Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
While some may have ridiculed the Palestinian Authority’s recent call to sue Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Jerusalem is taking it seriously and holding this threat up as proof that the Palestinians are not interested in peace.
“This is the statement they are making,” Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post, when asked whether there was real concern in Jerusalem that the Palestinians would carry out their threat. “This is a declaration of policy. If I made a declaration of policy of that nature, which seems to contradict the whole spirit of the peace process, they would be all over us.”
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, speaking Monday on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas at an Arab League summit in Mauritania, called on the league to help him sue the British government for issuing the Balfour Declaration in November 1917.
The Balfour Declaration pledged British support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. The 100th anniversary of the declaration, made in the form of a letter from then-foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community at the time, is to be marked next year.
“There is significance to what Abbas is saying, because we have been saying that the Palestinian leadership has to enter negotiations and recognize the right of the Jewish people to a nation state,” Gold said. “This statement from Abbas that the Arab League should help sue the British government is just a resounding no to Israel’s request.”
Gold issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Abbas’s move is a rejection of “Israel’s fair request for reciprocity through mutual recognition and compromise. It is this stand by the Palestinian leadership that serves as a core obstacle to achieving genuine peace.”
He noted in the statement that, apart from “the obvious lack of any legal basis for Abbas’s claim,” the initiative “demonstrates yet again the continuing refusal of the Palestinian side to recognize the legitimate and indigenous connection of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland, alongside the recognition the Palestinians seek for their own rights.”
Gold noted that the Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, making the inherent right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its ancient homeland an internationally recognized legal obligation.
He stressed that neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate “created the historical rights of the Jewish people to their homeland.” Rather, he said, “these documents together recognized preexisting rights that the Jewish people never conceded. Indeed, thousands of Jews poured back into their ancient homeland well before the Balfour Declaration was issued.”