Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded on Thursday that the United Kingdom apologize for a 1917 declaration that recommended the creation of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine.
“By the end of this coming year, 100 years will have passed since the Balfour Declaration… by which Britain gave, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people,” said Abbas, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Balfour Declaration was a letter written by Britain Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to a British politician who was a leader of the country’s Jewish community.
The document “paved the road for the Nakba [“catastrophe”] of Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land,” said Abbas, who’s also known by his kunya, Abu Mazen. Abbas also called on Britain to officially recognize the state of Palestine. In the past, he has threatened to sue the UK for endorsing the idea of creating a land for the Jews in Palestine.
If Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) wants to sue the UK over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, he should also consider suing... pic.twitter.com/tMISgVW9Jh— Gabriel Rosenberg (@GabRosenberg) August 14, 2016
In a speech at the same venue later that day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the idea of suing the UK was “absurd” and said that Abbas’s comments were proof that Palestinians were “stuck in the past.”
PM Netanyahu at #UNGA: To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration is absurd.— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 22, 2016
Palestinian President Abbas wants U.K. to apologize for 1917 Balfour Declaration. Netanyahu replies with typical savagery https://t.co/n5mYyyR4Qb— (((Ben Schulman))) (@Ben_Schulman) September 22, 2016
The Balfour Declaration also attempted to guarantee the rights of the “existing non-Jewish communities” that lived in Palestine at that time, but since then, Western powers have proven significantly less effective, or perhaps less interested, in enforcing that part.
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