Balfour ‘unresolved issue’ fuels radicalization in Britain

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will dine together next week to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The meeting has angered some Palestinians. (Reuters)
Updated 31 October 2017

Balfour ‘unresolved issue’ fuels radicalization in Britain

LONDON: The unresolved legacy of the Balfour Declaration is contributing toward radicalization in modern Britain, according to the former British consul general to Jerusalem.
The UK should uphold its commitment to helping to achieve a two-state solution promised in the Balfour Declaration, if only to prevent radicalization at home, said Vincent Fean, the British consul general to Jerusalem between 2010 and 2014, during a Chatham House discussion in London this week.
He said: “I firmly believe that this unresolved issue contributes to radicalization in our own country among the Muslim community and if only for that self-interested reason we should think of doing something about it.”
Emphasizing the need for a change of international direction, he criticized “the practice we’ve had of leaving the strong to negotiate with the weak,” and warned that, unless the issue is addressed, a two-state solution will be unachievable.
“Israel is creating facts on the ground which will make a two-state solution impossible; many say it’s already happened,” he said, outlining two things the UK could do.
“We could, and I think should, validate that second state by recognition of the State of Palestine on ‘67 lines and uphold international law properly – not just talk about it – with consequences for whoever seeks to destroy the outcome of two states.”
The event, called “The Balfour Declaration: Palestine, Israel and Britain One Hundred Years,” brought together Palestinian, Israeli and British commentators.
The speakers also attempted to dissect the foreign policy intention of Downing Street at the time and that of Balfour himself.
Yaacov Yadgar, a professor of Israeli studies at University of Oxford, said:
“Balfour, in his conviction that the Jews belong in Palestine, was opposed to their emigration to the United Kingdom”
UN diplomat and former Algerian minister Lakhdar Brahimi said that “Lord Balfour’s declaration was intended to serve Britain’s interest first and foremost.”
In 1917, Britain did not really have a foreign policy, only a national one, he added.
He said: “Israel is a nuclear power, with a booming economy, a flourishing culture and is a leader in cutting edge science and technology. In contrast the Palestinians, those still in their shrinking homeland and those pushed into exile are suffering systematic oppression, injustice and humiliation.”
On Thursday, UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the shared capital.
Speaking during a debate on the Balfour Declaration in Westminster Hall, Burt said the UK has “unfinished business,” until lasting peace is achieved.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will mark the occasion of the Balfour Declaration centenary on Nov. 2 at a dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week, she said: “We are proud of the role that we played in the creation of the State of Israel, and we will certainly mark the centenary with pride.”


Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shouts “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor,” during the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 13 sec ago

Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

  • Ritual-bound, centuries-old ceremony takes places at Imperial Palace in Tokyo
  • Heads of state and officials from Japan and 180 countries among the attendees

TOKYO: It was a ceremony similar to coronations used by monarchs worldwide, but combining the historical and the spiritual with modernity. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito formally completed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22.
Purple curtains were drawn back to reveal Naruhito, 59, and Empress Masako, 55, standing before their imperial thrones as the enthronement ceremony began.
Wearing a dark orange robe, similar to that worn by his father Akihito at his own enthronement in 1990, Naruhito proclaimed his ascension from a 6.5 meter-high, canopied “Takamikura” throne.
Through the centuries-old ceremony, Naruhito declared himself Japan’s 126th emperor and vowed to “stand with the people” before roughly 2,000 guests, including heads of state and officials from Japan and more than 180 countries. Among the attendees were Japanese royal family members also wearing traditional robes.
In his congratulatory message to the emperor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised that the people of Japan would “respect (his) highness the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the Japanese people.” He then stood before Naruhito’s throne, bowed and raised his hands three times, shouting “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor.”
Saudi Arabia was represented by Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, who conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Japanese people.Saudi Ambassador to Japan Naif bin Marzouq Al-Fahadi, and other Saudi officials, were also present.

Japan’s Princess Mako attended the enthronement ceremony. (AFP)


The enthronement ceremony is a part of a succession of rituals that began in May when Naruhito inherited the throne, after Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.
As Naruhito ascended the throne, boxes containing items of imperial regalia, including an imperial sword and jewel, were presented to him.
“Having previously succeeded to the Imperial Throne in accordance with the constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law, I now … proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad,” the Japan Times newspaper quoted Naruhito as declaring.
“I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state, and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always wishing for the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them.” An imperial procession that was to take place after the ceremony was postponed after Typhoon Hagibis hit Tokyo earlier this month. On Nov. 10, the emperor and empress will take part in a procession through central Tokyo to the Akasaka Imperial Residence.
To mark the enthronement, the government has granted pardons to more than half a million people found guilty of petty crimes such as traffic violations.
In an article for Arab News, Shihoko Goto, deputy director for geoeconomics at the Asia Program of the US think tank the Wilson Center, asked a question she believes will be echoed by many in Japan: “Can the country carry on its historical legacy while embracing the opportunities of the 21st century? “The new imperial couple is likely to want to further Emperor Akihito’s legacy as a conduit for reconciliation.”