May 15, 2011
Palestine Liberation Organization
Dr. Erakat: “The Nakba is the defining event in our history and collective struggle”
This May 15, Palestinians commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba—or catastrophe—which saw the expulsion and forced displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages.
“The Nakba is the defining event in our history and collective struggle,” Chief Palestinian Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat said. “The Nakba is the reason that the Palestine Liberation Organization exists. The PLO’s primary function is to work to restore the rights of our people, including the refugees, who make up 70% of our population.”
From the total refugee population, roughly 1.4 million Palestinians continue to live in exceptionally difficult conditions in refugee camps throughout the region.
Dr. Erakat emphasized the importance of applying international law and precedent in finding and implementing a just resolution to the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people. “The basis of our position is UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which affirms the right of return, restitution and compensation for Palestinian refugees.”
“Once Israel recognizes the right of return, Palestinian refugees must be given options and allowed to choose how they want that right to be implemented. Those options must be meaningful and must include return to their original homes and villages. For there to be a just and lasting peace, their choices must be respected.”
Expressing his disappointment with Prime Minister Netanyahu on this issue, Dr. Erakat stated that “By refusing to even recognize refugee rights, Netanyahu is closing the door on peace.”