Statement by Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine before virtual side event: “The importance of upholding the principles of self-determination and non-
Tuesday, 8th June 2021
Statement by Dr. Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the State of Palestine before virtual side event: “The importance of upholding the principles of self-determination and non-discrimination justice for the Palestinian people”
Honorable, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia,
Honorable, Naledi Pandor , Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa,
Dear Friend, Professor John Dugard,
Dear Panelists and Moderators,
Allow me at the outset to thank the Permanent Missions of South Africa and Namibia and Nelson Mandela Foundation for hosting this timely and important event. It is an honor to be in the presence of such esteemed speakers and friends of Palestine.
The events of the past months have exposed to the international community, yet again, the abhorrent reality that is the continued injustice of the colonialism, racism and oppression that we, the Palestinian people, been enduring for decades. The violent aggression by Israel, the occupying Power, against the occupied Gaza Strip and the rest of the occupied territory of the State of Palestine as well as the imminent forcible displacement of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, have brought front and center the root causes of this protracted injustice: Israel’s oppression, dispossession and systematic violations of the rights of the Palestinian people, including their inalienable right to self-determination and to live as a free people.
This is an illegal colonial occupation that continues to displace our people from their homes and lands and to replace them with colonial settlers, as well as steal our land and resources, obstructing our independence and our development, fundamental pillars of any nation.
The brutality of Israel’s illegal occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, whether besieged, occupied, exiled, or relegated to second-class citizens, cannot be understated. But our goal is to end this indignity, to end this blatant crime against humanity, rather than only continue to dissect its many layers of pain and injustice and lament about the vast human suffering and loss it is causing. This requires urgent and effective political action to ensure accountability that brings pressure to bear to bring an end to these crimes against our people, alongside action to relaunch a political process through multilateral mechanism that aims to end, rather than indefinitely manage, this ongoing illegal colonial occupation.
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,
The peoples of South Africa and Namibia are among those peoples on earth who can most intimately relate to and understand the grave impact that wanton destruction, the premediated massacres, the systemic ethnic cleansing, the dispossession and displacement have on a people and a nation. You know our pain and are able to appreciate the justness of our people in their dignified struggle for freedom. That is why your principled positions and statements about the Palestinian people echo throughout the world, as a reminder that the anachronistic colonial racism that has defined the struggles of millions of people throughout history, regrettably persists in the 21st century in Palestine, a crime being perpetrated openly and shamelessly by Israel, the occupying Power, before the eyes of the world.
Yet, today, and despite everything, the Palestinian people are hopeful.
We are hopeful because the unprecedented nature of international and national mobilizations have reaffirmed that the Question of Palestine and the quest for Palestinian self-determination remain at the center of both international politics and the collective consciousness of generations of world citizens who believe in the universality of human rights and who seek justice.
Indeed, this mobilization must serve as a wakeup call to the United Nations and multilateral fora, which have failed themselves and their mandates in relation to Palestine, that the Question of Palestine cannot be brushed aside or condemned to perpetual “management” when the fate of millions of people is at stake.
The just cry for a ‘Free Palestine’ is resounding throughout the world, from the United States to Japan, from Ireland to Chile, and from Senegal to South Africa and Namibia. ‘Free Palestine’ is more than just a slogan. It is an affirmation of the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination in their own independent State, free from any form of discrimination and subjugation. ‘Free Palestine’ is also quintessential to the fulfillment of the United Nation’s central pillars, which are: collective security, commitment to human rights, and the rule of law.
Moreover, we are hopeful because the continued Palestinian popular resistance, led by our youths, from the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem to the valleys of Jericho, and from the coasts of Gaza to the ruins of Lifta and the refugee camps in exile, clearly demonstrate that the Palestinian people, and despite over seven decades of relentless Israeli attempts to deprive us of our homeland and erase our presence, history, traditions and national movement, remain rooted in their lands and unified in their struggle towards liberation.
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,
The era of appeasement of Israel’s crimes, as an illegal occupier above the law, must come to an end. But we have to push together.
