100 years on, UK de­fends the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion

Kuwait Times - - International -

LON­DON: Bri­tain’s for­eign sec­re­tary yes­ter­day de­fended his pre­de­ces­sor’s role a cen­tury ago in paving the way for the cre­ation of Is­rael, say­ing two sovereign states for Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans re­mains the “only vi­able so­lu­tion” for peace. This Thurs­day marks the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion-a 67-word letter from Bri­tain’s then for­eign sec­re­tary Arthur Bal­four that threw Lon­don’s back­ing be­hind a home­land for the Jewish peo­ple in Pales­tine. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu will travel to Lon­don to mark the an­niver­sary. The state­ment re­mains con­tro­ver­sial, set­ting off a chain of events that even­tu­ally led to Is­rael’s for­ma­tion, the dis­place­ment of mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans and decades of strife be­tween the two com­mu­ni­ties that con­tin­ues to this day.

“I am proud of Bri­tain’s part in cre­at­ing Is­rael,” cur­rent For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son wrote in the Tele­graph news­pa­per on Sun­day, adding the doc­u­ment was “in­dis­pens­able to the cre­ation of a great na­tion”. But he warned that one of the key caveats of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tionthat the rights of non-Jewish com­mu­ni­ties shall be pro­tected-”has not been fully re­al­ized”. In the ar­ti­cle, John­son said he was writ­ing his thoughts down in the same room Bal­four used a cen­tury ago. He praised the 1917 letter for its “in­con­testable moral goal: to pro­vide a per­se­cuted peo­ple with a safe and se­cure home­land.” Lon­don, he added, re­mained com­mit­ted to a two-state so­lu­tion.

“I have no doubt that the only vi­able so­lu­tion to the con­flict re­sem­bles the one first set down on pa­per by an­other Bri­ton, Lord Peel, in the re­port of the Royal Com­mis­sion on Pales­tine in 1937, and that is the vi­sion of two states for two peo­ples,” he wrote. The borders, he added, should be as they were be­fore the Six Day war in 1967, with Jerusalem “a shared cap­i­tal” and “equal land swaps to re­flect the national, se­cu­rity, and re­li­gious in­ter­ests of the Jewish and Pales­tinian peo­ples.”

“A cen­tury on, Bri­tain will give what­ever support we can in or­der to close the ring and com­plete the un­fin­ished busi­ness of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion,” he wrote.

—AFP

GAZA: A Pales­tinian boy holds rides a bi­cy­cle with his feet up at Al-Aha­tee refugee camp in Gaza City. Bri­tain’s Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion turns 100 this week, hailed by Is­rael for help­ing lead to its found­ing, but viewed by Pales­tini­ans as con­tribut­ing to a...

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