WATCH: What Is The State Department’s Position On The Balfour Declaration? (Updated)
When asked about the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, things got quite historical (or is that hysterical) at the State Department Briefing:
It runs on into more yakety-yak about Jews building homes. Here’s a full transcript (which starts before where I cut the video to start).
On December 3, 1924, the US signed a treaty with Great Britain that was ratified by the US Senate and signed by the president, having the legal effect of making the Mandate for Palestine (including Judea and Samaria) and the Balfour Declaration part of US domestic law. This is a fact of enormous importance that has been conveniently forgotten.
The Obama administration wrongly calls legally established settlements in Judea and Samaria “obstacles to peace,” and their expansion “inflammatory and provocative.” Having approved the treaty, the US is legally prevented from denouncing or taking any action against settlement activity.
In the wake of World War I, these same political and legal proceedings led to the establishment of Arab states. The Arabs cannot gleefully accept national rights accorded to them under these proceedings while at the same time denying them to the Jewish people.
You can see the whole thing starting around 14:30 on the State Dept website:
QUESTION: And finally, I want to ask you, today marked the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. I am sure you’re aware of the Balfour Declaration.
MR KIRBY: I am. I studied history in college.
QUESTION: Which basically launched this thing into – began this whole process and so on.
MR KIRBY: Yeah.
QUESTION: And I wonder, the Palestinians are going to sort of demand that Britain apologizes for the Balfour Declaration. Will you support them in that effort? Will you support the Palestinians if they go to the UN to say that Britain must apologize for that and must do everything that it can to rectify the wrongs that have been inflicted on the Palestinians as a result?
MR KIRBY: This is the first I’ve heard that there’s an interest in doing that at the UN, Said, so I’m not going to get ahead of proclamations or announcements or proposals that haven’t been made yet at the UN. Look, I’ll tell you, not that I’m saying history is not important. Believe me, as a history major and still a lover of history, I get the importance of history. But I’ll tell you where we’re focused is on the future here. And this gets back to your first question about settlement activity. We want to see a path forward to a two-state solution, and the Secretary still believes that that path can be found. But it requires leadership and it requires a forward vision in the leadership there.
So we are very much wanting to look forward here to a meaningful two-state solution, and I think we’re a little less interested in proclamations about the past. Not that I’m saying the past isn’t important or that we’re not a product of history. I am not at all suggesting that. I’m just saying that we are more focused on moving forward.
QUESTION: So okay, recognizing that —
MR KIRBY: I knew something was coming.
QUESTION: — does the Administration have a position on the Balfour Declaration – good, bad, indifferent?
MR KIRBY: I don’t know.
QUESTION: They sent a declaration —
QUESTION: You don’t know?
MR KIRBY: I don’t know if we’ve taken a position on the Balfour Declaration or the Treaty of Westphalia or —
QUESTION: I think you think that was good because that established the concept of sovereign immunity.
MR KIRBY: Sovereign states, yeah. I – yes, actually.
QUESTION: How about the Treaty of Worms? That one?
MR KIRBY: I don’t know. I don’t know.
QUESTION: I —
MR KIRBY: Now, see, if I had actually said that we did have a position on Balfour, then I would expect you to list every other treaty and ask me. But I’m saying we don’t have a position on this right now.
QUESTION: How about Versailles? Do you think that was a good thing?
MR KIRBY: Which one? Which one? 1783? We actually like that one a lot. In fact —
QUESTION: All right. I actually have a relevant – a question that’s relevant to the previous –
MR KIRBY: Really?
QUESTION: — the previous question. Earlier —
MR KIRBY: That would be very interesting.