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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

UK transport officials ban Balfour Declaration poster campaign

Campaign organised by the Palestinian diplomatic mission to the UK is part of a broader programme to mark the centenary of the letter that called for a Jewish homeland

Britain’s foreign secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter on November 2, 1917 to Lord Rothschild setting forth Britain's support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Photo12 / UIG via Getty Images
Britain’s foreign secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter on November 2, 1917 to Lord Rothschild setting forth Britain's support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Photo12 / UIG via Getty Images

Posters that highlight the suffering of Palestinians in a campaign to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration has been banned from the London metro network for breaching rules on political messaging.

The poster campaign “Palestine…. Make it Right” features images of rubble, grieving families and refugee camps following the forced expulsion of Palestinians after the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.

The images were due to be posted on the underground network in the run-up to the November 2 centenary of the declaration which formed the basis for Israel. Israeli and Palestinian groups have planned a series of events to mark the occasion.

Transport for London (TfL) ruled that the posters cannot be displayed as they would breach its guidelines on advertising on the capital’s public transport network. Its guidelines state that advertisements would not be allowed if it related to a “political cause”.

The campaign was organised by the Palestinian’s diplomatic mission in the UK, which criticised the ruling by transport officials.

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“Despite TfL’s attempt to suppress Palestinian voices and censor the Palestinian narrative, such a historical wrong cannot be ignored forever,” the mission said in a statement.

The Balfour declaration led to the creation of Israel but the poster campaign highlights the second section of the 67-word letter from then foreign minister Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community. The section says that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

One Palestinian group has written to London’s mayor Sadiq Khan to protest the protest ban. “This ban only acts to censor the Palestinian narrative,” according to the letter posted online by the London-based Palestinian Return Centre.

Pro-Palestinian campaigners have used the anniversary to continue their campaign for an apology from the UK government.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called for an apology at the United Nations in 2016, but Theresa May, the British premier, has rebuffed the demand and described the declaration as one of the most important letters in history.

She has invited Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to attend events in London to mark the declaration.

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