A century on, Balfour Declaration keeps regional tensions alive

The Balfour anniversary came at a time when the Middle East peace process appeared to have reached a dead end.

Bitter centenary. Palestinians protest against Britain’s Balfour Declaration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on November 2, the 100th anniversary of the document. (AFP)

2017/11/05 Issue: 130 Page: 1

The Arab Weekly
Mamoon Alabbasi

London- The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration aggravated tensions be­tween Palestinians, who reflected on their misfor­tunes, and Israelis, who celebrated the occasion that eventually led to the formation of their country.

“It’s so divisive even today be­cause Zionists think that the Bal­four Declaration laid the founda­tion stone for modern Israel — and they’re right to think that — and by the same token non-Jewish Pales­tinians and Arabs see it as the foun­dation stone of their dispossession and misery,” historian Jonathan Schneer told the Associated Press.

Events celebrating the Balfour centenary took place in Israel, in­cluding one in the Knesset, while thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets to express their objection to the day that Britain promised to create a home for Jews in historic Palestine.

“It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish com­munities in Palestine,” wrote Brit­ish Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917.

From a Palestinian perspective, that part is yet to be fulfilled.

“[Balfour] promised a land that was not his to promise, disregard­ing the political rights of those who already lived there. For the Pales­tinian people — my people — the events this letter triggered have been as devastating as they have been far-reaching,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wrote in an opinion article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“Today, Palestinians number more than 12 million and are scat­tered throughout the world. Some were forced out of their homeland in 1948, with more than 6 million still living in exile to this day,” Ab­bas wrote.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travelled to Britain to mark the anniversary.

“One hundred years after Bal­four, the Palestinians should finally accept a Jewish national home and finally accept a Jewish state and, when they do, the road to peace will be infinitely closer and, in my opinion, peace will be achievable,” Netanyahu told British Prime Min­ister Theresa May.

The Balfour anniversary came at a time when the Middle East peace process appeared to have reached a dead end and showed little hope of being restarted.

Mamoon Alabbasi is Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor of The Arab Weekly. You can follow him on Twitter @MamoonAlabbasi

As Printed
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Managing Editor: Iman Zayat

Deputy Managing Editor and Online Editor: Mamoon Alabbasi

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editor: Richard Pretorius

Copy Editor: Stephen Quillen

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Syria and Lebanon Sections Editor: Simon Speakman Cordall

Contributing Editor: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Senior Correspondents: Mahmud el-Shafey (London) & Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Regular Columnists

Claude Salhani

Yavuz Baydar


Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobaidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Chief Designer: Marwen Hmedi


Ibrahim Ben Bechir

Hanen Jebali

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262


Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

177-179 Hammersmith Road

London W6 8BS , UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved