James Marlow

Speculation continues if the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be among the Royal Family members to visit Israel for the very first time later this year. Last week President Reuven Rivlin asked visiting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to relay the invitation to all of Her Majesty’s family members to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

Never before has a member of the British royal family made an official state visit to Israel although Prince Charles did arrive in Israel last year for the funeral of former President and twice Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Members of the UK’s most famous family have historically rejected official state visits to Israel but 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was signed on November 2nd, may change all that.

It was in 1917 Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Walter Baron Rothschild of the Jewish community expressing British support for a national homeland for the Jewish people in British mandate Palestine.

However this upcoming centenary celebration prompted Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to threaten legal action against the British government if it did not apologize for the “painful anniversary since the historic massacre of our land and our people’s fates.”

In a speech delivered on behalf of Abbas in July 2016, (because he attended his brother’s funeral in Qatar), PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said “We call on the Secretariat General of the Arab League to support and assist our legal fight in prosecuting the British government for publishing the Balfour Declaration. Al-Maliki was speaking at the 27th Arab League Summit in Mauritania of impact of the 1917 document.  He added “We are working to open up an international criminal case for the crime which they committed against our nation.”

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg who is based in Washington DC and known to be extremely close to former President Barak Obama said “Next the Palestinian Authority will sue King Cyrus of Persia for returning the Jews to the land of Israel 2,500 years ago.”

Although that was unlikely to happen because by doing so, the Palestinians would acknowledge the Jews were in the land at that time.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter dated November 2, 1917 stating “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”