As we approach the 5 June commemoration of the 1967 war, when Israel uprooted approximately 400,000 Palestinians (half of them for the second time), and occupied the remaining 20 percent of Palestinian territory, it is important to remember that it was not a beginning of a ‘conflict’ but the continuation of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 15 May 1948. Between and following these two major wars, Israel's expansion on Palestinian land has been unrelenting.
The ever-increasing Palestinian losses – and the lack of accountability for them – have led to immense Palestinian suffering, and a prolonged exile. Although seven decades have passed, the conditions for the Palestinian national struggle have worsened, and the right of return recedes further than in the past.
Undoubtedly, a major setback to the Palestinian national movement was the American-Israeli Oslo framework for 'peace' of 1993. Negotiated without consultation with the rank and file of Palestinians, and outside the framework of international law, it was an Israeli victory: the agreement stipulated that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) renounce armed struggle, and recognize Israel on 80 percent of Palestinian territory. Implicit in this formula was the abandonment of the right of return of the 1948 and later refugees. Once the cardinal principle of the liberation struggle, the 1948 Nakba remained a traumatic historical event without redemption or accountability.