Netanyahu Dismisses Call for UK to Apologize for Balfour Declaration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a press conference at the Chancellery following the 6th German-Israeli government consultations on February 16, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The two governments are scheduled to discuss issues including the Middle East peace process, cyber crime, German-language education in Israel, …
Carsten Koall/Getty

No apology is needed from the UK for the 1917 Balfour Declaration that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem. He added that the suggestion was driven not by territorial dispute but by the very existence of the Jewish state.

Mr Netanyahu was addressing the second Jewish Media Summit in the Israeli capital as Anglo-Jewry readies to mark the centenary of Britain’s historic pledge. His comment follows the launch of a campaign to push for an apology for the declaration – which the Israeli leader dismissed as “amazing”.

According to the Jewish News, Mr Netanyahu said the Balfour declaration “recognised this land as the home of the Jewish people which obviously had consequences later down the line.” He added:

“But if the Palestinians are challenging 100 years later even the idea that the Jewish people have a home here you know they’re not really gung-ho on a state – a nation state for the Jewish people. It’s very revealing about the true source of this ensuring conflict.

“It’s not about territory, even though that’s an issue. It’s not about settlements, even though that’s an issue – it’s not the issue. It was never and is still not about the Palestinian state. It was always about the Jewish state. The fact there was a challenge to the Balfour declaration 100 years later tells us we haven’t come very far.”

Breitbart Jerusalem has reported on moves to legally challenge the declaration, led by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The PA’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Arab League leaders gathered in Mauritania in July that London is responsible for all “Israeli crimes” allegedly committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.

Not only did Mr Netanyahu dismiss this threat, he went on to say that Israel is thriving despite efforts by external enemies to leave it isolated and alone on the world stage.

“The great powers of Asia, Africa and Latin America, they’re all coming to Israel. It’s happening at an unbelievable pace. I wish we had a little isolation because I could use the time,” he said.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel’s role in the global community came though its demonstrable skill in tackling terrorism, Israel’s technological prowess and its ability to not just survive but thrive despite the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the daily threat of terrorist attack.

“Israel has all of a sudden become a cyber security and digital health power. We have a car industry all of a sudden. All of these countries understand that not only to protect themselves against terrorism but to seize the future – everything is becoming technologies – and Israel is a global force in technology.”

He predicted that “it’s only a matter of time before this bilateral change is going to be reflected in the way countries vote in the UN”.

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