Three days before the Balfour Declaration’s centenary, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday reiterated the position of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah that the United Kingdom should apologize for issuing it.
The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent by then-British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour to a leader in the British Jewish community in 1917, in which Balfour said the British government viewed “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.
“Britain should apologize for the historic injustice it committed against Palestinians and correct it instead of celebrating it,” Hamdallah posted on his official Twitter account.
Palestinian officials have said the Balfour Declaration paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel at their people’s expense.
In April, the British Foreign Office announced it had no plans to apologize for Balfour’s statement.
Later this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UK Prime Minister Theresa May are slated to participate in a celebration of the Declaration.
May told the British House of Commons last Wednesday that while she plans to celebrate the Balfour Declaration’s 100th anniversary “with pride,” she also thinks Brits should be “conscious of the sensitivities that some people do have about the Balfour Declaration,” in an apparent reference to the Palestinians.
For more than a year, Palestinian officials have been calling on the UK to recognize a state of Palestine along pre-1967 borders.
In April, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to issue a “Johnson Declaration,” recognizing such a state.
Palestinian officials have also been threatening legal action against the UK for the Balfour Declaration.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousif told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership is serious about prosecuting the UK over the century-old policy statement.
“We are going to move forward with this file,” Abu Yousif said in a phone interview the Post last week.
According to the PLO official, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the PLO Executive Committee in its last meeting that he wants a case against the UK to be advanced.
Yousif, however, said he did not know in which courts the Palestinians would file a case against the British government.