(Sydney Prior Hall/Wikicommons)
Arthur James Balfour

“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologize. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel,” the UK stated.

The British government expressed pride in its role in the creation of the State of Israel, in response to a Palestinian-led sustained campaign demanding an apology for the Balfour Declaration.

A statement from the government read, “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologize. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

The statement also reaffirmed the government’s belief that “establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution.”

A high-profile Balfour Apology Campaign had launched a petition on the British Parliament website calling on the UK to “openly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration” ahead of its centenary in November. In an address to the Arab League in March, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas demanded the United Kingdom apologize for granting the Balfour Declaration.

In July 2016, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki asked the Arab League for support in filing a lawsuit against the UK government for publishing the Declaration.

In December, however, Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the centenary as “an anniversary we will be marking with pride” at a Conservative Friends of Israel event.

PA Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian on Tuesday confirmed that unless the UK government apologizes, cancels planned celebrations and recognizes the “State of Palestine,” the PA will go ahead with the planned lawsuit. “This is the only condition upon which we can close this file permanently,” he stated.

The Balfour Declaration was signed by then-Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour in 1917, declaring the support of the British government for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. It is widely considered to be a seminal document in the process creating the legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

May has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend events in the UK marking the centenary of the declaration this coming November.

By: The Tower

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