WASHINGTON - Israel is demanding that the UN strike the word 'Nakba' from its lexicon, this after the world body's spokeswoman uttered it, apparently by mistake, in a press briefing she held Thursday night.
'Nakba', or 'catastrophe', refers to the refugee flight of Palestinian Arabs that followed Israel's inception in 1948.
The spokeswoman told reporters that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stress his support for the Palestinian people on Nakba Day".
An Israeli reporter present at the briefing asked the spokeswoman whether Ki-moon also congratulated Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the Jewish State's 60th anniversary. She said the UN chief spoke with Olmert a week ago.
Ki-moon himself was also surprised by the controversy created by his gesture, as he was not aware that the use of the term was unacceptable to Israel and is a part of the Palestinian propaganda against it.
Ki-moon supportive of Israel
Israel is demanding that the UN issue a statement to rectify the blunder and remove the word 'Nakba' from its lexicon.
The UN said the word had not been used by any of the world body's institutions or officials before, and it is estimated that it was purposely 'planted' by someone into the spokeswoman's text.
Ki-Moon has been supportive of Israel since taking office in 2006, but has recently been pressed by the Arab world to adopt a more balanced approach.
Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday afternoon in her speech at the president's conference in Jerusalem that "with the establishment of a Palestinian state, we wish to see the end of the conflict. The Palestinians will be able to celebrate their independence if on that same day they also strike the word 'Nakba' from their lexicon."