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SA uses diplomacy to garner support for its ICJ genocide case against Israel, says Pandor

SA uses diplomacy to garner support for its ICJ genocide case against Israel, says Pandor
From left: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest near the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, on 11 January, 2024. (Photo: Peter Boer / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Israeli soldiers patrol along the border with southern Gaza, in Israel, 26 October 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Abir Sultan) | Barrister Malcolm Shaw speaks on behalf of the Israeli delegation at the International Court of Justice on 12 January 2024. (Photo: Michel Porro / Getty Images) | Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Adila Hassim of South Africa at the ICJ on 11 January 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Remko de Waal)

South Africa is studying a report Israel submitted on Monday on implementing provisional measures like allowing in humanitarian aid, preventing death and destruction, and ending genocidal acts, as ordered by the International Court of Justice, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor told MPs.

South Africa will respond to the report Israel has submitted on provisional measures it has taken in the Israel-Gaza war, as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) a month ago.

“South Africa will continue to pursue the opportunities available to us… to ensure full and effective implementation of the existing provisional (ICJ) measures,” said International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, answering questions in the House on Wednesday.

sa icj pandor

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor attends a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian after their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on 22 October 2023. EPA-EFE / Abedin Taherkenareh)

“We continue to act to seek action that is responsive to the court’s order as the government of South Africa.”

This comes as questions are raised over Israel’s compliance with the ICJ measures

The executives of seven international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, ActionAid and Oxfam, raised concerns in a joint statement, saying the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to Gaza had not happened.

“… (T)he situation on the ground has deteriorated further. Israel’s airstrikes in Rafah killed at least 100 Palestinians in a single day, defying both international calls for moderation and potentially the ICJ order. 

“Over 1.5 million people trapped in Rafah have nowhere safe to go, and many have already been displaced multiple times. All of the Israeli supposed-safe spaces have been compromised, without exception; further proof that there was never truly anywhere safe in Gaza,” read the 18 February statement.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis news hub

In the House on Tuesday, Pandor said South Africa was “exploring partnerships with like-minded countries to call for an end to Israeli genocidal actions”. 

Where resistance was encountered, South Africa used the “diplomacy of the legitimacy” of South Africa’s case at the ICJ. This included engagement with colleagues at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Discussions are under way to try to secure greater access for humanitarian aid and to prevent … the catastrophe that we expect will occur should there be an onslaught on Rafah. But all of us are working as colleagues across the world to end the slaughter and to ensure aid gets through to Rafah.”

Cost of ICJ case

When asked by IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa about the costs of South Africa’s ICJ case, Pandor said: “The costs are not prohibitive” as officials are being paid from departmental budgets. 

“The other legal counsel has provided pro bono services. We appreciate this commitment.”

sa icj pandor israel gaza

Internally displaced Palestinian children queue up with pots and containers waiting to receive food provided by Arab and Palestinian donors in Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, on 24 February 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mohamed Saber)

Exact figures could be made available, said the international relations minister, who later dismissed as a “fantasy” and “fairy tale” DA MP Emma Powell’s question on whether any foreign government or foreign interested party had helped to pay for the case.

“The notion that our government can’t carry the cost of the case we brought is just an attempt to diminish the importance of the principled stance of the government of South Africa,” replied Pandor.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fact Check — Did Iran fund South Africa’s approach to the ICJ over Israel?

“I am so proud to be South African at this time… to have taken up the plight of thousands who have been killed for [doing] no ill by themselves whatsoever.”

Echoing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statements closing the ANC’s January lekgotla on how South Africa’s ICJ case would trigger regime change and fightback campaigns, Pandor – who on Tuesday repeated the phrase “Israel’s genocidal intent” – said pushback could be expected “once you take up a case of this weight against very powerful forces”.

South Africa believed Hamas taking hostages during the 7 October attack was also a potential war crime that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate.

sa icj israel gaza

A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid supplies for Gaza waits on the main Ismailia desert road, about 300km east of the Egyptian border with Gaza, on its way to the Rafah crossing, Egypt, on 13 February 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Khaled Elfiqi)

South Africa has already referred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the ICC in a matter separate from the ICJ genocide case. In addition, South Africa is among 51 countries that have argued before the ICJ that “acts akin to apartheid” were taking place in Gaza.

