Ramallah/PNN / Report by Munjed Jaduo, Filming and Editing by Ahmad Jubran -
The Refugee Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) announced the launch of the 75th commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba in front of the mausoleum of the martyr Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. The event was attended by the Palestinian Prime Minister, members of the PLO Executive Committee, and Fatah's Central Committee. The importance of international recognition of the Nakba through a special session at the United Nations General Assembly, with the participation of President Mahmoud Abbas, was emphasized.
Dr. Ahmed Abu Holi, the head of the Refugee Affairs Department of the PLO, stated in an interview with Palestine News Network (PNN) that this event represents the launch of the 75th commemoration of the Nakba, which holds special significance this year due to the holding of a special session at the United Nations General Assembly, which represents international recognition, albeit belatedly, of the Nakba. He pointed out that the session received a majority of votes in favor, and countries that voted against the resolution should reconsider their positions and decisions, withdrawing from their anti-Palestinian rights and anti-international legitimacy stances.
Dr. Abu Holi stressed that convening this session at the United Nations represents international recognition of the historical rights of the Palestinian people. He emphasized the importance of this recognition, even though it came 75 years late. The event was approved by 90 countries, opposed by 30 countries, and 47 countries abstained from voting on the commemoration of the Nakba. He called on everyone to reassess their positions, noting that this celebration is not only symbolic but also holds legal and human rights significance, as Resolution 194 has been reiterated numerous times.
Abu Holi stated, "President Abbas will address the world in this legal platform, which is considered a victory for Palestinian rights and recognition of the Palestinian tragedy, suffering, and pain. What is required from the international community today is to implement the United Nations resolutions concerning Palestine if they are serious about realizing the rights of the Palestinian people."
The head of the Refugee Affairs Department emphasized that President Abbas will deliver a speech that recounts the Palestinian Nakba in all its historical, legal, and humanitarian aspects. He called on the Palestinian people to support and listen to the speech as it represents the suffering and Palestinian rights resulting from the Nakba, uniting all Palestinians.
Abu Holi also pointed out that this wide popular presence sends a message that our people are committed to their national rights. Despite the passage of many years, they have not and will not relinquish their land and homeland. On the contrary, their adherence to their rights continues to grow. Through this commitment, we refute the claim that the older generation will pass away and the younger generation will forget. The facts on the ground prove that the younger generation is more committed to their rights and will never raise the white flag. This demonstrates the failure of all conspiracies and liquidation projects.
Dr. Abu Holi called on the world and the international community to provide financial support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), not only for financial assistance but also to ensure the continuity of its services and presence as it is the sole witness to the Nakba.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, in his speech during a press conference held at the shrine of the eternal martyr Yasser Arafat to launch the activities commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Nakba in all Palestinian territories and the diaspora, stated, "The Nakba was the beginning of the tragedy our people have been experiencing for 75 years, where strangers occupied our land and displaced most of our children to exile and refugee camps."
He added, "The Nakba was the harshest historical milestone our people have endured, and it has been a direct cause of what we have suffered since then until today. The continuous aggression on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, is nothing but a continuation of this Nakba. Since 1948 until today, more than a hundred thousand Palestinian martyrs have fallen, and more than a million arrests have taken place since 1967."
Shtayyeh pointed out that our people were alone in their suffering, as the world not only ignored their tragedy but also provided all the support for the establishment of the State of Israel and embraced its narrative that "Palestine was a desert that Israel came to turn into a paradise."
He continued, "We say to those celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of Israel and adopting its narrative that Palestine has been and remains a green land for thousands of years. Its mountains are cultivated with figs, olives, grapes, and pomegranates, and it includes the Negev Desert. Those who believe in lies should open their eyes to see the truth: Palestine is a reality, Jerusalem is a reality, and the Palestinian people are a reality. The truth and its narrators will triumph over the myth and its advocates."
Shtayyeh added, "Palestine is a land of fertility and abundance, a land of milk and honey since ancient times. The Palestinians were the first to use the plow for agriculture. In 1860, Palestine exported around two million crates of Jaffa oranges to Europe, 88 years before the establishment of Israel."
He further stated, "The anniversary of Israel's establishment is the anniversary of the Nakba of Palestine. It is a colonial settler entity created by Western countries to serve their interests. It was established on the ruins of 531 Palestinian villages and towns that were demolished, and its gangs committed more than 50 massacres between 1936 and 1948, claiming the lives of 15,000 innocent civilians, including children, women, youth, and the elderly. It displaced more than 900,000 Palestinians from their villages and cities out of a total of 1.4 million Palestinians who were residing in Palestine. They were forced into refugee camps in the homeland and the diaspora. Those who have not forgotten their homeland still hold the keys to their homes, passing them on to their children and grandchildren, generation after generation, fueled by hope and with the certainty of the inevitability of achieving their dream of returning to their homes and properties they left behind 75 years ago."
Shtayyeh emphasized that the struggle over Palestine is based on a zero-sum game, where every dunam of land Israel seizes is a dunam of land lost by Palestine, and every liter of water Israel steals is a liter of water we lose. Israel was built on our land; we are the rightful owners, the indigenous population, and the ones who gave this land its name. It is our holy land that witnessed the birth of our Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and the night journey of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
For his part Hussein Al-Sheikh, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in an interview with Palestine News Network (PNN) that this commemoration event at the United Nations is international recognition of the political and humanitarian catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people due to the establishment of the occupation state and the displacement of our people. He emphasized that what happened should be a clear motive for the international community to work on ending the ongoing humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people, which includes displacement from their homeland, the destruction of villages and camps, and acts of killing. It should serve as an opportunity for the international community to assume historical, legal, and human rights responsibilities in order to rectify the situation of the Palestinian people through practical actions.
Mahmoud Al-Aloul, Deputy Chairman of Fatah movement, stated in an interview with PNN that we do not want to merely commemorate the occasion; rather, we want practical measures to be taken to restore the rights of the Palestinian people in a tangible way.
The central ceremony held in Ramallah included a festival in support of President Mahmoud Abbas, where participants stood for seventy-five seconds along with the sound of alarm sirens. The event also featured speeches, activities, and the announcement of a series of local and international events to commemorate the Nakba.
Mohammed Alyan, the coordinator of the National Committee for Commemorating the Nakba, stated in an interview with PNN that today's event is the central activity held in parallel with the United Nations session commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Nakba. He mentioned that this event serves as a prelude to a series of central activities at the provincial and camp levels, along with the implementation of various local and international events and activities to remind the world of the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people after the crime of displacement.
Alyan emphasized that today's activities included a press conference by Dr. Ahmed Abu Houli, the Palestinian Prime Minister. They also included a scout march, a mass rally, and a festival in the city of Ramallah to reaffirm the right of return after 75 years of its occurrence and the world's silence and adoption of a double standard policy.
On the other hand, Anwar Hammam, Deputy Director of the Refugee Affairs Department, stated that this year's activities take a local and international direction, especially with the special session of the United Nations, attended by President Mahmoud Abbas, who will present a historical account of the Palestinian tragedy to remind the world of what our people have lived through and continue to endure. He added that the slogan of commemorating the Nakba this year is based on the idea that the Nakba is an ongoing crime, and the right of return is an ongoing reality, regardless of the passage of time.
The activities commemorating the Nakba this year serve as important political and popular tools to exert pressure on the international community to stop its continuous crimes against our people within the framework of the ongoing Palestinian catastrophe, particularly in light of the world's silence on the matter.