South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor called on the international community to take action to put an end to the ongoing grievances the Palestinians are experiencing and to hold Israel accountable for the inhumane conditions that the Palestinian people have been subjected to for 73 years.
Speaking during a conference organised by the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Pandor said: “We are responsible now as member states of the United Nations to take the necessary measures, the same way the United Nations eventually acted concerning the apartheid regime in South Africa.”
“As South Africans, we find similarities in our past with the Palestinians, and now I remember the funeral of Shereen Abu Akleh and what happened to her coffin. It reminds me of the gravesites that we had to carry out under the persecution of the apartheid soldiers.”
Shereen Abu Aqleh is a Palestinian journalist who was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper as she covered an Israeli raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank last month. Pallbearers at her funeral were later attacked.
The minister continued: “In our capacity as representatives of the international community, we must work to stop these ongoing grievances that the Palestinians face under the illegal Israeli occupation, and to ensure holding Israel accountable for the suffering and inhumane conditions that the Palestinians are subjected to for 73 years.”
Secretary General of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, said: “Security concerns cannot in any way justify the apartheid regime practiced by Israel against the Palestinians.”
“All repressive regimes always put security as a pretext to justify their policies. The report of Amnesty International shows that the successive Israeli governments have considered the Palestinians as a demographic threat, and have imposed measures to control and reduce their presence,” Callamard added in reference to the report published by the international rights group calling Israel an apartheid state.
While former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, outlined how the Amnesty report “was criticised under the pretext of targeting Israel,” with some considering it “an unbalanced report that does not largely take into account the security aspect and Israel’s fears.”
He went on to highlight his own experience of being accused of anti-Semitism when he commented on the “catastrophic situation” in the Gaza Strip.
Participants confirmed that “the accusation of anti-Semitism against human rights organisations will not silence the voice of these organisations until the Palestinian people obtain their rights guaranteed by international law and the United Nations charters.”