Abbas at UN General Assembly: Britain Must Apologize for Balfour Declaration

PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: File)

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said on Thursday that Britain should apologise for its 1917 declaration endorsing the founding of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and should recognise Palestine as a state.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Abbas said that the Palestinian people had suffered greatly because of the Balfour Declaration in which Britain said it favoured the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.

“We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created.”

He added that Britain should “act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine,” continuing, “This is the least Great Britain can do.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also addressed the leaders, deriding Abbas for focusing on the declaration and further suggested a possibility of the Palestinians suing Britain for it.

“President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He is preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago. Talk about being stuck in the past,” Netanyahu said.

The Balfour Declaration, named for the British foreign secretary at the time stated, “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.”

The mutual allegations by the two leaders underlined the low expectations for any revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

(MEMO, PC)

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