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Historic Precedent: United Nations Observes Palestinian Nakba Commemoration


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For the first time on Monday, the United Nations officially commemorated the Nakba, which marks the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel on the 75th anniversary of their displacement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is headlining Monday’s United Nations celebration of what Palestinians call the “Nakba” or “catastrophe,” a measure resulting from the United Nations’ division of British-ruled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations, described the UN ceremony as “historic” and important because the General Assembly played a major role in dividing Palestine.

“It is an acknowledgment of the responsibility of the United Nations for its inability to solve this catastrophe for the Palestinian people for 75 years,” Mansour told a group of UN correspondents recently.

He said that the catastrophe experienced by the Palestinian people continues, as they still do not enjoy an independent state and do not have the right to return to their homes as called for by the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, condemned the ceremony, calling it an “abhorrent event” and a “blatant attempt to distort history”.

He said those present would condone anti-Semitism and give the green light to the Palestinians “to continue to exploit international bodies to promote their defamatory narrative.”

The General Assembly, comprising 57 countries in 1947, approved the partition resolution of Palestine by 33 votes in favor, 13 against, with 10 abstentions. The Jewish side accepted the UN Partition Plan and after the end of the British Mandate in 1948, Israel declared its independence. The Arabs rejected the plan and the neighboring Arab countries launched a war against the Jewish state.

The Nakba commemorates the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948.

Still a problem

The fate of these refugees and their descendants – who are estimated to number more than 5 million in the Middle East – remains one of the major contentious issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel rejects demands for a mass return of refugees to long-lost homes, saying it would threaten the country’s Jewish character.

As the 75th anniversary approaches, the 193-member General Assembly approved a resolution last November 30 by a 90-30 vote with 47 abstentions asking the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to organize a high-level meeting. May 15th to commemorate the Nakba.

The United States was among the countries that joined Israel in voting against the resolution, and the American mission said no American diplomat would attend Monday’s ceremony.

Explaining why the UN ceremony took so long, Mansour told The Associated Press on Friday that the Palestinians have moved cautiously at the UN since the General Assembly upgraded their status in 2012 from a non-member observer to a non-member observer state.

UN recognition as a state enabled the Palestinians to join treaties, bring cases against the Israeli occupation to the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, the highest court in the United Nations, and in 2019 chaired the Group of 77, the United Nations coalition. He said that 134 are mainly developing countries and China.

On the 70th anniversary of the 1948 mass exodus five years ago, Mansour said, “The word Nakba was used in a General Assembly resolution for the first time,” then instructed Abbas to obtain a UN mandate for the 75th anniversary.

Violence continues

The Nakba commemoration comes as Israeli-Palestinian fighting has intensified, and protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government and its plan to reform Israel’s judiciary show no sign of abating. The Israeli polarization and extreme positions of the Netanyahu government have caused growing international concern.

Mansour said on Friday that Palestinian refugees are being “forcibly expelled from their homes and forcibly transferred by Israel at an unprecedented rate,” reminiscent of 1948.

“The time has come to end the Nakba,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, in a speech to the UN Security Council on April 25, stressing that the Palestinians have experienced the world’s longest and “longest” refugee crisis. occupying an entire region in recent history.”

He was highly critical of the United Nations and the broader international community for adopting resolutions making demands and calling for action – but doing nothing to implement them. If the international community makes the Israeli occupation costly, he said, “I can assure you it will come to an end.”

Al-Maliki renewed his call for countries that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine “to do so as a way to save the moribund two-state solution.” He also urged countries to support the Palestinian demand for full membership in the United Nations, which would demonstrate international support for a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians live side by side in peace.

To harm Israel economically, Al-Maliki urged countries to ban products from Israeli settlements and trade with settlements, “punish those who collect money for settlements, those who defend and those who support them,” and list settler organizations that carry out killings. and arson as “terrorist organizations”.

He urged the international community to refer Israel to the International Court of Justice. The General Assembly had asked the court in December to express its opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, a move that Israel condemned.

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