Palestinian Authority aims to sue Britain for 1917 Balfour Declaration to remove Arabs

Palestinians dig through the rubble of a building searching for bodies after what police said was an Israeli air strike at Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza City August 4, 2014.© Finbarr O'Reilly
Britain is responsible for all Israeli war crimes since 1948 because it created the 1917 mandate which saw Arabs removed from their land to make way for the state of Israel, a top Palestinian diplomat has said.

Originally signed by UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, the agreement officially sanctioned the Zionist movement’s aims, leading to its later colonization of what was then the Ottoman-held territory of Palestine.

Now the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) chief foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, has told the Arab League that Britain will be held to account for its part in what Palestinians still see as a cataclysmic event.

That decision, al-Maliki told the League on Monday, “gave people who don’t belong there something that wasn’t theirs.

It is not clear where or how the PA will sue. The UK government has yet to respond.

The move is the latest attempt by a former colony or nation pushing for reparations after claiming to have been wronged.

On July 11, a group of British MPs unveiled a bill seeking the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece, exactly 200 years since the British parliament approved the purchase of the ancient sculptures.

The sculptures were removed from the Parthenon temple by Lord Elgin during his time as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Following a parliamentary inquiry into the legality of Elgin’s acquisition, the government bought the ancient relics, which are currently on display in London’s British Museum.

The case was eventually rejected.

In July 2015, Labour MP Keith Vaz called on then-PM David Cameron to return the giant diamond which adorns the Queen’s crown to its rightful Indian home.

When first mined in India, the diamond was a gargantuan 793 carats. It changed hands between various invading powers before ending up in the possession of the British, after they confiscated it from the Sikh Empire.

Vaz’s comments followed a speech at Oxford University by Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, in which he called for Britain to pay reparations to India for its colonial record there.