NEW YORK CITY — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged the United Nations to suspend Israel’s membership in the world body unless it ends its aggression against Palestinians and implements UN resolutions establishing separate Israeli and Palestinian states as well as the return of Palestinian refugees.
Mahmoud Abbas spoke on Monday during the UN’s first official commemoration of the Nakba — the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel following the world body’s partition of British-ruled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states 75 years ago.
He said the suspension should only be lifted when Israel moves to establish separate Jewish and Arab states, in addition to allowing the return of Palestinian refugees.
“Forcing Israel to implement these two resolutions was a condition, a prerequisite for their membership in the UN at the time,” he said.
“However, sadly, certain countries, we all know who we are talking about … have obstructed deliberately the implementation of these resolutions in a practice that undermines justice, ethics and human values.”
In an hour-long speech, according to media reports, Abbas asked the world’s nations why more than 1,000 resolutions adopted by UN bodies regarding the Palestinians had never been enforced.
He held up a letter sent by Moshe Sharett, Israel’s first foreign minister, soon after the resolutions were adopted in 1947 and 1948, which promised to create a Palestinian state and allow the return of refugees.
“We demand today officially, in accordance with international law and international resolutions, to make sure that Israel respects these resolutions or suspend Israel’s membership of the UN,” Abbas said in his speech.
Abbas added that Palestinians are not against Jews, but “I am against those who occupy our land”, reports Al Jazeera.
He said Israel should recognise and apologise for the Nakba and pay compensation to the refugees and for the land it now occupies. And he said that if these root causes are not addressed, the Palestinians will continue to pursue legal action, especially at the International Criminal Court, which was greeted by loud applause from the large audience in a UN conference room.
The UN is commemorating Nakba at its headquarters in New York City this year for the first time after a resolution was passed in November. UN member states expressed support for the Palestinian people and their cause on social media.
The UN’s undersecretary-general for political affairs and peace-building, Rosemary DiCarlo, reaffirmed the UN’s “clear position” that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories must end because it is “illegal under international law”.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan had sent letters to General Assembly condemning the commemoration. He branded the event “despicable” and urged other ambassadors not to attend the event.
The Nakba commemorates the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948.
This year’s commemoration has taken place amid intensified Israeli-Palestinian fighting and protests over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. — (With inputs from Media)