Today marks the centenary of the Balfour declaration and Prime Minister Theresa May is set to host her Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in London.
The UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, delivered a Ministerial statement on the declaration to the House of Commons on Monday 30th October. During the statement, he said that the Government is proud of Britain’s part in creating Israel but stressed that the “vital caveat in the Balfour declaration – intended to safeguard the rights of other communities, by which, of course, we mean the Palestinians – has not been fully realised.” He reiterated the Government’s commitment to a two-state solution and said that the UK would support efforts to re-start the peace process it whatever way it can. Watch that full statement here
Following Mr. Johnson's statement, a parliamentary debate took place, during which CMEC Chairman The Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire KCMG MP pressed the Government to recognise a Palestinian state. Watch this here and read the full Hansard record of the debate here
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also wrote an aritcle for the Guardian today, addressing the centenary:
"This British policy, to support Jewish immigration into Palestine while negating the Arab-Palestinian right to self-determination, created severe tensions between European Jewish immigrants and the native Palestinian population. Palestine (the last item on the decolonisation agenda) and we, its people, who sought our inalienable right to self-determination, instead suffered our greatest catastrophe – in Arabic the Nakba."
Abbas went on to say:
"The physical act of the signing of the Balfour declaration is in the past – it is not something that can be changed. But it is something that can be made right. This will require humility and courage. It will require coming to terms with the past, recognising mistakes, and taking concrete steps to correct those mistakes."