Jan 19, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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  • Palestinians rewrite history and sue Great Britain demanding it confess that the Balfour Declaration “destroyed the life of an entire Palestinian people.”

Britain has donated no less than £473,038,638.64 ($632,443,199) to various Palestinian causes in the last five years alone [UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website], and will continue in 2021. In an ironic expression of gratitude, a group of Palestinians submitted a lawsuit to the Palestinian Authority court system against Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration and for alleged “crimes” of British soldiers against the Palestinian people during the Mandate period.

While the lawsuit, which was submitted to a PA court, was initiated by ostensibly private individuals, its narrative entirely adopts the narrative of the PA: That the Balfour Declaration is the cause of Palestinian suffering:

“The lawsuit, which has a political impact and a media aspect, lays the responsibility on the government of Britain for the consequences of the Balfour Promise, which gave Palestine as a national homeland to the Jews and enabled the Zionist gangs to occupy Palestine, and the consequences that stem from its behavior that contradicts international rules, morals, and law.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 23, 2020]

As absurd as this trial may be, the PA courts are not only entertaining the lawsuit, but are also hearing evidence:

“A 100-year-old witness began to speak before the Nablus Trial Court about the cooperation between the Zionist gangs and the British Mandate army. He brought examples of the exchange of roles and transferring of camps full of weapons to the Zionist gangs in that period.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 18, 2020]

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Luay Abdo, explained that the goal of the suit is to persuade Britain to confess that the Balfour Declaration “destroyed the life of an entire Palestinian people and entity, whose place was taken by a racist colonialist entity.” He added:

“The lawsuit is legally solid and meets all the requirements, and therefore there is a good chance that it will succeed in the local courts… and afterwards will become a Palestinian legal ruling, after which the matter will be brought before the international courts, and specifically in the British arena.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 18, 2020]

As Palestinian Media Watch has exposed, the PA constantly attempts to rewrite history and say the Balfour Declaration is responsible for Israel’s establishment, and blames their current situation on Britain.

Needless to say, this approach is far from being representative of reality.

In the Balfour Declaration of 1917 the British government made clear 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 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.”

While the declaration was an important statement of policy on the part of the UK government, it certainly did not have the ability to bring about the creation of the Jewish state without wide international consensus.

The first decision of the international community to support the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people” was made in the post-World War I conference held in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920:

“The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the [2nd] November, 1917, by the British Government and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

At the time, British Mandate Palestine was comprised of Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs (there was as yet no Palestinian Arab national identity), and spanned from  Israel’s coast through all the territory that is today Jordan.

As Israel’s Prime Minister, Golda Meir once explained, “I am a Palestinian. From [19]21 to [19]48 I held a [British] Palestinian passport.”

In 1922, the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, reconfirmed the international community’s support for “a national home for the Jewish people” and placed responsibility on the British mandate “for putting into effect.”

“Whereas the   that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might 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;

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” [emphasis added]

In 1923 a decision was made to divide Mandatory Palestine into two entities – one for the Jewish state and one for an Arab state. Palestine west of the Jordan river would remain for the Jewish state and “Trans-Jordan” east of the Jordan River, which in 1946 was recognized as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, would be the Arab state. The provisions of the Mandate for establishing the Jewish National Home – including through the settlement of Jews on the land – continued to apply in the entire area to the west of the Jordan River.

In breach of its duties as a “Mandatory,” Britain did little to prepare for the creation of the Jewish State. In fact, even as the threat of Nazi Germany loomed over Europe, Britain limited the rights of Jews to purchase land in Palestine, and limited Jewish immigration, condemning untold thousands of Jews to death by the Nazis.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the newly constituted United Nations adopted the “Partition Plan” that contradicted the Balfour Declaration, the decision of the international community in San Remo and the League of Nations Mandate. The UN again chopped off significant amount of land intended for the Jewish state to create a second Arab state on the land originally called Palestine. While the representatives of the Jews begrudgingly accepted the plan for the truncated state, the representatives of the Arabs rejected it, and subsequently launched a war to destroy Israel the day the British left.

A more comprehensive presentation of historical facts clearly shows that it was the international community that created modern-day Israel, and not the Balfour Declaration or Great Britain.

While the sham trial in the PA court will no doubt find against Britain, it is questionable as to whether that decision will have the desired effect. Speaking in the House of Commons on Oct. 25, 2017 in anticipation of the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, then British Prime Minister Theresa May rejected the PA demonization of Britain, saying: “We are proud of the role that we played in the creation of the State of Israel, and we will certainly mark the centenary with pride.”

