Boris Johnson
Boris JohnsonReuters

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Sunday defended his predecessor's role a century ago in paving the way for the creation of Israel, saying two sovereign states for Israelis and Palestinians remains the "only viable solution" for peace, AFP reported.

Johnson's comments come ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which will be marked this Thursday.

The November 2, 1917, Balfour Declaration was sent by then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour and proclaimed Britain’s support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in then-Palestine.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to London to mark the anniversary. The Palestinian Arabs, however, remain angry over the declaration and have for months been waging a campaign aimed at forcing Britain to apologize for the document.

The British government in April rejected the demand to apologize for the Declaration, saying, “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologize. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

"I am proud of Britain's part in creating Israel," Johnson wrote in the Telegraph newspaper on Sunday, adding the document was "indispensable to the creation of a great nation".

But he warned that one of the key caveats of the Balfour Declaration – that the rights of non-Jewish communities shall be protected -- "has not been fully realized."

In the article, Johnson said he was writing his thoughts down in the same room Balfour used a century ago.

He praised the 1917 letter for its "incontestable moral goal: to provide a persecuted people with a safe and secure homeland."

At the same time, he also stressed that London remained committed to a two-state solution.

"I have no doubt that the only viable solution to the conflict resembles the one first set down on paper by another Briton, Lord Peel, in the report of the Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937, and that is the vision of two states for two peoples," he wrote.

The borders, he added, should be as they were before the Six Day war in 1967, with Jerusalem "a shared capital" and "equal land swaps to reflect the national, security, and religious interests of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples."

"A century on, Britain will give whatever support we can in order to close the ring and complete the unfinished business of the Balfour Declaration," he wrote.

AFP contributed to this report.