Palestinian leader Abbas urges UN to suspend Israel as world commemorates the Nakba

He says its membership should only be reinstated when it establishes separate Jewish and Arab states, and allows Palestinian refugees to return

Mahmoud Abbas addresses UN on 75th anniversary of Nakba

Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas (C) arrives to a meeting marking the 75th observation by Palestine of Nakba held by the United Nations' Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 15 May 2023.  Nakba, which is being observed at the UN for the first time today, is marked annually by Palestinians to commemorate the mass displacement of Palestinians that followed the 15 May 1948 establishment of Israel.   EPA / JUSTIN LANE
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged the UN to suspend Israel’s membership until it enacts two key resolutions on Palestine.

Mr Abbas made the remarks on Monday during the UN's first official commemoration of the Nakba — the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel following the world body's partition of British-ruled Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states 75 years ago.

He said the suspension should only be lifted when Israel moves to establish separate Jewish and Arab states, in addition to allowing the return of Palestinian refugees.

“Forcing Israel to implement these two resolutions was a condition, a prerequisite for their membership in the UN at the time,” he said.

“However, sadly, certain countries, we all know who we are talking about … have obstructed deliberately the implementation of these resolutions in a practice that undermines justice, ethics and human values.”

In an hour-long speech — which doubled its allotted time — Mr Abbas asked the world’s nations why more than 1,000 resolutions adopted by UN bodies regarding the Palestinians had never been enforced.

He held up a letter sent by Moshe Sharett, Israel’s first foreign minister, soon after the resolutions were adopted in 1947 and 1948, which promised to create a Palestinian state and allow the return of refugees.

“Either they do fulfil these obligations or they stop becoming a member,” Mr Abbas said.

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Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan had sent letters to General Assembly condemning the commemoration.

He urged ambassadors not to attend what he called an “abominable event” and a “blatant attempt to distort history”.

He said those who attended would be condoning anti-Semitism and giving a green light to Palestinians “to continue exploiting international organs to promote their libellous narrative”.

The Nakba commemorates the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948.

This year's commemoration has taken place amid intensified Israeli-Palestinian fighting and protests over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

Mr Abbas also blamed the UK, as Palestine’s ruler before the 1947 partition, and the US, Israel’s most important ally, for the flight of the Palestinians, saying they “bear political and ethical responsibility” for evicting Palestinians and implanting Israel “in our historic homeland”.

“And Israel would not have continued its hostility and aggression without the support it receives from these two countries,” he said.

Updated: May 16, 2023, 12:16 PM