The ANC will continue to support the establishment of a viable Palestinian state
Johannesburg - The price of liberation is never cheap. Freedom is bought through blood sweat and tears. Nowhere in the history of liberation struggles of the world is this clearer, than in the liberation struggles of the people of Palestine, and the people of South Africa.
Our nations count our dedication to freedom, and the cost thereof, in the thousands of courageous Palestinians and South Africans who have laid down their lives for freedom, and the courageous liberation soldiers who have taken up arms against our oppressors, and sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of our struggles for liberation.
The people of Palestine and South Africa, share an indivisible foundation of solidarity, forged by the crucible of our respective liberation struggles, that span hundreds of years. We understand that at the root of our oppression over centuries, was and continues to be, the fundamental evil of racism that considers certain nations to be superior to others, and combine such abject prejudice with economic exploitation.
As a result we have been relegated to the status of slaves, to be subjugated and trampled on by our racist oppressors. At the very heart of this struggle is the theft of our ancestral land, and thus our peoples disenfranchisement and economic marginalization by colonists who use the power of their guns, and other superior weapons, to continue to oppress and enslave us.
Through our shared painful experiences, of centuries of oppression, we learnt in the hardest of ways that we had to resist and fight back with all and every means available to us, also with armed struggle - literally through the barrels of our AK47s. The revolutionary unity between Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the people’s liberation army of the African National Congress (ANC), and the liberation armies of the people of Palestine - forged through the liberation wars that our respective liberation forces engaged in - is historically well established, and a source of great pride to all of us. Our oppressors tried to call us "terrorists", but we know the truth that they in fact are the real terrorists, warmongers, and flagrant breakers of international law.
In the 1940s the liberation struggles of the people of Palestine and of South Africa entered an intensified phase, when our enemies intensified their oppression. In South Africa, with the victory of the racist National Party in the 1948 whites only elections, our oppression became further formalized in the racist policy of apartheid. Similarly in 1948, the catastrophe of the "Al-Naqba" (literally meaning "the catastrophe" in Arabic) befell the Palestinian people, when more than 700 000 Palestinians were forced to abandon their homeland and seek refuge in neighboring countries, and abroad, as the racist Jewish state of Israel came into being on Palestinian soil.
The apartheid regime’s oppression of us, as black South Africans, was openly supported by reactionary Western nations, including the United States of America (USA). Later when international anti-apartheid solidarity, and the increasing mobilization of progressive forces throughout the world against racism, made it more difficult for them to openly support apartheid, their support for apartheid became more muted, and less vocal, but in reality they continued to support the apartheid regime right up the point when it was, because of our people’s courageous resistance, forced to negotiate with us.
Even during the negotiations the West, and specifically the USA, continued to support the white racists. In all of this the racist state of Israel was also full-out complicit in supporting the apartheid regime. The strong economic, intelligence, and military ties between apartheid South Africa and Israel - often facilitated by the USA and the United Kingdom (UK) - are well known and documented. This extended even to a nuclear weapons programme, that enabled the apartheid regime to possess nuclear weapons.
The fact that even today, 26 years into our democracy, we still have a small minority of white owned monopoly capital businesses controlling our economy, and the majority of black South Africans remain economically marginalized and mired in poverty, is largely due to the oppressive power balances that they continue to sustain and nurture.
The situation that the people of Palestine find themselves in is even far more dire. They have deliberately, and viciously, been prevented from achieving at any stage, during their long struggle for freedom, any chance of democratic self-determination.
As His Excellency, Mr. Alvin Botes, our South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the United Nations Security Council Open Video Teleconference meeting on the Question of Palestine, pointed out: “For more than half a century the world has stood by and watched as Palestinian land, olive grove by olive grove, village by village, town by town have been lost, and occupied by the ever expanding, racist, neo-colonial, State of Israel. Decade after decade the suffering of the Palestinian people knew no bounds as they were - and continue to be - subjected to the construction and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on their rightful land. All of this is accompanied by systematic racist discrimination, as opposed to the illegal Jewish settlers who are provided services and civil liberties, and the issuing of building permits - all rights denied to the Palestinians living in the occupied territories. Palestinian land and property continue to be snatched away and destroyed. All of this happen despite the people of Palestine being on the right side of the law, as determined by international law and numerous United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions."
