The following brief letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to honorary president of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, Lord Lionel Rothschild, is the document that came to be known as “the Balfour Declaration.” It reflects the British cabinet’s support of the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. It is interesting to note that the wording suggested by the Zionists in their negotiations with the British government called for the British to recognize Palestine as the national home for the Jewish people. The British substituted the indefinite article “a” for “the” as follows:
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of this Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, 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.”
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour