Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says he will personally deliver the outcome of the third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine to President Jacob Zuma to ensure swift action is taken against Israel.
Speaking after the tribunal concluded Israel was guilty of apartheid, Vavi said he was happy with the outcome and encouraged South Africans to dissociate themselves from Israel.
“I will personally take the verdict and this issue up with the South African government and the president,” said Vavi.
“We have to do what other governments did to South Africa during apartheid. The government would have to cut all ties with Israel, impose sanctions and isolate Israel.”
The tribunal, whose legitimacy and authority do not come from a government or political party but from the jury members’ commitment to basic rights, found Israel subjected Palestinians to institutionalised domination that amounted to apartheid under international law.
Announcing the findings yesterday, juror and British barrister Michael Mansfield said Palestinians living in the occupied territories were subjected to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid.
“Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognised human rights,” said Mansfield.
“Irrespective of such differences, the tribunal concludes that Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.”
Mansfield recommended that Israel cease its apartheid acts and policies of persecution and offer appropriate assurances and guarantees of non-repetition.
“Israel must make full reparation for the injuries caused by its internationally wrongful acts, with regard to any damage, whether material or moral. Israel must compensate the Palestinians for the damage it caused, with compensation to cover any financially assessable damage for loss of life, property, and loss of profits.”
The tribunal delivered a letter to Zuma on Monday, requesting a safe passage home for one of the expert witnesses, Haneen Zoabi, who testified before the jury on Sunday.
Mansfield said that minutes after Zoabi completed her submission, a formal application was made to the Israeli Knesset’s ethics committee to strip her of her Israeli citizenship.
“We want the South African government and all governments to help us ensure that she gets back to Israel safely and retains her citizenship.”
Mansfield said the tribunal’s website was hacked over the weekend, affecting their live-streaming to people across the world. They hoped to have it running in a few days
About 12 people, calling themselves concerned Jews, some dressed in kangaroo costumes, protested outside the District Six Museum, where the public hearings were held.
Charisse Zeifert, spokeswoman for the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said the tribunal had shown it was an “unbalanced vehicle for anti-Israel propaganda thinly disguised as a quasi-judicial investigation”.
“The tribunal, as anticipated, served up one-sided political rhetoric in place of meaningful debate,” said Zeifert.
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