- British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said he is proud of the Balfour declaration
- However, he also criticized Israel for not protecting the rights of the Palestinian people
- The U.K. Foreign Secretary called for a two-state solution with pre-1967 borders and a shared capital in Jerusalem
- Johnson has previously sparked controversy by insulting the war-dead in Libya's Sirte
U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson has sparked controversy for claiming he is proud of Lord Balfour’s role in creating the Israeli state.
“I am proud of Britain’s part in creating Israel,” he wrote in the Telegraph newspaper, adding the document was “indispensable to the creation of a great nation.”
He also praised the letter for its “incontestable moral goal: to provide a persecuted people with a safe and secure homeland.”
His comments come as the world prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the foundation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
However, Johnson also criticized the Israeli leadership for not respecting one of the caveats of the 67-word letter.
Balfour’s letter stated that the rights of non-Jewish communities shall be protected — a claim which Johnson says, “has not been fully realized.”
Johnson also put his weight behind the two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.
“I have no doubt that the only viable solution to the conflict resembles the one first set down on paper by another Briton, Lord Peel, in the report of the Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937, and that is the vision of two states for two peoples,” he said.
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Johnson said that the borders should be returned to pre-1967 markings and Jerusalem should be shared as a capital between Palestinians and Israelis.
“A century on, Britain will give whatever support we can in order to close the ring and complete the unfinished business of the Balfour Declaration,” he added.
The news comes as U.K. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said that the anniversary was the perfect time for Britain to recognize a Palestinian state.
“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think the most important way of marking it is to recognize Palestine, she said in an interview with Middle East Eye.
The British government have said they will do, it's just a question of when the time is right and it seems to me this is the time,” Thornberry added.
Johnson’s comments about pride surrounding the divisive declaration are likely to cause controversy.
He has previously sparked anger in the region when he said that the Libyan town of Sirte could be like Dubai once corpses were removed.
“There’s a group of U.K. business people, wonderful guys, who want to invest in Sirte, on the coast, near where Gaddafi was actually captured and executed, as some of you may have seen,” he told a Conservative Party event.
“And they literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then they’ll be there,” he added.
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