The statement is in response to a petition calling on the UK to ‘apologise’ for the Balfour Declaration.
The response read: “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG does not intend to apologise. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace”.
It continued: “The Declaration was written in a world of competing imperial powers, in the midst of the First World War and in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire. In that context, establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution. Of course, a full assessment of the Declaration and what followed from it can only be made by historians”.
The statement underlined the importance of establishing “security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through a lasting peace”.
Reaffirming the Government’s support for a two state solution, the statement said: “We believe the best way to achieve this is through a two-state solution: a negotiated settlement that leads to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees”.
The response concluded by stating: “We do not underestimate the challenges, but if both parties show bold leadership, peace is possible. The UK is ready to do all it can to support this goal”.
Click here to read the full Government response.
Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride”, at CFI’s Annual Business Lunch in December 2016. Prime Minister May said: “It is one of the most important letters in history. It demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people. And it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride”.