British consulate in Jerusalem closes its doors to Palestinians protesting on 105th anniversary of Balfour Declaration
The British Consulate in Jerusalem on Tuesday refused to receive Palestinians who presented a letter of protest to coincide with the 105th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Activists from the Palestinian National League of Independents and the International Institution for Following Up Palestinian Rights staged a protest outside the consulate, which is in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem.
However, the consulate closed its doors to the activists, forcing them to leave the letter, which was signed by dozens of Palestinian activists, politicians, and religious leaders at its gates.
The letter called on Britain to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, which was issued on 2 November 1917 and promised Jews a "national home" in Palestine without any regard to the opinion of Palestinians.
The declaration was issued during the First World War, when the UK was at war with the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine at the time.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the UK took control of Palestine, allowing organised Jewish settlement under the sponsorship of the Zionist movement to take place.
The events later led to the 1948 Nakba – the forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes by Zionist militias prior to the creation of Israel.
In a statement, the Palestinian Authority’s mission to the UK called the Balfour Declaration "the height of imperial arrogance and disregard for the collective political rights of millions of Palestinians, making the people of Palestine disenfranchised and stateless in their own homeland".
"When will the UK apologise and make amends?" the statement asked, calling on the UK to recognise the State of Palestine and its sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, support the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and halt trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
The British consulate in Jerusalem is located in the Palestinian eastern half of the city which was occupied by Israel in 1967 and represents the UK government in the Palestinian territories.
It is in the Sheikh Jarrah area where Israel has tried to evict Palestinians from their homes in order to turn them over to settlers recently.
Regarding the British consulate’s closure of its gates, Nasser Qaws, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club NGO in Jerusalem said: "It's not surprising that these officials act like this. It reinforces Britain's enmity to the Palestinian people and their national rights."
Recently, former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, a self-proclaimed "huge Zionist", sparked Palestinian and Arab anger by saying she would "study" moving the UK’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.