[News] The Nakba: The Perpetuation of an Unwanted Legacy
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
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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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