy placed a limit of allowing 75,000 more Jews into Palestine (by 1949) after which Jewish migration was to be terminated. An independent state in Palestine with an Arab majority was to be established by 1948. In response to the White Paper, land sales to Jews were severely restricted by a 1940 law.[5]

The end of World War II and the Holocaust left Europe with hundreds of thousands of displaced Jewish refugees. American public opinion supported a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, and in August 1945 president Truman asked for admission of 100,000 Holocaust survivors into Palestine[6] but Britain persisted in opposing Jewish immigration, fearing damage to its extensive and vulnerable empire in the Middle-East. Britain ruled oil-rich Kuwait, The Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain. It also controlled Jordan and Yemen and had treaties binding it to Iraq (where the oil industry was British owned) and Egypt (where Britain administered the Suez canal). With the Jews in Palestine waging an underground war against the British occupation, the refugee situation was critical and British and American policy was at loggerheads.



The committee comprised six Americans and six British. Judge ‘Texas Joe’ Hutcheson was the American Chairman. He was joined by Frank Aydelotte, William Phillips, Frank Buxton, James G. McDonald, and Bartley Crum. The group was a diverse group of diplomats, scholars, and politicians, most in favor of the proposal that 100,000 displaced persons be admitted to Palestine. The British contingent was composed of Lord Morrison, Sir Frederick Leggett, Wilfrid Crick, Reginald Manningham-Buller, and Richard Crossman, and headed by Sir John Singleton.


Front cover of "A Survey of Palestine, Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946", which was prepared for the information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry

The Committee visited Washington, D.C. and London to gauge the official policies and position of the two nations. They proceeded to Vienna to view a displaced persons camp of Holocaust survivors, and then Cairo to discuss Arab sentiments. The Committee then visited Palestine. They finally retired to Switzerland to debate and draft their findings.

During their stay in Vienna they surveyed Jewish Holocaust survivors as to their preferred destination. 98% said Palestine.

"In Poland, Hungary and Rumania, the chief desire is to get out, to get away somewhere where there is a chance of building up a new life, of finding some happiness, of living in peace and in security. In Germany also, where the number of Jews has been reduced from about 500,000 in 1933 to about 20,000 now, and most traces of Jewish life have been destroyed, there is a similar desire on the part of a large proportion of the survivors to make a home elsewhere, preferably in Palestine. In Czechoslovakia, particularly in Bohemia and Moravia, and in Austria, the position in regard to the reestablishment of the Jewish populations is more hopeful. The vast majority of the Jewish displaced persons and migrants, however, believe that the only place which offers a prospect is Palestine." (Anglo-American Committee of inquiry, chapter 2 paragraph 12)


During a committee meeting Bevin told the committee that he would accept their decision if it were unanimous [7] Hence, In April 1946, the Committee decided unanimously. Its recommendations were as follows:[8]

Recommendation No. 1. We have to report that such information as we received about countries other than Palestine gave no hope of substantial assistance in finding homes for Jews wishing or impelled to leave Europe. But Palestine alone cannot meet the emigration needs of the Jewish victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution; the whole world shares responsibility for them and indeed for the resettlement of all "displaced persons". We therefore recommend that our Governments together, and in association with other countries, should endeavor immediately to find new homes for all such "displaced persons", irrespective of creed or nationality, whose ties with their former communities have been irreparably broken. Though emigration will solve the problems of some victims of persecution, the overwhelming majority, including a considerable number of Jews, will continue to live in Europe. We recommend therefore that our Governments endeavor to secure that immediate effect is given to the provision of the United Nations Charter calling for "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion".

Recommendation No. 2. We recommend (a) that 100,000 certificates be authorized immediately for the admission into Palestine of Jews who have been the victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution; (b) that these certificates be awarded as far as possible in 1946 and that actual immigration be pushed forward as rapidly as conditions will permit.

Recommendation No. 3. In order to dispose, once and for all, of the exclusive claims of Jews and Arabs to Palestine, we regard it as essential that a clear statement of the following principles should be made:

  • I. That Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine.
  • II. That Palestine shall be neither a Jewish state nor an Arab state.
  • III. That the form of government ultimately to be established, shall, under international guarantees, fully protect and preserve the interests in the Holy Land of Christendom and of the Moslem and Jewish faiths.

Thus Palestine must ultimately become a state which guards the rights and interests of Moslems, Jews and Christians alike; and accords to the inhabitants, as a whole, the fullest measure of self-government, consistent with the three paramount principles set forth above.

Recommendation No. 4. We have reached the conclusion that the hostility between Jews and Arabs and, in particular, the determination of each to achieve domination, if necessary by violence, make it almost certain that, now and for some time to come, any attempt to establish either an independent Palestinian State or independent Palestinian States would result in civil strife such as might threaten the peace of the world. We therefore recommend that, until this hostility disappears, the Government of Palestine be continued as at present under mandate pending the execution of a trusteeship agreement under the United Nations.

Recommendation No. 5. Looking towards a form of ultimate self-government, consistent with the three principles laid down in Recommendation No. 3, we recommend that the mandatory or trustee should proclaim the principle that Arab economic, educational and political advancement in Palestine is of equal importance with that of the Jews; and should at once prepare measures designed to bridge the gap which now exists and raise the Arab standard of living to that of the Jews; and so bring the two peoples to a full appreciation of their common interest and common destiny in the land where both belong.

