Scores of diplomats, academics, political activists, government officials and media gathered in Pretoria on Wednesday at a sombre event marking the annual observance of November 29 as the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Addressing the gathering held at the Freedom Park Heritage Site and Museum, Ambassador of Palestine to South Africa, Hanan Jarrar said the people of South Africa and the government have stood with the Palestinians through a very difficult era.
“Since day one of Israel’s genocidal war against the Palestinian people, South Africans from different walks of life, religions, and political parties have taken to the streets to show solidarity and support for the Palestinian people.
“Moving to the governmental level, President (Cyril) Ramaphosa has rightly called what is happening in Gaza a genocide. South Africa has referred Israel to the ICC (International Criminal Court) for investigation of the situation in Palestine, in accordance with Palestine’s referral to the ICC in 2018,” she said.
“Minister Naledi Pandor has been central in discussions to reactivate legal instruments that were developed by the international community as a weapon in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid so that they might be able to address manifestations of apartheid in Palestine.
“Last week, the South African Parliament showed the Palestinian people that their commitment to a free Palestine is strong and unwavering by voting to close the Israeli embassy and sever ties with apartheid Israel. This support, combined with the resilience and steadfastness of the Palestinian people back home in occupied Palestine and in exile, is what keeps the flames of the Palestinian narrative alive,” she said.
The event in Pretoria was attended by officials including the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Alvin Botes, Member of Parliament, and chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela; director of the United Nations Information Centre in South Africa, Masimba Tafirenyika; dean of the diplomatic corps, Salih Omar Abdu; and acting dean of the Council of Arab Ambassadors, Kabalan Franjieh.
The top Palestinian diplomat said this is the type of international solidarity that Palestinians require to dismantle “the Israeli colonial expansionist regime”.
“What is needed now is a collective call from the international community for a ceasefire and an end to the Israeli occupation so that Palestinians can finally exercise their right to self-determination and establish a state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“We need a vigorous campaign of international solidarity, pressure, and support, similar to those that ultimately brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa,” said Jarrar.
“The failure to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine and secure Palestinian peace and freedom is a stain on the conscience of the world. But the genocide of the last 50 days should be viewed as an opportunity for the world to redeem itself and hold the Israeli government accountable for its serial violations of human rights and international law.”
She said the world can no longer look away and allow Israel to violate Palestinian human rights with impunity.
“It cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. It looks very ironic that we Palestinians are the only people on earth asked to guarantee the security of our occupier, while Israel is the only country that calls for defence from its victims.”
Through the commemoration, Jarrar emphasised that Palestine will not be defeated. She said her nation would rise again.
“Palestinians are like the phoenix. Despite the atrocities and darkness that we have faced for over seven decades, we still have the ability to rise up from the ashes and fly again,” she emphasised.
Delivering a message on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor, Deputy Minister Botes said the 46th commemorations of the United Nations’ solidarity with Palestine provide a critical opportunity to reflect on and take stock of the plight of the people of Palestine.
“There can be no normalisation, ladies and gentlemen, with the state of Israel up until they engage in their corresponding responsibilities and duty to honour the commitment made during the 1993 Oslo process.
“South Africa has indeed, with a number of countries, made the submission to the international criminal court, and we would wish that the ICC would act with an accelerated speed, pace, and commitment in the same manner that the ICC chief prosecutor acted when there was annexation of territory in eastern Ukraine,“ said Botes.
“I wish to conclude by giving an expression of appreciation for our BRICS partners in its current form and expanded version, who complemented South Africa’s initiative through President Ramaphosa, where we had an extraordinary summit of the BRICS leaders and partners convened on the 21st of November 2023.”
The extraordinary summit of BRICS leaders and partners called for an immediate revival of the Middle East peace process.