Pandor reiterates stance on Israel


International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, says South Africa cannot have “normal relations” with Israel, as long as it is committing war crimes and genocide against Palestinians, removing them from their land, and is unwilling to negotiate a viable peace plan without preconditions. 

“South Africa cannot be a party to Israel’s actions that would see the promise of Palestinian Statehood reduced to balkanised entities, devoid of true sovereignty, without territorial contiguity and with no economic viability,” Pandor said on Monday while delivering a lecture at the Rio Branco Institute in Brasilia, Brazil.

The South African government, according to Pandor, has consistently expressed its concern at the plight of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, especially in light of the acts meeting the threshold of genocide.  

READ | SA welcomes resolution on human rights situation in occupied Palestinian territory

Pandor said the “question of Palestine”, as it is known in the United Nations (UN), is the longest unresolved human rights challenge on the UN’s agenda. 

“It is primarily a question about the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. This is a right that, according to international law, gives Palestinians the right to resist the illegal occupation of their land.” 

She said South Africa concurs with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s remarks that opposition to a two-State solution was “unacceptable”. 

The Minister believes that the Palestinian people are part of an existing sovereign State and have a claim to their independent sovereignty based on their right to self-determination. 

“The fact of colonisation creates this right – they have been conquered and subjected to the jurisdiction of a foreign State without their consent and are living under occupation by a foreign and oppressive occupier.

“This is the form of self-determination that is most widely accepted and which most clearly provides the right to one’s independent State,” she explained. 

Pandor said it was now more than 74 years since the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 181 (II) recognising the partitioning of Palestine and proposed establishing two independent States, which were supposed to coexist in peace and harmony. 

“Despite the length of time and efforts brought to bear, the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State is yet to become a reality.

“The most serious violation of human rights has involved the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. This is a right enshrined in the UN Charter,” she stressed. 

Pandor raised concerns about the political solution, which is “not yet in sight”. 

“The relentless military operations by Israel and its genocidal acts have aggravated the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 

“The extreme nature of the crisis in Gaza must not eclipse the fact that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are in turmoil. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the number of illegal Israeli settlers occupying Palestinian land has increased from 269 200 at that time to 700 000 today.” 

Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians held in Israeli jails has almost doubled to over 7 000, including 200 women and children as young as 12 years old. 

According to the Minister, the conflict has seen the killing of over 33 000 Palestinians since October 2023.

The ongoing bombardment of Gaza by Israel has resulted in more civilian casualties, almost half of which are children, the Minister told her audience. 

She also raised an alarm about the threat of famine, which is imminent with disastrous consequences. 

“Those engaged in active warfare must be reminded that the targeting of civilians, humanitarian workers, journalists and UN personnel, destruction of houses and other civilian infrastructure is illegal under international law.” 

Pandor is of the view that South Africa made a compelling case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

In January this year, the ICJ ruled that Israel’s actions in Gaza are plausibly genocidal and indicated provisional measures on that basis. 

READ | SA stands by decision to file lawsuit against Israel

She also took a swipe at the veto power wielded by individual States, which she said she believes cannot be permitted to thwart international justice in light of the ever-worsening situation in Gaza. 

South Africa, Pandor said, is gravely concerned about the unprecedented imminent military offensive against Rafah, which she said would result in further large-scale killing, harm and destruction. 

“South Africa reiterates its call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and remains committed to seeing an end to the occupation of Palestine and calls for concrete action concerning ending the Apartheid system in Israel and Palestine.” –


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