Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Monday introduced the first-ever Congressional resolution that would see the US formally recognize the Palestinian “Nakba” or “catastrophe” that coincided with the establishment of Israel.
The initiative was submitted on the 74th anniversary of when Palestinians commemorate their displacement and dispossession during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948-1949.
The resolution was co-sponsored by fellow members of the so-called progressive Squad, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush along with Democratic Reps Betty McCollum and Marie Newman.
It is likely that the measure won’t even receive a vote, given the overwhelming support for Israel in both parties, but its submission represents the latest demonstration of the broadening debate on Israel in the Democratic party, as sympathy with the Palestinian cause and support for a two-state solution shrinks among Republicans.
The resolution acknowledges the “Right of Return,” for millions of Palestinian refugees, which Israel argues would mark the end of the Jewish state.
It states that Israel “depopulated more than 400 Palestinian villages and cities, often demolishing all structures, planting forests over them, or repopulating them with Jewish Israelis” during the 1948 war.
The legislation claims that the Nakba is an “ongoing process,” pointing to Israel’s establishment of hundreds of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.
Tlaib — who is of Palestinian descent — also references US awareness of the “scale and magnitude of the Palestine refugee crisis as it unfolded. The resolution refers to an October 1948 telegram sent from the US Embassy in Israel to the secretary of state warning that the “Arab Refugee tragedy is rapidly reaching catastrophic proportions and should be treated as a disaster.”
The resolution declares that it is US policy to officially commemorate the Nakba; reject efforts to deny the Nakba; encourage educating the public on the Nakba; continue US financial support for Palestinian refugees; and support the implementation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, which enshrines the Palestinian Right of Return.
The resolution was lambasted by pro-Israel groups as well as lawmakers from both parties.
“The root of the catastrophe: the Arab world refused to accept the UN plan for a Jewish and Arab state in what was left of the UK’s Palestine Mandate after Jordan’s creation. Instead, five Arab armies invaded Israel, attempting to destroy it and push the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea,” tweeted the Democratic Majority for Israel.
“This is another attempt by the most radical leftists in Congress to delegitimize our ally Israel and to promote anti-Israel and frankly antisemitic efforts to destroy the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Republican Jewish Coalition chairman Norm Coleman.
“The fact that such a resolution could be introduced at all demonstrates that the Democratic leadership in the House is completely unwilling or unable to rein in the worst impulses of their caucus.”