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Petition: UK government should ‘apologise’ to Palestinians for Balfour Declaration

JERICHO, WEST BANK - NOVEMBER 17: Palestinian protesters set up a symbolic village to protest Israel near al-Hamma and Ayn al-Beyza regions where the Bedouins live in Al-Agvar of Jericho, West Bank on November 17, 2016. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )

The Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) has launched a petition which calls on the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration that lead to the colonisation of Palestine that continues to this day. BAC also called on the British government to lead peace efforts in Palestine.

The campaign, which was initiated by the UK-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), an organisation that supports the return of the Palestinian diaspora to their national homeland, urged Westminster to acknowledge responsibility for its colonial crimes in Palestine following the infamous declaration.

The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British Government in 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, resulted in the mass displacement of the Palestinian people and a century of suffering.

According to experts, the Balfour Declaration had no legal authority. It was described by jurist Henry Cattan as “legally void, morally wicked and politically mischievous”.

Read: Inviting Netanyahu to celebrate Balfour in London ‘a new slap for Palestinians’

The BAC invited the British public to sign their petition to force the government to take action and acknowledge its historic responsibility towards the Palestinian people, after playing such a pivotal role in their displacement.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BAC said: “We call 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.”

The BAC continued by saying that “HMG should recognise its role during the [League of Nations] Mandate and now must lead attempts to reach a solution that ensures justice for the Palestinian people.”

According to the statement, the campaign aims to impact all sections of society through working with politicians, MPs, media, NGOs, Charities, students and members of the public to raise awareness of Britain’s colonial past and its role in creating the longest standing conflict in modern times.

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“No document in Middle Eastern history has had as much influence as the Balfour Declaration on the current plight of the Palestinian people,” the BAC said. “The Balfour Declaration, a 67-word statement is contained in the short letter by the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leading English Jew, on November 2, 1917.”

The Balfour Declaration “[viewed] with favour” the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, without the consent of the inhabitants of the country, the Palestinian Arabs, who were the majority. In 1917, at the time of the declaration, Palestinians constituted over 90 per cent of the total population.

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