Joint List MK Osama Saadi on Tuesday decried the “cursed” Balfour Declaration, a document seen as a key milestone in the State of Israel’s establishment.
“Today, November 2, 104 days ago, was the cursed Balfour Declaration, which announced the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine,” Saadi said in comments made to the Knesset plenum.
On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, the United Kingdom foreign secretary at the time, sent a letter to the leader of the British Jewish community, Lord Walter Rothschild, in which he declared his government’s support for a Jewish state in the area then known as Palestine.
The short document stated that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
In comments to Army Radio later about his speech, Saadi said that “we recognize the Holocaust, the greatest tragedy in the world, but the Jewish people has its own home and the Palestinian people do not.”
The declaration is seen as a precursor to Israel’s creation in 1948, and is viewed by Israelis as one of the most consequential events of the Jewish state’s establishment.
The Palestinians, however, have always condemned the declaration, which they refer to as the “Balfour promise,” saying Britain was giving away land it did not own.
With the Balfour Declaration, London was seeking Jewish support for its war efforts, and the Zionist push for a homeland for Jews was an emerging political force. The British Mandate for Palestine was later set up in the wake of World War I, and governed the lands that today make up Israel and the West Bank until Israel’s declaration of statehood in 1948.
Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the declaration, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote an op-ed lamenting the document, saying it set in motion a process that led to a century of Palestinian suffering and should not be a cause of celebration. Other senior PA officials have called on Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration.