A campaign launched by Palestinian activists and the diplomatic mission of Palestine in the UK has demanded that the British government apologise for the Balfour Declaration, writes Ahmed Kaballo.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised Zionist organisations a “Jewish state” in the homeland of the Palestinians, in what was at the time the British Mandate of Palestine. Ultimately it led to the creation of Israel after Palestinian land was stolen and ethnically cleansed.
Palestinian groups and their supporters have attributed the plight of the Palestinian people, as well as a legacy of occupation, displacement and injustice, to the decision taken by the British colonial regime to give away Palestinian land. Thus, they have asked for a formal apology and for the British government to accept responsibility for the catastrophe that they caused.
The campaign to get the British government to apologise has received support from all corners of the world and even has the backing of a number of pro-Palestinian Chilean MPs who, from Santiago, made a public call on the U.K to apologise for Balfour declaration.
The Campaign is spearheaded by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) which launched the initiative in an event hosted inside the UK Parliament a week ahead of the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, last year.
In a Press Release, the PRC stated: “The Balfour Declaration, which had no basis of legal authority, promised the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, where the indigenous Palestinians amounted to 90% of the total population.”
They have also launched a petition and if it reaches 100, 000 signatures, the B0ritish Parliament will have to consider debating the subject. The petition, which currently has over 12,300 signatures, calls on:
“Her Majesty’s Government to openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”
Baroness Jenny Tonge, an independent member of the House of Lords, said pro-Palestinian MPs from across the spectrum would push the issue regardless of what happens with the petition. “There will be people in the House of Commons and the House of Lords who will be raising the issue all through the next year,” Tonge said.
The activists, backed by the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the UK, intend to pressure the British government in the lead up to the hundredth anniversary of the pledge in November 2017.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised the campaign and called it “amazing” because it shows the true nature of Palestinians who are “100 years on” challenging the very idea of a home for the Jewish people.
Moreover, the neo-Conservative Zionist think tank the Henry Jackson Society hosted an event in the House of Commons as a direct response to the Palestinian Return Centre’s meeting held in the House of Lords. The panel included Israel’s ambassador to the UK and other figures close to Netanyahu’s government.
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