World Bulletin/News Desk
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi on Thursday urged European countries to follow Sweden's example and formally recognize the State of Palestine.
Following a meeting with European diplomats at the league's Cairo headquarters, al-Arabi urged European countries to back the Palestinian leadership's planned bid to demand an end to Israel's longstanding occupation of Palestinian territory at the UN Security Council.
Al-Arabi told reporters that he had talked with European diplomats about the need to end the decades-long occupation and to set a timetable for doing so.
He said most European states "agree with the need to end the Israeli occupation" and called for practical mechanisms to achieve this on the ground.
"It's about time the Israeli occupation came to an end," al-Arabi asserted. "The Palestinian people have suffered enough."
He warned against what he described as "provocative" and "aggressive" actions by Israel in Jerusalem and Israeli violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Late last month, Sweden announced its decision to officially recognize the State of Palestine.
The move, having been made by an EU member state, was widely seen as a watershed.
Other EU member states – including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – had recognized Palestine previously, but did so before joining the European fold.
The Palestinian leadership said early last month that it had distributed its draft resolution to the 15 members of the UN Security Council in advance of formally submitting it to the international body.
The roots of the current conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations "mandate" in 1922.
In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.
As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Jewish forces.
The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world. Palestinian refugees are currently spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many have settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On May 15 of each year, Palestinians commemorate the mass expulsion in 1948, which they refer to as the "Nakba" or "catastrophe."
Israel went on to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
The West Bank-based Palestinian leadership demands the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
For many Palestinians, the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine – as enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 – remains a key demand.
Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2014, 16:25