‘101 years since Balfour, Palestinians have not let go of their rights’

The Palestinian Forum in Britain has commemorated the 101st anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration by calling on the UK government to apologise for its role in the historic accords, which paved the way for the establishment of the state of Israel.

“Although it has been 101 years since the promise was made, the will of the Palestinians has not died down and generation after generation, they have not forgotten their rights and will not let go of their right to their lands,” the forum said in a statement.

It demanded that the government now aid the Palestinian people in securing a state as compensation for their role in instituting and justifying Israel’s occupation in 1948.

“We, the Palestinian Forum in Britain demand that the British government apologise for this promise and withdraw from any actions placed upon it, and help the Palestinians regain their rights and lands as reparation for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”

It concluded by stressing its continual support for Palestinians and activists across the world that struggle for freedom for the people of the region.

Several other Palestinian parties and groups have also marked the declaration in which Lord Arthur James Balfour promised that the UK would do “its utmost to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine”.

Gaza Strip authority Hamas similarly called for Britain to apologise for its role in the agreement: “[We call] on Britain to apologise to the Palestinian people … and the refugees who have been displaced from historical Palestine, their original homeland, and to compensate them for what they have suffered, and to support their right to freedom and independence.”

It stressed that it would persist in its rejection to normalise relations with Israel which was continuing to conduct an illegal occupation with international impunity. It also called for support of the Great March of Return, which has been taking place weekly in Gaza since March of this year.

“It is the right of the Palestinian people, hard and uncompromising, to resist the occupation until we achieve our goals of freedom and salvation of the occupation,” it concluded.

Last year, British politicians made several statements in support of Israel in marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

Then British foreign secretary Boris Johnson referred to boosting ties with Israel in the light of significant upcoming anniversaries in the Israeli occupation. A week before, British Prime Minister Theresa May called Israel a “remarkable country” and expressed her desire to proudly celebrate the role the UK played in creating the Balfour Declaration. Just days before, British Cabinet member Sajid Javid also announced at the World Jewish Congress that the UK would honour the anniversary.

Balfour in the Dock

Balfour in the Dock is a contemporary work looking at a 750-page magnum opus on Palestine by outstanding British journalist J M N Jeffries (1880-1960). His book Palestine: The Reality is a masterpiece with the depth and breadth to have become the canonical work on the history of Palestine if not for the bombing of a publishing house in London during the 1940 Blitz. The fire that ensued destroyed most of the copies of the book, of which only 20 original copies are known to exist. It has now been re-published by Skyscraper.

Palestine: The Reality was Jeffries’ third significant book and was the culmination of 12 years’ work as a foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail. It is believed that he tried unsuccessfully to republish the book himself. Fortunately for us, the new edition was issued to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in November 2017. Furthermore, the main themes of the masterpiece have been made accessible in a shorter volume by Colin Andersen, Balfour in the Dock.

Andersen introduces readers to Jeffries, describing him as “one of the most brilliant investigative journalists in the interwar period.” His historical significance is reclaimed by Andersen, who lets us know that the famed foreign correspondent was the first person to translate into Arabic the text of the suppressed British pledge to the Arabs, whose independence was promised in the form of letters exchanged between Hussein Bin Ali, Sharif of Makkah, and British High Commissioner Sir Henry McMahon.

This book has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards 2018, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine book awards site