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Liberal Democrats

F22: Centenary of the Balfour Declaration

Submitted by 11 members

Mover: Rt Hon Tom Brake MP | Summator: Jo Swinson MP

This motion applies to   


This conference motion marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a document published by the British government in 1917 outlining its support for the creation of a home in Palestine for the Jewish people. The Declaration paved the way to the creation of Israel just over thirty years later.

The motion highlights that the Balfour Declaration also made provisions for the protection of the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine.

The motion reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. It condemns ongoing violence committed by both sides, and highlights that other countries in the region will need to buy into any peace agreement.

The big policy change is that the motion calls for the British government to immediately recognise the state of Palestine, with no conditions, but with the expectation that free and fair elections will be held subsequently.

Full text of the motion:

Conference believes wholeheartedly in the universal liberal principles of human rights, democracy, international law, and the self-determination of peoples.

Conference marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration of 2nd November 1917 in which the British Government expressed its support for:

"the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish peopleÉ it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

Pursuant to the achievement of the totality of the Balfour Declaration, Conference reaffirms its support for a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine both exist with secure boundaries recognised in international law with normal relations (including diplomatic, security and trade relations) between them and with their neighbours. Conference calls for those States in the region which have not yet recognised the State of Israel to do so, as the Palestinians did in 1988.

Conference condemns all threats and acts of violence and unlawful use of force such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, or extra-judicial killings, whoever the perpetrators or the victims may be, and believes that any such threats and acts will only make a just settlement more difficult to achieve.

Conference regrets that as a result of Brexit Britain may lose representation on the Quartet and its influence on the Middle East peace process.

Conference believes that progress towards a final settlement will depend on a wider regional settlement and the support of neighbouring states, and calls for further work to develop regional proposals which will carry the support of all sides.

Conference notes that both Israel and Palestine have a right to territorial integrity under international law, and that any peace negotiation must allow the two states to negotiate land swaps to replace existing boundaries, namely the pre-1967 borders, with revised boundaries which the parties may agree between themselves on an arm's-length basis.

In this regard, Conference notes, in particular:

  1. The unique position of the Holy City of Jerusalem and its various holy sites which are of religious significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
  2. The principle that any territorial swaps should be made on a basis that territory ceded by one party to the other should be in exchange for territory of equivalent value.

Conference believes that, in recognition of the principle of self-determination and the need for completion of the commitments made in the Balfour declaration, the State of Palestine should be recognised and that the time is now right for the British Government to do this; the expectation remains that free and fair elections in Palestinian territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority will take place, to be conducted by the Palestinian Authority and facilitated by the state of Israel.

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