Knesset Marks 100th Anniversary of Balfour; Netanyahu Says Palestinians Moving Backwards
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Palestinian leadership for calling the Balfour Declaration a ‘crime’, saying the Palestinians’ approach symbolizes their ongoing refusal to accept the State of Israel.
“When the leaders of the Palestinian leadership call the Balfour Declaration a ‘war crime’ and call on the British government to apologize, they are not going forward – they are going backward, 100 years back,” Netanyahu said during a Knesset session to mark the 100th anniversary of the Declaration. “And that is the root of the conflict – the 100-year refusal to recognize Zionism, to recognize the Jewish national home in the Land of Israel, in the State of Israel with any kind of borders.”
“The [only] tragedy of the Balfour Declaration is that it took 30 years to implement it,” the prime minister said. “Today it is clear that the key to the future of the Jewish people is the Jewish state. Our basic duty is to stand firm against those who seek our evil and to ensure the existence and future of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu said that Emir Faisal, the king of Saudi Arabia at the time, “recognized the right of the Jews to re-establish their national home in Palestine” and supported “cooperation between Jews and Arabs based on mutual understanding and brotherhood.”
He also noted that Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler sent the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini, a congratulatory letter in which he praised the Arab leader and wished him “‘warm wishes’ for the continuation of your struggle until the final victory.” Although the letter is not dated, the National Library of Israel said there is “conclusive evidence” that it was sent on November 2, 1943, the 26th anniversary of the Declaration
“Himmler and the Mufti do not exist anymore, Zionism has triumphed” Netanyahu asserted.
Speaking about the current Middle East, Netanyahu said Israel is working to tightening relations with moderate elements in the region, along the lines of Israel’s agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and called on the Palestinians to follow suit.
“I can only hope that the Palestinians will also adopt this approach and turn to peace, he said.”
Netanyahu also made reference to his visit last week to London to take part in centennial celebrations of the Declaration and to hold talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, and praised the British premier for refusing to bow to Palestinian demands for an apology for Balfour.
“She made clear that she doesn’t think to apologize for her country’s assistance in building our national home,” Netanyahu said.