Recommendation No. 6. We recommend that, pending the early reference to the United Nations and the execution of a trusteeship agreement, the mandatory should administer Palestine according to the mandate which declares with regard to immigration that "The administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions".

Recommendation No. 7. (a) We recommend that the Land Transfers Regulations of 1940 be rescinded and replaced by regulations based on a policy of freedom in the sale, lease or use of land, irrespective of race, community or creed, and providing adequate protection for the interests of small owners and tenant cultivators; (b) We further recommend that steps be taken to render nugatory and to prohibit provisions in conveyances, leases and agreements relating to land which stipulate that only members of one races community or creed may be employed on or about or in connection therewith; (c) We recommend that the Government should exercise such close supervision over the Holy Places and localities such as the Sea of Galilee and its vicinity as will protect them from desecration and from uses which offend the conscience of religious people, and that such laws as are required for this purpose be enacted forthwith.

Recommendation No. 8. Various plans for large-scale agricultural and industrial development in Palestine have been presented for our consideration; these projects, if successfully carried into effect, could not only greatly enlarge the capacity of the country to support an increasing population but also raise the living standards of Jew and Arab alike. We are not in a position to assess the soundness of these specific plans; but we cannot state too strongly that, however technically feasible they may be, they will fail unless there is peace in Palestine. Moreover their full success requires the willing cooperation of adjacent Arab states, since they are not merely Palestinian projects. We recommend therefore that the examination, discussion and execution of these plans be conducted, from the start and throughout, in full consultation and cooperation not only with the Jewish Agency but also with the governments of the neighboring Arab States directly affected.

Recommendation No. 9. We recommend that, in the interests of the conciliation of the two peoples and of general improvement of the Arab standard of living, the educational system of both Jews and Arabs be reformed, including the introduction of compulsory education within a reasonable time.

Recommendation No. 10. We recommend that, if this Report is adopted, it should be made clear beyond all doubt to both Jews and Arabs that any attempt from either side, by threats of violence, by terrorism, or by the organization or use of illegal armies to prevent its execution, will be resolutely suppressed.


Provincial Autonomy Plan proposed by the Morrison-Grady committee

U.S President Harry S. Truman endorsed again the immigration of 100,000 refugees into Palestine, and the right of the Jews to purchase land,[9] but have not acknowledged the rest of the committee's findings. Within several days of the release of the Committee’s findings, its implementation was in jeopardy. U.S. President Harry S.Truman angered the British Labour Party by issuing a statement supporting the 100,000 refugees but refusing to acknowledge other aspects of the finding.

Although Bevin told the committee that he would accept their decision if it were unanimous, the U.K prime minister Clement Attlee opposed the recommendation of a mass immigration until the Yishuv was disarmed (which he knew was a nonstarter[9]) and the British government had conditioned the implementation of the report's recommendations (on the admission of 100,000 new Jewish immigrants) on the US providing assistance if force would be required to do so, but that was not offered. The US War Department had issued an earlier report which stated that an open-ended US troop commitment of 300,000 personnel would be necessary to assist the British government in maintaining order against an Arab revolt.[10]

The Morrison Grady Plan

After the Anglo-American Committee issued its report, a new committee was created to establish how the Anglo-American proposals would be implemented. It was led by British peer Herbert Morrison and US ambassador Henry F. Grady. In July 1946, it proposed "The Morrison Grady Plan" a plan for unitary federal trusteeship in Palestine. Jewish and Arab provinces would exercise self-rule under British oversight, while Jerusalem and the Negev would remain under direct British control. The plan became the point of departure for a Palestine Conference convened by the British on October 1, 1946. However the Arabs rejected the plan on the grounds that it would lead to partition, while the Jews refused to even attend. The Arabs instead proposed an independent unitary state. At a later meeting of the Conference the following February, Britain proposed a plan, known as the Bevin Plan, for a 5-year British trusteeship. The trusteeship was to lead to a permanent settlement agreed by all parties. When both the Arab and Jewish sides rejected the plan, Britain decided to refer the problem to the United Nations.

From October 1946 1,500 Jews were allowed into Palestine every month. Half of these came from the Cyprus internment camps which held illegal immigrants to Palestine. This allowance was designed to go some way to meet the promise made that the committee's findings would be binding; it also helped reduce pressure from the Jews of Palestine and fears that the growing numbers of Jews being held in Cyprus would destabilize British rule on the island.


  1. ^ Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry - Preface
  2. ^ Cmd 6808, National Archives PRO 30/78/30
  3. ^ Balfour's remarks from the League of Nations Official Journal: 30 June 1922
  4. ^ By William T. Ellis. (3 December 1922). "Crane And King'S Long-Hid Report On The Near East". New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Avalon Project (Yale Law School). "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry -Appendix IV". Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  6. ^ William roger louis, 1985, p.386
  7. ^ [The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism, By William Roger Louis , 12985, p. 407]
  8. ^ Avalon Project (Yale Law School). "Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry – Chapter I". Retrieved 28 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Morris, 2008, p.34
  10. ^ American Jewish History: A Eight-volume Series By Jeffrey S Gurock, American Jewish Historical Society, page 243

External links

  • Anglo-American Committee of inquiry full report
  • Anglo-American Committee of inquiry text
  • Immigration into Palestine – Statement by President Truman, 4 October 1946
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