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Palestinian activists petition UK parliament to apologise for Balfour declaration, from Peter Myers

(1) Palestinian activists petition UK parliament to apologise for Balfour declaration
(2) Lobby fears Obama final days ambush at the U.N. Security Council
(3) Will betraying Israel be Obama’s farewell gesture? - Isi Leibler

(1) Palestinian activists petition UK parliament to apologise for Balfour declaration

Palestinians demand UK apology for Balfour declaration

Activists launch parliamentary petition calling on Britain to take
responsibility for its colonial legacy in the region.

Shafik Mandhai 01 Nov 2016 06:16 GMT

Palestinian activists have launched a campaign calling on the British
government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, which pledged a
homeland for the Jewish people in historic Palestine nearly a century ago.

At a launch event at the House of Parliament last Tuesday, Palestinian
groups and their supporters blamed the plight of the Palestinian people
on the legacy of the pledge and wider British colonialism in the region.

If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the British parliament will
have to consider debating the subject.

Baroness Jenny Tonge, an independent member of Britain's upper house of
parliament, said pro-Palestinian MPs from across the spectrum would push
the issue regardless of what happens with the petition.

"There will be people in the House of Commons and the House of Lords who
will be raising the issue all through the next year," Tonge said.

The activists, backed by the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the UK,
intend to pressure the British government in the lead up to the
hundredth anniversary of the pledge in November 2017.

In 1917, in a letter to Lord Rothschild, the head of the Zionist
Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, British foreign secretary
Arthur James Balfour, promised support for a homeland for Jews in
Palestine so long as existing communities in the area were not "prejudiced".

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their
best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being
clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the
civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in
Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any
other country," the text of the declaration reads.

Shortly after the letter was published, the Ottoman Empire, which ruled
historic Palestine, was defeated by allied powers in World War I, and
Britain established mandate rule in the territory.

Speaking at the debate, the head of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC),
Majed al-Zeer, said the Balfour Declaration marked the beginning of
almost a century of Palestinian suffering.

"[Britain's] role directly contributed to the displacement of the
Palestinians … the suffering that we are living through today is a
direct result of Balfour's legacy," said Zeer. "So instead of
independence, Palestinians were to get wars, camps, refugees, blockades,
massacres and many more painful memories."

British Palestinian author Karl Sabbagh said Balfour's promise to the
Zionist movement was just one in a series of conflicting pledges made to
Jews and Arabs.

According to Sabbagh, while the promise initially stated that Britain
would "endeavour" to facilitate a national home for Jews in Palestine,
later governments codified the pledge into the country's foreign policy.

"By the time it got into the mandate, Britain said it would secure the
establishment [of a Jewish national home], " Sabbagh said. "So suddenly
we've gone from a letter expressing mild interest or support for
something, into a statement that can be taken as a binding commitment.

"The existence of the mandate and the terms of the declaration were used
willingly and deliberately by successive British governments of all
political persuasions to turn Palestine into a Jewish state."

Sabbagh further argued that Britain's acceptance of its responsibility
for its role in dispossessing Palestinians, could force the country to
work towards a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"Recognition of the injustice would mean future governments would no
longer side-step the issue. "It would mean at some level Britain would
accept responsibility for its share of the situation today and might do
more about it than just parroting the long-dead two state solution."

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, A British Foreign and Commonwealth
Office spokesman said that the government recognised sensitivities
surrounding the declaration but would not be apologising for it.

"The Balfour Declaration was a historic statement and one that the UK
Government will not be apologising for," the spokesman said. "We are
focused on encouraging the Israelis and Palestinians to take steps which
bring them closer to peace.

"However we do recognise the sensitivities many people have about the
Balfour Declaration and will mark the anniversary accordingly."

"The UK's longstanding position is clear: We support a negotiated
settlement leading to a secure Israel existing alongside a viable and
sovereign Palestinian state; based on 1967 borders with agreed land
swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just
settlement for refugees."

The launch event was marred by controversial comments made by a member
of the public attending the event that appeared to go unchallenged by
Tonge. Speaking at the close of the event, the unidentified man spoke of
Jews having "agitated" Hitler prior to the Holocaust.

In her response, reported by Sky News, Tonge said she did not hear the
full "rant". "I remember the rant very well but I don't remember hearing
very much of it. It was a rant," Tonge said

"You do get ranters at these meetings and I think the best way of
dealing with them - if you challenge them they go on and on and on and
on - the best way is to just say 'yes, thank you very much, next speaker'."

Tonge later quit as a member of the Liberal Democrat Party.

The PRC distanced itself from the comments made by the man and condemned
attempts to "discredit" its activities. "PRC reiterates its position,
which is that we don't tolerate any form of anti-Semitism nor holocaust
denial statements," said PRC spokesman Samir Habib.

