International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor on Wednesday said the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) marked a decisive victory for international law and a significant milestone in the search for justice for the people of Palestine.
Briefing the media in Pretoria, Pandor said the court’s decision affirmed the importance of global governance institutions, including organs of the UN.
“It remains vital for all member states to respect and implement the decisions of the court,” she said.
Pandor noted that the ICJ had on January 26 delivered its order on South Africa’s request for provisional measures.
“While not all provisional measures that were requested by South Africa were granted, crucial measures that will contribute to the protection of Palestinians were granted.”
The court ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent all acts of genocide, among other things.
The court did not make an order for the suspension of Israeli military operations in Gaza as South Africa had requested.
Israel has since the judgment by the court continued with attacks on Palestinians and its soldiers even attacked a hospital disguised as medical personnel in the past few days.
“I believe the rulings of the court have been ignored by Israel. Hundreds of people were killed in the last three or four days.
“Clearly Israel believes it has a licence to do as it wishes. The world has to reflect and we have to come to the point to say what we do to stop these acts from occurring not only in Israel but in any party in the world.”
She said South Africa had taken a bold step to approach the ICJ and succeeded.
“We look at proposing other measures to the global world and securing international solidarity on this matter in support of Palestinians.”
Pandor also said what confronted the global world was what was to be done when there was no implementation of the court’s order.
“That is a question all nations must answer today. It is ICJ and if its orders are not respected, what does this mean for every other government that commits atrocities against people?
“That is a question that confronts us as a global community,” she said.
However, Pandor said third states should also act independently and immediately to prevent genocide by Israel and to ensure that they were not themselves in violation of the Genocide Convention by aiding or assisting in the commission of genocide.
“This necessarily imposes an obligation on all States to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which the court has indicated are plausibly genocidal.”
She also said South Africa would continue to do everything within its power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group.
“We will do what we can to seek an end all acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people and to walk with them towards the realisation of their collective right to self-determination because as present Nelson Mandela declared so stoutly that ‘our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’.”
She noted with concern that the UN peace and security architecture was clearly not able to give effect to the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people or to protect them from grave war crimes and the threat of genocide.
“If we fail through judicial institutions, we must ask what protects us.”
Pandor also said South Africa welcomed the support expressed by several countries for its step to take the Israeli-Palestine matter to the ICJ.
“We encourage States that are so inclined to approach the court to intervene in the proceedings so as to send a strong message to the international community that the situation in the Gaza Strip is indefensible,” she said.
“I don’t think we should leave matters as they are.”