Johannesburg - The UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) held an Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk, under Agenda Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
The dialogue on Friday focused on the Special Rapporteur’s report on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that concluded the policies of the Israeli regime against the Palestinian people amounts to apartheid.
“Sadly those who aided and abetted the apartheid regime in South Africa until 1985 are standing on the wrong side of history yet again,” said South Africa’s representative at the UN Human Rights Council, Mr Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi.
“South Africa welcomes the report on the current human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). We remain disappointed that the Special Rapporteur has still not been granted access to the OPT. As the report indicates, the human rights situation of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza was marked by significant deterioration. The amount of violence that Israel is employing in order to sustain its occupation is constantly increasing and impacting the lives of Palestinians in a myriad of different ways.”
The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of dispossession, racial segregation and oppression, said Nkosi.
“As oppressed South Africans, we experienced first-hand the effects of racial inequality and discrimination. We are all well aware of the long-term impact and consequences of racial and other forms of discrimination. The fundamental freedoms that many of us take for granted, remain absent for Palestinians living in the OPT. Regular land dispossession and illegal seizure of homes are similar to apartheid forced removals endured by black South Africans.”
Nkosi further elaborated that South Africa urges the international community, and in particular, the UN, to ensure the safeguarding of the rights of the Palestinian people.
“In this regard, we welcome the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur in the report - that the political system of entrenched rule in the OPT which endows one racial national ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits and privileges while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under permanent military rule, without rights, equality, dignity and liberty - indeed satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid.”
Namibia’s representative, Ms Julia Imene-Chanduru, was equally strong on this issue.
“We must explore the possibility within this Human Rights Council of establishing a mechanism to deal exclusively with the Israeli apartheid practices against the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line. It is also time for the UN General Assembly to consider reviving the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid.”
Imene-Chanduru said the historic report of the Special Rapporteur on the OPT confirms that Israel has imposed an apartheid reality on Palestine in a post-apartheid world.
“The report, simply put, concludes that Israel is an apartheid state. It is clear for everyone to see that the Israeli apartheid system comprises discrimination, brutal repression, oppression, racism and special rights,” said Imene-Chanduru.
“These are all done to maintain the dominance of one ethnic group over the other. Mr President, there is an obligation on all of us – including this Human Rights Council – to stop the Israeli apartheid machine. Apartheid constitutes a total negation of the principles and purposes of the United Nations and it is a crime against humanity. We must all take a stand against Israeli apartheid by calling a spade a spade,” Imene-Chanduru concluded.