PRO-PALESTINE campaigners have demanded that the government apologises for its part in the displacement of the Palestinian people ahead of a national demonstration tomorrow to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed “butcher of Gaza” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for a gala dinner last night to celebrate the 1917 declaration which signalled British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The government stated it was celebrating the occasion “with pride” despite the displacement of the land’s Palestinian inhabitants and the more recent atrocities carried out by Mr Netanyahu’s ultra right-wing government against the Palestinian people.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) director Ben Jamal told the Star: “Theresa May should be offering an apology for an act of imperialism that disregarded the rights, wishes and claims of the Palestinian people, who in 1917 made up 90 per cent of the population of Palestine.
“Her government should also be taking action to address the injustices still being inflicted upon Palestinians by Netanyahu’s government.”
Mr Jamal urged people to join the national march and rally on Saturday November 4 which starts at noon in Grosvenor Square, central London.
Ms May confirmed that Britain remains committed to a two-state solution and indicated that she and Mr Netanyahu would discuss what the government sees as the “barriers and difficulties [to the peace process] like the illegal settlements.”
The Israeli PM, who ordered the 2014 war on Gaza which killed thousands of Palestinians, claimed: “Israel is committed to peace, I’m committed to peace. A hundred years after Balfour, the Palestinians should finally accept a Jewish national home and finally accept a Jewish state.
“And when they do, the road to peace will be infinitely closer. In my opinion peace will be achievable.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declined to attend the dinner. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry took his place.
The Balfour Declaration was famously described by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy as “an empire promising a land that it had not yet conquered to a people not living there, without asking the inhabitants.”
It is named after former foreign secretary Arthur Balfour whose statement declares British government support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
But at the same time, it also said that nothing should “prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.”
This is seen as a great betryal by the Palestinians who have suffered occupation, land grabs, illegal settlements, blockades and bloody wars waged by the Israeli state which continues to operate a racist apartheid policy.
In an open letter published on Thursday to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — signed by film director Ken Loach, comedian Alexei Sayle and poet Benjamin Zephaniah — PSC said the “infamous declaration” disregarded the wishes and rights of Palestinians.
The letter said Balfour’s act created the framework for the “dispossession of the Palestinians” leading to the creation in 1948 “of a state which in its basic laws and subsequent policies has privileged the rights of Jewish inhabitants above those of Palestinians.”
Palestinians need action not words, the letter continued. It called on Mr Johnson to hold Israel to account under international law and for the government to ban the import of illegal settlement goods.