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On May 15 of every year, Palestinians mark "Nakba Day"

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naqba_1Ninety-six years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba and the forced eviction of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homes and villages.

Palestinians use the word Nakba to refer to the destruction of hundreds of cities and villages in historical Palestine and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land by what Palestinians describe as Zionist groups and the subsequent establishment of Israel in 1948.

In 1948, a newly formed state inside historical Palestine – "Israel" – was established. The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world. Palestinian refugees are now spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The right to return to their homes in historical Palestine remains a key demand for many Palestinians.

On Dec. 11, 1948, the UN General Assembly issued Resolution 194. Thirty-five UN member states approved the resolution, 15 rejected it and eight abstained from voting. The resolution sent a ray of hope to Palestinians forcibly evicted from their villages after the creation of the state of Israel.

This means that Resolution 194 directly recognized the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and villages, deeming this an important principle of international law. It also gave refugees the freedom to choose whether or not to stay where they were or return to Palestine.

Yet, the only UN resolution granting these Palestinians the right to return to their homes and villages continues to be mere ink on paper. This failure boils down to the fact - among other things - that UN General Assembly resolutions are not binding.