MFA Director-General Dr. Dore Gold issued this evening (Wednesday, 27 July 2016) the following statement on the Palestinian move to sue Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration:
In a revealing address given in the name of the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, before a meeting of the Arab League last week in Mauritania, Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, asked for help to prepare a legal file against Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
Quite apart from the obvious lack of any legal basis for Abbas' claim, his initiative itself demonstrates yet again the continuing refusal of the Palestinian side to recognize the legitimate and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, alongside the recognition the Palestinians seek for their own rights.
The legal significance of the Balfour Declaration emanated from the fact that it was incorporated by the League of Nations into the 1922 Mandate for Palestine. That mandate recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to that area and that it provided the grounds for them to reconstitute their national home there.
This recognition came at a time when the Ottoman Empire, was crumbling and renouncing its sovereignty in the areas south of Modern Turkey. The League of Nations Mandate had the effect of transforming the policy position expressed in the Balfour Declaration into an internationally recognized international legal obligation to give effect to the inherent right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland.
Rights that were recognized by the League of Nations in that period were preserved by its successor organization, the United Nations, through Article 80 of the UN Charter.
Significantly, neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate created the historical rights of the Jewish people to their homeland. Rather, these documents together recognized pre-existing rights that the Jewish people never conceded. Indeed thousands of Jews poured back into their ancient homeland well before the Balfour Declaration was issued.
Israel has insisted that at the end of any negotiation with the Palestinian leadership, it should recognize the rights of the Jewish people to a nation-state, just as many have been insisting that Israel recognize the rights of the Palestinians to a state of their own.
The statement of Mahmoud Abbas that the Arab League should help sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration is yet another resounding "no" to Israel's fair request for reciprocity through mutual recognition and compromise. It is this stand by the Palestinian leadership that serves as a core obstacle to achieving genuine peace.