*UPDATES LEDE, ADDS EREKAT STATEMENT
By Mohamed Majed
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Resistance group Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have both demanded that Britain apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of Israel — and the dispossession of the Palestinians — in 1948.
They issued their demand on Friday to coincide with the infamous document’s 101st anniversary.
The Balfour Declaration was a letter sent by Britain’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent Zionist leader, on Nov. 2, 1917.
In the letter, Balfour declares his government’s support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
In a Friday statement, Hamas demanded a British apology for the fateful document.
“Britain must apologize to the Palestinian people and allow for the repatriation of refugees displaced from historical Palestine [to make way for the new state of Israel],” the statement read.
Hamas went on to stress the Palestinian people’s “right to resist the [Israeli] occupation until they have achieved their objective of total liberation”.
The resistance group, which has governed the blockaded Gaza Strip since 2007, also reiterated its longstanding rejection of any political or diplomatic normalization with Israel.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, for his part, likewise called on Britain to apologize for the declaration.
“Britain must atone for its historic mistake and… offer an official apology to our people, recognize our state, and hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation and crimes,” Erekat said in a statement.
"More than a hundred years ago, Britain facilitated the process of ethnic cleansing in Palestine and, in flagrant violation of the values of international justice, celebrated [the 100th anniversary of] this occasion last year," he said.
Erekat added: "The Balfour Declaration continues to inspire the occupation government to pursue its policy of ethnic cleansing with a view to ending the Palestinian presence [in historical Palestine].”