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Petition demands UK apologize to Palestinians for Balfour Declaration

Arthur Balfour
PLO member calls it a 'dark episode' that UK must apologize to the Palestinian people for

A petition launched by the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) has received over 11,000 signatures, calling for a formal apology from the British government over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, a letter declaring support for the establishment of a Jewish state.

The BAC said that the British government should “openly apologize to the Palestinian people” for issuing the letter, written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour.

If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures the issue will be considered for debate in parliament. According to the Jerusalem Post, the government has three days to issue a formal response, since 10,000 signatures have already been collected.

Palestine was under British rule from 1917 to 1948 when they withdrew and made way for the creation of an independent Jewish state.

A spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Xavier Abu Eid, said in a statement that Palestinians “clearly have been victims of British colonialism and that the least we would expect from the UK is to apologize to the Palestinian people.”

“A foreign colonial power decided to give Palestine to an organization that was not even in Palestine,” he said. “This is one of the darkest episodes of the past 100 years.”

The Balfour Apology Campaign claims that it is the letter, written by Lord Balfour on November 2, 1917 that is the reason why Palestinians do not have a sovereign state today.

The 67-word letter reads: "His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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.”

“An apology would be recognition of the mistake that Britain made in the Balfour Declaration,” said a statement on the Apology Campaign’s website. “There are many precedents in which UK Prime Ministers recognized Britain’s role in causing suffering in its former colonies.”

“In addition,” it continued. “Many leading scholars and historians such as Avi Shlaim stated that Britain should apologize to the Palestinians for all the betrayal going back to the Balfour Declaration.”

Marking the 100th anniversary of the historic declaration, the Israeli government said that they see it as a significant marker of Jewish state.

“It was the first time that a great power recognized the Jewish people as a people who deserve and have the right to build their home,” said Michal Maayan, deputy spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to Media Line.

“The same language appears later in the UN resolutions about the creation of Israel.”


Maayan said that focusing on the 100-year-old document instead of future ways to resolve issues between Israelis and Palestinians was “another example of the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and the Jewish people’s right to have a country in Israel.”

“It shows their focus on the past instead of their commitment to find a peaceful resolution in the present,” Maayan said.

However, PLO’s Abu Eid counters that, they do recognize Israel according to the 1967 borders, and “that recognition is still in force.”

“But it would make a difference if they acknowledged what they did to us,” he added.



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