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For the first time, a UN body will host a ‘Nakba Day’ event

The day itself mourns the creation of modern-day Israel through a U.N.-backed plan in 1947 that Palestinian Arabs never accepted.

“Non-Violence Sculpture” by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, a gift from the Government of Luxembourg. Credit: Marco Rubino/Shutterstock.
“Non-Violence Sculpture” by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, a gift from the Government of Luxembourg. Credit: Marco Rubino/Shutterstock.

One of many United Nations bodies dedicated to the Palestinians announced last weekend an upcoming U.N. commemoration of “Nakba Day,” the supposed “catastrophe” that marked the birth of the State of Israel in 1948.

Palestinian and their supporters mark this annually on May 15, one day after Israel announced its independence on May 14, 1948.

The day purportedly memorializes the displacement of Palestinian Arabs. During the course of fighting beginning in November 1947, when U.N. member states voted to partition the land, and lasting until the summer of 1949, many Arabs in the area fled during hostilities or heeded instructions from Arab leaders to leave their homes as five Arab armies tried to annihilate the nascent Jewish state at birth.

Pursuant to a U.N. General Assembly resolution passed in December, the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) announced that a Nakba Day event will be held inside the halls of the United Nations for the first time.

“Commemorations … will bring to life the Palestinian journey and will aim at creating an immersive experience of the Nakba through live music, photos, videos and personal testimonies,” CEIRPP stated in a weekend release.

Palestinians clash with Israeli border police officers during a protest to mark the 70th anniversary of “nakba,” the term used to mark the events leading to Israel’s founding in 1948, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on May 15, 2018. Photo by Flash90.

The resolution itself was sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Senegal, Tunisia, Yemen and the Palestinians; it passed by a vote of 90 in favor, 30 against and 47 abstentions.

Israel, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States were among the countries that voted against.

While CEIRPP falls under the purview of the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) of the Secretariat, which reports to the U.N. secretary-general, the U.N. chief himself deflected this weekend’s announcement.

When directly asked, the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres responded that “this is an event decided upon by the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which is a member state body. The Secretary-General is not involved in its decision-making.”

His spokesman said he is not aware of any plans for Guterres to participate in the commemoration.

When asked where Guterres stands on the appropriateness of U.N. member states mourning the U.N.-backed formation of a fellow member state, the spokesman told JNS that “the secretary-general’s message on the Israel-Palestine issue has been constant and remains the same regardless of the fora.”

That message, added the spokesman, is to “end the occupation and realize a two-state solution.”

“What is needed is the political will and courage to make the difficult choices for peace that ends the occupation and ensures two states—Israel and an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state—living side by side within secure and recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states,” said the spokesman. “A peace in which Palestinians and Israelis alike enjoy equal measures of democracy, opportunity and dignity in their lives. A peace, in short, that is just, comprehensive and lasting.”

Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers during a protest near Ramallah in the West Bank to mark the anniversary of the “nakba,” the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation in 1948, on May 15, 2018. Photo by Flash90.

Abbas: ‘At the top of our priorities’

The United Nations established the partition plan that would have divided then-Mandatory British Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states with international oversight of Jerusalem. Jewish leaders accepted the plan. Palestinian Arabs rejected it then, and have turned down repeated offers of statehood since.

While the Palestinians hold non-member observer status at the United Nations, their influence is outsized.

While Nakba Day is officially added to the U.N. calendar, Nov. 29 already exists as the U.N. Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is the only day the United Nations sets aside in the cause of one group of people, and its related events at U.N. headquarters around the world are generally used in large part to bash Israel.

The U.N. delegates a special rapporteur to the Palestinians—one with an open-ended mandate that presupposes Israel’s human-rights violations. Special rapporteurs for all other purposes have mandates of limited duration with objective fact-finding missions. The current special rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, has a history of blatant antisemitism and falsified information on her application for the position to hide her past biases against Israel.

The ongoing U.N. Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict likewise has a unique unending mandate, and is populated by multiple commission members with a history of antisemitism and extensive documented anti-Israel bias.

Besides CEIRPP, which was created in 1975, an additional U.N. special committee and an entire division of the U.N. Secretariat are devoted exclusively to the Palestinian cause. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, created in 1968, and the DPR, in existence since 1979, cost the international body millions of dollars a year, including the creation and publication of anti-Israel materials.

No other group of people is afforded this type of status at the United Nations.

The DPR and CEIRPP organize meetings and conferences in coordination with anti-Israel non-governmental organizations, often promoting BDS and the Palestinian “right of return,” which would see an end to Jewish sovereignty in Israel.

In 2004, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution creating yet another Palestinian-specific body, the U.N. Register of Damages (UNRoD). The agency was created to help Palestinians file claims against Israel for purported damages incurred during Israel’s construction of the security barrier, intended to stop a wave of Palestinian suicide bombers during the Second Intifada that took place from 2000 to 2005.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has a mandate that uniquely provides refugee status to every Palestinian child—even those born in Palestinian-controlled areas and those with citizenship in other countries—in perpetuity and funds their benefits.

No detailed plans have yet been announced for the U.N. Nakba Day.

“Commemorating the nakba must be at the top of our priorities in order to preserve our narrative, which we must adhere to and convey to the whole world,” the Palestinian WAFA news agency quoted Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as saying after the CEIRPP announcement.

According to the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, Abbas—a fomenter of Holocaust denial—instructed Palestinians to commemorate Nakba Day “to confront all lies and false narratives that attempt to distort history and facts.”

“What Palestinians everywhere are required to do is to commemorate this tragedy, because it is the first time that the global community does not deny the nakba,” said Abbas, who rejected a peace offer from then-Israeli premier Ehud Olmert in 2008—one that was largely seen as generous by the international community.

The Israeli mission to the United Nations has not yet commented.

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