Palestinians to sue Britain over Balfour Declaration

Palestinian leaders will sue Britain over its Balfour Declaration 100 years ago which led to the creation of Israel, a top official said Wednesday.

British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised Jewish community leaders in a letter dated November 2, 1917 a homeland for the Jews in Palestine, provoking protests by the territory's Arab residents.

Wars triggered by the partition in 1948 of Palestine into Israeli and Palestinian states have led to a persisting Palestinian refugee crisis as well as Israeli occupation of all of Palestinian territory.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority had decided in the runup to the 100 year anniversary of the declaration to sue Britain over it and the plight it would ultimately impose upon the Palestinian people.

He announced this decision during a speech he presented on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas at an Arab summit meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Malki said in an interview on Voice of Palestine radio on Wednesday that he threw "a bomb" during the summit to see how the Arab countries and the world would react.

"We threw a bomb and are waiting to see reactions," he said, explaining the Palestinian Authority had not yet started any steps in the direction but was studying all options.

What prompted the Palestinians to sue Britain after 100 years, Malki said, was news that British officials were preparing to hold celebrations on the occasion totally disregarding its negative impact on the Palestinian people.

He said the process may take a while but the Palestinian Authority was "serious" in taking Britain to court for its action.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinian decision proved that the root of the Middle East conflict was the Palestinian "refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders."

The world should recognize that fact, he told a Tuesday memorial service in Jerusalem for Israel's founding father Theodor Herzl.

"After nearly 4,000 years of Jewish history inextricably tied to this land, almost one hundred years after the Balfour Declaration ... there are people who still deny our strong connection to our land. I heard that the Palestinian Authority intends to sue Britain over the Balfour Declaration. ... But this attempt will also fail," Netanyahu said.

Last update: Wed, 27/07/2016 - 13:39

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