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Abbas demands British government recognize Palestine on Balfour centenary

Nov. 2, 2017 2:19 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 4, 2017 1:54 P.M.)
Mahmoud Abbas (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement on Thursday, the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, calling on the British government to “apologize to the Palestinian people for the suffering caused as a result of the Balfour Declaration a hundred years ago.”

“The second day of November marks the centennial of the disastrous Balfour Declaration, which, in 1917, the British government gave the Jews of the world a national homeland in Palestine while it was aware that Palestine is owned and inhabited by another people, the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Abbas called the declaration “null and void” given that it ignored the national and political rights of the indigenous Palestinian people.

“The Palestinian people have suffered as a result of this promise,” Abbas said, highlighting the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in 1948, during which time the state of Israel was created, leaving some 750,000 Palestinians and millions of their descendants as refugees.

“Since then, the suffering and tragedies of the Palestinian people have not stopped, whether inside what was left of the land of Palestine, which has now been under occupation for 50 years, since 1967, or in the Diaspora and refugee camps,” the statement said.

Abbas went on to say that the “ responsibility for the displacement and suffering of the Palestinian people” belongs not only to the British government that issued the Balfour Declaration, but the current administration of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Thursday celebrated the centenary in London with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“What is troubling today is that...the British Government insists on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, persisting to openly confirm its colonial policies against our Palestinian people,” the statement said.

“We therefore reiterate our call upon the British government to publicly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration and to bear the consequences of making that promise by compensating the Palestinian people politically, materially and morally, recognize the State of Palestine and work toward ending the occupation from our land just as it sponsored the occupation state, Israel, on the land of Palestine,” the statement concluded.

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