Balfour Centenary: Protests in Palestine, Celebrations in London

The Centenary of the Balfour Declaration has been marked by celebrations in London and protests in Gaza and Ramallah where Palestinians continue to reel from the yoke of Israeli occupation.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in London where he will attend a banquet this evening at London’s Lancaster House mansion, protesters took to the streets of major Palestinian cities and the UK to call for acknowledging the suffering the declaration caused for the Palestinian people, and to recognize Palestinian statehood.

Protesters in Gaza and Ramallah vented their frustration at the Declaration, which they blame for the setting up of Israel on their land.

The Palestinians decry the declaration, dated November 7, 1917, which marks Britain’s promise to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 leading to the eviction of many Palestinians from their lands.

Britain controlled Palestine, under a United Nations mandate, from 1922 until after the end of World War II.

Under British patronage, the Zionists began building the institutions of a state, including a government-in-waiting, the Jewish Agency; a fund-raising arm, the Jewish National Fund, to buy land and colonize Palestine; and a proto-army known as the Haganah.

A century on, every Palestinian is still affected by the consequences of that decision, especially refugees yearning to return. Palestinians continue to suffer under an occupation that has lasted 50 years.

The legacy of the Declaration is apparent in the fraudulent transformation of the character, demography, culture and landscape of Palestinian cities notably Jerusalem. Palestinian citizens of Israel, for their parts, are undergoing an intricate and cruel system of discrimination and exclusion in a country that claims to be democratic.

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