Palestinians Say Britain Refuses Request for Apology Over Balfour Declaration

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -
U.K., Britian, England, Palestinian, Palestinians, Israel
The Balfour Declaration, written by U.K. Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild.

Palestinian leaders said on Tuesday that Britain has rejected their request for an apology for the 1917 Balfour Declaration that helped pave the way to the State of Israel, and that they would pursue international court action unless London backtracked.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the apology in an address to the U.N. General Assembly in September, but Britain plans to hold celebrations along with Israeli officials to mark the Nov. 2 centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

“The answer came in a written letter to the [Palestinian] Foreign Ministry that the apology is refused,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to Britain, told Voice of Palestine Radio on Tuesday.

“It means the Queen and the government of Britain will not apologize to the Palestinian people and the celebration marking 100 years since the Balfour promise will be held on time.”

Sir Arthur James Balfour in 1925. (AP Photo)

There was no immediate comment from Britain’s Foreign Office.

Hassassian said that unless Britain apologized, canceled planned celebrations and recognized the state of Palestine, the Palestinians would go ahead with plans for a lawsuit, contending the British had no right to promise land that was not theirs.

“This is the only condition upon which we can close this file permanently,” he said.