The umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has called on Britain to apologise for the 1917 Balfour Declaration – a document that laid the groundwork for Israel’s creation.
“It’s time for Britain to act with responsibility to realise the political rights of the Palestinian people, which were denied a century ago,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement on Saturday. He added:
Palestine remains a victim to this colonialist pledge…which denied the political rights of our people and their legitimate right to self-determination
The Balfour Declaration, dated November 2, 1917, was a letter sent by Britain’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent Zionist leader.
In the letter, Balfour declares his government’s support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
The infamous declaration was the result of three years of talks between the British government, Britain’s Jewish community and the International Zionist Organisation.
Two years ago, the centenary of Balfour was marked by Britain’s then Prime Minister, Theresa May, inviting her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, to commemorate the anniversary “with pride”. This was despite the fact that over 13,500 people had signed a parliamentary petition launched by the Palestinian Return Centre calling for the government to apologise to the Palestinians.
Britain is yet to acknowledge its historic responsibility for the calamitous situation facing the Palestinians. Successive governments have avoided the injustice by simply making statements of goodwill, instead of progressive actions to end the Israeli occupation and support the Palestinian right to self-determination.
Last month, Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK called Britain’s delay in recognising the state of Palestine is illegal.
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