In the annals of history, the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, driven in part by the United Nations, was one of the Organization’s historical achievements. It was a pivotal moment in the struggle towards expunging discrimination and racism and committing to never turn a blind eye to apartheid, racism, discrimination, and injustice.
Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,
The evils of apartheid that massacred 69 peaceful protestors in Sharpeville are the same ones that massacred 270 Palestinian protestors during the ‘Great March of Return’. The discriminatory laws and practices that enshrined White supremacy in South Africa and Namibia are manifested in Israel’s discriminatory laws and racial superiority, including the ‘Nation-State Law’ of 2018 which denies the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
The machinations of apartheid that stole lands, confiscated property, and demolished homes, are the same ones that continue to systematically forcibly displace the Palestinian people, in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Khan Al-Ahmar, and yes in Lydd. The supremacists who designed the Bantustans live among those who expand Israel’s settlement enterprise, besiege the Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza Strip in an open-air prison, and isolate them with an apartheid wall in occupied East Jerusalem and throughout the rest of the West Bank, severing the connections between their cities, towns and families and penning them into ghettoized enclaves as inferiors unworthy of basic human rights.
Palestine’s great friend, the late Nelson Mandela, said the following about apartheid:
“It will forever remain an indelible blight on human history that the apartheid crime ever occurred. Future generations will surely ask: What error was made that this system established itself in the wake of the adoption of a universal declaration of human rights? It will forever remain an accusation and a challenge to all men and women of conscience that it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say ‘enough is enough’.”
He did not think other peoples would have to bear this inhumanity again. Yet, apartheid lives on, unabated and emboldened, by the utter lack of accountability that has made some believe that such crimes can somehow be normalized and remain unpunished.
But, just as the world moved, albeit too slowly, to free Namibia and South Africa, so it must also for Palestine. There may be no other means of safeguarding such rights, pertaining to states under illegal occupation, except through the exercise of the collective responsibility.
To honor the centenary of the great Nelson Mandela, the international community must act collectively and states must take the initiative to bring a halt to Israel’s violations and to protect Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination, based on international law. Indeed, states must uphold their obligations vis-à-vis the Palestinian people, including the millions of Palestine refugees, and help them realize justice and realize their inalienable rights to self-determination and non-discrimination. This is critically important not just for Palestine but for the validity and continued viability of the rules-based international order.
So today, I put before you actionable steps that you can take to help end Israel’s illegal occupation and dismantle its apartheid regime in Palestine. These steps are:
- Recognize that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is illegal. This is a necessary first step;
- Foster support and mobilize solidarity amongst UN Member States, political groupings and peoples for Palestinian rights;
- Challenge Israel’s colonial-apartheid regime, including through defunding it by stopping all arms trade and military “assistance” to Israel;
- Boycott all products produced on stolen Palestinian land or by illegally exploited Palestinian natural resources, including water;
- Boycott all companies and institutions that profiteer from the entrenchment of Israel’s colonial regime;
- Take bilateral and multilateral action to isolate the Israeli colonial-apartheid regime, including comprehensive and mandatory sanctions;
- Support the State of Palestine’s legal endeavors to hold Israel accountable for its crimes, including by considering actions at the ICC and ICJ;
- Hold states that continue to support and fund this illegal situation to account, morally, politically, and legally;
- Question Israel’s credentials to the UN and other international organizations;
- Reanimate political and multilateral process based on international law and UN resolutions;
Israel’s continued impunity and exceptionalism, whereby it is permitted to act as a state above the law, must end. Its colonial-apartheid regime cannot remain cost-free; it must become a moral, legal, political and financial burden. With your support, these goals can be achieved and Palestine will be free.
In 1982 the General Assembly declared the International Year of Mobilization for Sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. Let’s make 2021 the year of international mobilization not just to sanction Israel but to end its illegal occupation and achieve justice and freedom for the Palestinian people, the fundamental requisites for achievement of a just peace and lasting stability.