Congress to Vote on Resolution Supporting Balfour Declaration

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This handout file photograph taken in 1925 and obtained from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) on October 24, 2017, shows (L/R): British General Edmund Allenby, former British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, First High Commissioner of Palestine Herbert Samuel, posing for a picture in Jerusalem.
From left to right: British General Edmund Allenby, former British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, First High Commissioner of Palestine Herbert Samuel in Jerusalem, 1925.Credit: HANDOUT/AFP

The American Congress is expected to vote on a resolution in the coming weeks expressing its support for the Balfour Declaration, on the 100-year anniversary of the British document lauded as one of the Zionist movement's greatest international achievements.

A text of the resolution, which has been obtained by Haaretz, states that Congress "commemorates the centenary of the Balfour Declaration; affirms its commitment to maintaining the strongest of bilateral ties with the state of Israel; and recognizes the importance of the establishment of the modern State of Israel as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people."

The resolution states as its basis the fact that "the Jewish people have had a homeland in modern- day Israel for more than 3,000 years", and also mentions that "the Balfour Declaration clearly recognized and sought to uphold the ‘‘civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,’’ as well as the ‘‘rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

The resolution is proposed by Senator James Lankford (R-OK) together with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Senator Lankford told Haaretz that "it is entirely appropriate for the United States Congress to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a statement that ultimately led to the reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948," said Lankford. "Israel is one of our closest friends and allies, and it is important that we stand with her and honor this important milestone."

Senator Manchin told Haaretz that “the Balfour Declaration of 1917 represents a pivotal moment in Jewish history and the creation of the modern State of Israel." He recognized the bipartisan nature of the resolution and said that "this resolution reaffirms our support for one of our strongest allies and most steadfast friends in the region as we remember an important moment in their history."

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority began an international campaign against the 100-year-old declaration, claiming that the part of it which promised to respect the rights of the non-Jewish population in historic Palestine has not been fulfilled or respected. The PA has also asked the British government to apologize for issuing the declaration and to use the centennial mark in order to increase its support for Palestinian independence and an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

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