Palestinians gear up to sue the UK – over 1917 Balfour Declaration
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Palestinians gear up to sue the UK – over 1917 Balfour Declaration

PA top diplomat tells Arab League that Britain is responsible for all 'Israeli crimes' committed since the end of the mandate in 1948

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016 (AP/Majdi Mohammed, File)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a press conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016 (AP/Majdi Mohammed, File)

The Palestinian Authority is preparing a lawsuit against the British government over the issuing of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel.

The PA’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Arab League leaders gathered in Mauritania Monday that London is responsible for all “Israeli crimes” committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.

Signed by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour in 1917, the declaration was seen as giving the Zionist movement official recognition and backing on the part of a major power, on the eve of the British conquest of the then-Ottoman territory of Palestine.

The decision, al-Malki said, “gave people who don’t belong there something that wasn’t theirs.”

There was no immediate reaction from Britain.

Balfour Declaration (Wikimedia Commons)
Balfour Declaration (Wikimedia Commons)

A report in the official Wafa news agency did not note where the PA plans to file the lawsuit.

Last year, a group calling itself the Popular Palestinian Campaign to Sue the United Kingdom sued the UK in an Egyptian court.

In 2008, a Palestinian youth group said it would attempt to sue the UK over the Balfour Declaration in Britain or in the ICC.

It was not clear if either effort bore fruit.

On Monday, the Arab League summit, despite splits over Iran and Turkey, was cut back to a single day due to the ongoing absence of the heavyweight leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi stayed at home because of “a busy domestic schedule” — amid unconfirmed reports of an assassination plot against him — while Saudi King Salman’s no-show was due to “health reasons,” an Arab League source told AFP.

Mauritania’s head of state Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is hosting the summit, slammed the “blind violence of terrorists,” as well as foreign interventions that feed instability in the Arab world.

The Mauritanian president also called for fresh efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that regional instability would continue until the issue was settled.

Arab foreign ministers meeting ahead of the summit on Saturday urged a “definitive solution” to the conflict and welcomed a French and Egyptian initiative to help revive dormant peace talks.

Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.

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