The United Kingdom has rejected a request by the Palestinians to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for the founding of the state of Israel.
“The answer came in a written letter to the [Palestinian] Foreign Ministry that the apology is refused,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.K., told Voice of Palestine Radio 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,” said Hassassian.
A spokesman for the British Foreign Office confirmed there will be no apology and called the Balfour Declaration a “historic statement,” Reuters reported.
“We continue to support the principle of a Jewish homeland and the modern state of Israel, just as we support the critical objective of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state,” said the spokesman, adding that the U.K. will mark the centennial “in an appropriate and balanced manner.”
Last year, the Palestinians said they planned to the sue the U.K. for issuing the Balfour Declaration, which they see as the direct cause of the “Nakba,” the Arabic term meaning “catastrophe” that Palestinians use to describe Israel’s creation.
The Balfour Declaration, written by U.K. Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to the 2nd Baron Rothschild, Lionel Walter Rothschild, who was the leader of the British Jewish community at the time, stated that the British government would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The declaration is considered to be the first documented legal legitimization of the state of Israel.