PLO officials on Wednesday marked the 46th anniversary of the Naksa, or setback, in which Israel defeated five Arab armies in 1967 and seized the occupied territories.
“Forty-six years later, the Israeli occupation of twenty-two percent of historical Palestine still constitutes a humanitarian and political disaster that dominates and controls the lives of the Palestinian people in Palestine and in exile,” PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
“The time has come to end the historical injustice of the Palestinian people. The world must shoulder its political, legal and ethical responsibilities and hold Israel accountable for its violations of international and humanitarian law.”
The need for justice is more urgent now than ever, the PLO official added.
Speaking to journalists and diplomats a day earlier in the Latrun Valley, an area of Palestinian land in which two-thirds of the residents were displaced by Jewish militias in 1948, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that 46 years later nothing had changed.
“Our Nakba goes on,” he said, citing the recent demolition of five houses in his hometown of Jericho.
Twenty km northwest of Jerusalem, the Latrun Valley was home to the Palestinian villages of Beit Nuba, Yalu, Imwas, Latrun, el-Khalayil, Beit Mahsir, Deir Aiyub and Khirbat el-Buweiriya. It is on the Palestinian side of the 1967 green line.
All that remains today are the remnants of cemeteries and walls built by Palestinian villagers, and the area is now home to Canada Park, which was built in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund.
“Forty-six years later, since the occupation began, the fate of these villages is continuing today. Why did they displace these villages? Why did they destroy the Moroccan Quarter in Jerusalem? Why did they build the wall? They want to dictate the borders,” Erekat said.
Labeling settlements as a “war crime”, the PLO official said that what happened in Latrun in 1948 is happening across the West Bank today.
In a report published Wednesday, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said that Israel “preserves a de facto annexation of Area C and creates circumstances that will help perpetuate this state and influence the final status of the area.”
Israeli policies “strengthen its hold on Area C, displace Palestinian presence, exploit the area’s resources to benefit Israelis, and bring about a permanent situation in which Israeli settlements thrive and Palestinian presence is negligible,” the report said.
As long as Israel is in control of Area C, over 60 percent of the occupied West Bank, it must meet its obligations under international law and human rights law and stop demolishing Palestinian homes, businesses, and water cisterns, the group said.