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‘Make it right for Palestine’ campaign marks 100 years since the Balfour declaration

By The Palestine Monitor - November 01, 2017
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Displacement] [Occupation] [Nakba]

November 2 marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration. Palestinians have mobilised all over the world to denounce a text that led to a hundred years of oppression, dispossession, and violence.

The Balfour Declaration is seen as one of the main catalysts behind decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and countless victims of forced displacements, house demolitions, land confiscations, administrative detention, or extrajudicial killings.

When Britain's foreign secretary at the time, Arthur Balfour, wrote this letter to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, who was then a leader of the British Jewish community, on November 2, 1917, it sanctioned British support for the Jewish people to build their state on the lands of Palestine. It was the first time a major world's power endorsed the goals of the Zionist movement.

This support triggered mass Jewish migration to Palestine, and consolidated Zionism's objective to install there a state for all Jews around the world to live in. Later on, in 1948, both this population influx as well as the intensive work on the ground of ideological and political organizations in favour of this project made the creation of the Israeli state possible.

Here is what the statement Balfour wrote said:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine 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 existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

In response, supporters of the Palestinian cause are gathering all over the world, demanding justice and equal rights. The main event will be held in London, UK, where the declaration was made.

Led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the largest organization campaigning for Palestinian rights in the UK, supporters of the Palestinian cause will rally in central London on November 4.

They will gather in Grosvenor Square, before marching through central London via Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square to reach Parliament Square.

Award-winning director Ken Loach and Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti are among the speakers who will address the rally. Various other public figures, including members of the Parliament and of the Senate, will join them on stage.

The main message of this rally is “Make It Right For Palestine” – a way to express support to the national struggle of Palestinians and denounce the official celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that the UK is hosting simultaneously.

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, announced that her country "will certainly mark the centenary with pride.” Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister stated that she was also pleased “that good trade relations and other relations that we have with Israel we are building on and enhancing.”

"We must also be conscious of the sensitivities that some people do have about the Balfour declaration and we recognise that there is more to be done. We remain committed to the two-state solution in relation to Israel and the Palestinians," she added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah described Britain's centennial celebration as being in "defiance of international public supporters of the Palestinian cause and supporters of justice, freedom and human rights."

Palestinian Foreign Affairs minister Riyad Malki announced last week that the Palestinian Authority would file a lawsuit against the UK in British or European courts for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people and for its celebration of the Balfour Declaration. Addressing the Palestinian media, Malki said the British position was a “huge defiance to British public opinion, to the international community and to Palestine” and shows “true indifference to the historical responsibility and crime committed by Britain 100 years ago.”

During the UN General Assembly in September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had already demanded that Britain apologise for the Balfour declaration and compensate Palestinians for the occupation of their lands after that letter paved the way for it.

Justifying the need for this march to gather all people standing against injustice, Irish Senator Paul Gavan said that in his mind “there is no doubt that the Palestinian cause is a just one and one that deserves our support.”

“Rally for Palestine, rally for justice, just to make the Palestinian community aware that the Palestinians are suffering from continuous attacks and human rights violations,” Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro said, addressing people in the UK.

“Marching in this rally is very important, I hope that you come with your family, with your friends. We need thousands, and tens of thousands, and even thousands of thousands to say it’s enough, 100 years of injustice is enough. We are all together for freedom, for equality and for justice for the Palestinian people”, Amro, who is being tried in an Israeli military court on charges related to his non-violent activism in the segregated city Hebron, continued.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in London that day to attend a dinner commemorating the centennial. Disapproving of many of Israel’s policies, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, will not be attending the event, but his party’s Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry will be taking his place.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Mark Regev told Israeli newspaper The Times of Israel opponents of the Balfour Declaration are “extremists” and only a “vocal minority” of students and professors.

This year also marks 50 years of military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and 10 years of Israel's siege on Gaza. 


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