By: Mohammed Shaaban, MINA’s Contributor in Gaza, Palestine
The Balfour Declaration was an important milestone not only the course of the Palestinian case, but the course of the entire history of the Middle East. As a result, Palestinians inside Palestine and in different parts of the world still live the effect of this catastrophe.
On November 2, 1917, the British Foreign Secretary at the time, James Balfour, sent a letter to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, one of the Zionist movement leaders at the time, to be known later as the “Balfour Declaration”.
The text of the letter stated that the British Government is looking to the establishment a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, and they will make every effort to facilitate the achievement of this goal.
A year after this promise, Italy and France announced their acceptance of it, followed by official US approval in 1919, and then Japan in the same year.
On the Arab level, reactions to this declaration varied between “surprise, denunciation, and anger”, while the position of the Palestinians was clear and explicit.
Palestinians called the Balfour Declaration “the promise of those who do not have (in reference to Britain) to those who do not deserve (the Jews).” This day was considered a black day in the history of the Palestinian people, and all of humanity.
From Argentina to Palestine to Establish National Home for Jews
It is worth noting that Theodor Herzl – the founder of the Zionist movement – chose Argentina to establish a national home, but in his last days he decided to choose Palestine instead of Argentina.
The reason behind this change can be summarized it in three main points. First, Zionist organizations have common interests with European government in Palestine and serve their colonial interests in the Middle East. Second, Palestine has a great religious status in the Jewish religion. Finally, the Zionists were enthusiastic to establish a homeland for them in Palestine, and build economic projects in the region.
Content of Balfour Declaration
Britain occupied Palestine in 1917, and worked to facilitate the immigration of Jews to it, and to empower them on the land; In preparation for the establishment of the “State of Israel” in 1948.
The British government had presented the text of the Balfour letter to US President Wilson, and he approved its content before its publication. France and Italy formally approved it in 1918, then President Wilson officially and publicly followed it in 1919, as well as Japan.
Arthur Balfour said in his famous letter, “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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 non-Jewish communities residing in Palestine, nor the rights or political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
On April 25, 1920, the Supreme Council of Allied Powers agreed at the San Remo Conference to entrust Britain with the mandate over Palestine, and to put the Balfour Declaration into effect as stated in Article Two of the Mandate.
On July 24, 1922, the Council of the League of Nations approved the draft Mandate, which entered into force on September 29, 1923, so we can say that the Balfour Declaration was a Western, not just British, declaration.
Establishment of National Home for Jews by Committing Crimes Against Residents
Although the declaration included the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine without harming the Palestinians and other sects in Palestine, the Israeli occupation committed horrific crimes against Palestinians.
In 1948, Britain left Palestine and handed over Palestinian territories to armed Zionist organizations.
Those Zionist organizations committed massacres against the Palestinians and expelled them from their lands to establish their own state in Palestine. This incident was known as the Nakba.
Three-quarters of Palestine was then under Israeli control, while Jordan ruled the West Bank and the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian administration.
Britain Announces Its Pride for Issuing Balfour Declaration
Over the past decades, official and popular Palestinian institutions have called on the British government to officially apologize for the disaster it caused to them by the Balfour Declaration.
Despite the crimes committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people since the decision was issued until now, Britain expressed its pride in the role it played in creating the state of “Israel” in 2017, refusing to make any apology for it, without regard to the thousands of Palestinian victims whose guilt is that they are Palestinians.
It’s noteworthy that the British government issued the “Balfour Declaration” to meet several goals, including the weakening and disintegration of the Arab peoples, and the division of the Middle East countries.
Today, like the same day every year, Palestinians remember the tragedy and catastrophe that destroyed their lives and stripped them of their basic human rights. They are still calling and demanding the responsible authorities to move and stand in their responsibility and support Palestinians to obtain their basic, legitimate rights guaranteed by international laws. (A-K-G/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)