Ramallah: The Palestinian president said he will sue Great Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration and its support for a “Jewish national home” in Palestine.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al Maliki made the announcement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas at Monday’s opening of the Arab League summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.
Al Maliki said the suit would be filed in an international court, but did not elaborate.
The Balfour Declaration laid the vision for the future Israeli regime and sparked waves of Jewish immigration to the British mandate in Palestine.
According to Dr Hanna Eissa, who is part of the Palestinian team preparing the lawsuit, the Palestinian attempt to bring a case against the British government is meant to deliver a message to the British government to assume the historic responsibility and follow the example of Germany which recognised and compensated victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
Israel declared its “independence” in 1948 after the mandate expired and won a subsequent war against its Arab adversaries.
Al Maliki said the declaration was a “fateful promise from the ones who don’t own to the ones who don’t deserve”.
“The Balfour Declaration was illegal and illegitimate by international law. The British government gave what is not hers to undeserving people,” Dr Eissa told Gulf News.
He said that the British authorities implemented the Balfour Declaration on the ground and helped the Zionist movement establish four major security forces that contributed in the destruction of 531 Palestinian cities and villages. “The suffering of the Palestinian people started by issuing the Balfour Declaration and continues till now, and Britain must pay for this,” he said. “The British government remains a major ally and partner to the Israeli government.”
Upon the approval of the UN General Assembly, he said that the International Court of Justice can issue an advisory opinion that is not binding.
Al Maliki said that Britain is fully responsible for the Israeli crimes committed against the Palestinians since the end of the British mandate in 1948.
Dr Eissa argued that the British mandate had never been based on sovereignty on the Ottoman territory of the Palestinian province and that does not entitle the British government in any way to secure rights for the Zionist movement in Palestine.
Signed by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour in 1917, the declaration was seen as giving the Zionist movement recognition and backing from a major power.
— With inputs from AP