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Britain urged to recognize sovereign Palestinian state

Palestinians carry national flags as they stage a rally to mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 15, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Palestinian officials have called on the UK to recognize an independent Palestinian state and press the Israeli regime to end its colonial activities in the occupied lands.

In a meeting with British minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson should recognize Palestine in a statement akin to the Balfour Declaration that led to the creation of Israel.

The document issued in November 1917 by the then British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour said the UK government “views with favor the establishment in Palestine of” Israel.

It set the stage for the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian fled or were expelled from their homes by Israel during the 1948 war.

“Balfour became famous for his promise … to establish” Israel on the land of Palestine, Maliki said, adding, “I call for the current British foreign secretary to be famous for giving the Palestinians a promise called the ‘Johnson declaration’ that recognizes a Palestinian state.”

Separately on Tuesday, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), sat down with Burt in the West Bank city of Ariha (Jericho).

Erekat urged the UK to recognize the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and to reconsider plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary for the Balfour Declaration.

“Britain ... and the rest of the world have to obligate the Israeli government to accept the principle of [the so-called] two states based on the June 4, 1967 borders, that is an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital … and a halt to all Israeli colonial activities,” Erekat told his British guest.

Palestinians walk next to Israeli forces at the entrance of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem al-Quds' Old City on July 25, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, during the Six-Day War in 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the international community.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the two-state solution along the pre-1967 boundaries.

However, Israel has been building settlements deep within territory that the Palestinians want for their future state.

Tel Aviv regime officials also say they consider Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of their own “state.”

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