Today marks the beginning of the year-long celebration of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which was instrumental in the creation of the State of Israel and one of the most defining moments in the UK and Israel’s shared history.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed in CFI’s September 2016 Informed Magazine that Britain “will soon be marking a century since Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, a Conservative, confirmed the UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people”.
The Balfour Declaration was a letter from Conservative Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild (as a representative of the British Jewish Community and for passing on to the Zionist Federation) on 2nd November 1917 promising support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Israel.
It was the first official expression of Britain’s historic commitment to a Jewish State, and stated support for Jewish self-determination in Israel.
The declaration states: “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”.
After the Balfour Declaration, international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination followed. The Balfour Declaration was ratified by all 51 countries of the League of Nations when the Mandate for Palestine was approved in July 1922. The Mandate recognised “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”.
The support that Britain gave for a Jewish and democratic state that strives to uphold the rights of all peoples living in the land, brought an end to two millennia of Jewish exile and persecution.
Since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the UK and Israel have had an enduring partnership – in trade, technology, medicine, academia, but most importantly in our shared values.
CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE and CFI Executive Director James Gurd today welcomed the year-long celebration:
“Today marks the beginning of the year-long celebration of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
“As the first official expression of Britain’s historic commitment to a Jewish State, Conservative Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour played an instrumental role in the birth of the modern State of Israel.
“CFI looks forward to a year of events commemorating the defining moment in the UK and Israel’s shared history”.