Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech before the Knesset on Tuesday commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Netanyahu hailed the document for laying “the international foundation and the support for Zionism and Europe and America and in other parts of the world,” which “contributed greatly to the resurrection enterprise of our People.”
The problem that Netanyahu sees with the Balfour Declaration was “that it took 30 years to implement” due to Britain backing away from it, preventing a place of refuge from being established for the Jews who died during the Holocaust.
Netanyahu pointed out that many in the Arab world were actually initially warm toward the Balfour Declaration, but it was the Arab nationalist spearheaded by Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who provided “grounds for incitement and violence” and was allied with Nazi Commander Heinrich Himmler.
“Himmler is now gone, the Mufti is now gone, and Zionism has triumphed,” declared Netanyahu. “Those who seek the roots of the intra-Islamic struggle that we have been witnessing in recent years will find them there.”
Netanyahu added that Israel has been establishing alliances with moderate Arabs in the region in order to eradicate radical Islam.
“We are acting to achieve peace with other Arab countries who stand with us in the face of radical Islam,” said Netanyahu. “I can only hope that the Palestinians finally adopt this approach and turn to peace.”
Netanyahu proceeded to denounce officials in the Palestinian Authority for their recent criticism of the Balfour Declaration, which included them calling for the British government to apologize for it.
“They are not moving forward, they are going 100 years backwards,” said Netanyahu. “This is the root of the conflict, the 100-year-old refusal to recognize Zionism and the State of Israel within any borders.”
Netanyahu traveled to Britain last week to honor the declaration, where British Prime Minister Theresa May and other British officials defended their country for establishing the document.
For more on the Balfour Declaration, read Judea Pearl’s column here.