Jerusalem24 – South Africa is calling for the African Union (AU) to “correct its mistake” and withdraw the official Observer Status extended to Israel by the pan-African organization in 2021.
Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, issued the call yesterday in Pretoria at the Conference of Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa.
Pandor blasted the decision to grant Israel official AU Observer Status, calling it “shocking” in a year when Palestinians “were subjected to bombardments and continued illegal settlements on their land.”
Pandor charged that the decision was taken “unilaterally” and without appropriate consultation among AU members. “The AU strenuously objected to the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure,” said Pandor. “The decision by the AU Commission in this context is inexplicable.”
According to a report by African Affairs, “Tel Aviv had been lobbying for this for 20 years.”
South Africa has objected to the granting of the status since the decision came in July 2021.
“I trust that this mistake will be corrected,” said Pandor.
According to Pandor, South Africa’s position on Palestine “has always been clear, consistent, and convergent with the broader international community.”
In June this year, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, issued its first report in which it identifies Israel’s “continued occupation of Palestinian territory and discrimination against Palestinians” as the key root causes of Israeli-Palestinian violence, and states that “Israel has no intention of ending the occupation.”
“Everything points to Apartheid”
“How many more reports do we need that call Israel out on their unfair treatment of Palestinians and point out that Israel is implementing Apartheid?” questioned Pandor.
In recent years, several NGOs, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Israeli organization B’Tselem, have officially charged that Israel is an Apartheid state.
“These reports […] provide credence and support to an overwhelming body of factual evidence,” Pandor stated, “all pointing to the fact that the State of Israel is committing crimes of Apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.”
Pandor reiterated the commonality of experiences between Palestinians and Black South Africans under Apartheid.
“The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression,” said Pandor. “As oppressed South Africans, we experienced firsthand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”
Addressing the Palestinian guests at the conference, Pandor said: “While some might be wavering in their commitment to the Palestinian cause, South Africa will remain steadfast in our support of your just quest for freedom, justice, and independence.”