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Al-Ghoul: International adoption of Balfour Declaration was “a crime whose consequences are still creating disasters and war crimes”

Excerpt of a column by Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, regular columnist for official PA daily and former advisor to former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on national affairs


Headline: “A letter to Guterres on the British Mandate for Palestine”


“Mr. UN Secretary-General António Guterres,

I turn to you by virtue of my status as a refugee from among the Palestinian people, who has paid – and continues to pay – a heavy price of great sacrifices as a result of the disasters that have befallen me, my family, and my people one after the other ever since the League of Nations approved the British Mandate for Palestine precisely 100 years ago, on July 24, 1922. Through it, this international organization gave legitimacy to the ominous Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration)… in which the United Kingdom adopted – in cooperation with the US and the capitalist Western states in general – the establishment of the so-called ‘national home for the Jews’ in an unjust manner…This was a realization of religious and mythological legends and nonsense that have no basis in reality, at the expense of… the Palestinian people, which has been planted in its homeland for thousands of years, even before the birth of the three monotheistic religions and also after them (sic., an abundance of evidence proves Jewish history in Israel, while the Palestinians have no history prior to the modern period).

Even though this international organization was created to ensure the peoples’ right to self-determination and to guarantee peace between states and peoples, it did the opposite of this: It committed a crime whose consequences are still creating disasters and war crimes, in a geometric series that continues to this very day, when it adopted this ominous promise and the theological myths…

Unfortunately, things did not stop with what was done by the League [of Nations], which disbanded with the outbreak of World War II in the 1930s; the UN, with its establishment in 1945, adopted [the Balfour Promise] and inherited this crime. It worked to implement it by approving international partition Resolution No. 181 of Nov. 29, 1947 (see note below -Ed.), when it recognized the Israeli colonialist state [that was established] on the ruins of the Palestinian people’s Nakba (i.e., “the catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel)…



Dear Guterres,

Today, 100 years after [the approval of] the illegal, immoral, and criminal British Mandate for Palestine, the political and legal necessity and international responsibility imposed upon you obligate you personally and the UN in general to act to do justice with the Palestinian people in the following manner:



  1. To recognize and admit the sin of adopting the British Mandate for Palestine and its inheritance from the League of Nations.
  2. To apologize to the Palestinian people for the crime of the British Mandate for Palestine and its consequences over the past 100 years.
  3. To consider the current year [2022] as the year of the ominous British Mandate for Palestine’s annulment, and thus [to annul] the British Balfour Promise, and also to organize activities at the UN to realize this, while taking advantage of the majority in the UN that supports the Palestinian national rights.
  4. To convene a special meeting of the UN this year to support the Palestinian people’s struggle, to fully recognize its independent nation-state, whose capital is East Jerusalem, and to ensure the refugees’ right of return according to international [UN] Resolution No. 194 (see note below -Ed.). In addition, you must act to implement [UN] Security Council Resolution No. 2334 of Dec. 23, 2016 (see note below -Ed.), and ensure full equality for the members of the Palestinian people in the Galilee, the Triangle, the Negev, and the mixed [Jewish and Arab] cities (i.e., all areas inside Israel).
  5. To approve a UN resolution that will reemphasize that the Zionist movement is a reactionary and racist movement…
  6. To establish that every year November 2 will be a day for fighting the Israeli colonialist settlement enterprise and a day for apologizing to and asking forgiveness from the Palestinian people over adopting the criminal British Mandate for Palestine, and through it [adopting] the ominous Balfour Promise.
  7. To adopt the Palestinian lawsuits that were submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Israeli war crimes.”


Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul is also a former PLO Central Council member.


The Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917 was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild stating that "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." In 1922, the League of Nations adopted this and made the British Mandate "responsible for putting into effect the declaration," which led to the UN vote in favor of partitioning Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947. In response, Britain ended its mandate on May 15, 1948, and the Palestinian Jews, who accepted the Partition Plan, declared the independent State of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan and together with 7 Arab states attacked Israel, in what is now known as Israel's War of Independence.


UN Resolution 181 (the UN partition plan for Palestine) was passed by the UN General Assembly in 1947. It called for the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem as a separate entity under the rule of a special international body. The Arab state was meant to be comprised of the western Galilee, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and the remaining territory of the Mandate west of the Jordan River would be the state of Israel - Jordan (known at the time as Transjordan) had already been established in what had been the part of the Mandate that was east of the Jordan River. The resolution was accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, but Arab leaders and governments rejected it, and launched a war to destroy Israel.


UN Resolution 194 (Chapter 11, Dec. 11, 1948) states that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return." Palestinian leaders argue this means that all Arabs who left Israel during the war (hundreds of thousands) and their descendants (a few million) have a "right of return" to Israel. Israel argues that the resolution only calls for a limited return and only under certain conditions, especially focusing on the words "wishing to return... and live at peace with their neighbors."


UN Resolution 2334 condemned the establishment of Israeli "settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem," saying it "has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace." It demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” in the area. The resolution further said “it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines” other than changes made through negotiations, in reference to the 1949-1967 ceasefire line between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries following Israel's 1948 War of Independence. The resolution called “upon all States… to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” It also called "to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as acts of provocation and destruction... and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism," and noted the obligation of "the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities." The resolution was adopted during US President Barack Obama’s final weeks in office and reflected a change in the longstanding US policy of averting UN Security Council resolutions that prejudice or negatively influence direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.