I WRITE to acquaint your readers with the recently received disturbing news that the Government, as currently constituted intends, in November 2017, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration “...in conjunction with our international partners”.

In this context, the only international partner interesting in marking the 100th anniversary will be Israel, the beneficiary of the Lloyd George government’s desperation to get world Jewry on-side at a critical juncture of the First World War.

Tobias Ellwood MP, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State responsible for relations with the Middle East, says the Government is “....proud of the role we played in the creation of Israel”. Whilst he goes on to say, in a June 2016 letter to Ben Howlett MP, that “....Balfour remains incomplete while there is no statehood for Palestinians”. He appears oblivious to the fact that almost from its publication and incorporation within the terms of Britain’s Palestine Mandate, British politicians ignored that part of the declaration that said “....it being clearly understood...(though not by British politicians it would appear)...that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Whilst the 1917 British government viewed “...with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...”, the supine conduct of its current successors, who seem at best powerless in the face of the Jewish lobby and at worst active supporters of the current Netanyahu regime, gives no cause for celebration with “international partners”, or indeed with anyone else.

Between now and next November, Bradford on Avon Friends of Palestine, together with other like-minded locally and nationally based organisations, will be considering how best to mark, without the assistance of international partners, what was one of the most shameful and self-serving acts ever perpetrated by a British government.

We have just learned of the contents of the Chilcot Report. Whereas the disastrous decisions of Tony Blair and his associates in 2003 and their terrible consequences have been rightly condemned by most members of society, the equally disastrous actions of the Lloyd George government of 1917 still reverberate, almost without comment, in the Middle East and beyond.

Until the civil and religious rights of the Palestinian people are respected and redress is made for the wrongs done to them, both in the past and those continuing on an almost daily basis, Arabs will continue to believe, with some justification, that the so-called Christian world, ie the West, is in the pocket of Zionism.

Ray Packham, Treasurer, Bradford on Avon Friends of Palestine