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UK bans anti-Balfour ad campaign

Lord Arthur James Balfour, former Prime Minister of the UK [George Grantham Bain/Wikipedia]

The government body in charge of transport in the UK capital London has banned adverts which highlight Palestinians’ objections to the Balfour Declaration.

Transport for London said it blocked the campaign from transport links on the basis that the issue is politically controversial; however, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian accused the body of censorship.

The adverts had been drawn up to run in key stations in the run up to the centenary of the signing of the declaration on 2 November.

#Balfour100

In a statement the Palestine Mission said: “We are deeply disappointed that TfL refused to run our modest advocacy campaign which aimed to raise awareness, among the British public, about the way the Balfour Declaration affected the Palestinian people.”

“It was appropriate and timely to run this campaign as we mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which was instrumental in the forced expulsion of the Palestinians from Palestine who made up 90% of the population in 1917.”

It added:

Britain has unfinished business when it comes to Palestine. It has a legal and moral responsibility which must be acknowledged. Restorative action must be taken to give back the Palestinians their basic rights and self-determination.

The Balfour Declaration refers to the letter sent by UK Foreign Minister, Sir Arthur James Balfour, on 2 November 1917 to Lord Lionel Walter de Rothschild, referring to the British government’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Human rights activists have reiterated calls for Britain to acknowledge the role it played in creating the Israeli state and facilitating the ongoing occupation of Palestine.

Read: Israeli Embassy Balfour celebration at British university condemned by students

Last year, the Palestinian Authority called for the UK government to apologise for the declaration, and sought to sue the UK for causing irreparable damage to the Palestinian people. Such calls have been largely ignored by British politicians who have instead reinforced their support of Israel.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, are expected to be the guests of honour at a London dinner celebrating the 100th year since the signing of the declaration.

There are nearly six million Palestinians around the world; the majority are refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, while hundreds of thousands live in Europe, the United States and other countries.

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