Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged “increasing international pressure” to be brought to bear to end Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in a statement released yesterday evening to mark the Balfour Declaration centenary.
The full statement by the Leader of the Opposition is as follows:
Today marks the centenary of the British government’s Balfour Declaration, which has shaped the modern history of the Middle East.
The fact that this promise by what was then colonial Britain is celebrated by one side and commemorated as a disaster by the other reflects the continuing tragedy at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Balfour promised to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine while pledging that nothing would be done to prejudice the rights of its “existing non-Jewish communities”, a reference to the Palestinian Arabs who then made up 90% of the population.
A hundred years on, the second part of Britain’s pledge has still not been fulfilled, and Britain’s historic role means we have a special responsibility to the Palestinian people, who are still denied their basic rights.
So let us mark the Balfour anniversary by recognising Palestine as a step towards a genuine two state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, increasing international pressure for an end to the 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, illegal settlement expansion and the blockade of Gaza.
As many Israelis and Palestinians believe, there can only be a lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of a negotiated settlement that delivers justice and security for both peoples and states.