Pandor dismissed opposition comparisons of the Israel-Gaza war with that of the Ukraine-Russia war, even as ACDP MP Steve Swart highlighted the ICJ order for Russia to immediately stop its invasion of Ukraine. 

“There is no Nato country that is supplying arms to the Palestinians to defend themselves…” said Pandor. 

“All the support of the countries that provide support to Ukraine is given to Israel. So, you are not talking equivalence here.

“It is important we do not in one breath refer to Palestine and the occupation by Israel and its onslaught, and in the other, Ukraine and Russia…”

She reiterated South Africa’s continued diplomatic engagement with all stakeholders and others.

“We are seeking peace and we are seeking freedom and justice for the people of Palestine,” said Pandor.

Perhaps easier to answer was the EFF question of why the Israeli embassy in Pretoria was not yet closed, as recommended by a “politically persuasive” motion in Parliament on 21 November 2023.

“Cabinet is yet to deliberate and finalise this… Until Cabinet has made a decision, there could be no action,” said Pandor without providing any timelines. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Terril Scott says:

    ANC working hard to earn their money. Unusual for them.

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    Nolady Pandor is doing the bidding of her Iranian masters who have bought the South African foreign policy from the ANC. It’s ordinary South Africans that are going to pay the price for her support for genocidal terrorists. It’s time for her and the rest of the government to do their job and fix South Africa. If she exerted half the effort she exerts on conflicts half way across the world on doing good for South Africans our country would be a better place.

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    And anyway we were so broke that we couldn’t pay Ezulweni and after this we have plenty of money for our election campaign so you don’t really need to worry about what it’s costing the taxpayer. Hong Hong Hong.

  • Anon i Mouse says:

    That anc have sold its soul to murdering terrorists and they did it with smug pride. Wonder how much of the blood money is stuffed into their pockets? We the citizens will endure the consequences of an angry God. You do not mess with the apple of God’s eye.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Oh dear, banging on the same drum. Adding embarrassment to embarrassment. What a shocking waste of time and money on an international issue on the other side of the world that has absolutely nothing to do with South Africa. The vast majority of the citizen of this country would not even be able to point to Israel on a map. The tiny, but vocal, Muslim community are the only ones who really support Hamas in this affair.

    • L T. says:

      I agree. But thank you DM for simply reporting what was said in Parliament without any commentary. Pandor and her colleagues , including the President, can no longer distinguish fact from fable and, to add insult to injury , they have the arrogance to believe that others buy into their fairy tales. There is documented proof of senior Hamas officials met with government members in Cape Town ( photos on X for all to see). Hamas publicly thanked Pandor for phoning them to offer congratulations and humanitarian aid the day after Oct 7th,while Israel was still mobilizing and there was no need for aid. The aid is now being stolen by Hamas as it leaves the checkpoints and then sold by them at extortionate rates to the same Palestinians Pandor is so concerned about. Many countries are now trying to airlift the aid to prevent this and this too is in the public record. The DA and others are committed to digging deeper into the obfuscations about the source of the money used for the ICJ court case and into Pandor’s phone records. Anticipate delays, denials, redaction and Stalingrad tactics while our country continues to sink into the morass of decay, neglect and corruption.

      • JP K says:

        The ICJ ordered Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid”

        Instead, Human Rights Watch on 26 Feb reported that “The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order. The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid.”

        The organisation further reported that “Israeli authorities are using starvation as a weapon of war”.

        Now, one may read this as bias as no mention is made of Hamas in the statement. Or one may read it as focusing on the broader context. Apparently in such conflict situations, stealing of aid is not unusual. The solution is to send in more aid, not less as Israel has been doing. Before the war 500 trucks daily were required to sustain the population (it’s an open air prison, remember) and in January 200 trucks entered. Do you see the problem?

        Recall, that this is all in the context of a plausible genocide.

