BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- More than 11,000 people have signed a petition
calling on the British government to formally apologize for the Balfour Declaration
, a letter written in 1917 expressing the United Kingdom’s support for the establishment of a Jewish state in historic Palestine.
The petition, which was launched by the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) and PRC, called for the British government “to openly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration.”
“The colonial policy of Britain between 1917 and 1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation,” the petition read, adding that “Her Majesty’s government should recognize its role during the Mandate and now must lead attempts to reach a solution that ensures justice for the Palestinian people.”
According to the official website of the UK government, petition rules state that the British government is obliged to issue a formal response if the number of signatures reaches 10,000, while after 100,000 signatures, petitions are considered for debate in parliament.
Though the government website does not specify a time frame in which the government must respond to a petition, Palestinian Authority- (PA) owned Wafa news agency reported
that according to the petition planners, the government should respond to the petition within three days of reaching 10,000 signatures.
According to the petition -- which as of Wednesday had reached 11,657 signatures -- five days have passed without an official British government response.
Wafa quoted PRC Executive Director Tariq Hammoud as saying: “When 10,000 Britons ask their government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, it is an indication of a significant shift in public opinion over the past decade in favor of the Palestinian cause,” highlighting that the organizers are aiming at 100,000 signatures.
This year’s initiative marked a significant shift from last year’s petition
, which was archived after only receiving 2,060 signatures.
The language of this year’s petition mirrored last year’s petition, saying that “the Balfour Declaration of 1917 clearly prejudiced the rights of Palestinian people and sealed their fate, leading to untold suffering. Since then, seven million Palestinian refugees, more than half the Palestinian population, have had to endure this historic injustice, a blatant denial of their human rights.”