Abbas on the Balfour Declaration: Britain "must apologize for this historic mistake"
Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London newspaper) - Apr. 3, 2017

 
Headline: “Abbas in an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi: … We will turn to the international forums if Britain insists on marking the anniversary of the Balfour Promise and will not apologize”
Excerpt of an interview with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas by the London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi

[Q:] “As we near the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) that promised the Jews a national home in Palestine (on Nov. 2, 1917), [and as] preparations [are being made] to mark this anniversary, which British Prime Minister Theresa May has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to participate in – are there Palestinian steps that are more than just calls on London to apologize for this historic mistake against the Palestinian truth? And what Palestinian moves will there be if Britain ignores the Palestinian calls?”

[PA President Mahmoud Abbas:] “We began to demand that Britain apologize to the Palestinian people at [our] speeches of the last UN General Assembly session in September 2016, and also at the Arab Summit in Mauritania. We demanded and still demand that Britain not celebrate this event, which was catastrophic from the Palestinian people’s perspective. In addition, it must apologize for this historic mistake that it committed against us, and it must recognize the State of Palestine…”

[Q:] “And if Britain does not respond to the Palestinian demands on the matter? Are there other steps, for example turning to the International Criminal Court and other international organizations?”

[Mahmoud Abbas:] “I have said that we will turn to all of the local and international forums and talk to them. At the moment we are preparing our files on the matter - legal files - in order to submit them to the international forums if Britain does not respond to our legitimate demands.”

[Q:] “According to the existing information, Palestine will have a new ambassador in London, and he will be Ma’n Erekat (Director of the PLO Commission in Washington). According to Palestinian [PA] Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Malki, the British Foreign [& Commonwealth] Office will not give the new ambassador the diplomatic visa that the present ambassador Manuel Hassassian has. What does this mean, and will you respond to the British Foreign [& Commonwealth] Office in kind?”

[Mahmoud Abbas:] “We have asked that the British government treat the new representative as it treated the previous ambassador. The treatment must not change as this would mean bad will and unfitting behavior on the part of Britain. We will have an opinion on the matter and a response to it. We will demand and continue to demand equal treatment.”

[Q:] “Does this mean that the Palestinian side will treat Britain in kind?”

[Mahmoud Abbas:] “All possible options will be open to us.”

[Q:] “Do you think this is a British attempt to lower the level of Palestinian representation?”

[Mahmoud Abbas:] “The British are attempting to recant [their previous position] and place obstacles, but we have said to them that we want the same treatment as in the past, and that they treat the new ambassador like the previous ambassador. At the moment the consultations are continuing. They have not yet ended and there is no decision. I think that this is not a big problem.”

The Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917 was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild stating that “His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and is seen as the basis for later international commitments to establish the State of Israel.