"The fact that some members of the Jewish Neturei Karta said
anti-Semitic statements in the Q&A session of our meeting should not be
used to defame our event or speakers. "Comments being made by members of
the audience should not be used to discredit our activities"

(2) Lobby fears Obama final days ambush at the U.N. Security Council

From: chris lancenet <>
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2016 03:09:31 +0900
Subject: Obama’s Israel Surprise? - WSJ

Obama’s Israel Surprise?

Fears grow of a final days presidential ambush at the U.N.

Oct. 31, 2016 7:21 p.m. ET

The Middle East has few bright spots these days, but one is the budding
rapprochement between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighbors, including
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, thanks to shared threats from
Iran and Islamic State. Now the Obama Administration may have plans to
wreck even that.

Israeli diplomats gird for the possibility that President Obama may try
to force a diplomatic resolution for Israel and the Palestinians at the
United Nations. The White House has been unusually tight-lipped about
what, if anything, it might have in mind. But our sources say the White
House has asked the State Department to develop an options menu for the
President’s final weeks.

One possibility would be to sponsor, or at least allow, a U.N. Security
Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, perhaps
alongside new IRS regulations revoking the tax-exempt status of people
or entities involved in settlement building. The Administration vetoed
such a resolution in 2011 on grounds that it "risks hardening the
position of both sides," which remains true.

But condemning the settlements has always been a popular way of scoring
points against the Jewish state, not least at the State Department, and
an antisettlement resolution might burnish Mr. Obama’s progressive brand
for his postpresidency.

Mr. Obama may also seek formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the
Security Council. This would run afoul of Congress’s longstanding view
that "Palestine" does not have the internationally recognized attributes
of statehood, including a defined territory and effective government,
though Mr. Obama could overcome the objection through his usual
expedient of an executive action, thereby daring the next President to
reverse him.

Both actions would be a boon to the bullies in the Boycott, Divestment
and Sanctions movement, while also subjecting Israeli citizens and
supporters abroad to new and more aggressive forms of legal harassment.
It could even criminalize the Israeli army—and every reservist who
serves in it—on the theory that it is illegally occupying a foreign
state. Does Mr. Obama want to be remembered as the President who
criminalized Israeli citizenship?

The worst option would be an effort to introduce a resolution at the
U.N. Security Council setting "parameters" for a final settlement
between Israel and the Palestinians. The French have been eager to do
this for some time, and one option for the Administration would be to
let the resolution pass simply by refusing to veto it. Or the U.S. could
introduce the resolution itself, all the better to take credit for it.

As the old line has it, this would be worse than a crime—it would be a
blunder. U.S. policy has long and wisely been that only Israelis and
Palestinians can work out a peace agreement between themselves, and that
efforts to impose one would be counterproductive. Whatever parameters
the U.N. established would be unacceptable to any Israeli government,
left or right, thereby destroying whatever is left of a peace camp in

The Palestinians would seize on those parameters as their birthright,
making it impossible for any future Palestinian leader to bargain part
of them away in a serious negotiation. Arab states would find their
diplomatic hands tied, making it impossible to serve as useful
intermediaries between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It could refreeze
relations with Israel even as they finally seem to have thawed.

President Obama may be the last man on earth to get the memo, but after
decades of fruitless efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it
might be wiser for the U.S. to step back until the Palestinians
recognize that peace cannot be imposed from the outside. If Mr. Obama is
still seeking a Middle East legacy at this late stage in his presidency,
his best move is do nothing to make it worse.

(3) Will betraying Israel be Obama’s farewell gesture? - Isi Leibler

Will betraying Israel be Obama’s farewell gesture?

Isi Leibler

November 2, 2016

Throughout his entire presidential term of nearly eight years, U.S.
President Barak Obama has insisted that he "has Israel’s back."

The reality is that Obama’s appalling foreign policy has been geared
toward the creation of "daylight" between the U.S. and Israel. To this
end, Obama reneged on the long-standing bipartisan policy that the U.S.
would never be a party to forcing Israel into reverting to the 1949
armistice lines. That policy was reflected in the carefully drafted U.N.
Security Council Resolution 242, unanimously adopted on November 22,
1967, which intimated that Israel would never be expected to revert to
indefensible borders. The armistice lines imposed at the end of the War
of Independence were never considered formal borders. They left Israel
only 9 miles wide at its narrowest point and were described by then
Foreign Minister Abba Eban as the "Auschwitz borders."

In explaining the language of U.N. Resolution 242, U.S. Ambassador to
the U.N. Arthur Goldberg was specific. In order to achieve "secure and
recognized boundaries" there would be a necessity for both parties to
make "territorial adjustments in their peace settlement, encompassing
less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied
territories, inasmuch as Israel’s prior frontiers had proved to be
notably insecure." It was also clearly understood that withdrawals would
only take place in the context of an overall peace settlement.

