Palestinian officials announced a year-long campaign to commemorate 100 years since the “crime” of the Balfour Declaration, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Monday.
Activities and events will take place worldwide, will be launched on November 2 and end on November 2, 2017 — the 100-year mark since British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.
Signed by 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.
Calling the declaration a “colonialist project,” Taysir Khalid, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Monday the new Palestinian effort was intended “to remind the world and particularly Britain that they should face their historic responsibility and to atone for the big crime Britain had committed against the Palestinian people.”
In July the PA said it was preparing a lawsuit against the British government over the 1917 document that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said at the time that London was responsible for all “Israeli crimes” committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.
The decision, al-Malki said, “gave people who don’t belong there something that wasn’t theirs.”
Last month at the UN, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the PA over the plan, characterizing it as another example of Palestinians refusing to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
“That’s almost 100 years ago,” said Netanyahu. “Talk about being stuck in the past! The Palestinians might as well sue Iran for the Cyrus declarations, or file a class action suit against Abraham, for buying land in Hebron,” he added, referencing a Persian edict allowing Jews to return to Judea in 539 BCE and the Biblical patriarch.
Reiterating that he remains “committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two people,” Netanyahu said that “One thing I would never negotiate is our right to the one, only Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.
“This conflict is not about the settlements, it never was,” he said. “It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state.
“If the Palestinians had said yes to a Jewish state in 1947 there would have been no war… and when they do finally say yes to a Jewish state we will be able to end this conflict once and for all,” Netanyahu said.