Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin NetanyahuMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday evening that the Palestinians will fail if they go through with their bid to sue Britain over the Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for the establishment of the State of Israel.

“Of course they will fail” if they file the lawsuit, Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony marking 112 years since the death of Theodor Herzl.

“After almost 4,000 years of Jewish history, almost 100 years after the Balfour Declaration and 68 years since the founding of the State of Israel, there are still those who deny our connection to this land. It is very clear that the root of the conflict is the fact that they refuse to recognize a Jewish home with any borders,” added Netanyahu.

On Monday, speaking to a gathering of Arab League leaders in Mauritania, Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki appealed for help to "bring a suit against the British government over the ominous Balfour Declaration which resulted in the Nakba ["catastrophe" - how Palestinians refer to the establishment of Israel - ed.] for the Palestinian people."

The Balfour Declaration - authored by then UK Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour - was signed in 1917, and pledged British support for the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine.

Subsequent British governments actively walked back on much of the Declaration, most notoriously the White Paper of 1939. However the Balfour Declaration is still seen as a key breakthrough in the Zionist struggle to gain international legitimacy for a reestablished Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel.

It is not clear whether al-Maliki's call was a serious one, or merely the latest in a long string of hyperbolic verbal assaults on the State of Israel's legitimacy by PA leaders.