Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has called on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to recognize a Palestinian state in a declaration akin to that of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
“Balfour became famous for his promise to the Jews to establish a state for them on the land of Palestine,” Maliki said on Tuesday in Ramallah, in a meeting with British Middle East and International Development Minister Alistair Burt. “I call for the current British foreign minister to be famous for giving the Palestinians a promise called the ‘Johnson declaration’ that recognizes a Palestinian state.”
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also called on the UK on Tuesday to recognize a Palestinian state.
Over the past year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and has floated the possibility of suing the country, if it does not apologize.
Abbas has also urged Britain to cancel plans to celebrate the Balfour Declaration’s centenary in November.
In April, the British Foreign Office said it had no plans to apologize for the Balfour Declaration.
“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologize,” the Foreign Office said.
“We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves toward peace.”
The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent by then-foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour to a leader in the British Jewish community in 1917, in which Balfour said the British government views “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Palestine was under British rule when Balfour made the policy statement that contributed to the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Some 136 of 193 United Nations member states have recognized a Palestinian state, but the United States, Britain and a number of other world powers have not done so.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Israel has previously stated that it opposes members of the international community unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state.