Libertatem Magazine

Palestinian Court Rules Balfour Declaration Invalid; Urges the UK To Apologize

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The Nablus Court of First Instance ruled that Lord Balfour’s declaration to support for a “national home for the Jewish people” violated international law and resulted in the consequences of “nakba”. The Court has called the British government to apologize to the State of Palestine and its people. 


The Balfour Declaration is a public statement issued by the British government on the 2nd of November 1917 during WWI. It announced its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which at the time, was an Ottoman region with a minority of Jewish people. The instrument was pioneered by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who had sent the letter on behalf of His Majesty’s government to Lord Rothschild, a prominent leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. 

Following the war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, the British War Cabinet began to consider the future of Palestine. Zionist Cabinet member, Herbert Samuel, proposed the support of the Zionist movement to enlist more Jewish soldiers for war. Shortly after the resignation of the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, who had always supported reforms to the Ottoman Empire, but not necessarily partition, Prime Minister David Lloyd George called for the partition of the Empire. By February 1917, negotiations for an independent Jewish state in the realm of Palestine had already begun to take place between the Zionist movement and the British government with the complete exclusion of the State of Palestine from the negotiations. The negotiations subsequently led to the Balfour Declaration. Before this declaration, the term “national home” had no precedent in international law, and it was “intentionally left vague as to whether a Jewish state was contemplated”. The declaration made no mention of the intended boundaries of the State of Palestine and the new-to-be-made State of Israel. Later confirmation by the British government stated that “in Palestine” did not mean covering the whole of Palestine. 

The Nablus Court of First Instance’s Decision

In the case of the National Assembly of Independents, the International Foundation for the Follow-up of the Rights of the Palestinian People, and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate v. The British Government (2021), the Nablus Court of First Instance ruled the Balfour Declaration to be invalid. It further demanded the annulment of all that resulted as a consequence of the declaration and demanded that the British government apologize to the State of Palestine and its people for the crimes committed in “Nakba”- the expulsion of 750,000 people by armed Jewish groups in 1948 and hold the British government responsible for the crimes during its military rule over Palestine. 

Judge Majdi Jarrar, stated that “Britain and its foreign minister at the time, James Balfour, who neither possessed Palestine nor had the right to determine the fate of its people, had violated the peremptory norms of international law.” The Judge further added that “What the defendant – the United Kingdom, did during its mandate for the Palestinian lands through occupation, and by encouraging the immigration of Jews to Palestine, while displacing and massacring the original Palestine population and their lands by armed Zionist gangs, deprived the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and contradicted the incumbent responsibility of the League of Nations.”

She held that “Since the British mandate was signed on Palestinian soil, and all the violating acts were committed against the people of Palestine on the soils of Palestine, this Court (Nablus Court of First Instance) genuinely had jurisdiction in holding the defendant responsible for its actions in light of the United Nation General Assembly’s resolutions.”

In conclusion, the Court ruled that based on the United Nations resolutions and Britain’s violation of peremptory violation of international law, the Balfour Declaration was invalid.


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