The Balfour Declaration: A study in British duplicity by Avi Shlaim

Published in The Middle East Eye on 1 November 2017.

It’s been nearly 100 years since the document changed the course of history, yet Britain still fails to acknowledge Israel’s denial of the Palestinian right to national self-determination – and its own complicity.

The Balfour Declaration, issued on 2 November 1917, was a short document which changed the course of history. It committed the British government to support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, provided nothing was done “to prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

At that time, the Jews constituted 10 percent of the population of Palestine: 60,000 Jews and just over 600,000 Arabs. Yet Britain chose to recognise the right to national self-determination of the tiny minority and to flatly deny it to the undisputed majority. In the words of the Jewish writer Arthur Koestler: here was one nation promising another nation the land of a third nation.

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