Palestinian Authority Education Ministry Rallies School Children in Balfour Declaration Centenary Protest
The Palestinian Authority’s Education Ministry is “encouraging” Palestinian schoolchildren to send letters to the British government protesting the November 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which then-UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour conveyed to Zionist leaders that his government supported the establishment of “Jewish national home” in Palestine.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Wednesday the Education Ministry was urging “school students in the West Bank and Gaza to write letters to the British government to tell officials how they feel about the declaration and how it has impacted their life.”
Wafa added that the “students are expected to write 100,000 letters that will be handed over to the British Consul General in Jerusalem on November 2” — the day on which the centenary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration falls.
PA leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have insisted over the last year that Britain must apologize for the Balfour Declaration and “compensate” Palestinians for launching a process that resulted in the creation of the State of Israel.
A rally in the PA capital of Ramallah on November 2 will be the main protest event marking the declaration’s anniversary, Palestinian officials have confirmed.
The goal of the rally “is to send a message to the British government to apologize to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration and to compensate them,” Nabil Shaath — a senior adviser to Abbas who has frequently participated in negotiations with Israel — said on Wednesday.
London will be the location of another demonstration two days later, on November 4, the Wafa report said, with “British lawmakers and officials” in attendance. While the report did not name any of those officials, there is likely to be widespread speculation as to whether Jeremy Corbyn — the far-left leader of the opposition Labour Party — will be among them. On Monday, Corbyn announced that he had declined a invitation to a major event in London celebrating the centenary, confirming that he would send one of his colleagues in his place.
Shaath slammed the Balfour Declaration as “the cause of the Palestinian Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 whose effects are still felt until today through Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and expansion at the expense of the Palestinian people and land.”
PA lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti — who heads the Palestinian National Initiative and is an outspoken proponent of the BDS campaign against Israel — went further in arguing that the Balfour Declaration had made life worse for Jews by increasing hostility toward them.
“(Balfour) put them in direct confrontation with the Palestinian and Arab people and with humanity,” Barghouti stated.