Two nakbas, one remedy

On 20 July 1974 the Turkish army invaded Cyprus with the pretext of protecting the Turkish-Cypriot ethnic minority from persecution by the newly seated Cypriot government. The new government had come to power five days earlier, in a coup d’etat ordered in Athens by the ultra-Rightist military regime of Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannides [1]. In less than a month, Turkish forces seized control of the northern part of the island, comprising 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, displacing its 200,000 Greek Cypriot inhabitants and turning them into refugees. Against the will of the United Nations, Turkey in 1983 declared the pseudo-state of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” on the annexed land.

On 15 May 1948, the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe), Zionists declared the birth of Israel in Palestine, creating a population of refugees that now numbers 3.8 million [2]. It is no longer feasible or realistic to dissect Palestine into two separate Jewish and Arab entities as the UN proposed in 1947 (General Assembly resolution 181). Evacuating Jewish settlements in Palestinian occupied territories is akin to evacuating a city the size of Ottawa [3]. Countless maps, such as the most recent map by B’tselem, testify that Palestinian and Jewish settlements are deeply intertwined [4]. This is one reason that any peace initiative and road map — including the latest “peace” initiative — is nothing more than an outdated dream. While other key reasons to criticize the recent road map are valid — such as the neglect of the right of return for refugees, and the proposal for Jerusalem to remain the indivisible capital of Israel — the most important reason is by far the geographic one.

The latest roadmap requires only that Israel freeze expansion of settlements, not dismantle them. The assumption is that evacuating settlements is not imperative to attaining peace; moreover, it has become a physical/demographic impossibility.

Zionist expansionism has sought to create not only an indivisible capital, but also an indivisible country. A Palestinian state comprised of innumerable incontiguous enclaves, resembling a leopard coat, will only worsen the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. It would grant Palestinians no sovereignty or control over any of their essential resources. Peace on these terms is an articulation of a supremacist doctrine. It is a peace of sustained apartheid, in which eugenics (Jew versus non-Jew) is the determining factor.

In November, 2002, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled a reunification plan for Cyprus, which envisaged “a common state made up of two equal component states in ‘indissoluble union'” and a “single Cypriot citizenship” [5]. The plan gained initial acceptance from both Greek and Turkish communities. Greek and Turkish leaders met in March 2003 to work out the details. Although the plan failed (reportedly due to the intransigence of the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash), it was nevertheless a step in the right direction. It recognized that normalization, reconciliation, justice and sustainable peace could only come about through transcending ethnic and religious differences. This model is what the UN and the world must foster for both Cyprus and Palestine.




[3] Based on statistics from the Canadian 1996 census ( and statistics on Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories at

[4] See also ,


Mr. Baha Abushaqra is a Media Activist with Palestine Media Watch.