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Nothing to be proud of

Nov 04,2017 - Last updated at Nov 04,2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu chose to “celebrate” in London, on November 2, the centenary of the infamous “Balfour Declaration”, made in 1917 by the British government, which viewed with favour the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine, a policy that set the stage for the creation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the deprivation of the Palestinian people in Palestine of their political rights and their exodus to neighbouring countries.

Instead of commemorating that declaration, the occasion should have been seized to express its serious flaws.

May, however, took the occasion to reiterate that Britain was “proud of our pioneering role in the creation of the state of Israel”.

May also criticised Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank and their role in impeding the two-state solution, but failed to highlight the devastating deprivation of the Palestinians of their political rights.

The then foreign secretary of Great Britain, Lord Arthur Balfour, sent an official letter to Britain’s Jewish leader Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild expressing his government’s commitment to support the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, a tiny minority living amidst the majority Palestinian Arabs.

The centenary of the declaration should have been used to issue a corrective declaration aiming to address the serious omission in the 1917 declaration, highlighting support for the political rights of the Palestinians to a homeland on their own land.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas summed up the Palestinian grievance by saying that the “creation of a homeland for one people resulted in the dispossession of another”. No wonder the occasion sparked demonstrations in many parts of the Arab world, especially in the West Bank and Jordan.

 

London could at least issue a new statement mentioning that the rights of one people were gained at the expense of injustice to another.

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