Israel's UN mission: Ban use of 'Nakba'

Livni says that one day, Palestinians will stop mourning the creation of the State of Israel.

Livni cool 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Livni cool 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israel's UN mission is seeking to outlaw use of the term Nakba, after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon telephoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday night and expressed empathy with the Palestinian people in honor of Nakba Day. Deputy head of Israel's UN mission, Daniel Carmon, complained that the word Nakba is meant to undermine the legitimacy of Israel's founding and, therefore, use of the term should be should be forbidden. Also Thursday night, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that when there is true peace with the Palestinians, they will no longer observe Nakba Day to mourn the creation of the State of Israel. Speaking in Jerusalem, the foreign minister said that in the future, "the Palestinians will celebrate [their own] Independence Day. On that day, they will erase the word Nakba [catastrophe] from their lexicon." Her comments, which were made on 'Nakba Day', came as part of the closing ceremony of the president's conference in Jerusalem, "Facing Tomorrow," which brought foreign dignitaries and Jewish leaders from around the world to celebrate the state's 60th anniversary. In an unusual gathering, Livni (Kadima), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor), Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), and Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyahu appeared together on stage. Given that Livni, Barak and Netanyahu are all top contenders to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should he be forced to leave office as the result of a corruption investigation, the event had all the appearance of the opening of an election campaign. The word " election" was not heard until the very end of the event, when Netanyahu slipped it in as his final word. Nor did the politicos make any overt digs against one another. Livni and Barak even appeared friendly as they whispered to each other during Netanyahu's speech. But in a polite way, each laid out how they would make Israel a better place to live. For Livni, the focus was diplomatic and the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. The nature of that state would be such that it would no longer desire war with Israel, she said. "We cannot fail in our achievement of peace, nor can we achieve a peace that will perpetuate the struggle... We can not just throw a key to the other side and hope for the best," Livni said. Barak's first words were about Thursday's rocket attack on Ashkelon's Hutzot mall. "We will return peace and security to Ashkelon and the communities along the southern border," he said. "After such attacks, like the one that happened yesterday, the blood boils and the gut reaction is to respond," Barak said, but it was important not to give in to such emotion, to think first and to carefully weigh the options. Although Palestinians have been firing rockets at southern Israel for seven years, Barak said his promises to stop the attacks were not idle words. "What is demanded of us now is resolve, a deep breath, nerves of steel and cruel tolerance until the proper time," he said. "As a government, we have the utmost political and moral responsibility to do everything possible and open every door to find the opportunity to make peace. On the other hand, our neighbors must arrive at the understanding that Israel cannot be defeated by terrorism," Barak said. A strong Israel depended not just on peace with its neighbors but on a well-educated citizenry, the defense minister said, and stopping children from dropping out and providing education all the way through university should be a top priority. Education would receive the proper emphasis only when a prime minister simultaneously held the post of education minister, Barak said. "My dream is to be both prime minister and education minister." Netanyahu took jibes at both his rivals when he said he would try to stick to the topic of Israel's future. Then he paused, drummed his fingers, and spoke of the need for a healthy economy as the guarantor of the strong military necessary to thwart future threats. He spoke of the economic reforms he helped initiate when he was finance minister. Israel needed to continue along that path, Netanyahu said, and security and economics were the keys to a real peace. He warned against territorial withdrawal. Hamas would move into any West Bank territory that Israel left, he said. "We made this mistake already; we cannot repeat it," Netanyahu said.