UN says sorry to Palestine for Nakba

by Julie Webb-Pullman

That is what SHOULD be said today, the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, given the United Nations’ role in the travesty of both justice and its own Charter with its ‘partition’ of Palestine.

In other places they call what has happened – and is still happening – to Palestinians, genocide. It fits the UN definition. Just like what Britain did to Australian Aborigines in the first 100 years of colonisation (read “occupation”), and what the ‘new state’ of Australia continued doing until coming somewhat to its senses 220 years later – and saying sorry.

Ameena Abdullah Abusalmiya

Ameena Abdullah Abusalmiya

With one of the UN Charter’s stated purposes being “respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” to completely ignore the rights of the indigenous Palestinians and hand over great chunks of their land for the formation of another state was not only incomprehensibly bizarre, but hypocritical in the extreme.

To respond to the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians by setting up a system of ‘humanitarian assistance’ guaranteed to keep them aid-dependent or out of Palestine – or both – for another 67 years similarly beggars belief.

To then stand by while the majority of the rest of their land was illegally occupied, the population regularly subjected to brutal military oppression and aggression or rendered powerless through the detention and assassination of political leaders by the ‘citizens’ of that new state, is unconscionable.

If Australia can ‘fess up to its failings and apologise, surely the UN can. After all, the UN is the body that is supposed to solve “international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character,” by “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all” and “To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.”

The least it can do as the leading international human rights organisation is to acknowledge its primary role in creating the chaos that is Palestine today, and apologise.

It clearly isn’t going to do much else, if the last 67 years are any indication.

I have taken the liberty of adapting the Australian Prime Minister’s apology, so we don’t have to wait another 153 years for the UN to get around to writing one – I am sure Kevin Rudd won’t object.

So here it is, Mr Ban – over to you.

I move:
That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of Palestine, one of the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were forced from their country—this blemished chapter in the United Nations’ history.
The time has now come for the United Nations to turn a new page in Palestine’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for our failure to enforce the laws and resolutions of successive General Assemblies and Security Councils that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow humans, Palestinians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Palestinians from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering, and hurt of these refugees, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the United Nations respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of this great country Palestine can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Palestinians and all of Palestine.
A future where this Security Council resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all members of the United Nations to close the gap that lies between us and Palestinians in the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, self-determination and opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Palestinians, wherever they may be, are truly equal world citizens, with equal rights and opportunities, particularly the right of self-determination to shape the next chapter in the history of their great country, Palestine.

And Mr Ban, you may like to add a post-script, like finally guaranteeing Palestinian refugees their right of return.