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Palestine, Arab League, OIC condemn Balfour Declaration

People take part in a rally in front the British consulate in the occupied al-Quds on November 2, 2021 on the 104th anniversary of the the Balfour Declaration, which set out Britain’s aim to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. (Photo by Palestinian Safa news agency)

Palestine, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have denounced the infamous Balfour Declaration issued by Britain in 1917, which set the stage for the creation of the Israeli entity and occupation of Palestine.

On Tuesday, Palestinian flags were flown at half-mast across the occupied territories on the 104th anniversary of the statement to remind the international community, the United Kingdom in particular, of the suffering of Palestinians and their deprivation of rights to independence, statehood and self-determination.

Schools held special ceremonies to reflect on the impacts of the Balfour Declaration on the Palestinian nation and its future.

“Today marks 104 years since the Balfour declaration. It has been a century of pain for us the Palestinian people but also of perseverance. It is time for Britain to apologize for its colonial acts & atone: Recognize the State of Palestine and sanction transgressions of the law,” Palestinian Ambassador to Britain, Husam Zomlot, wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.

The Arab League called on the United Kingdom to “correct this historic mistake and assume its historical, legal and moral responsibility by apologizing to the Palestinian people, and recognizing the Palestinian state on June 4, 1967, lines with East Jerusalem as its capital in support of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in accordance with the vision of a two-state solution.”

‘Stain on human history’

Moreover, the OIC stated that the Balfour Declaration led to the creation of a colonial occupation regime in Palestine, which is exercising the policies of mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing, settlement construction and expansion, Judaization, land confiscation and property destruction, and denies Palestinians of their legitimate national rights.

“As the world commemorates this dramatic event, which has left a dark stain on human history and consciousness and undermined the values of freedom and justice, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation renews its unwavering commitment to Palestinian people as they are struggling for their legitimate rights,” it said in a statement.

The organization then called on the international community “to assume its historical, legal and political responsibility to bring the Israeli occupation to account, and to enable the Palestinian nation to recover their inalienable rights, including the right of return and the right to an independent state based on the 1967 borders with East al-Quds as its capital.”

The Balfour Declaration came in the form of a letter from Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community. It was published on November 2, 1917.

The declaration was made during World War I (1914-1918), and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

It is widely seen as the precursor to the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, when Zionist armed paramilitary groups, who were trained and created to fight side by side with the British in World War II, forcibly expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. 

Also on Tuesday, dozens of Palestinians participated in a protest at the Jablia refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip to demand the United Kingdom recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Protesters held banners and chanted slogans urging Britain to stand by its responsibility and recognize an independent Palestinian state with al-Quds as its capital, and to acknowledge the suffering caused by the Balfour Declaration.

Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanou said the UK is fully responsible for a “historical, political and moral crime” towards Palestinian people.

“Since that pledge, our people have been in a continuous suffering and an open battle with the Israeli occupation in order to obtain their rights in their land that was gifted to Israel to establish its lands,” he said.

People take part in a rally in Khan Yunis city, southern Gaza Strip, on November 2, 2021 on the 104th anniversary of the the Balfour Declaration, which set out Britain’s aim to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. (Photo by Palestinian Shehab news agency)

Al-Qanou said the UK should compensate Palestinians for the injustice they have suffered as a result of the declaration.

“No matter how long it takes, we won’t give up our rights to resist and struggle until it is liberated from occupation,” he added.

Aref Naim, a member of the Fida Party, also said the “ominous pledge” caused mass displacement, killing and land confiscation and had not been forgotten by Palestinians.

“The international community is silent about the crime of stealing Palestinian land and displacing thousands of Palestinians until this day. The Palestinian people paid a heavy price and still do,” he argued.

Naim called on the international community to increase the pressure on Israel to end its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories, and to implement all United Nations resolutions, including the right of return and the right to self-determination for Palestinians.

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