        • Mark Parker says:

          It is such a pity that since 1948 Palestinians have single handedly made countless attempts to overthrow regimes and disrupt almost every country in the Levant (Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria). They have been pretty much expelled from all of them or in the case of Lebanon have destroyed it.
          It is thus pretty evident that these regimes are quite happy for the Gazans to remain right where they are so that it can be Israel’s problem and deflect their lack of action. The Egyptians refuse them safe passage as they know that the Palestinians (Hamas) cannot be trusted and may launch attacks from Egyptian territory and also team up with Egyptian islamic insurgent groups in the Sinai that they are already fighting Egypt.
          The most obvious, safest and easiest course of action would be to set up a massive international refugee camp in the Sinai…but the Palestinians have this penchant for “p*ssing off” just about everyone.
          As for the findings and reports and psuedo-research of the Human Rights Watch that you continue to refer…their credibility like that of the UNHRC and UNRWA is in tatters other than from those regimes whose human rights are non-existent but in order to avoid scrutiny are happy to fund them and like Roth, Whitson and co before, are only to0 happy to accept.

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      Rubbish: you think Jews for Justice are Muslims? Anyone with a humanitarian streak feels that what the IDF is doing in Gaza and the West Bank is inexcusable and totally out of proportion. Oh, and supporting Palestinians is NOT the same as supporting Hamas, just as being anti-Zionist has little to do with being anti-Jewish.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        There is a program called “Occupation of the American Mind” which lays bare how the ‘minds’ of most Americans (and by extension most SAs) has over decades of carefully crafted and relentless Israeli/American propaganda, monopolised mainstream ‘opinion’ across most western nations (and by implication ‘others’ also) … that has prevented any alternative or reflective view on the matter … that is … until recently. For almost 30 years since our ‘liberation’ from our apartheid regime, we have seen the last remaining apartheid regime in Israel on steroids (with the support of its main endorser the US – and its other western poodles) .. ignoring all ‘international laws’ and conventions.

      • G C says:

        When Hamas was slaughtering Jews on Oct 7, they werent asking them are you pro zionist. Just be honest and say you dont like jews.

  • AJ Swart says:

    Reading these comments reminds one that the supporters of apartheid never died out in South Africa.

  • Richard G says:

    It’s time that Pandor and her ilk wound in their necks and see the bigger picture before they reduce our awesome country to another ‘shithole’ African state.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Pandor wants regime change….that’s hardly diplomatic. She’s an absolute disgrace at the best of timed and thank goodness she is retiring.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    Apart from the Mossad keeping a dossier on Pandor (which is, by now, probably as fat as she is) I doubt Israel is all that interested in what she and the ANC have to say. “We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs – We have no place to go.” (Golda Meier)

  • Mark Parker says:

    Humanitarian crisis in Gaza…Yes. Aid being hijacked at the Rafah Gate by Hamas…Yes. Safe zones for Gazans compromised because Hamas fire rockets from the safe zones…Yes. Solution. South Africa and their friends ask Egypt to provide a safe refugee facility in the Sinai which can be closed off and ship all aid directly into the refugee camp managed by Gift of the Givers and other neutral agencies etc. Then no rockets fired other than from Gaza, Hamas fight on without human shields and the Gazans are safer in the Sinai. Just wondering why Egypt hasn’t already done this and opened the Rafah Gate and why South Africa is not pushing for this? I am sure the international response to getting a secure camp up and running with enormous logistical support would be immediately forthcoming? And before anyone replies with “but the Israelis won’t let them back into Gaza” after the war or “but it is their home and why should they leave” or “they can go into Israel” is talking utter rubbish. Perhaps there is another reason for the inaction. It is certainly not Israel’s problem although eveyone seems to think it is.

    • John P says:

      Israel would love to send all the Gazans into the Sinai and there is no guarantee they would allow them back. Based on comments made by various Israeli officials they would have settlers in Gaza within days.