In the Gaza Strip Palestinians continue to live in unacceptable, precarious, circumstances. Freedom of movement is restricted, while access to electricity and water is also severely restricted. The same is true for healthcare, as swell as economic and educational opportunities. They are on a daily basis deprived of every basic human right.
This is indeed nothing less than the practice of racist apartheid - and that is why we in South Africa (who know apartheid all too well when we see it), have unequivocally declared Israel to be an Apartheid State. Since apartheid has been declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations General Assembly on the 30th of November 1973, it follows that Israel is a rogue and criminal state.
When the United States decided to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moved its embassy there, the African National Congress condemned these actions as illegal in terms of international law, and warned that it will embolden Israel to commit even worse crimes against the people of Palestine.
Sadly, that is exactly what is happening now: Encouraged by the increasingly rightwing, racist, and downright imperialist reactionary support of the Trump Administration, Israel is set to advance further draconian legislation to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. This is due to proceed within the next week, from as early as the 1st of July. Such annexations will be in violation of international law, and UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolution 446 of 1979, and Resolution 2334 of 2016.
All of this further, increased, oppression of the Palestinian people is set to happen seventy two (72) years after the initial "Al Naqba". The fact that this is possible, and has been allowed to continue, is truly a blight on the name of the United Nations (UN), and specifically the UN Security Council. Despite their own resolutions condemning the continuing occupation of Palestinian land by Israel as illegal (Security Council Resolution 2334 of 2016), they have taken no action to stop the building of Jewish settlements on illegally occupied land, nor to stop the confiscation of Palestinian land and property, and to stop the illegal blockade of Gaza. The world community should be ashamed of ourselves that these terrible crimes against humanity are being allowed to continue!
As Botes declared on behalf of our South African government, in admonition of our whole world community: “We should be ashamed that on our watch we have ignored, and denied, Palestinians their basic human rights and aspirations. We should be ashamed that by our silence, we have protected the oppressor. We should be ashamed that decades later a lasting, and just, peaceful resolution of the continued occupation remains as elusive as it did in 1948, when this matter was first brought to the UN Security Council. We should ask ourselves what message is sent to those fighting for their inalienable rights to freedom, self-determination and sovereignty, and to those who oppress and deny these rights”.
As fellow revolutionaries, who know the heavy joke of racism and oppression, the African National Congress commits to the people of Palestine that we will not waver, nor rest, until all the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, and the Security Council, in favour of the total liberation of the Palestinian people, are fully implemented.
In this regard the Resolutions that the ANC adopted at our 54th National Conference in 2017, will continue to guide us. These included our unequivocal condemnation of the “provocative step by the USA to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”. The ANC continued to insist that the Trump administration must immediately reverse this decision. The ANC further resolved that the South African government must immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office. We furthermore urged the Palestinian people to work for unity among themselves, as an imperative for sustainable and lasting peace.
The ANC, as the governing party, reiterates that South Africa will continue to support all efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side-by-side in peace with Israel, within internationally recognized borders, based on those of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. These steps must be taken in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions, international law, and internationally agreed parameters.
All the necessary steps must be taken by the world community, as represented by the United Nations, in order to convince, and - if needs be - force Israel to comply. If the flagrant and outrageous intransigence of Israel continues, the necessary punitive measures must be taken, including the implementation of diplomatic and economic sanctions. It certainly can no longer be allowed for Israel to get away with breaking international law, and to continue to exist as an apartheid racist state, that viciously oppress the people of Palestine.
* Elias Sekgobelo “Ace” Magashule is the Secretary General of the ANC.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.