A day after Israeli bombs ripped through residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a resolution calling on Congress to recognize “the ongoing Nakba and Palestinian refugees rights.” Tlaib’s resolution comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe” that is widely used to describe the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes through violent raids in 1948.
The resolution asks Congress to “condemn all manifestations of Israel’s ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people, including Israel’s illegal theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; Israel’s displacement of Palestinians by destroying their homes and forcing them from their land; and the daily brutality and violence inflicted by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.”
In addition to memorializing the Nakba, Tlaib’s resolution calls for a prohibition on U.S. weapons being used to destroy Palestinian homes and land, and a ban on diplomatic buildings being constructed on land expropriated from Palestinians by Israel.
The resolution will be co-sponsored by Reps. Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush, all of whom signed onto a version that Tlaib introduced last year. Both versions of the resolution recount the history of the mass expulsion that led to millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, and neighboring countries like Jordan.
On April 25, Tlaib and every supporter of her effort voted against a near-unanimous resolution in the House of Representatives celebrating Israel’s founding 75 years ago this month. That resolution, introduced by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner, commends the Abraham Accords, a policy brokered under President Donald Trump in 2020 to normalize relations between Israel and neighboring Gulf states. It also tacitly acknowledged that the two-state solution, long the centerpiece of the U.S. plan for peace in the region, is dead. Several Democrats have pointed out that the resolution, “principally drafted by Republicans, broke the longstanding bipartisan tradition of acknowledging the importance of achieving a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
Under a new, far-right government in Israel, there has been an increase in extremist policies targeting Palestinian civil rights and a widespread effort to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Tlaib’s resolution makes note of the government’s radicalism, including statements made by the far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who is credited with inciting a program in the Palestinian village of Huwara earlier this year.
“Israel formed its most extremist government to date, which includes in its cabinet Bezalel Smotrich,” the resolution states. “[Smotrich] previously stated to Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, ‘You’re here by mistake, it’s a mistake that [Israeli Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and didn’t throw you out in 1948.’’’
Meanwhile, 2023 has emerged as the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006 in the immediate wake of the Second Intifada. Amid repeated, recent violent Israeli incursion into the West Bank, the Israeli Air Force bombed the besieged Gaza Strip early on Tuesday morning. The attack, which Israel said was targeting members of the militant group Islamic Jihad, killed 15 people, including at least 10 civilians.
“We are grieving and enraged by the Israeli government’s assault on Palestinians in Gaza last night and today that killed at least 15 Palestinians, including 4 children,” Palestinian advocacy organization Jewish Voice for Peace said in a statement on Tuesday. “This morning, the Israeli military led an incursion into the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, reportedly injuring over 145 Palestinians, including 12 people who were shot with live fire.”
“In just under one week, Palestinians will mark 75 years since the Nakba,” the statement continued. “The attacks we are witnessing from last night and today are a cruel reminder that the Nakba is not just a historical event, but an ongoing structure of violence and ethnic cleansing.”
This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian journalist fatally shot by Israeli forces while she was covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin last May. Multiple investigations have concluded that Akleh, a longtime hero to Palestinians for her relentless and unflinching coverage of life under the Israeli occupation, was deliberately targeted despite being clearly identifiable as a journalist.