TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he won’t forget how the British reneged on the decision to fulfill the Balfour Declaration, but added that it still provided the impetus for the world to acknowledge the Jewish people’s right to the land of Israel.
He made his remarks while on a visit to the UK to honor the centennial anniversary of the declaration, which marks then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour’s promise that his government would support a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
“I don’t forget for a second that the British backtracked from the decision, but I am doubtful that without it we would have received international recognition of our right on the land [of Israel]. But it is clear to me that without defense and settlements [by the Jewish establishment] we wouldn’t have received a nation,” he said.
Netanyahu continued, “There were two sides – on the one the old British Zionists like [Winston] Churchill and [Lord Arthur James] Balfour and Lloyd George, and on the other the anti-Zionist element in the Colonial Office who changed [the Balfour Declaration] and grew stronger.”
Netanyahu also slammed the Palestinians for calling on Britain to apologize for the declaration, saying that according to them “even a national homeland [for the Jews and the Balfour Declaration] is a historical crime.”
The prime minister called on the Palestinians “a hundred years after Balfour,” to “finally accept the Jewish national home and finally accept the Jewish state. And when they do, the road to peace will be infinitely closer.”
He then shifted his remarks to focus on Iran and the changes he felt the UK and the rest of the five world powers that co-signed the 2015 nuclear deal could make following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw recertification – a move that according to the Israeli prime minister created more of a “willingness to listen” to Israel’s amendment proposals.
Netanyahu said the sides were “moving closer in the attempt to find ways to change the nuclear deal,” including increased oversight on Iranian nuclear sites and new sanctions for the ballistic missile program. Until now, Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors into its nuclear facilities has obstructed proper oversight.
“There is full agreement about the need to halt Iranian aggression and terror and stop its ability to reach nuclear capabilities and develop ballistic missile capabilities,” Netanyahu said.