Lord Roderick Balfour defended Balfour Declaration, issued by his father’s uncle Lord Arthur in 1917, saying that it was not a “promise” that the United Kingdom would establish a state for the Jews in Palestine but a “letter” that expressed “solidarity” with the Jews’ hopes to establish a state for them under the condition of not breaching non-Jews rights at the “sacred land” in Palestine.
He stressed that “Balfour Declaration” should be viewed from a historic perspective that takes into consideration the conditions of World War I when Turks backed Germans and lost and when the UK refused to apologize for the declaration. Jerusalem must be a global heritage location that is supervised by the UN, he added.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on the 100th anniversary of the declaration, Lord Balfour replied to complaints of Palestinians that the promise is oppressive since it grants Jews the right over their land. He explained that he understands the feelings toward the declaration but going back to 1917, the Ottoman empire was ruling Jews and non-Jews in Palestine until the end of the war. So the land wasn’t even for the Palestinians at that time.
Lord Balfour added that they weren't even called Palestinians but Arabs, so a big part of the dilemma today is due to a new concept of historic symbols. There was a war at that part of the world then. Turks made a mistake and they supported Germans who were enemies of the allies and they lost the war. After exiling the Ottoman empire we became the actual rulers of the land, he continued.
Lord Balfour elaborated that the Balfour Declaration appeared in historic conditions when Jews were facing oppression in Europe, namely Russia – this led Jews to think that no one wanted them while Arabs didn't feel the discomfort faced by Jews in Europe.
He stated that he was criticized because he said that a major part of the letter wasn’t applied, adding that all Liberal Jews agree that expanding settlements and displacing Palestinians represent a mistake for several reasons, including violating with the UN resolutions.
Israel came into existence because of the UN blessing in 1947, therefore settlement and displacement are problems that must be solved, not to mention the huge increased population among Palestinians and certain extremist Jewish circles.
Lord Balfour stressed on launching an operation for economic redevelopment in West Bank and Gaza Strip, considering that Palestinians received no support from their Arab friends, unlike Israel that was supported by Western forces.