Rabat – Britain has refused to apologize to the Palestinians for the 1917 infamous Balfour Declaration, leading Palestinian leaders to pursue international court action.The refusal comes as the UK plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the declaration alongside Israeli officials on November 2.The United Kingdom’s decision to rule out an apology by the queen and the government for the Balfour Declaration, which led to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, came in a letter to the Palestinian Ambassador to Britain, Manuel Hassassian. The official said that this refusal also means that the “celebration marking 100 years since the Balfour promise will be held on time.”Concerning the celebration, a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office stated in an interview with Middle East Eye that the UK recognizes “the sensitivities many people have about the declaration and the events that have taken place in the region since 1917,” and this is why the centenary would be celebrated by the British government “in an appropriate and balanced manner.”As to the declaration that brought about the Israeli occupation, the British official said it is “an historic statement and one that the UK government will not be apologizing for.”Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had requested the apology for the declaration while addressing the UN General Assembly in September.Nearly 100 years ago, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour made the policy statement, which came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, in a letter addressed to a leader of the British Jewish community at the time, Lord Rothschild. In this letter, Balfour promised the Jewish community in Europe the land that belonged to the Palestinians, which the UK had been colonizing.The British government at the time stated that it viewed “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”The UN General Assembly voted in favor of a plan to partition Palestine in 1947, which Palestinian landowners continue to reject. After the end of the British mandatory rule in 1948, Israel declared independence.
A statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the UN chief is particularly concerned by the reported use of heavy weapons and by the large numbers of casualties, including among the civilian population.“The Secretary-General urges all relevant parties to put an immediate end to the fighting, fully respect the ceasefire agreement and take urgent steps to de-escalate the situation,” said the statement. Mr. Ban through his statement reiterated his full support for the efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group and all parties working to resolve this dangerous situation and pursue a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.