Palestinian FM asks Arab League to help sue UK over Balfour Declaration

Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged the Arab League to help the Palestinian Authority to sue the United Kingdom over the Balfour Declaration of 1917 on Monday.

Speaking on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, al-Maliki delivered a speech Thursday at the Arab League’s annual summit, which is being held this year in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

Al-Maliki apologized on behalf of Abbas, who couldn’t attend the summit due to his brother’s recent death, before urging Arab countries to “help us bring a suit against the British government over the ominous Balfour Declaration which resulted in the Nakba (catastrophe) for the Palestinian people.”

Nearly a century ago, a letter sent from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild, a British Jewish leader, declared British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Palestinians have since viewed the declaration as paving the way for the creation of the State of Israel at the expense of the land’s original inhabitants.

The declaration was made before the British had wrested control of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, and was not made public until several years after the World War I, in 1920.

By that time, Britain had been formally granted a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations, and was struggling with its contradictory obligations of “rewarding” Arabs for their support during the war, while also fulfilling their pledge to create a Jewish state.

After World War II, British forces withdrew from Palestine, leaving it in the hands of the newly created United Nations, which favored partition, particularly as evidence slowly emerged of the vast scale of the Holocaust in Europe.

The decision led to the 1948 war between Arab nations, including Palestinians, and Jewish immigrants, ultimately resulting in the creation of the state of Israel and the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes inside its borders, an event known as the Nakba among Palestinians.

In February, the Palestine Liberation Organization said in a statement that Great Britain bore “the primary responsibility” for “historical injustice in Palestine.”

Via Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

TeleSur from last year: “Palestine: Demonstration Marks Anniversary of Balfour Declaration”

3 Responses

  1. The Balfour Declaration, dated November 2, 1917, declared British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It did not “pledge to create a Jewish state,” as stated in the piece above. There is a distinct difference between a “national home,” which is ambiguous and could take several forms, and a “state,” which is rigidly defined in international law.

    The piece does not state in which legal venue the Palestinian Authority would sue Britain, nor does it state what the charges would be. The Balfour Declaration had no legal basis. It was simply a letter stating that the British Government would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. At the time, Britain and the allies were at war with the Ottoman Empire, which exercised authority over Palestine.

    The text of the Balfour Declaration follows.

    “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

    The piece above is incorrect in stating that the Declaration “was not made public until several years after World War I, in 1920.” It was made public in “The Times” on November 9, 1917, one week after its November 2 formulation.

    The Palestinian Authority should be focusing on measures to enhance its status today, not trying to engage in what would no doubt prove a fruitless exercise bringing suit against Britain based on a one-hundred-year old letter that had no legal authority when it was devised. Moreover, the Ma’an News Agency in its piece above has done such a shoddy job of presenting its so-called “facts” regarding the Balfour Declaration that one is tempted to suggest a brush-up on journalistic tradecraft might be in order.

      • You may depend on Wikipedia, and you are welcome to it. I have never depended on Wikipedia, as it is often wrong, but more often it offers incomplete summaries of the subject matter.

        I gain my knowledge and insights from an extensive library I have maintained for decades. What I have written above is historically correct. Nevertheless, if you wish to challenge my points, I am up to the challenge. Feel free to do so.

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