In September 1968, President Lyndon Johnson stated that "it is clear …
that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace.
There must be secure and there must be recognized borders."

President Ronald Reagan in September 1982 stated, "In the pre-1967
borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The
bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile
armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again."

Secretary of State George Shultz in September 1988 declared, "Israel
will never negotiate from, or return to, the lines of partition or to
the 1967 borders."

President Bill Clinton in his final January 2001 attempt to promote a
solution continued to emphasize the importance to Israel of "secure and
recognized boundaries."

Even the Palestinians who initially bitterly opposed Resolution 242
ultimately accepted it when the PLO signed the Declaration of Principles
with Israel in September 1993.

In an April 14, 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responding to
Israel’s announcement of the unilateral Gaza withdrawal, U.S. President
George W. Bush wrote that "the United States reiterates its steadfast
commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders."
More explicitly, Bush stated that "in light of new realities on the
ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it
is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations
will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and
all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the
same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status
agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes
that reflect these realities." The U.S. Congress endorsed the letter in
joint resolutions by the Senate (95-3) and the House (407-9).

Sharon regarded these Bush commitments as a negotiated deal based on his
total withdrawal from Gaza. He considered it to be his most important
diplomatic achievement and used it vigorously in an attempt to justify
what subsequently proved to be the disastrous withdrawal from Gaza.

As late as November 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was a
major critic of Israel within the Obama administration, still
acknowledged the goal of "a Jewish state with secure and recognized
borders that reflects subsequent developments and meets Israeli security

On May 19, 2011 in a shameful humiliation, without any prior notice,
just hours before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama
stunned his guest by radically reneging on and deviating from this
long-standing bipartisan U.S. policy.

He did so when it was clear that the Palestinian Authority was totally
inflexible and the entire region was being engulfed by a barbaric civil
war. Obama chose that time to state that "the borders of Israel and
Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,
so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."

If adopted, that would effectively impose the indefensible 1949
armistice lines as the benchmark for opening future negotiations, with
any variation subject to Palestinian consent. Given the consistent
Palestinian track record of refusing to make any concessions, the
concept of "mutually agreed swaps" is pure fantasy. The fallback would
be imposing the 1967 borders which would entail forfeiting secure
borders and ceding the major settlement blocs including the Jewish
neighborhoods of east Jerusalem — something that no Israeli government
could contemplate.

Netanyahu unquestionably represented the Israeli consensus when he
firmly rejected these proposals — which are now being vigorously pursued
by the Europeans, led by France.

Until now, Obama’s statements about 1967 borders were often downplayed
by many as merely diplomatic postures to humiliate Netanyahu. But one
should not underestimate Obama’s determination to punish Israel before
he retires.

To her credit, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was unequivocal in
her meeting with Netanyahu on September 26, stressing "her opposition to
any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution … including by the
U.N. Security Council."

But the vibes from the Obama administration and State Department are
ominous. While thousands of Arabs are being massacred almost daily in
the region, the State Department focuses its energy on statements
condemning the Israeli construction of 30 houses within the boundaries
of an existing settlement replacing homes to be demolished.

This obviously encourages the Europeans, especially the French, to
intensify their anti-Israeli policy at the U.N. Security Council.

There is a growing fear that despite U.S. public opinion, the
unequivocal support of Congress and the stated policy of Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton, Obama’s obsession to distance the U.S.
diplomatically from Israel could lead him to forgo employing the U.S.
veto in the Security Council, or worse, endorse a resolution which could
pave the way for global sanctions against Israel.

The long-term damage to Israel of such a Security Council resolution,
allowed or endorsed by the U.S., must not be underestimated.

Those American Jewish leaders who can have some impact should be
actively agitating and creating an atmosphere in which Obama will
realize that by pursuing his anti-Israeli agenda, he is acting against
the will of the nation.

To the extent that they still have any relevance, Jewish leaders should
speak out now before it is too late. In particular, pro-Israeli liberals
such as Alan Dershowitz and Haim Saban have an obligation to act.

After having no qualms condemning the Republicans for not supporting a
two-state solution, if the Anti-Defamation League wishes to retain any
integrity, its CEO should be appealing to his former boss, Obama, not to
betray Israel.

In urging restraint, it should be stressed that for a lame-duck
president in his remaining 70 days in office to reverse U.S. policy in
this manner would make a mockery of democratic procedures. It would be
contrary to American public opinion, in direct breach of a bipartisan
resolution of Congress, and conflict with the policy enunciated by both
presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, who explicitly
committed herself to opposing U.N. intervention.

Isi Leibler may be contacted at

Peter Myers