Stockholm, November 3rd, 2017 – ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell was one of the keynote speakers at the only official Balfour Centenary celebration held in Sweden on Thursday, 2nd November. The current Swedish government came into direct conflict with Israel when, as its first political decision immediately after coming to power three years ago, it recognized a Palestinian state. The recognition came without any consultation within the national parliament.
In his speech on Thursday Sandell pointed out that the Balfour Declaration is something to be celebrated by everyone who subscribes to the right to self-determination for all people groups, including the Jewish people.
The event host, Dr Anders Gerdmar, quoted Heinrich Himmler who in 1943 sent a telegram to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, expressing his regrets for the “wretched” Balfour Declaration.
“Also today there are those who reject the Balfour Declaration and categorically dismiss the idea of a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland”, Sandell said. “It is this rejectionist position which has prevented peace between Jews and Arabs for the last 100 years,” he added.
Newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to Sweden, Ilan Ben-Dov, also spoke at the event, expressing his gratitude for the show of support.
In a separate interview ahead of the Balfour Centenary, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström expressed her desire for better relations with the Israeli government.
As a first small step in the correction of the one-sided Swedish policy in the Israeli-Arab conflict, the Swedish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that they will withdraw their supply of funds to a Palestinian women´s centre which has been named after a convicted terrorist. This is the first time that the current Social-Democratic government has given in to mounting criticism over its unconditional aid to the Palestinian Authority, despite clear proof of corruption and an institutionalized culture of martyrdom and hatred in the Palestinian territory.
In London, the home of the Balfour Declaration, the centennial anniversary was celebrated on Thursday evening with a dinner for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted by Jacob Rothschild, the 4th Baron Rothschild, and Roderick Balfour, the 5th Earl of Balfour. At the dinner British Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed her commitment to stand with Israel and said that she is proud of the pioneering role of the British government in the creation of the State of Israel.