Every year on the 15th of May, Palestinian people commemorate the Nakba – or the Day of Catastrophe – which saw the displacement of hundreds of thousands of citizens as Israel declared independence in 1948.

A year earlier, the United Nations resolution known as “The Partition Plan” was passed. Under the resolution, Palestine was to be divided between the Jewish residents and the Palestinians. Despite the Jewish population only making up 32% of the country, compared to the 60% of Palestinians, the land was divided with 55% going towards the Jewish community and 45% going to the natives.

This triggered the first phase of the 1948 Palestinian War. At the time, Palestine was under the colonial rule of Britain, which had invaded and occupied Palestine during the First World War. As the conflict between the Palestinian and the Jewish communities intensified, Britain decided to withdraw from the country, enabling Israel to step forward and declare independence. Soon after, a war broke out with an estimated 700,000 Palestinians uprooted from their homes, their villages depopulated and destroyed, and thousands killed.

Many Palestinians were forced out of the country or fled amidst violence – and to this day, their descendants are not allowed to return. For Palestinians, Nakba does not symbolise a single historical event, but an ongoing process that began in the 1880s as European Zionists began arriving in Palestine.  

Today, Palestinians make up one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Around 74% – or 5 million – Palestinians are refugees with a third of the community living in refugee camps. Most of the population is spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.

Present Day

Israel was founded on 78% of Palestinian landmass, the other 22% was annexed by Jordan and renamed the West Bank and its citizens became Jordanian. However, in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured and occupied the Palestinian majority of West Bank. Since then, it has allowed Jewish settlements to form which has been condemned by Palestinians and the international community as illegal. 

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump revealed a plan to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. One of the ways was to enable Israel to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Recently, President Benjamin Netanyahu announced that plans to annex parts of the West Bank could happen as early as July 1st , in line with Trump’s controversial ‘peace plan’.

Amnesty International have denounced the plan and its support by the United States:

The Trump administration has emboldened Israel’s agenda. The claim to Jerusalem is a prominent issue between Israel and Palestine, neither of which is recognised internationally. In 2018, Trump announced that it would be moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and officially recognised it as the capital of Israel.

A defining theme throughout the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is how little Palestinian people are regarded in negotiations and a truly significant peace process. Until Israel is held up to international standards and law, it will continue its crusade against Palestinian people and their land.

Aisha Mohamed