A Centenary of Broken Promises

IMG_7519Yesterday I recorded a programme for Press TV’s bi-weekly “The Sun Will Rise” presented by Roshan Muhammed Salih with Sandra Watfa. The theme was “Britain’s complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

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We discussed the events that led to Britain issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the consequences of the broken promises Britain made to protect the civil rights of the Palestinians.


In 1939 the British government issued a White Paper on Palestine which became Britain’s foreign policy until the unilateral declaration of the State of Israel in 1948.

“His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. […] His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate, as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past, that the Arab population of Palestine should be made the subjects of a Jewish State against their will.”

“The objective of His Majesty’s Government is the establishment within 10 years of an independent Palestine State in such treaty relations with the United Kingdom as will provide satisfactorily for the commercial and strategic requirements of both countries in the future. [..] The independent State should be one in which Arabs and Jews share government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.”

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The landscape of the Middle East would have been very different if the 1939 White Paper had been implemented by the United Nations.

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The Two State solution is impossible as long as Israel refuses to withdraw to the pre 1967 borders, revokes the annexation of East Jerusalem, demolishes the Separation Barrier  and removes the illegal Jews only settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as demanded by international law. Perhaps therefore it is time to campaign for one truly democratic state in which Jews and Palestinians enjoy full and equal civil rights, as envisaged in the Balfour Declaration and reiterated in the 1939 White Paper.