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Palestinians to UK: Apology or Legal Action over Balfour Declaration

Palestinians to UK: Apology or Legal Action over Balfour Declaration

Monday, 23 October, 2017 - 07:15
British Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour (second from left) with U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing (second from right) in Washington in 1917. (AP Photo)
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has warned that legal action would be filed against the UK if it insisted on celebrating the centennial of the Balfour Declaration.


The minister also asked London to issue an apology over the declaration.


In 1917, former British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised British Jewish community leader Lionel Walter Rothschild to establish a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people.


The declaration, which is considered the first documented legitimization of the State of Israel, said the British government would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”


Maliki stated that if London’s government doesn't apologize, Palestine would take legal action against the British authorities to restore people's rights and rectify the historic mistake. The minister did declare earlier that without an apology, the case remains unsolved.


Member of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Hanan Ashrawi also asked Britain to apologize and recognize the Palestinian State.


Last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly session in New York and attacked the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration, which is a grave injustice to the Palestinian people, asserting that in 1917, "97 percent of the inhabitants of Palestine were Palestinians."


Abbas stated that Palestine was a prosperous, progressive state, adding that the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent British mandate amounted to a "historical injustice."


"What is worse is that this November, [the British government] wants to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this crime against our people," Abbas told the General Assembly. He called upon the UK to "apologize" for the Declaration as well as "provide compensation".


A statement from the British government, however, read: “The Balfour Declaration is a historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) does not intend to apologize. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”


A Balfour Apology Campaign had launched a petition on the British Parliament website urging the UK to “openly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration”.


Palestinians are also preparing to celebrate this occasion with protests, marches, and events that assert their right to Palestine as their country.


Palestinian factions also called for a wider popular mobilization. Several events are expected to be announced at the beginning of November and will last the whole month in the Palestinian territories and diaspora.


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