Leader of UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn will not be attending an official dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration set to be held in London this week. The dinner, to be attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking place on the 100th anniversary of the British proclamation of support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Corbyn gave no official reason for his expected absence, but asked Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry to attend the event in his stead – a similar play to last month, when Thornberry was asked to attend an event put on by the Labour Friends of Israel instead of the chairman.
“Corbyn has a long history of association with Hamas-aligned groups and Palestinian Arab rejectionism,” Elliot Jager, author of The Balfour Declaration: Sixty Seven Words: A Hundred Years of Conflict told Tazpit Press Service (TPS), “It’s not a surprise that he would not take part in celebrating something the Hamas Covenant denounces,” he added.
According to Jager, Corbyn stands a pretty good chance of being Britain’s next prime minister, and “when an issue like Balfour comes up, it makes Corbyn uneasy – on the one hand he is well known for being aligned with Israel-rejectionists, but on the other hand he is trying to avoid putting those issues front and center.”
Netanyahu issued a statement Sunday morning announcing his expected participation in the event, where he emphasized the crucial historical role the announcement played in the establishment of the state of Israel. “While the state would not have arisen without settlement, sacrifice and a willingness to fight for it, the international impetus was, undoubtedly, the Balfour Declaration,” Netanyahu said.