(AFP) – Apr 13, 2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) — Palestinian officials said on Sunday they are preparing events to mark the 60th anniversary next month of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arabs during the 1948 Middle East war.
The National Committee for the Anniversary of the Nakba -- the Arabic word for "catastrophe" used to denote the expulsion of some 700,000 Arabs during Israel's war for independence -- will stage several events in the coming weeks.
This year "will be completely different from previous years," the head of the committee Omar al-Asaaf told reporters in the Palestinian political capital of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
"We are trying to get all Palestinians to wear black in the middle of next month, to send a loud message to the world that we have the right to return to the homes we were expelled from," Asaaf said.
He said the events will also include conferences and cultural and sporting activities.
The Palestinian remembrance will come after Israel's official celebration of its 60th anniversary on May 8 with a series of events expected to draw several world leaders and dignitaries.
The Palestinians will celebrate Nakba Day a week later, on May 15.
Taysir Nasrallah, a member of the committee, said officials would work through international pro-Palestinian organisations in an attempt to convince world leaders not to attend the Israeli celebrations.
The fate of the estimated 4.5 Palestinian refugees and their descendants -- now mostly living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and the occupied territories -- has been a core issue in Middle East peace talks.
The Palestinians insist they have the "right of return" to their homes, but Israel fears that this would create a Palestinian majority in the Jewish state.
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