A British artist has organized a “party” in the occupied West Bank to offer a mock apology for the Balfour Declaration, which led to the creation of the Israeli regime and the occupation of Palestinian lands.
The mock party by the British graffiti artist known as Banksy was held in Bethlehem on Wednesday.
At the event, an actress dressed as Queen Elizabeth II hosted dozens of children from nearby Palestinian refugee camps. Instead of paper party hats, the children put on plastic helmets painted with the British flag and riddled with pretend bullet holes.
Later on, the actress unveiled a new work by Banksy, etched into Israel’s controversial apartheid wall, that said: “Er… Sorry.”
That was meant to be a mock apology from the British queen.
Signed by the then-UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour on November 2, 1917, the Balfour Declaration is considered a prelude to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians’ homeland in 1948. Palestine was under British rule when Balfour issued the policy statement.
Every year, as the anniversary of the declaration’s signing approaches, Palestinians hold numerous protest rallies against Britain, while Israel and its allies hold celebrations to mark the occasion.
Banksy also wrote a statement read by another actor at the “party.”
When Balfour declared the creation of Israel a century ago, “he was not very considerate about the people who already lived here. He started a century of confusion and conflict with just 126 words. So, next time you are thinking of skipping your writing a homework remember that guy,” Banksy’s statement said.
On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Britain to find the courage to “atone” for the role it played 100 years ago in creating Israel.
Abbas’ remarks came a week after British Prime Minister Theresa May defended the Balfour Declaration, saying, “We are proud of the role that we played in the creation” of Israel, pledging to mark the document’s centenary “with pride” on November 2.
In response, Nabil Shaath, an aide to Abbas, said that Palestine was planning to file a complaint against the UK for being behind the displacement of Palestinian people.
The UK’s Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has announced that he would skip the government’s “proud” celebrations, which will be attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Emboldened by the Balfour Declaration and the ensuing Western support, Israel captured huge swathes of Arab land in a war in 1948 and then proclaimed existence.
In 1967, it proceeded to capture more Palestinian territory in another war. It then started building and expanding scores of settlements across the occupied lands.
Tel Aviv has defied all international condemnations of its settlement activities, including outright denunciation by the United Nations Security Council.