Britain should recognise Palestine as a state, says Mahmoud Abbas
NEW YORK – Britain should apologize for its 1917 declaration endorsing the founding of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and should recognise Palestine as a state, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Abbas said that the Palestinian people had suffered greatly because of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which Britain said it favoured the establishment of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine but that this should not undermine the rights of others living there.
“We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine,” Abbas said. “This is the least Great Britain can do.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last collapsed in 2014 and there are few hopes for a resumption anytime soon in part because of Israeli anger at Palestinian violence and Palestinian criticism of Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied land where Palestinians want to establish a state.
The declaration, named for the British foreign secretary at the time, offered a more nuanced message than Abbas described.
“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,” it said. –Reuters