The PA narrative that “Palestinians” during the time of the mandate were only Arabs and not Jews, and that everyone else but them is responsible for their situation, is a recurrent theme in the PA messaging. The latest lawsuit is just another expression of Palestinian self-victimization. Luckily for the PA, it would appear that the generosity of the UK Government overrides the ungratefulness of the Palestinians. Even when the UK is the focus of an outrageous and unfounded attack, it seems to be planning to continue its aid to the PA.

The following are longer excerpts of the articles cited above:

Headline: “Legal precedent – a lawsuit in the Palestinian courts against Britain over the Mandate and the Balfour Promise”
“In a first of its kind precedent, the Palestinian legal system received a national lawsuit yesterday [Oct. 22, 2020] against the government of Britain over the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) and its soldiers’ crimes against the Palestinian people during the occupation of the land (the Mandate) [parentheses in source] between 1920 and 1948.

The lawsuit was announced at a press conference about putting Britain on trial for the declaration of the Balfour Promise and its crimes in the period of its military government and Mandate in Palestine. The press conference, under the title ‘Our right from Balfour,” was organized by the National Association of Independents in partnership with the [Palestinian] Journalists’ Syndicate in the Abraj Al-Zahra Hall in El-Bireh, not far from the court compound, parallel to the submission of the lawsuit to the Nablus Trial Court.

The lawsuit, which has a political impact and a media aspect, lays the responsibility on the government of Britain for the consequences of the Balfour Promise, which gave Palestine as a national homeland to the Jews and enabled the Zionist gangs to occupy Palestine, and the consequences that stem from its behavior that contradicts international rules, morals, and law. Head of the National Association of Independents Munib Rashid Al-Masri, Head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of the 1948 Territories (i.e., Israel) Mohammad Barakeh (also former member of the Israeli Parliament -Ed.), Head of the [Palestinian] Journalists’ Syndicate Nasser Abu Bakr, head of the legal team Attorney Nael Al-Houh, and head of the team documenting the Palestinian story historian Mustafa Kabha spoke at the press conference…

Barakeh emphasized our people’s firm right to its homeland, and that it is a deeply rooted right that has no statute of limitations. Barakeh said that the Palestinian legal system is entitled to examine these lawsuits, and that this needs to start a movement towards putting Britain and Israel on trial at the hands of any Palestinian with foreign citizenship who has the possibility of putting them on trial, even privately, which would constitute pressure and a siege on the Zionist Israeli discourse. Barakeh emphasized that this step, with all its significance and symbolism, is not a replacement for the political struggle, resistance to the occupation, the diplomatic activity, or strengthening the international solidarity movement, but rather it will open other doors to put the Zionist movement and Britain on trial. He said: ‘The Balfour Promise and everything that appeared in it was an attack against the Palestinian people’s rights, and the British Mandate also bears responsibility for the crimes that the Zionist movement committed, because it was the authority at the time and it was the one that paved the way and facilitated this.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 23, 2020]

Mohammad Barakeh is a former Israeli Arab Parliament member.

Headline: “The Balfour trial: Rummaging in the memory of the elderly in search of a right that was stolen”
“[On one side is] an ominous British promise, and opposing it is a sincere Palestinian promise to pursue [former British Foreign Secretary Arthur] Balfour and his country for giving what was not theirs to one who has no right (refers to the Balfour Declaration; see note below –Ed.). The result was hardships and disasters for a people that has never relinquished its right to establish its state, which was stolen according to a British decision. The memory of the surviving witnesses to the crime is abundant, and they are recounting in detail… all the crimes that they saw, which were caused as a result of the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration).

A 100-year-old witness began to speak before the Nablus Trial Court about the cooperation between the Zionist gangs and the British Mandate army. He brought examples of the exchange of roles and transferring of camps full of weapons to the Zionist gangs in that period…

Attorney Luay Abdo, one of the activists in the initiative to sue Britain, said that the lawsuit that was submitted against the British government was the fruit of discussions within many Palestinian circles…

Abdo emphasized that the goal of the trial is to extract a confession from Britain that the Balfour Promise destroyed the life of an entire Palestinian people and entity, whose place was taken by a racist colonialist entity. He explained that Britain behaved at the time as if Palestine were its property, and therefore it gave the Jews the right to take control of the land…

He explained that the lawsuit is legally solid and meets all the requirements, and therefore there is a good chance that it will succeed in the local courts… and afterwards will become a Palestinian legal ruling, after which the matter will be brought before the international courts, and specifically in the British arena…

Regarding the essence of the lawsuit, Abdo said that the focus will be on the [Palestinian refugees’] right of return and compensation for the Palestinians for the results [of the Balfour Promise], which destroyed the future of all the Palestinians…
Abdo noted that following this lawsuit additional lawsuits will come. He called on everyone who was harmed by the Balfour Promise to join the initiative to sue Britain, and emphasized that the court is legal and not political.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 18, 2020]