Ramallah-Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has given Britain the option to apologize to Palestinians or head to court for its 1917 Balfour Declaration, which has backed a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Malki said on Thursday that “the issue will remain pending until Britain apologizes.”
He said the declaration was a “fateful promise from the ones who don’t own to the ones who don’t deserve.”
The declaration issued on November 2, 1917 by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour said the British government “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
It was a major step towards the eventual establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was angered by preparations made by British officials and lawmakers along with Jewish figures to celebrate the centennial of the Balfour Declaration.
The sources said Palestinian leaders are seeking Arab League support for the complaint they intend to file against Britain.
Malki, who spoke on behalf of Abbas at the Arab League summit in Nouakchott several days ago, held Britain responsible for all the crimes committed by Israel since the end of the mandate in 1948.
“The Palestinian leadership is seeking to open the file of international crimes that were committed against the Palestinian people – from the mandate all the way to the massacres of 1948,” he said.
Malki said the declaration led to mass Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine “at the expense of our Palestinian people.”
“Since then, hundreds of thousands of Jews have reached Palestine from Europe and elsewhere,” he said.
Britain has not commented on the Palestinian warnings.
But Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “After almost 4,000 years of Jewish history, almost 100 years after the Balfour Declaration and 68 years since the founding of the State of Israel, there are still those who deny our connection to this land. It is very clear that the root of the conflict is the fact that they refuse to recognize a Jewish home with any borders.”
He said the Palestinians will fail if they go through with their bid to sue Britain.
“Of course they will fail” if they file the lawsuit, Netanyahu said.