|The Balfour Declaration|
In a statement released to the public, the Palestinian Authority recently indicated that it is preparing to bring a civil action against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in 2017, on behalf of Palestinians, seeking an apology, and other yet unspecified damages, for the British issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. This document, which secured a national home for the Jewish people, in their ancestral home, present-day Israel, was codified in the San Remo Peace Conference, after the First World War, and adopted by the League of Nations, and its successor, the United Nations, when it was formed. For a non-party to the agreements to seek to affect them a century later is patently absurd, and cannot be considered, due to international law regarding treaties and international agreements.
The Palestinians, who refuse to recognize the 3500 year history of the Jewish people in the region, and blame the UK, which subsequently was granted a League of Nations Mandate to supervise the territory, for allegedly permitting the area to be "colonized" by European Jews. Anti-Israeli activists in the UK have also indicated that they intend to petition Parliament, and are seeking signatures in support.
From a Country Risk viewpoint, there may be increased risk, on the part of British companies, as well as UK nationals, operating in, or visiting, the Middle East, in 2017, due to possible anti-British sentiment in the region, inflamed by the issues raised by the Palestinian Authority, and amplified by any lawsuit it files. A risk-based assessment should be undertaken by any entity that could possibly be affected.
The legal merits of this alleged claim, or total lack thereof, especially due to the principle of sovereign immunity from prosecution, and other defenses, should be a part of a full assessment of potential risk. Many legal observers regard such a lawsuit as not just without a legal basis, but sheer fantasy, as it seeks to essentially challenge a central component of the treaties settling the First World War, and a century of established treaties and international law.
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