Balfour Declaration to Be Exhibited in Israel for the First Time
Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser recently received agreement in principle from the British Library for the original copy of the Balfour Declaration, regarding the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, to be exhibited in Israel for a limited period of time, subject to conditions to be determined by the British Library.
The Balfour Declaration marks the Zionist movement’s first significant diplomatic achievement. It recognized the Zionist aspiration to establish a Jewish state and was ratified by the British Cabinet. The Balfour Declaration also constituted the basis for the British [League of Nations] Mandate that led to the establishment of the state.
The original almost 96-year-old document has never left British soil. It was originally given to Lord Walter Rothschild. The Rothschild family gave it to the British Museum, which later transferred it to the British Library.
The idea to exhibit the document in Israel was raised in the context of the planning for the renovation of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv. Approximately NIS 5 million has been invested this year in renovating the building; the level on which the state was declared was recently rededicated. This renovation is the first stage in a larger NIS 40 million plan to renovate the entire structure and open a new Independence Museum at the site. Last week, Keren Hayesod finished raising an earmarked donation for this purpose from Eric and Sheila Samson.
In the context of the comprehensive renovation, permanent and changing exhibits are being planned, which will incorporate the latest technologies, including special cases for displaying historical documents similar to that in which the US Declaration of Independence is displayed.
The renovation of Independence Hall is a major part of the national plan for renovating national heritage infrastructures, which was launched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.