The failure to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine and secure Palestinian peace and freedom is “a profound stain” against the mission and objectives of the United Nations, said South African Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, at the UN Security Council on Monday. As South Africa entered its final week as president of the Security Council, Pandor was in New York to preside over the Council’s quarterly open debate on one of the longest-standing issues on the agenda: the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Consisting of five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – Pandor lambasted members for failing to implement their own resolutions, specifically Resolution 2334 of 2016 which declared Israel’s settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem a “flagrant violation” of international law with “no legal validity”. The resolution demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfil its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In a thinly-veiled reference to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Pandor said that the resolution was undermined “through unilateral decisions aimed at predetermining the outcome of the negotiations. That points to bad faith and can never secure peace.”
Pandor called for a vigorous campaign of international solidarity, pressure and support, similar to those that ultimately brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa. “Our own struggles were advanced by United Nations action and determination to end a crime against humanity. We need similar vigorous international solidarity, indignation and commitment for Palestine.”
Pandor also expressed grave concern at the continued disregard of Palestinian concerns on final-status issues in the Peace Process such as borders, the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the Israel’s illegal settlements. “Clearly there is no intention to seek or achieve peace by those implementing these actions. How is it possible to believe in this Council, in peace and security in the face of such offending breaches of this Council’s decisions?” Pandor asked in a fiery address.
“Palestinian hopes are dissipating in the face of diminishing world support and the absence of any genuine attempt at honest negotiations. Palestine seems to be a forgotten people,” Pandor cautioned gravely.
In order to repair its damaged credibility on the issue, Pandor said that the Security Council must insist on regular written reports on the implementation of its decisions and resolutions, and conduct a long-overdue field visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “We lose credibility as an institution when words are not accompanied by action,” warned Pandor.
Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, welcomed Pandor’s statement saying it was a “reminder about the duty the UN should have achieved decades ago in the Middle East, especially the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to freedom and independence.”
Hamas spokesperson, Bassem Naim, expressed appreciation at Pandor’s strong address. “We agree fully with her diagnosis regarding the failure of the international community in general and the Security Council in particular, to protect Palestinian rights and force Israel to respect and implement resolutions.”