[News] The Nakba: The Perpetuation of an Unwanted Legacy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 15 11:27:52 EDT 2012

The Nakba: The Perpetuation of an Unwanted Legacy

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sixty-four years have passed since Palestinian society was decimated 
by the forcible transfer of some 700,000 people by Israeli forces. 
Each year, on 15 May, 'Nakba Day' commemorates the anguish of those 
who were expelled from their homes and those who fled in panic under 
direct military assault. Today also serves as a day of remembrance 
for the mass murders of 1948 and the destruction of entire villages, 
of Deir Yassin and Tantura and Al-Dawayima, when hundreds of 
Palestinians were killed during a period that is now known simply as 
'the catastrophe'.

While the term Nakba is seen as a reference to the murder, exile and 
devastation of the 1948 war, in reality, it could just as easily be 
used to describe the current belligerent occupation. It is an 
appropriate term for nearly six decades of demolitions, internment, 
the appropriation of land and the refusal by Israel to recognise and 
respect the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. It could 
very easily be used to describe the denial of the right to 
self-determination of the Palestinian people. The Nakba did not end 
in 1948. The mass forcible transfer that occurred during and in the 
aftermath of the war was only the first stage in Isreal's illegal 
policy of displacement that is being implemented with equal 
determination and precision to this day.

For the last six decades, the rights of those dispossessed have never 
been addressed. Today, seven million Palestinian refugees are 
scattered across the globe. The right of the Palestinians displaced 
by the wars in 1948 and 1967 has been framed by Israeli rhetoric as a 
political claim and continuously rejected. In truth, the right to 
return of those displaced by a conflict is a well-established 
principle of international law. In particular, the right of 
Palestinian refugees has been unequivocally reiterated by the 
Security Council in its unanimously adopted Resolution 237 of 1967.

Indeed, the most recent bout of negotiations came about in response 
to a request from the Quartet for proposals on borders and security 
arrangements in a future two-State solution. However, this seems to 
ignore the fact that the conflict is not simply one of borders, but 
revolves around a multitude of interrelated issues, including the 
rights of refugees, Jerusalem, water, and prisoners, which need to be 
addressed in an equitable manner to bring about a just and durable 
solution to the conflict. By resolving the issues that Israel wants 
negotiated first, Palestinian representatives will be stripped of any 
leverage they have to negotiate other important questions, resulting 
in an illusory peace process and continued occupation.

Furthermore, Israel has repeatedly demanded that Palestinian 
representatives come to the negotiating table without preconditions. 
It should be clear to all involved that international law cannot be 
dismissed as a simple precondition. Rather, it is the foundation upon 
which constructive and well-balanced negotiations must be based and 
as such it must be upheld and respected by all parties involved.

Instead of fulfilling their obligations under international law to 
discourage the continuation of the ongoing breaches of international 
law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the international 
community has long reduced itself to advocating for the formalisation 
of such violations in the name of political expediency. At the same 
time, the tacit approval of the international community has only 
served to reward Israel's illegal policy of dispossession, 
including   land appropriation for the purposes of settlement 
construction and expansion.

As such, denial of the right to self-determination, which encompasses 
the right to return, has become a legacy, passed down by Palestinian 
parents to their children. Palestinians in 2012 still experience 'the 
catastrophe', albeit in a slightly different format. The term is 
today a reference to the silent annexation of the Jordan Valley and 
the forcible transfer of families across Area C of the West Bank. It 
describes the effects of the Annexation Wall, the illegal blockade of 
the Gaza Strip and the violent suppression of freedom of expression. 
It is also a fitting portrayal of a situation where some 2,500 
Palestinian prisoners must go on hunger strike, several to the point 
of near-death, to demand the most basic human rights.

For Palestinians, the Nakba has been perpetuated for decades. It will 
continue for decades more, for as long as justice is sidelined and 
Israel is granted impunity by the international community for an 
uninterrupted stream of violations of international law that began 
more than sixty years ago.


The Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations (PCHRO):
Addameer Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Association
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling

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