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Wednesday, November 8, 2017
MEMRI: Article On Occasion Of Balfour Declaration Centenary, Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas Says Any Final Resolution Of Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Must Include Implementation Of UN Resolution 194 'To Restore Palestine Refugees To Their Home

MEMRI November 8, 2017 Special Dispatch No.7169

In Article On Occasion Of Balfour Declaration Centenary, Palestinian
Authority President 'Abbas Says Any Final Resolution Of Palestinian-Israeli
Conflict Must Include Implementation Of UN Resolution 194 'To Restore
Palestine Refugees To Their Homes'

In an English article published November 2, 2017 in The Cairo Review of
Global Affairs,[1] Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas set out
the PLO's credo and vision for peace, and called on Britain to apologize for
the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. He said that this declaration,
anchored in "white supremacist" views, "disregarded the wishes, aspirations,
and the very rights of the indigenous population of Palestine" and
ultimately led to the catastrophe and exodus of the Palestinian people in
1948. He also stated that, after supporting the Zionist movement in
establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, Britain and the international
community failed to implement the UN Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan of
1947), and later also "failed to implement Resolution 194 (III) to restore
Palestine refugees to their homes." Stressing that any final settlement of
the Arab-Israeli conflict must include the realization of Resolution 194 and
the Arab Peace Initiative, namely "a just solution for the seven million
Palestinian refugees based on the choice of every refugee," he urged Britain
and the international community to make amends for the Balfour declaration
by "recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East
Jerusalem as its capital," and by taking steps to realize the political
rights of the Palestinian people, the very rights that were denied by
Balfour a century ago."

The following is the article:[2]

PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas (image: thecairoreview.com, Nov 2, 2017)

"This year, our nation marks one hundred years of the Balfour Declaration.
Lord Arthur Balfour was a British foreign secretary who decided to change
the identity and fate of Palestine, a land that he did not own, by promising
it to the Zionist movement, and dramatically altering the history of the
Palestinian people. On this somber anniversary, it is important to recall
some key historic facts, which remain relevant toward achieving a just,
lasting, and peaceful resolution to a century of injustice.

"To this day, the United Kingdom evades its historic responsibility by
refusing to apologize to a nation still living in exile and under occupation
as the result of their politicians' unethical undertaking. In 1917,
Palestine had a robust population of over 700,000 inhabitants living on
almost 28,000 square kilometers. Palestine had a well-established society,
proud of its history and cultural heritage, and the centuries-long tradition
of coexistence and tolerance among its inhabitants. The city of
Jerusalem—built by the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe—the ancient ports of
Jaffa and Haifa, the biblical cities of Gaza, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Hebron
and Nablus, as well as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world,
Jericho, alongside the Dead Sea and the fertile Jordan Valley, all stood
witness to this rich civilization. Palestine had several educational and
cultural institutions, newspapers, and an economy that included the export
of citrus and a thriving service industry such as tourism. It was a country
inhabited mainly by Arabs, mostly Muslims and Christians, but also with a
small Jewish minority.

"Disgracefully, the text of the Balfour Declaration referred to the vast
majority of the population as the 'non-Jewish communities,' in a deliberate
attempt at setting the foundation and basis of denying them any future
political rights. Balfour was fully entrenched in colonial ideology with no
respect for the deeply-rooted presence of Palestinians, Christians, and
Muslims. In 1922, he wrote: 'Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is
rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs and future hopes of far
profounder import than the desires and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now
inhabit that ancient land.' It was a glaring dismissal of the presence,
history, and rights of the population that had inhabited the land for
centuries. Examined against the backdrop of the current debates in
international politics, Balfour could have easily been referred to as a
'white supremacist.'

"The Balfour Declaration of 1917 symbolizes the international role in the
Palestinian catastrophe and exodus, the Nakba of 1948. A century after this
infamous declaration was drafted, it is long overdue for the international
community to assume its legal, political, and moral responsibility to
fulfill the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. This prolonged
injustice continues to test the credibility of our international system and
to undermine the laws and human rights frameworks that are fundamental to
its longevity and to peace and stability within and among nations.

