UN to commemorate Nakba for first time since 1948 mass expulsion of Palestinians

UN to commemorate Nakba for first time since 1948 mass expulsion of Palestinians
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to deliver a speech at the United Nations in New York as part of the Nakba commemorations.
2 min read
15 May, 2023
Palestinians mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba in 2023 [Getty]

The United Nations is set to hold its first-ever official commemoration of the Nakba on Monday at its headquarters in New York.

The Nakba, or "Catastrophe", is marked annually on 15 May to remember the expulsion of close to 800,000 Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist militias in 1948 to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.

The commemoration follows a UN resolution in November on marking the Nakba's 75th anniversary, which was passed with 90 votes from the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to make a speech at the UN as part of the proceedings.

"For the first time in the history of the UN, this anniversary will be commemorated pursuant to the mandate by the General Assembly," the UN said.

"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," it added.

Israel has vehemently opposed the UN's decision to mark the Nakba, with its UN envoy Gilad Erdan asking at the time of the vote in November: "What would you say if the international community celebrated the establishment of your country as a disaster? What a disgrace."

The event is open to all members and delegates, however Israel has campaigned to discourage attendance.

US delegates have said that they will not be attending the two events scheduled.

Israel views the expulsions of 1948 as part of their road to statehood. Israel declared "independence" following the UNGA's approval of the division of Palestine in 1947, and the end of the British Mandate in 1948.

"The Nakba is a defining moment of the Palestinian people's collective life, history and still ongoing dispossession: deprivation of space to commemorate it violates freedom of expression and is an intolerable act of condescendance and discrimination against them," UN tweeted Francesca Albanese, UN special rapporteur on Monday.