South Africa has expressed its concerns over the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and a “significant portions of the West Bank”, calling on the UN to class Israel as an Apartheid State.
Speaking at the second meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in the South African capital Pretoria yesterday, the country’s Minister of International Relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said that the “Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression.”
Insisting that South Africans’ own struggle against systemic state-sanctioned racism gives them the ability to understand the plight of the Palestinian people, Pandor stated: “We experienced firsthand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”
The minister called on the international community to classify Israel as an Apartheid State, saying that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) must establish a committee to officially verify whether Tel Aviv fulfils the requirements for such a classification.
She further reiterated that the post-apartheid South African government’s position on Palestine “has always been clear, consistent and convergent with the international community.”
Speaking to the state-run South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) following the session, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki hailed Pandor’s call, affirming: “If there is any country or countries that can comprehend the suffering and the struggle for freedom and independence of Palestine, it is the African continent and the people of Africa.”
For the past 27 years, ties between the Palestinians and South Africa have developed and remained strong, with Pretoria often providing support for the Palestinian cause and condemning Israeli transgressions on the world stage.
Last month, South Africa urged the international community to hold Israel accountable for the inhumane conditions that Palestinians have been subjected to, and last year it condemned the African Union’s (AU) granting of observer status to Tel Aviv – a move which was reversed earlier this year.