The current Earl of Balfour has called on Israel to comply with his ancestor’s 1917 Declaration and give Palestinians their own state.
In a letter to the New York Times the 5th Earl, Roderick Balfour (pictured above), acknowledged that while one part of the Balfour Declaration, which gave Jews a homeland in Palestine, had been fulfilled, the other, respecting the rights of the native Palestinian population, had not.
“In 1917, my forebear Arthur Balfour, as British foreign secretary, wrote the Balfour Declaration, a great humanitarian initiative to give Jews a home in their ancient lands, against the background of the dreadful Russian pogroms,” the Earl writes. “We are conscious, however, that a central tenet of the declaration has all but been forgotten over the intervening decades: respect for the status of (Arab) Palestinians.”
Balfour goes on to argue that Israel’s inability to abide by UN resolutions to cease building illegal settlements and withdraw from the Occupied Territories is a key factor behind growing anti-Semitism around the world.
“The increasing inability of Israel to address this condition, coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world,” he says. “Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu owes this to the millions of Jews around the world who suffer essentially because of the results of internal Israeli politics, as well as to the unenfranchised Palestinians.”
The Earl says that to achieve peace Israel “must respect the United Nations resolutions (the same United Nations that gave Israel legitimacy 70 years ago) and look to allow the Palestinians their own state”. He says he believes the centenary of the Balfour Declaration cannot be properly celebrated this year without progress on a two-state solution and a simultaneous push toward making Jerusalem “an internationally protected capital for all three Abrahamic faiths”.
The Earl’s letter is a response to recent comments by US President Donald Trump in which he said he would not necessarily push for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. In a reference to the two-faced Roman God, Balfour describes Trump as looking “more like Janus on the issue”.