Palestinians protest on Balfour Declaration centenary

Palestinians protest on Balfour Declaration centenary

Erekat called on the British government to apologize instead for the shameful declaration.

One hundred years after Arthur James Balfour issued a declaration on behalf of the British government supporting the "establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine", a small group of Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem burned an effigy of the former British foreign secretary and beat it with their shoes.

Israel views the pledge as the first global recognition granted to the Jewish people's desire to return to its historic homeland.

"It wasn't a tragedy", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday before departing for London, where he is marking the anniversary.

In her address, the British prime minister also noted that "sadly, Balfour remains unfinished business - as his fundamental vision of peaceful co-existence has not yet been fulfilled".

Meanwhile, Palestinians were continuing to express their displeasure with the Balfour commemorations, both in Israel and Britain.

The deputy foreign minister went on to say it was "very clear that the Palestinians are not interested in a Palestinian state". It wasn't a tragedy.

He pointed to atrocities committed against Palestinians since the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists and said, "Britain has committed a wrong against the Palestinian nation (by the Balfour Declaration) but it does not intend to admit it".

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He said that after 100 years, "the Palestinians should finally accept the Jewish national home and the Jewish state".

"Balfour promised to establish the Israeli entity and its result is everything the Palestinian people still suffer from today, such as displacement, destruction and pain", said Abu Haitham Amro, 70, who was carrying a Palestinian flag. The British and Israeli leaders will attend a festive dinner together, organized by Baron Jacob Rothschild, a descendant of Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, the prominent leader of the British Jewish community who received Balfour's declaration.

However, the anniversary is divisive, with Palestinians and their supporters planning protests, including a demonstration in London at the weekend.

In recent weeks, the Palestinians have vehemently protested the British government's decision to mark the Balfour Declaration with pride, calling on London to apologize for the document and recognize a Palestinian state.

Jewish immigration to Palestine rose substantially in the interwar period, though Britain imposed strict limits later on in the wake of violence between Jewish and Arab communities.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has backed a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But the war surrounding Israel's creation also led to some 750,000 Palestinians either fleeing or being expelled from their homes - what they call the "Nakba", or catastrophe.

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