On 4/3, PA pres. Abbas called on the UK govt. to offer incoming Palestinian rep. Maen Areikat the same diplomatic status as his predecessor, Manuel Hassassian. “We asked the British govt. to deal with the new representative in the same way it dealt with the outgoing one,” he said. “They should not change that, lest it be understood as a malicious act.” Since 2011, the Palestinian office in London has been an official diplomatic mission. The British govt. did not respond to Abbas’s request.
The apparent downgrade in the Palestinians’ status in the UK came amid rising tensions surrounding the 100-year anniversary of the 11/1917 Balfour Declaration. PA FM Riyad al-Maliki previously threatened legal action against Britain should it proceed with planned celebrations (see JPS 46 ). This quarter, Abbas reiterated (4/3) that threat, and more than 13,000 UK citizens signed onto a petition calling on the UK govt. to “openly apologize to the Palestinian people.” The UK govt. is required to respond to all petitions garnering more than 10,000 signatures, and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) did so on 4/25. “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which [the British govt.] does not intend to apologize,” the FCO said. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel.”