In his statement to the UN Security Council on 17th October, the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative, Jonathan Allen, opened by acknowledging the sensitivities that many have about the Balfour Declaration and the events that have taken place in the Middle East since 1917.
He then acknowledged that:
“The UK is proud to have played a role in helping to make a Jewish homeland a reality. And we continue to support the principle of such a homeland and the modern state of Israel.”
But he immediately went on to say:
“Just as we fully support the modern state of Israel as a Jewish homeland, we also fully support the objective of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. The occupation is a continued impediment to securing the political rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine. And let us remember, there are two halves of Balfour, the second half of which has not been fulfilled. There is therefore unfinished business.”
Thus, once again, a senior representative of the UK Government described Israel as ‘occupying’ territory that it should not. And he went further by claiming that the ‘second half’ of the Balfour Declaration has not been fulfilled.
By the phrase ‘second half’ he was clearly referring to the line in the Declaration that reads:
‘… it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine …’
Thus he linked the creation of a Palestinian state to an imagined restoration of the civil and religious rights of those who call themselves Palestinians.
However, what he and the Foreign Office are choosing to ignore is the fact that the second half of the Balfour Declaration also reads:
‘… or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’
And that is a very serious omission. The Foreign Office repeatedly ignores the fact that hundreds of thousands of Jews had to flee from their homes in countries all around the Middle East after the State of Israel was formed in 1948. Jews lost their rights and political status in many countries.
Not only does the Foreign Office ignore that fact, but it also chooses to ignore the British Government’s allocation of more than 75% of the Mandate area to Trans-Jordan in 1922 (forming what became the modern country of Jordan). So Britain has already set up a state that gives non-Jewish communities from the area the ability to determine their own civil and religious rights.
These two omissions reveal that there is something very wrong with current Foreign Office policy. Is it possible that Foreign Office staff are ignorant of these matters? Or are they perhaps overlooking them as a convenient way of appeasing the Arab nations of the Middle East?