"Balfour’s Bitter Legacy

"The Balfour Declaration, despite its great impact on our destiny as a
nation, was never a matter of consensus among British politicians. The
declaration continued with a British Mandate of Palestine that soon proved
to be entrapped between Lord Balfour’s folly and the reality on the ground.
In the following years, British colonial rule grappled with the
contradictions of its promises to the Jewish and Arab peoples. Several
British commissions wrote back to London in efforts to make their government
realize and understand that there was already a well-rooted people in
Palestine. In 1922, the British Parliament rejected the British Mandate of
Palestine precisely because it included the fulfillment of the Balfour
Declaration as part of its goals. In fact, it was the only Jewish member of
the British Cabinet, Sir Edwin Montagu, who expressed his rejection in these
strong terms: 'I would not deny the Jews in Palestine equal rights to
colonization with those who profess other religions, but a religious test of
citizenship seems to me to be the only admitted by those who take a bigoted
and narrow view of one particular epoch of the history of Palestine, and
claim for the Jews a position to which they are not entitled.'

"Balfour’s perfidy anticipated the international community’s disrespect for
the rights of Palestinians after Israel’s founding. Thirty years later, on
November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted
Resolution 181 (II) calling for the partition of Palestine into two states.
Again, this decision disregarded the wishes, aspirations, and the very
rights of the indigenous population of Palestine. The Palestinian leaders
spared no effort in communicating the voice of the people, visiting London
countless times, as well as several other world capitals, asking for the
rights of the Arab-Palestinian people to be respected and calling for the
fate of Palestine to be decided through democratic free elections that would
reflect the will of the Palestinian people. This was totally ignored by the
British government, guided by the Balfour agenda of denying our nation
political rights.

"The world voted for the partition of Palestine, but its people did not. The
international community was willing to support the Zionist desire to build a
state in Palestine, but did not have the determination to supervise the
implementation of their resolutions, leading to the Nakba (catastrophe),
which led to over two-thirds of the Palestinian people becoming refugees,
including myself. My hometown of Safad was totally ethnically cleansed of
its Arab Muslim and Christian populations. Just like Safad, at least 418
Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed, forcibly depopulated, and

"The international community failed to fulfill the implementation of the UN
Partition Resolution 181, a resolution that unquestionably did not allow or
call for the forcible displacement of the Palestinian population. It also
failed to implement Resolution 194 (III) to restore Palestine refugees to
their homes. In fact, the United Nations’ recognition of Israel was
conditioned on Israel’s implementation of this resolution. Similarly,
disappointingly, the international community has failed to implement the
countless UN resolutions that call on Israel to end its military occupation
that began in 1967, including its colonial-settlement project. This failure
has emboldened Israeli impunity, prolonging the conflict and the suffering
and injustice being borne by the Palestinian people.

"From Balfour to 2017: One Hundred Years of Impunity

"The Israeli occupation that began in 1967—occupying the remaining 22
percent of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including
East Jerusalem—initiated a systematic, multidimensional policy of
colonization of occupied territory that has not ceased for over five
decades, seriously impairing the prospects for a political solution. Even
though the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in a historic and
painful compromise, recognized Israel in accordance with the relevant UN
resolutions and declared the State of Palestine only over 22 percent of
historic Palestine, Israel continues to deny the inalienable right of the
Palestinian people to freedom and self-determination.

"The presence of illegal settlements all over the occupied territory of
Palestine has threatened to make the two-state solution impossible to
realize. This is clearly the goal of the current rightwing Israeli
government that does not shy away from hiding such intentions. It has become
widely acknowledged that Israel’s prolonged occupation and its
colonial-settlement project has virtually destroyed the prospects of the
internationally endorsed two-state solution on the 1967 borders, thereby
solidifying the reality of one state, Israel, controlling all the land of
historic Palestine, while imposing two different systems: one for
Israeli-Jews and another for Palestinians.

"As far back as 1993, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and agreed
to participate in several rounds of negotiations in the Middle East peace
process aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement. After more than
twenty years of negotiations, it is clear that the Israeli government is not
interested in peace. For Palestine, the peace process is a means for the
implementation of international law and realization of justice; the process
is not an end in itself, but the Israeli government has constantly used it
as such and exploited the 'negotiations' as a smokescreen for further
colonization of the Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, aimed at
entrenching its control of the entire territory.

