Ahead of a joint British-Israeli dinner marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the leader of Britain's Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, said he would refuse to attend the event, the Sunday Times reported. Corbyn, who has often been labeled 'antisemitic' and 'anti-Israel,' was criticized for the move. Israel's Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, charged that Corbyn was part of a group of ''extremists'' for opposing the declaration, and suggested that those who reject the document are on par with terrorist groups like Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to the UK for the centennial of the Balfour Declaration on Thursday. While Corbyn will not be in attendance, the Labour leader has asked the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, to attend in his place.
Corbyn, a fierce supporter of the Palestinian cause, made the same move a month ago, when he asked Thornberry to attend an event with Labour Friends of Israel instead of him. The Balfour Declaration, signed on November 2, 1917, called for the establishment of a "national home" for the Jewish people in the British mandate. Israelis have long used the declaration as justification for the existence of the State of Israel, while Palestinians have said that the declaration, issued by a colonial power, is not valid. Palestinian leaders have over the years strongly urged British officials to apologize for and disavow the declaration as well as acknowledge their responsibility in the plight of the Palestinian people. The British government has refused.
Abbas says Britain should apologize for Balfour declaration promising right to Jewish homeland (credit: REUTERS)