Citizens Apology made at Scottish Parliament for Balfour Declaration

By staff writers
November 3, 2017

A significant gathering took place at the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Thursday 2 November 2017), as people from community groups, NGOs, political parties and faith organisations joined together in making a ‘citizens’ apology’ for the Balfour Declaration, exactly 100 years since it was signed by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour. 

The Citizens Apology was an initiative from the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Palestine. There were speeches by MSPs from SNP, Labour and the Greens as well as from the Palestinian community in Scotland.

People brought colourful placards expressing their apology for the Balfour Declaration and its impact on the Palestinian people. The choir ‘Protest in Harmony’  led the gathering in song.

The event at the Scottish Parliament was paralleled by one at Westminster, and others around the world. 

On 2 November 1917, Arthur James Balfour, born in East Lothian, sent the letter known as the Balfour Declaration, to the Jewish Zionist Federation saying that the Government would favour the establishment in Palestine of a "national home for the Jewish people”.

This led to the British Mandate, the occupation of Palestine, the Palestinian refugee crisis and the world’s most intractable conflict. 

The Citizens Apology questions the justice of the Balfour declaration, which critics say has caused decades of suffering for the Palestinian people who are being denied the right to live in peace and justice in their own land. 

Among those offering messages of support to the Citizens Apology in Scotland were the Iona Community and the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia. 


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