"The internationally endorsed two-state solution is not accepted by any of
the political parties that compose today’s Israeli government coalitions.
Their leaders continue to incite and spew hate speech against the
Palestinian people and inflammatory rhetoric against Palestinian national
rights and aspirations. This has included the dangerous use of religion to
justify war crimes and human rights violations, which is something that we
believe is of paramount gravity and consequence to regional and
international peace and security, and have thus consistently warned against
Israeli attempts to turn a solvable political, territorial conflict into a
religious war.

"Just as Likud, the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
reaffirmed its political program that negates any possibility of the
creation of a Palestinian state, on the ground Israeli settlers and
occupation forces continue to act with hatred and aggression toward the
Palestinian people, further diminishing the prospect of peaceful
coexistence. Attacks continue against Palestinian civilians and properties,
in Christian and Muslim holy sites, and homes continue to be demolished,
forcibly displacing our people to pave the way for more colonial-settlement

"The one-state reality imposed by the Israeli government could not be
possible without the impunity it has received from the international
community. The Israeli colonial-settlement enterprise in Occupied Palestine
could not succeed without international markets being opened to illegal
Israeli settlement products, without free trade agreements welcoming these
products, without international companies and the Israeli economy mutually
profiting from this systematic denial of Palestinian rights, and without the
commitments of several governments that no matter the violations and crimes,
Israel will continue to enjoy full impunity.

"Make no mistake: Palestinians have learned the lessons from Balfour’s
colonialism. We recently witnessed the steadfastness of the Palestinian
people in Occupied East Jerusalem in the rejection of Israeli attempts to
change the historic status quo of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. This
beautiful demonstration of popular nonviolent resistance echoed in every
corner of the world. Just as our youth and elders, women and men, Christians
and Muslims, and members of all political factions came together to defend
Jerusalem, we cannot but remember those who opposed British policies in the
remarkable national strike of 1936, or the Israeli occupation in the First
Intifada in 1987. Palestinians have showed the world and many Israelis that
the colonial 'fantasy' of talking about peace and coexistence while
systematically denying the rights of a people under an oppressive military
occupation can never succeed and that the right of a people to
self-determination and freedom can neither be crushed, nor dismissed, nor

"Our Vision for a Just and Lasting Peace

"The steadfastness and resilience of our people should serve as a message to
the entire world, and particularly to Israel, that there will be no peace in
our region without the fulfillment of the inalienable rights of the
Palestinian people. Our vision of peace is one of great compromise and is
based simply on what we are entitled to under international law and UN
resolutions: a sovereign and independent state that fully ends the Israeli
occupation that began in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, while
ensuring at the same time that Jerusalem could be an open city between its
eastern and western parts. We envision our sovereign control over our
natural resources, airspace and maritime borders. We envision and will
continue to demand the freedom of all our political prisoners, victims of
the Israeli occupation and the systematic negation of our national rights.
With almost one million prisoners since 1967, the case of our political
prisoners painfully reflects the overall situation of our whole nation. We
also reiterate that in order to end claims with Israel, there must be a just
solution for the seven million Palestinian refugees based on the choice of
every refugee. Our nation, the largest refugee group in the world and most
protracted refugee plight in contemporary history, has the right to the
respect and fulfillment of its rights, including through the implementation
of UNGA Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace Initiative.

"A just and lasting peace is possible. It requires the full implementation
of the long overdue inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. We
envision a new reality where our families are no longer divided by racist
laws, such as the Israeli citizenship law; where our young talents will not
be forced to leave their country because of a suffocated economy and lack of
opportunities. We envision a state that can welcome the innovation and
talents developed by our successful diaspora, wherever they have migrated
to, whether the United States, Latin America, Europe, Australia, or the Arab
World, becoming successful in various fields and positive contributors to
their respective communities. We envision a reality of peace where those
millions of people, successful doctors, engineers, bankers, sportsmen,
artists, clergymen, teachers, students, workers, politicians, and social
activists will finally be able to make Palestine their home.

