(14 May 2020) BADIL's NAKBA 72 Statement (English): The Unity and Struggle of the Palestinian People to End the Ongoing Nakba

Ending the Ongoing Nakba of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) is the starting point to achieving a just and sustainable peace. This Ongoing Nakba, which began with the illegal partition of Palestine in 1947,[1] is the result of Israeli systematic human rights violations and international crimes, consecutive US administrations’ complicity with illegal Israeli policies and practices, the lack of political will of powerful western states to fulfill their responsibilities, and incapacitated and inactive mandated international agencies. The reliance on international condemnation and fledging political will has proven to be an ineffective strategy that has failed in stopping Israeli policies and practices of annexation, colonization, forcible transfer and displacement and apartheid in Mandatory Palestine. The adherence to and implementation of a human rights-based approach dictated by international law that includes accountability for Israeli violations and crimes and the revival of legitimate Palestinian resistance is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are the world’s largest and most protracted displaced population, numbering  8.7 million and constituting 66.7 percent of the Palestinian people, as a result of the Ongoing Nakba.[2] The Ongoing Nakba is characterized by Israeli policies and practices designed and implemented to control the maximum amount of land with the minimum number of Palestinians. In order to achieve this, Israel segregates, fragments and isolates Palestinian communities and their lands in order to suppress Palestinian social, cultural and national identity and resistance – in an attempt to compromise Palestinian collectivity and the right to self-determination.[3]

The features of the Ongoing Nakba also include a creeping process from de facto to de jure annexation, designed to sustain and enhance colonization and apartheid.[4] Under the guise of a state of emergency, wrought with restrictive measures and increased securitization to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the establishment of new coalition agreement, Israel has accelerated its annexation plans. The Covid-19 pandemic has served to highlight the extreme vulnerability and existing protection gap faced by Palestinian refugees -  resulting in an additional layer of oppression, institutionalized discrimination and worsening humanitarian crisis. The protection gap is multiplied by the US-Israeli campaign to undermine and de-fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).[5] With UNRWA effectively incapacitated, and the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) - which was mandated to provide durable solutions - rendered defunct early on in its career, Palestinian refugees and IDPs lack the international protection to which they are entitled. 

The situation is further exacerbated by the so-called “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” (known as the “Deal of the Century, hereinafter, the Vision), a plan proposed by the Trump administration in January 2020.[6] The Vision, steeped in supporting and rewarding Israel for serious breaches of international law, is purported to take a “pragmatic” approach to the question of Palestine, that in Trump’s opinion should supersede international law, conventions, and United Nations (UN) resolutions. The Vision reveals how the creation of a so-called self-governing Palestinian state would manifest in a non-contiguous capitulated Palestinian entity, with Israeli-regulated borders, and connected by Israeli-controlled bridges, tunnels and roads.[7] The plan attempts to legitimize the annexation of east Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and Israel’s colonies in the West Bank.[8] It further contemplates a land swap of the Triangle region – home to 260,000 Palestinian with Israeli citizenship whom have often been referenced by Israeli politicians as a demographic threat  – to the proposed Palestinian ‘state’ to allow Israel to preserve its character as a Jewish entity.[9] Lastly, the Vision denies Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons  their right to reparations, namely the right of return to their homes, property restitution and compensation.[10] It does so by the glaring omission of the issue of Palestinian IDPs  (that number approximately 760,000),[11] attempting to restrictively delineate the number of Palestinian refugees eligible for reparations, and releasing Israel from its responsibilities towards displaced Palestinians, while at the same time transferring these responsibilities to third-party states, mainly Arab states.[12] 

The inaction of the international community vis-à-vis the rights of the Palestinian people can be traced back over 100 years: when powerful states formalized the colonization of Palestine through the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the Mandate for Palestine in 1922 in favor of the Zionist movement. Today these same states continue to ignore their responsibilities and confer impunity upon Israel, rather than end the violations and international crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people. Powerful western states, (the European Union, its member states and the USA) have taken no practical measures to hold Israel accountable. Rather, these states have contributed to shrinking civil society space and criminalizing legitimate Palestinian resistance through measures that amount to unacceptable conditional funding, under the guise of anti-terrorism policies and legislation.[13]

The reliance on only the ineffective balanced statements and condemnation of the international community, in the face of the  Israeli regime of annexation, forcible transfer, colonization and apartheid, has failed. BADIL and the Global Palestinian Refugee Network (GPRN) calls on the Palestinian people, wherever they may reside, to unite and be steadfast in their struggle to claim and seek their rights to self-determination and return.

Return is our right and will.


[1] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 181 (II). Future Government of Palestine, A/RES/181(II), 29 November 1947, available at: https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/7F0AF2BD897689B785256C330061D253 [accessed 9 May 2020]

[2] BADIL, Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2016-2018, Vol.9 (Bethlehem: BADIL, 2019), available at:  http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/survay/survey2016-2018-eng.pdf

[3] BADIL, Forced Population Transfer: The Case of Palestine – Segregation, Fragmentation and Isolation, working paper no. 23 (February 2020), available at: http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/research/working-papers/WP23-SFI.pdf

[4] BADIL, Israeli Annexation: The Case of Etzion Colonial Bloc (Bethlehem: BADIL, 2019), available at: http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/research/in-focus/EtzionBloc-IsraeliAnnexation.pdf

[5] BADIL, Understanding the Political Underpinnings of the UNRWA’s Chronic Funding Crisis, bulletin no.27 (June 2018), available at: http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/Badil_docs/bulletins-and-briefs/bulletin-no27-unrwa-financial-crisis.pdf

[6] See White House, Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People (28 January 2020), available at: www.whitehouse.gov/peacetoprosperity [accessed 9 May 2020] [hereinafter White House, Peace to Prosperity]

[7] Id., 11-14, 24-25; Appendix 1: Conceptual Maps

[8] Id., 13-17; Appendix 2A: Security Considerations

[9] White House, Peace to Prosperity, supra 6, 13. See also Gideon Alon and Aluf Benn, “Netanyahu: Israel’s Arabs Are the Real Demographic Threat,” Haaretz, 18 December 2019, available at: www.haaretz.com/4802 [accessed 9 May 2020]

[10] Id., 9, 31-33

[11] BADIL, Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons 2016-2018, Vol.9 (Bethlehem: BADIL, 2019), available at:  http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/survay/survey2016-2018-eng.pdf

[12]  See BADIL, Trump's so-called Vision/Deal of the Century: A move to end the Palestinian refugee issue through serious breaches of International Law, position paper (May 2020), available at: http://www.badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/research/in-focus/Deal-of-the-Century-Refugee-Issue(PositionPaper-May2020).pdf

[13] BADIL, European Union Conditional Funding: Its Illegality and Political Implications, position paper (April 2020), available at: http://badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/research/in-focus/EuropeanUnionConditionalFunding(PositionPaper-April2020).pdf