Palestinian officials are planning to sue Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration which saw Arabs removed from their land to make way for the state of Israel.
A senior Palestinian diplomat has said that Britain is responsible for all Israeli war crimes since 1948 because it created the 1917 mandate which saw Arabs removed from their land to make way for the state of Israel.
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Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian Authority’s chief foreign minister, told the Arab League that Britain will be held to account for its part in what Palestinians still see as a cataclysmic event.
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Originally signed by Arthur Balfour, the UK’s then Foreign Secretary, the agreement officially sanctioned the Zionist movement’s aims, leading to its later colonization of what was then the Ottoman-held territory of Palestine.
Britain has not yet publicly commented on the issue.
The Balfour Declaration voiced Britain’s support for establishing “a national home for the Jewish people”; after World War I, the League of Nations, the predecessor to the UN, incorporated this goal into the British Mandate for Palestine.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced the intention on Wednesday at the opening of the Arab League summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. He was speaking on behalf of Abbas because the Palestinian leader is in mourning for his older brother, who died last week.
Malki said the suit would be filed in an international court.
In his speech, Malki reiterated Abbas’ support for the French peace initiative and urged the Arab states to support it. He also spoke out against regional cooperation with Israel, including on security issues, warning that this would lead to normalization before the main goal of ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state had been achieved.
The Palestinian warning against cooperation with Israel was spurred in particular by media reports of Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia, which was confirmed a few days ago when a Saudi delegation visited Israel. Israel is also thought to maintain cooperation with certain other Arab states that haven’t been named in the media.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reacted to Malki’s speech, saying that it “sounded strange, but the direction is not accidental.”
Erdan claimed that is one just the opening salvo to 2017, a year that will mark 100 years since the Balfour Declaration and 50 years since the Six Day War