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Netanyahu to attend Balfour centennial dinner in London

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the UK on 6 February 2017 [Kate Green /Anadolu Agency]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the UK on 6 February 2017 [Kate Green /Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he will travel to London this week to attend a dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which was issued on 2 November 1917.

“The Balfour Declaration,” Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting, “recognised the land of Israel as the national home for the Jewish people and started the international movements that led to Israel’s establishment.” He pointed out that the state would have not have been established without “the settlements, sacrifice and the will to fight, but the international movement undoubtedly began with the Balfour Declaration.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of the Jewish community will also attend the celebration event, revealed the Israeli leader. He noted that during his visit to London he hopes to attract British companies to invest in Israel and will have a formal meeting with May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. It was Johnson’s predecessor in the role, Lord Arthur Balfour, who wrote his infamous letter to the then leader of the Zionist Movement, Lord Walter Rothschild as a “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” While Israel and its apologists are keen to emphasise this as giving the state some legitimacy, they ignore in theory and practice that Balfour added, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”

May announced a few days ago that Britain will celebrate the centennial of the Balfour Declaration “proudly” although this is far from the consensus across the country. The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, for example, announced on Sunday that he will not attend the dinner with Netanyahu.

Read: UK bans anti-Balfour ad campaign

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