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UN Observes 1948 Palestinian Exodus
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UN Observes 1948 Palestinian Exodus: Marking 75th Anniversary of Israel’s Formation

The United Nations made history on Monday as it acknowledged, for the first time ever, the forced displacement of Palestinian Arabs from what is now Israel. This momentous event coincides with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took center stage during the commemoration, triggering criticism from Israel and the US.

Back in 1948, during a conflict between the newly formed state of Israel and the surrounding Arab nations, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were compelled to leave their homes, while some were forcibly removed. This event is known as Nakba, meaning ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic, within the Arab world.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, emphasized that the catastrophe continues to impact the Palestinian people even after all these years. Despite numerous UN resolutions, Palestine still struggles to achieve independence, and approximately 5 million descendants of the displaced Palestinians are deprived of their right to return.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, strongly denounced the commemoration as an “abominable event” and a deliberate distortion of history. Erdan asserted that attending the event would be seen as condoning anti-Semitism and supporting the Palestinians’ use of international platforms to spread defamatory narratives.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of dividing the British-held Palestine Mandate into two separate states based on ethnicity and religion. While the Jewish population accepted the partition, the Arab community rejected it. The Israeli government in West Jerusalem contends that most Palestinians willingly left their homes to allow Arab armies to eliminate the Jewish population after Israel’s declaration of independence. Israel argues that facilitating a mass return of Palestinians would compromise its identity as a Jewish state, which is a fundamental pillar of its existence.

Last November, the General Assembly passed a resolution with a majority vote of 90-30, entrusting the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People with organizing the commemoration on May 15. The objective of the event is to raise awareness about the historic injustice faced by the Palestinian people and shed light on the ongoing refugee crisis. The committee, headed by Senegalese ambassador Cheikh Niang, firmly believes that the event will serve as a crucial reminder.

However, the United States voted against the commemoration and has explicitly instructed its diplomats and staff not to participate. Recently, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy blocked Representative Rashida Tlaib’s attempt to acknowledge the Nakba at the US Capitol. Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan and a descendant of Palestinian immigrants, faced criticism from McCarthy, a Republican from California, who labeled her event as “antisemitic.” Instead, McCarthy opted for a bipartisan discussion to honor the 75th anniversary of the US-Israel relationship.

By: Mr WWK

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