A day after the Palestinian Authority called the Balfour Declaration "a crime against humanity" and called upon Britain to apologize for it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish people's right to a homeland is the root of the ongoing conflict.
The Balfour declaration, a letter written 96 years ago on November 2 by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild, called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
"That declaration recognized the right of the Jewish people to its own homeland in Israel," Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "There is no doubt that international recognition of the Jewish people's right to its own state in its historic homeland is important; the refusal to recognize us is the root of the conflict."
Netanyahu said that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, they needed to recognize the Jewish people's right to a state in its homeland. This means that in a final status agreement they will need to relinquish their so-called right of return and all other claims on Israel, he added
The Saudi Gazette reported that On Saturday, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinian Ministry of Information issued a statement saying the Palestinian people were "paying the price of the biggest political crime in contemporary history,” and that the declaration was “a mark of shame on humanity.”
The ministry said that the declaration “began the Zionists’ process of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians from their homeland, which continues until today.”
It added that “Britain and the entire world must recognize the usurped Palestinian rights because everything that has befallen Palestine – it’s partition, the aggression, the suppression, the settlements, the arrests, the separation wall, the siege on Gaza, and the millions of Palestinians living in exile – was made possible because of the Balfour Declaration.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Information's English website on Thursday wrote that Balfour Declaration "continues to serve as the bases for a racial discrimination system forcibly inflicted on Palestine and the Palestinians putting former South Africa Apartheid regime to shame.
"To add injury to the insult," the statement continued, " many of the superpowers continue supporting the Israeli occupation to the cradle of Christianity and sacred shrines of Islam, an occupation disgraced with flagrant violations to human rights and democracy." No mention was made of Israel's importance to Judaism.
Netanyahu did not refer to the Palestinian statement during his comments Sunday to the cabinet. He did stress, however, that any agreement with the Palestinians would necessitate the Jordan River remaining Israel's "security border." Israel's demand that the IDF retain a security presence along the Jordan River is believed to be one of the major sticking points in the current negotiations with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu also related to Iran during his comments, saying the Islamic Republic continues calling for Israel's destruction. He pointed out that Monday marks the 34th anniversary to the Iranians taking over the US embassy in Teheran, a day marked in Iran as "Death to America Day."
"This makes clear that what needs to be done is to continue the pressure on Iran," he said. "The pressure is what brought them to the negotiations, and I am convinced that if the pressure is sustained, and not weakened, Iran will dismantle its military nuclear capability, but if the pressure is weakened, Iran will progress toward that goal."
Netanyahu stressed that Israel was committed to preventing Iran from achieving their goal of nuclear weapons.