How to Respond to Allegations about the Balfour Declaration in 11 Steps
By Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1. The essence of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from 1917 until today has been the systematic and total rejection by the Palestinian leadership of the Jewish people's legitimate national rights in the Land of Israel.
2. The Balfour Declaration, issued almost 100 years ago on 2 November 1917 by the then-Foreign Secretary of Britain Lord Arthur James Balfour, marked one of the first times in the modern era that a significant world power officially recognized the Jewish people’s right to their ancient homeland. This document was then incorporated into the 1922 decision by the League of Nations [the precursor of the United Nations] to create a mandate aimed at establishing a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. The League of Nations decision of 1922 transformed the Balfour Declaration and its call for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people from a policy position into an international legal obligation accepted by the international community as a whole.
3. Current Palestinian attempts to undermine the Balfour Declaration are part and parcel of their campaign to undermine the basic rights of Jewish peoplehood and the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Rejecting the Balfour Declaration is tantamount to rejecting the internationally-recognized natural rights of the Jewish people to a national home in the Land of Israel.
4. While Israel has repeatedly stressed its adherence to the principle of two states for two people, these Palestinian attempts prove yet again that their leaders are less interested in establishing their own state alongside Israel than they are in forging it instead of Israel.
5. The Palestinian Authority’s incongruous threat, first announced this past July, to sue the British government over the Balfour Declaration demonstrates that Palestinian leaders remain fixated on unfounded allegations from the past instead of moving forward to a better future for both peoples.
6. This historical denial of internationally-recognized Jewish rights by the Palestinian leadership is also reflected in the recent attempts in UNESCO to erase the Jewish and Christian heritage of Jerusalem.
7. Both the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations decision included specific provisions to ensure respect for the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants in the land of Israel, irrespective of their ethnic orientation or religion.
Israel itself has always fervently strived to protect the rights of all its citizens – Jews and Arabs alike. Even before Israel became a state in 1948, the Jewish national movement deemed respect for the basic rights of all the inhabitants of the land as one of its most important values. Indeed, Israel enshrined these rights in its Declaration of Independence:
“THE STATE OF ISRAEL […] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
8. In the hope of fulfilling its dream of peaceful coexistence, Israel – and the Jewish national movement that preceded it - continually demonstrated their readiness to make painful compromises with their Arab neighbors.
In contrast, the rejectionist policies of the Palestinian leaders have not changed since 1917.
9. Tragically, these Palestinian policies have not been limited to the political sphere. In 1947, the UN Partition Plan - which was accepted by the Jews - was rejected by the Arabs, who chose to wage a war of annihilation instead of accepting the compromise that would have averted all the wars that followed.
10. Current activities by the Palestinian Authority, including its campaign against the Balfour Declaration, indicate that the Palestinian leadership continues to claim exclusive rights to the entire land, refusing to recognize the legitimate historical right of the Jews to their national homeland. These actions cast serious doubts about Palestinian intentions.
11. These actions, together with the systematic distortion of Jewish history, are morally unacceptable and factually unfounded. They are inimical to the international community’s – and Israel’s – desire for peace. It is long past time for the international community to step up and demand that the Palestinians stop perpetuating the conflict against Israel and finally answer Israel’s repeated calls to return to direct negotiations for a genuine peace.