First published by the Arab Weekly on 19/2/2017
Israel continues to violate UN resolutions with impunity and Palestinians can expect more bad anniversaries to mark.
A 2016 picture shows a Palestinian youth waving the national flag on the 68th anniversary of the Nakba (AFP)
2017 is the year of anniversaries for Palestinians. Sadly, none can be celebrated.
The first of these will be May 15th — the 69th anniversary of the catastrophe, known as the Nakba when Israel was created in the Palestinian homeland without their permission. It also marks the period when 750,000 Palestinians were driven out to neighbouring countries by Zionist gangs and Israeli armed forces.
Early June brings the 50th anniversary of the six-day war, when Israel captured the remainder of historic Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai. While Sinai was returned to Egypt, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights remain occupied. This occupation is seen as illegal by the international community. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan is not recognised by any other country.
June also marks the tenth anniversary of Israel’s blockade on Gaza.
In November, two events that irrevocably changed the future of historic Palestine will be marked. November 29th is the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly passing Resolution 181, which recommended the partition of Palestine at the end of the British Mandate.
The resolution recommended the creation of independent Jewish and Arab states and a special international regime for the city of Jerusalem. While the Zionist movement accepted the resolution, the Palestinians and Arab states rejected it because they viewed it as violating the principle of self-determination
November 2nd is perhaps the most significant anniversary. This year marks the centenary of what the Balfour declaration, the letter from British Foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild of the Zionist Federation in which he stated:
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The declaration was made before Britain was given the mandate on Palestine and without any consultation with the indigenous population of Palestine. Through this, Britain promised a land it did not have to a people who did not live on it without consulting those whose land it was.
Last December, in a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel, British Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the Balfour declaration as “one of the most important letters in history” and that “it demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people”. She said “it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride”.
In his address to the UN General Assembly in 2016, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated: “We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine…This is the least Great Britain can do.”
It seems Abbas’s words fell on deaf ears. Not only has Britain refused to apologise, May recently rolled out the Downing Street red carpet for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
In the meantime, Israel continues to violate UN resolutions with impunity and Palestinians can expect more bad anniversaries to mark.
One thought on “2017 is the year of sad anniversaries for Palestinians”
Pls be aware Balfour did not pen the Balfour Declaration. It was sent to him on July 18th 1917 and he signed it on Nov 2 1917
[Balfour Declaration] FORMULA MAKING:
There was a meeting at the house of one of their number [British Zionist] in Feb 1917, Sir Mark Sykes was there “in his private capacity.” He was told there MUST be no internationalisation of Palestine because the Zionists desired a British protectorate with full rights to the Jews to develop as a nation. M. Nahum Sokoloff, the chief representative in Britain of the International Zionist Executive, was chosen, as the result of the meeting, to continue negotiations with Sir Mark Sykes & M. Picot, who acted for the French Government. The Zionist report says with satisfaction: “Thus opened the chapter of negotiations which ended 9 months later with the Balfour Declaration.” Still fearful of internationalisation, which would have made the Zionist state impossible, Mssrs Weizmann & Sokoloff spent some months vainly trying to get the Sykes-Picot Agreement cancelled. Though they failed in this, yet somehow internationalisation did drop out of sight.
The goal was getting visible. A number of prominent Zionists, Ahad Ha-am, the writer, Mssrs Joseph Cowen, Akiva Yaakov Ettinger, Albert Hyamson, Simon Marks, Harry Sacher, Israel Moses Sieff, Leon Simon, Samuel Tolkowsky, Aaron Aaronsohn, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, Samuel Landman, & others from continental countries, as they visited England from time to time, were gathered in to form a Political Committee. Their names are of great interest, since it was they, together with well-known Zionist leaders, who began work on the “Balfour Declaration.” Many versions of the suggested formula were drafted,” says the Zionist report, “by various members of the Political Committee.” Drafts went back and forth to the Foreign Office. “Some were detailed and elaborate,” but the Government did not want to commit itself to more than a general statement of principle. Finally, a “concise and general formula was agreed upon.” This was made known to and approved by President Woodrow Wilson, Sir Mark Sykes, and Baron Edmond de Rothschild. All seemed finished. On July 18 Lord Rothschild forwarded the Balfour Declaration to Mr Balfour [to sign].
Source: “The Palestine Deception, 1915–1923: The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, the Balfour Declaration, and the Jewish National Home” By: J. M. N. Jeffries
Edited by William M. Mathew
It was also legally impotent of course.
MASS OF TRICKS: The point needs no pressing. The very fact the Balfour Declaration [from Nov 1917 – sent on July 18 when Lord Rothschild had forwarded the final draft of the Balfour Declaration to Mr Balfour to sign] was not proclaimed in Palestine until 1920 is sufficient proof of its character.
Into the Maze – Four Plain questions (examining the Balfour Declaration point by point):
Mass tricks of Balfour Declaration deception
1. What exactly is a “National Home”? Nobody knows. The expression was used because it was ambiguous. To Syrians it is explained as a home. Fifteen months after the British Government had declared that it viewed this ambiguity with favour, Mr Lansing, the American Foreign Secretary, was obliged to ask at the Paris Peace Conference in Paris what “National Home” meant. Dr Weizmann replied that it meant there should be established such conditions ultimately in Palestine that “Palestine shall be just as Jewish as America is American and England is English. “ Mr (as he was then) Balfour was very pleased with this reply. It is difficult to see why, since Dr Weizmann had removed with his frankness a good deal of ambiguity.
2. “Nothing shall be done,” says the vigilant Declaration, “which may prejudice the civil & religious rights of non-existing Jewish communities in Palestine.” No phrase could sound better but what exactly are “civil rights”? Again nobody knows. That is why the Declaration is anxious to guarantee them. Observe that the phrase “political rights” is not used. Political rights would have been something definite. The political rights of a people are its ownership of its country. The right to have, as Syrian-Arabs demand, “a National Government created, which shall be responsible to a Parliament elected by the people of Palestine – Muslims, Christians, and Jews.” A Subterfuge: When the Zionists drew up their programme of October 1916, the first portion of that program reads thus: “The Jewish population of Palestine shall enjoy full civic and POLITICAL rights…” no mistake here and at the end of the Balfour declaration itself is it civil rights guaranteed to the Jews? Read and see: “the rights and POLITICAL status enjoyed by the Jews.” No mistake again.
3. The third point is less important but worth noting. The people of Palestine are referred to as the “Non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” There are about 80000 Jews & 670000 non-Jews in Palestine . The word would give anybody the impression that the “non-Jewish communities” were some specialised sort of bodies & not the mass of the population.
4. Nothing, according to the declaration, is to prejudice the “political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” What does this mean? It means that Jews, besides being put on the road to establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, are also guaranteed against not belonging to it if they don’t wish. Political Zionism may look forward, therefore, to having their cake and eating it.
The truth peeps out very clearly from this part of the Declaration. If there existed no intention in the minds of its framers of founding a Jewish state, why were they moving to protect their co-religionists from the necessity of belonging to it? If the National Home was only to be a home, the political status of Jews elsewhere could no more be altered by it than is the status of Englishman because thousands of them have homes in France & Italy. But if a state was erected in Palestine? Ah then!