Zionist forces in the Holy Land are rapidly completing preparations to proclaim a Jewish state on May 16, the day after the British mandate ends.
It is not yet clear whether the highest governing body of the Jewish area of the Holy Land will officially be called the "Jewish government," or be described by a more modest name.
However, Jewish leaders here maintain that the Jews are determined to set up their own state.
If everything runs to schedule on May 16, one minute after midnight, Itshak Gruenbaum, slated to be director for home affairs in the Jewish state, and his four newly appointed district commissioners will be responsible for civil administration of the Jewish sections of Palestine.
At dawn the same day, the Union Jack on government cars in the same area is to be replaced by blue-and-white Jewish flags.
At 8 a.m. the post offices are to start to sell new stamps with Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions.
Half an hour later, thousands of recently selected employees of the newly established 13 government departments of the Jewish state are to stream to their desks, where paper, pencils and typewriters already await them and the machinery of a new state is to be put into action.
The Jews hope that switching over the mandatory to Jewish administration will be carried out smoothly.
This administration already is functioning de facto, due to filling the vacuum caused by disintegration of the mandatory governmental services during recent months.
Four districts planned
Planners of the future Jewish administration with whom I spoke feel - often to their sorrow - that one of the files they have prepared for the time being cannot be put into much use. This is the file dealing with Arab-Jewish cooperation in the Jewish state.
The Jews' plans envisage, however, that each of the four districts into which the Jewish state is to be divided should have one Jewish and one Arab deputy district commissioner.
In present circumstances, it is unlikely that any Arab would accept such as position, which would mean "indirect recognition of the Jewish state."
To secure local autonomy for rural population generally and the Arabs particularly, Jewish planners are introducing a system of regional councils of groups of 15 villages for Jews and Arabs separately. In view of the fact that the present warfare has driven out of the towns and villages some 200,00 Arabs of a total of 350,000 hitherto living in Jewish areas, it is not expected that this system will work at this stage as scheduled.
Cooperation hoped for
However, many Jewish leaders with whom I have spoken during recent weeks, including David Ben-Gurion, prime minister designate, are confident that after the present storm is over, the emotional and humanitarian damages caused by the present wave of destruction can be repaired and cooperation between Arab and Jew be made possible.
Some Jewish leaders even expressed hope they "will see soon some Arabs as members of the Jewish government."
One feature of the Jewish governmental structure is that world Jewry is not be represented in the Jewish government, which is to be a purely Palestinian body.
The link between the Jewish state and the Jews of the world will be preserved through the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency as far as its functions are not to be transferred in the Jewish government. It is expected that these worldwide institutions will continue to organize Jews for immigration into the Holy Land and further the absorption into the Holy Land of Jewish refugees from Europe.
Elections for the constituent assembly are planned to be held as soon as war operations terminate. Jews and Arabs are slated to have equal active and passive electoral rights.
The draft constitution which has been drawn up by a special committee of the Jewish Agency foresees establishment of a democratic parliamentary republic in the western European sense, with its government being responsible to elected representatives of the people. The same draft provides for one parliamentary house only.
On the Arab side, preparations for statehood are not so manysided. These preparations move chiefly on the highest political level. The Arabs have declared that if the Jews proclaim their state in their parts of Palestine, the Arabs will proclaim their government for all the Holy Land.
Concerning administration of their state, they hope to make use of remnants of the mandatory government and municipal services and to combine them with the emergency administration set up during recent months by local Arab "national committees," all of which are to be under the Arab Higher Executive.
That is how the Jewish and Arab plans look on paper. However, observers point out that final form will be shaped by developments.