Balfour Declaration: 103 years on the theft of Palestine

103 years have passed on the ill-fated Balfour Declaration, according to which Britain pledged to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, depending on "people without a land, a land without a people."

This ominous anniversary comes at a time that the Palestinian people are still suffering from the oppression, displacement, dispossession of their land, annexation and settlement plans, in addition to the continuing crimes, torture, and siege.

It also comes at a time that the Palestinian cause is facing unprecedented challenges that aim at liquidating it, and in the vein of some Arab regimes scrambling towards normalization with Israel.

On this day in 1917, the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the Zionist movement at that time. The letter was known later as the "Balfour Declaration".

The letter, which is only 67 words long, stated "His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object."

"It is 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," the letter followed.

The Jewish population in Palestine was less than 5% of the total population when the pledge was declared. The letter was sent before the British army occupied Palestine.

Supporters of the Palestinian cause called it as" he who doesn't own, to he who doesn't deserve."

The Declaration was the first step for the Westerns to establishing a Jewish entity in Palestine, at the expense of a people rooted in their land for thousands of years.

The promise came after three years of negotiations between the British government on one hand, and British Jews and the World Zionist Organization on the other hand.

Through those negotiations, the Zionists were able to convince Britain of their ability to achieve Britain's goals and preserve its interests in the region.

As soon as the promise was made, the European countries, led by America, France, and Italy, rushed to support it.

On April 25, 1920, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers agreed at the San Remo Conference that Britain would be entrusted with the mandate over Palestine and that the Balfour Declaration would be put into effect according to what was stated in Article Two of the Mandate.

On July 24, 1922, the Council of the League of Nations approved the draft mandate, which came into effect on September 29, 1923. Thus, the Balfour Declaration was a Western promise, not just a British.

In a way to end the Arab condemnation and discontent upon the Balfour Declaration, Britain sent a letter to Sharif Hussein, in which it affirmed that it would not allow Jewish settlement in Palestine except to the extent that would meet with the economic and political interest of the Arab population.

On the other hand, it issued its orders to the British military administration running Palestine to implement the orders of the Jewish Committee that arrived in Palestine at that time headed by Chaim Weizmann. It also worked to transfer the Jewish immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe to Palestine and provided them the necessary protection and assistance.

The Palestinian people did not surrender to the British promises, decisions, and operational realities that began to be imposed on the ground by the Zionist movement and its armed gangs, but rather they resist through revolutions, the first of which was the Al-Buraq revolution in 1929, then the 1936 revolution.

The Jews were able to take advantage of that declaration issued by Arthur Balfour, and subsequently, the Mandate, and the General Assembly resolution in 1947, which stated the division of Palestine, and paved the way to establishing Israel on May 15, 1948.

Later, this entity became a member of the United Nations under the pressure of the great powers.

In 1948, Britain handed over Palestine, by allowing armed Zionist organizations to take over Palestinian lands on which they established what they called the "state of Israel", while Palestinians called it "the Nakba".

At that time, three-quarters of Palestine fell under Israeli control, while Jordan ruled the West Bank and Egypt ruled the Gaza Strip.

Over the past decades, Palestinians at all levels demanded the British government to apologize for the crime it committed against them, but it refused.

Despite all the massacres and displacement, the Palestinian people have proven that they are rooted in their land, refusing to acknowledge the ominous promise and its disastrous consequences.

Source : Safa