The Palestinian Authority (PA) announced its intentions on Sunday to sue Great Britain for the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the subsequent establishment of a Jewish state.
In a statement made at an Arab League meeting in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki, speaking for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Balfour Declaration, which affirmed British support for a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel, was directly responsible for the “Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe)”.
“Nakba” is the Arabic word used to refer to the founding of Israel in 1948 and implies the terrible suffering of Palestinians ever since.
“We are working to open up an international criminal case for the crime which they committed against our nation – from the days of the British Mandate all the way to the massacre which was carried out against us from 1948 onwards,” declared al-Maliki.
He requested that the Secretary General of the Arab League assist the PA in “prosecuting the British government” for Balfour, which “caused this catastrophe against the Palestinian people.”
Al-Maliki also took the opportunity to criticize Arab nations taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel.
The Balfour Declaration, penned a century ago, consists of a three-sentence statement written by United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour and sent to Walter Rothschild, a leader in Britain’s Jewish community.
“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.”
It was the first official recognition of the Zionist project by a world power, leading to widespread legitimization of the cause and the eventual establishment of Israel.
In the Palestinian narrative, it is a tragedy which began the decades-long oppression of the Palestinian people and occupation of Palestinian land.
Every year around Israel’s independence day, Palestinians commemorate “Nakba Day” by gathering throughout the country, marching, rioting and whipping up a fury of anger and violence.