Palestinians Seek Apology for Balfour Declaration
“Palestinians Seek Apology for Balfour Declaration”. So reads a headline in [November 3, 2003] Jerusalem Post, neatly summarizing a point I (among others) have been trying to make for years now, for example in the Los Angeles Times in January 2002: the Palestinian problem with Israel is not over the size of the state, nor where its citizens live, nor over control of sanctities, not over water resources, nor over armaments. It has to do, rather, with the very existence of the state.
Here are choice excepts of this article by the talented Khaled Abu Toameh, covering the 86th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration – the British foreign secretary’s 1917 announcement that “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip marched in the streets and held rallies to condemn the role Britain played in the establishment of Israel.
Statements issued by different Palestinian factions, organizations, and officials demanded an apology from Britain, saying it is morally and legally responsible for the creation of Israel. The Palestinian Council for Defending Refugees’ Rights said Britain must apologize for the injustice done to the Palestinians as a result of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
“We hold Britain responsible, morally and legally, for the injustice done to the Palestinian cause,” the council said. “Britain is responsible for disarming our people prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, thus depriving our people of their right to self-determination and independence. Therefore, we are demanding that Britain apologize for what happened in Palestine.”
Adding a contemporary twist this by-now routine demand, Youssef al-Kazzaz, director of “Voice of Palestine,” the Palestinian Authority’s radio station, called on Palestinians and Arabs living in Britain to form special committees to put pressure on the British government to issue a similar declaration acknowledging the Palestinians’ right to establish their own state. “Otherwise, the Palestinian people in their homeland and elsewhere would continue to hold Britain responsible for this crime in favor of Israel,” he said.
Given the inflamed state of views toward the Arab-Israeli conflict in Great Britain, it strikes this observer as entirely conceivable that the government there will indeed apologize, and perhaps not that many years from now.
If such sentiments don’t demonstrate root and branch Palestinian rejection of Israel, it’s hard to imagine what might. (November 3, 2003)