Nov 6, 2012 | Dr. Elias Akleh
On November 2nd 1917 the then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, had promised the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland his country’s help to establish a Jewish home land in Palestine. This is known as Balfour Declaration. Last Friday, the ninety fifth anniversary of this shameful declaration, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Chairman of the PLO, had also made a similar shameful declaration.
The Balfour Declaration to Walter Rothschild, the leader of the British Jewish community, to be transmitted to the Zionist Federation stated that: “… His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object …” This Declaration was made without regard to and without consulting the indigenous Christian and Moslem inhabitants of Palestine, and even before enforcing the British mandate on Palestine.
In the usual British double dealings this Declaration came in contradiction to the 1915 McMahon-Hussein agreement. Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, and Hussein bin Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, had an agreement, through official correspondence that Britain would recognize sovereign independent Arab state extending from the Peninsula to Iraq and would arm the Arabs if they join Britain in WWI against the Ottoman Empire, which was a German ally at the time. With Lawrence of Arabia; Thomas Edward Lawrence, as a liaison between the two parties, the Arabs, including Palestinians, revolted and liberated the whole Middle Eastern region from the Ottoman rule in 1918.
In a second betrayal to the Arabs, the British struck a secret agreement, Sykes-Picot Agreement with the French dividing the region among them, by which the British would establish its mandate on Palestine and Trans-Jordan. The British then opened Palestine for Zionist Jewish mass immigration and helped arm their terrorist gangs such as the Irgun and the Hagana, who committed many massacres against Palestinians, and later on committed terrorist attacks against the British forces.
The British government fulfilled its Balfour Declaration by establishing Israel; a home land for Zionist Jews and by oppressing Palestinian national movements and crushing all Palestinian resistance such as the 1936 – 1939 nationalist uprising. Britain had also recognized the illegal state of Israel but, up till now, did not recognize the state of Palestine.