Emily Thornberry, a British politician from the Labour party, said on Monday that the British government should mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by formally recognizing a Palestinian state.
Speaking to the Middle East Eye news website, Thornberry opined that the time was now right to do this.
“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think the most important way of marking it is to recognize Palestine. The British government have said they will do, it's just a question of when the time is right and it seems to me this is the time,” she said.
Thornberry claimed that she feared that Israel had "lost its way" and was heading for a one-state reality.
“And in that way they are letting down the Israeli people because you cannot have a democratic, Jewish one state in that area. So they will have to choose,” she told Middle East Eye.
Thornberry acknowledged that Lord Balfour's letter in 1917 had been a "turning point in the history” of the region, but said today Britain should measure all of its actions and statements on Israel by the standard of whether they will secure two viable states.
The interview with the Labour MP comes after it was revealed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who in the past referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “his friends”, will boycott an official dinner with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Thornberry will be attending the dinner in his place.
The Palestinian Arabs remain angry over the 1917 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.”
On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “proud” of the document and of Britain's part in creating Israel.