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October 19, 2017 7:40 pm

Senior UK Jewish Leader Criticizes British UN Diplomat Over Balfour Declaration Comments to UN Security Council

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Britain’s Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen. Photo: UNTV.

The top organization representing British Jews has lodged a complaint with the British government over remarks by the UK’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN suggesting that the absence of a Palestinian state represents the “unfinished business” arising from the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

In a speech to a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East on Tuesday, Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen underlined that the “UK is proud to have played a role in helping to make a Jewish homeland a reality” when it issued the declaration in November 1917. But Allen drew the ire of British Jewish leaders when he added, “let us remember, there are two halves of Balfour, the second half of which has not been fulfilled.”

“There is therefore unfinished business,” Allen said, a remark he repeated in a later tweet.

In a letter to Britain’s senior diplomat at the UN, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, Jonathan Arkush  – president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews –  invoked Prime Minister Theresa May when he asserted that it is “completely inconsistent with the United Kingdom’s declared policy to mark, commemorate and celebrate the Balfour Declaration (all terms used by the Prime Minister and other ministers in recent weeks).”

“In just a fortnight’s time a commemorative dinner is to take place to be attended by the Prime Minister  and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Arkush said. “It is deeply unattractive for the UK’s Mission to the UN to strike a critical note and exposes the UK Government to a charge of hypocrisy.”

The then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issued the “Declaration” in the form of a letter to Jewish leader Lord Rothschild in November 1917, in which he confirmed that Britain, the mandatory power in Palestine, viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The declaration added that the British government would “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.”

With the centenary of the Balfour Declaration approaching next month, the current British government has continued to resist Palestinian entreaties to apologize for having issued it in the first place. A statement from the British foreign office in April said that the Balfour Declaration “is an historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologize.”

“We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel,” the statement continued. “The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

In his letter to Rycroft, Arkush argued out that from a historical perspective, “the Balfour Declaration was no more or no less than a British Government expression of sympathy.  It came 30 years before the UN vote to establish a Jewish homeland.”

“If an Arab or Palestinian homeland was not established, that cannot be the fault of Israel, which did not exist, but would be a criticism of either the international community, or more fairly the Arab community who repeatedly rejected the notion of establishing their own country,” he continued.

In his speech to the UN Security Council, Ambassador Allen went on to say that Britain’s supported a peace settlement based upon a “safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.”

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  • Kris Kristian

    BERTHA YELLOWFINCH

    SUGGEST THAT YOU APOLOGIZE TO MARTY GREENCHEEKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS.
    MAYBE YOU SHOULD READ A BIT OF HISTORY AND LEARN THAT YOU ARE
    OUT OF ORDER
    THE pA, WERE OFFERED A STATE MANY TIMES, BY PM EHUD BARAK, AND
    AND PM OLMERT. BUT INSTEAD OF ACCEPTING, ROSORTED TO TERRORISM WHICH COST THE LIVES OF HUNDREDS OF JEWS
    THEY DO NOT DESERVE A STATE. PERIOD.
    STILL TODAY, THOSE SAVAGE COCKROACHES, HAMAS, PA ETC ARE STILL TALKING OF MURDERING EVERY JEW AND DESTROYING THE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL. THAT WONT HAPPEN.
    NEXT TIME THOSE SAVAGES ATTACK ISRAEL, THEY WILL DESTROYED. END OF ANY PA STATE.
    ABBAS THE SAVAGE MURDERER, STILL CALLS MURDERERS OF JEWS, HEROES.
    BUT HE DOES NOT CONSIDER THAT AS MURDER, ONLY HEROISM.
    THERE IS NO WAY THAT AN ARAB MURDEROUS STATE, COULD LIVE SIDE BY SIDE WITH ISRAEL.

  • Janet Henriksen

    In 1917 Britain makes a declaration in favour of a Jewish homeland: They then miraculously win Beersheva then (with Jewish help) the rest of Israel. Then in 1922 they give a huge area to make Jordan (no Jews allowed). They stop Jews even entering the mandate putting in place quotas. Then they stop Jews entering even after they have no place to go after WW2. They recommend Partition (another area no Jews allowed) in 1936, which is then handed to the UN who also voted for partion (thankfully rejected by Arabs) in 1947. Britain kicks at the UN vote, and when Israel declares Independence, they support the Arabs and prevent Jews getting arms and don’t recognize Israel until May 13 1949, making them over 50th in line… Tell me – when actually was Britain “in favour”? – when actually did they play “a role in helping to make a Jewish homeland a reality”? Or did it happen, in spite of Britain!

  • JeffwithaJ

    The Balfour Declaration makes no mention of the establishment of and Arab so-called “Palestinian” state. The Arabs in Israel enjoy religious and civic freedoms, so that part is also fulfilled. The only part yet to be fulfilled from that document is the last part, i.e., the rights of Jews in other countries. In that respect, the British failed miserably, first during the 1930’s and 40’s. They are failing as well today specifically with Mr. Allen’s obscurantist statement and more generally the British media, and government, particularly the British Labour Party, who altogether push a narrative which stands history on its head.

  • D Cripps

    Britain first established a much larger mandate-Palestinian (c.75%) state in Jordan.

  • Boleslaw Bierut

    Jordan is the other half.

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