"Recognize Palestinian Rights—With an Apology

"That the Balfour Declaration ever happened is a reminder that Palestinians
must have their voices heard and respected within the international
community. An important step undertaken for redress in that regard has been
the pursuit of international recognition of the State of Palestine,
including our new status of 'non-member state' at the United Nations,
achieved on November 29, 2012. This status has enabled us to accede to
numerous international treaties and conventions and to join several
international organizations. These stand at fifty-five as of now, ranging
from the Geneva Conventions to the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court (ICC).

"After decades of Israeli control over our lives, it is important not to
fall into desperation and to keep hope alive. We will continue to build on
our achievements of state-recognition and accede to international treaties,
including our right to seek justice for the Palestinian people at the ICC in
the face of this ongoing criminal occupation. This too is a confirmation of
our respect for international law and readiness to uphold our obligations
and responsibilities in that regard. Concurrently, we will continue our
endeavors to achieve a just and lasting peace with Israel on the 1967
border. It is our right to use all diplomatic, political, and legal avenues
to protect our nation, achieve justice, and fulfill our long overdue
inalienable rights.

"This process must go hand-in-hand with efforts to secure more bilateral
recognitions for the State of Palestine. There is no justification not to
recognize the State of Palestine. How would recognizing Palestine harm the
chances of peace? How would it harm negotiations? Our right to
self-determination has been never up for negotiation; the International
Court of Justice, in its landmark Advisory Opinion in 2004, explicitly
affirmed this to be a right erga omnes, meaning 'valid for all.' It is
therefore an international responsibility to stand tall for the fulfillment
of our right, not a call to dismiss or shy away from. Thus we will continue
calling upon those who allegedly support the two-state solution to recognize
two states, not only one.

"At the same time, we shall keep the doors open for the possibility of a
resumption of negotiations seeking to end the Israeli occupation and fulfill
our rights. Just as we supported the French efforts of the Paris Peace
Conference, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President
Xi Jinping and many other world leaders for this objective, we welcome the
efforts of the U.S. administration in what President Trump has referred to
as the 'ultimate deal.' We don’t see any contradiction between negotiations
and continuing to seek justice through the legitimate tools and instruments
available under international law. It is our right to undertake all peaceful
means to end the torment of our people and to fulfill their inalienable
rights and legitimate national aspirations.

"The Palestinian leadership understands the urgency, as well as the dangers,
of the current situation, and we will continue to demand that the
international community assumes its responsibilities, including providing
protection for our people, as per international humanitarian law, and in
working collectively to end Israel’s impunity.

"Our goal remains to achieve a two-state solution on the 1967 border and
freedom and justice for our people. However, we understand that the Israeli
government is doing everything possible in order to make the achievement of
an independent State of Palestine impossible. In addition to that, we must
contend with the lack of political will from the international community to
take any meaningful steps that will enforce international law and UN
resolutions in Palestine.

"As I said last month during the UN General Assembly Debate, we know that
freedom is coming and that the occupation will eventually end: if not by
achieving the two-state solution on the 1967 border, with Israel and
Palestine living side by side in peace and security, it will inevitably come
through the fulfillment of equal rights for the inhabitants of historic
Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, Christians, Muslims,
and Jews. No people on earth could ever accept to live as slaves or under an
apartheid regime. History has so vividly and painfully taught us that. As we
mark one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration, the British government
has reiterated how proud they are of this infamous document that translated
into the Palestinian catastrophe, with all of its regional and global
repercussions. They are even going to celebrate it. Instead of organizing a
celebration for one of the darkest episodes of British colonialism, the
United Kingdom has the historical and moral responsibility to apologize to
the people of Palestine. At the same time, we call upon the British
Government to assume without delay reparative actions, by recognizing the
State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital and
taking concrete steps to contribute to the realization of the political
rights of the Palestinian people, the very rights that were denied by
Balfour a century ago.

"This will not repair the countless detrimental consequences of foreign
colonialism in our region, and particularly in Palestine, but it would serve
as an example for the rest of the international community to rise to their
responsibilities to do what is necessary for a just and lasting
Palestinian-Israeli peace, and for broader peace in the Middle East to
become a reality, changing the course of our future, individual and
collective, for the better for our coming generations."

[1] The Cairo Review of Global Affairs is a quarterly journal published by
the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the AmericanUniversity in

[2] Thecairoreview.com, Nov 2, 2017.

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Materials may only be cited with proper attribution

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