The UN General Assembly voted Wednesday afternoon in favor of holding a commemorative event in honor of the 75th “Nakba Day,” the Palestinian name for Israel’s establishment, which translates to “catastrophe.”
The vote was 90-30, with 47 abstentions. The United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom were among those who opposed the move. Most of the European Union also rejected the motion, save for Cyprus which supported the measure.
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan tweeted that the UN in "passing such an extreme and baseless resolution, the UN is only helping to perpetuate the conflict."
In a UN General Assembly plenum debate prior to the vote, Erdan called for the UN to “stop ignoring the Jewish Nakba,” referring to the 750,000 Jews expelled from Arab and Muslim countries in the aftermath of Israel’s establishment.
“What would you say if the international community celebrated the establishment of your country as a disaster? What a disgrace,” Erdan said.
“What would you say if the international community celebrated the establishment of your country as a disaster? What a disgrace.”Gilad Erdan
Erdan showed the General Assembly a front page of The New York Times from May 16, 1948, with a top headline stating: "Jews in grave danger in all Moslem lands."
Partition, Palestinians, Israel and right of return
The ambassador described the history of that period, in which the UN voted on November 29, 1947 in favor of partition of the British Mandate into Jewish and Arab states, which the Jews accepted and the Arabs did not, opting instead to declare war on the fledgling State of Israel the following year.
The Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa “did not revolt against the international community's decision,” Erdan said. “They did not try to annihilate another people. Their only crime was being Jewish. This is the true Nakba. This is the disaster carried out against the Jewish people and this is the disaster that this body has ignored for decades.”
Erdan said other diplomats tell him privately that they know the Palestinians’ demand for a “right of return,” that the descendants of a war that took place 75 years ago should be able to move to Israel, effectively dismantling it as a Jewish state.
“Why are you afraid to say it publicly? Why does this house have to be a house of lies?” he asked.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour claimed the new State of Israel's "plan was, and in many aspects still is, to displace and replace our people on their ancestral land. Maximum Palestinian geography with minimum Palestinian demography."
Mansour said the UN "will finally acknowledge the historical injustice that befell the Palestinian people" by marking Nakba Day.
"Our people deserve recognition of their plight, justice for the victims, reparation for their loss and fulfillment of their rights," he stated.
The Israeli Embassy launched the first-ever exhibit on the Jews’ expulsion from Arab states and Iran at the UN on Tuesday. The exhibit, called “The Story of the Jewish Nakba,” will be in the main corridor of the UN in New York for a week.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.