May 16, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6928

Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas: Palestinian Nakba Continues To This Day – And Its Source Is The Balfour Declaration; The Palestinians' Strategic Choice Is Peace Provided That It Includes Right Of Return, Compensation In Accordance With Resolution 194

May 16, 2017
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 6928

In his May 15, 2017 speech marking the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, which he delivered during his visit to India, Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas said that the Nakba of the Palestinian people was continuing to this very day, and that the source of this historic injustice to the Palestinian people was the 1917 Balfour Declaration, for which he called on Britain to apologize to the Palestinian people.[1] 'Abbas stressed that the Palestinians' strategic choice is peace, provided that it is just and comprehensive, based on the UN Security Council resolutions and on the Arab Peace Initiative, and includes the refugees' right of return as well as compensation, as per UN Resolution 194. Also in his speech, he praised the Palestinian martyrs and the struggle of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, calling them "heroes" and promising to act tirelessly to obtain the release of every one of them.

Mahmoud 'Abbas delivering his speech. Source:, May 16, 2017.

The following is a translation of 'Abbas's speech:[2]

"Today we mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba. Marking the 1948 Nakba is not marking something that is over and done with – it is a painful marking [of something] that continues in our lives [today]. Our Palestinian people, who have paid the price of a history not their own [i.e. the Holocaust of the Jews], still suffer from the very same injustice that began over a century ago, with the Zionist emergence and its false vision denying our existence on our land – that still denies our national and legitimate rights that are explicitly set out in the international legitimate resolutions.

"On this painful anniversary, we are charged with emphasizing that the continually intensifying historic injustice caused to our people actually began with the regrettable Balfour Declaration. From here, I call on the British government to bear historic and moral responsibility and not to mark or celebrate the 100th anniversary of this refuted declaration, but to hasten to apologize to our Palestinian people, who have paid dearly in lives and in uprooting [from their land] as a result of this regrettable declaration's implementation at the expense of our historic homeland and our people and their legitimate rights.

"Our people will not leave behind the issue of the Nakba until all their legitimate national rights are recognized, without exception – and first and foremost the right of return and the right to self-determination and establishing an independent, fully sovereign state in the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"We have already clarified, on every occasion, that peace is our strategic choice, but not at any price – it must be a just and comprehensive peace based on the legitimate international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, including the Palestinian right of return and compensation, in accordance with Resolution 194.

"Today, as we mark Nakba Day, we will in no way forget our hero prisoners in the prisons of the Israeli occupation, who are waging a battle for freedom and honor. I salute them, admire them, and esteem them, and promise them that we will not rest or be silent until they all obtain their freedom and return to their families with heads held high. From here, I call on the international community to intervene and to act to pressure the Israeli government to comply with [the prisoners'] humanitarian, legitimate, and just demands, as a prelude to unconditionally releasing them, without exception.

"Oh, our mighty community of the Palestinian people! Our struggle, our steadfastness on our homeland, and our determination to cling to our national rights are the critical element that will necessarily lead us to freedom and independence, as we focus on learning the lessons of the Nakba, particularly in light of these grave challenges facing the Palestinian cause. Accordingly, I renew the call to end the [intra-Palestinian] schism, and to unite the ranks [nationally,] so that [we will be able to] face all the challenges. This is because our national unity is a sacred principle, and only by means of it will our people actualize their hopes and aspirations, and build their national independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

"To the glory of the righteous martyrs,

"Freedom for our hero prisoners,.

"Long live a free and independent Palestine."


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6836, Palestinian Campaign To Sue Britain, Demand Reparation For Balfour Declaration, March 21, 2017.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2017.

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