The Balfour Project
invites Britain to mark the centenary of the
Balfour Declaration in 2017 with:
- understanding of what the Declaration meant for both Jews and Arabs
- repentance for Britain’s failure to fulfil its promises to the Palestinian people
- commitment to integrity in Britain’s dealings with all peoples in the Middle East
IN November 1917 the government of Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine whilst also promising to protect the rights of the existing indigenous Arab population. However, in 1915 Britain had already promised the Arabs that after the war they would be granted independence in their lands, including Palestine.
Then in 1922 the League of Nations gave Britain the Mandate to administer Palestine, requiring her to implement the Balfour Declaration, and to prepare Palestine for independence. Subsequent British governments upheld the promise to create a Jewish homeland but reneged on the promise to protect the rights of the Arab majority.
Thus, a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved but the League’s sacred trust to facilitate Palestinian independence is still to be fulfilled.
Almost a hundred years ago the stage was set for a struggle to control the land that has intensified from that day to this.
The Balfour Project was created by British citizens to highlight Britain’s record in Palestine before and during its Mandate.
The historical record shows a string of broken British promises.
They principally include:
- 1915 McMahon-Hussein correspondence – Britain offered Sharif Hussein of Mecca an Arab State including Palestine
- 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement – Britain and France made a secret agreement to divide up the Middle East between them
- 1917 Balfour Declaration – Britain, in promising support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine also promised to safeguard the rights of the Arab population
- 1918 Anglo-French Declaration - Britain and France promised independence to the former subjects of the Ottoman Turks, including Palestine
- 1922 Palestine Mandate - Britain promised the League of Nations that it would prepare Palestine for independence, but failed to do so.
- 1939 White Paper - Jewish opinion regarded this as a betrayal by Britain, and a retreat from the Balfour Declaration.
- 1948 Mandate Surrendered – Britain abandoned its pledge to protect Palestinian rights by withdrawing its forces leading to 750,000 Palestinians becoming refugees.
We highlight these in the belief that the acknowledgement of wrong-doing is the first step towards rebuilding trust.
Message from the late Bishop John Austin Baker, former Bishop of Salisbury and Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons:
“There is no peace without repentance;
There is no repentance without knowledge;
There is no knowledge without education.
The Balfour Project so truly fulfils these principles that it can only do good, where good is desperately needed,and deserves all the help we can give”.