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‘End Israeli Apartheid’ – Naledi Pandor urges progressive forces

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South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. Progressive forces need to push for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, the minister has said in her keynote address at Friday’s opening of the first Global Anti-Apartheid Conference for Palestine in Johannesburg, South Africa. – Picture: Nurah Tape, Palestine Chronicle

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

“Progressive forces need to push for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, which has been systematically denied since the British mandate.”

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor, has said “it has never been so urgent for progressive forces around the world to come together in a collective effort to exert maximum pressure to end the genocidal campaign under way in Gaza and to end the apartheid system of Israel in the occupied territories”.

Minister Pandor delivered the keynote address at Friday’s opening of the Global Anti-Apartheid Conference for Palestine in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Progressive forces need to push for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, which has been systematically denied since the British mandate,” she said.

“They must also push for the right of refugees in the diaspora to return to their homeland,” stressed Pandor.

‘Watershed Moment’

She described the conference as “a watershed moment” as it is “the beginning of the global anti-apartheid movement on Palestine with all of us from around the globe coming together and joining forces in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people”.

The three-day conference aims to set the basis for the mobilisation of a Global Anti-Apartheid Movement “to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, and to work to dismantle Israeli apartheid”, according to the conference organisers.

Pandor said the “ongoing genocidal atrocities” being committed by Israel “have put renewed focus on the urgent need for wider international community demand for decolonisation”.

Call to ICC

She also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to expedite its investigation into the situation in occupied Palestine, saying the Court “must prioritise the case against Israel.”

“There can never be peace if the Palestinian people are not free … We should be ashamed that 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza,” the minister said.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,904 Palestinians have been killed, and 78,514 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Pandor said she was sure that when Israel planned its response to the October resistance operation, “it did not realise that its impunity and cruelty towards Palestinians will finally be naked to the world”.

She stressed that South Africa’s “association with the people of Palestine did not begin on the 8th of October 2023”.

The minister emphasised: “We continue to do so following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and will not rest until the freedom of the peoples of Palestine is realised.”

Symbolic Gesture of Kuffiyeh

In a symbolic gesture, Reverend Munther Isaac of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem placed a kuffiyeh around the shoulders of Minister Pandor.

“There is symbolism in what I’m going to do, to take the keffiyeh from the shoulder of a Palestinian and place it on the shoulder of a South African leader and acknowledge that today you carry our cross as Palestinians with us upon their shoulders,” explained the reverend.

Various other speakers addressed the conference on the first day including Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Reverend Frank Chikane, moderator of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs for the World Council of Churches; Declan Kearney, chairperson of Sinn Fein; and Ronnie Kasrils, former South African Minister of Intelligence.

The conference is being attended by delegations from across the globe, representing civil societies, religious institutions and Palestinian solidarity movements. Various workshops aimed at developing strategies for action are lined up for Day 2.

The Palestine Chronicle