A calamitous promise

The Guardian’s Long Read of 17 October was headlined ‘Britain’s calamitous promise’. Author Ian Black writes ‘The brief document that bears Balfour’s name is seen as marking the beginning of what is today widely considered the world’s most intractable conflict.’

Its three-page article, by Ian Black, deals with the motives behind the British Government’s support for the Balfour Declaration, and traces its impact through the decades up to the present. It includes much little-known information.

Black also looks at what could be done now towards resolving the conflict. He quotes Sir Vincent Fean, the former British Consul-General in Jerusalem, who calls for UK recognition of Palestine. ‘Recognition means that when Abbas or whoever comes after him next applies to the UN for full membership, the UK will vote yes,’ he argues. ‘That will put us in a different part of the forest from the US, and it does strengthen the argument that there should be consequences for breaches of international law. It could cause other EU members to think hard about doing it too.’

But Black is pessimistic. ‘It does not appear that Britain can do much to help resolve the enduring conflict it helped create a turbulent century ago,’ he concludes.

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