Palestinian officials from President Mahmoud Abbas to Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malaki have repeatedly threatened to take the UK to court over the 1917 promise to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Just last week, Zakaria Al-Agha, a member of the PLO’s executive committee and head of its refugee department, strongly protested against the British government’s decision to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and its invitation to Israeli officials to attend the celebrations.
Al-Agha cautioned: “Holding the celebrations is considered a hostile act toward the Palestinian people and portrays Britain as an enemy of what is right.” Instead of celebrating the Balfour Declaration, he said, Britain should apologize to the Palestinian people for the declaration, and recognise a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Otherwise, the Palestinians would be compelled to sue Britain over its declaration.
A similar statement to Al-Agha’s was made by President Abbas at the UN in September. There, Abbas repeated his appeal to the British government to rectify “the grave injustice it inflicted upon the Palestinian people” when it issued the Balfour Declaration. Abbas observed that the British government had not taken any steps to “correct this historical injustice.”