      • Mark Parker says:

        You obviously didn’t take note of the “Israel won’t let them back into Gaza” crappy argument. But considering that is your argument here are some counter arguments. 1. Israel forcibly removed all Jewish people from Gaza in 2005 why would you assume that not to be the case again? 2. There is going to have to be a massive re-education programme installed to rectify the systemic teachings of anti-Jewish hatred in Gaza, why would any Jewish settler want to subject themselves to that, especially when there is no biblical significance in the land either? 2. The EU and US in particular, irrespective of who is the President will not allow such brazen action to occur especially if it was negotiated. 3. Egypt and Israel have pretty good relations and in this instance Egypt will insist, with the US, to ensure Gazans are returned at a particular point in the future, once Gaza needs to be rebuilt. 4. Gaza should be rebuilt by the Gazans themselves and paid for with donor funding, which like before will be massive. Considering the vast majority of Gazans don’t have work and are unemployed this will be a good way to give them employment (under supervision so they don’t build tunnels again). 5. To base an argument on pronouncements of some Israeli ministers during a war who may be ousted in a new election due to Oct 7th is akin to us believing our own cabinet on an array of claptrap they sprout on a daily basis. So if you can respond with a logical set of counters…

        • John P says:

          I took take note of your “crappy argument”statement and dismissed it accordingly, making assumptions re arguments that do not support your point does not prevent that argument from being made.
          What Israel did in 2005 does not restrain them from acting differently now. Why were those settlers in Gaza anyway prior to 2005?
          Yes there will need to be a massive re-education for Palestinians to ever trust Israel in the future. In your proposal this would have no bearing on Jewish settlers in Gaza as all the Palestinians would be in refugee camps in Sinai.
          The EU and US not only allow but support every “brazen action” Israel have taken.
          Assuming Gazans remain in Gaza it will definitely have to be rebuilt but why by donor funding rather than by Israel who destroyed it in the first place?
          The statement I made re Israeli officials is not the basis of an argument, it is merely to illustrate that the thought process is there within the Israeli government.

          • Mark Parker says:

            So lets go through your argument based on your single premise: The Israeli Government will replace the Gazans (who are in the Sinai Desert Refugee Camp) with Jewish settlers. 1. Before 2005 there were 9,000 Israeli Jews in Gaza and about 1.3m Gazan Arabs. Not exactly prime real estate for Jewish settlers when you consider there are about 750,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem currently. 2. The Israelis will then clear and rebuild all of Gaza and settle new Jewish citizens (previous 9,000?) in the “new Gaza”, because of its natural beauty, amazing climate and wonderful soil. The EU, US and UK will all stand by because they will always support Israeli actions but they will be requesting their tax payers to provide billions per year to keep the refugee camps with 2.7million Gazan’s alive in the desert indefinitely. All of this whilst Israel turns Gaza into the St. Tropez of the Levant with perhaps a tax-free zone like Palm Island Dubai and Duty Free Shopping…with the world’s biggest refugee camp just 30kms down the drag. All this time Egypt happily accepts said situation including the 2.7million Gazans who by this time have learned to love their new desert getaway and whose hatred for the Jews has miraculously subsided and they have discovered a love for Pronutro mixed with water. Yes, your dismissal of my crappy argument statement has been replaced with, well…???

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    here’s thought for Pandor: Qatar hosts Hamas, Qatar finances Hamas – to stop the fighting let SA take Qatar to the ICJ for promoting, backing and financing Hamas – let the world all pleading for Israel to stop the war, rather pressure Qatar who have the influence and ability?

    • Mark Parker says:

      It is quite astonishing how Qatar seems to be exempt from all and any criticism of their actions with regards Hamas. This is where the foreign policy of the US, EU and UK in particular are found wanting. At the latest World Swimming Championships in Doha last week, an Israeli female swimmer won silver. The booing from the Qatari crowd when she was interviewed live in the stadium was shocking prompting her competitors and the interviewer to give her spontaneous hugs. I can only imagine what would have happened if she had won gold and the Israeli anthem had to be played.

  • Acwam 58 says:

    Forgive my naiveté, but given the horrendous civilian (read human shield) deaths and casualties in the Gaza Strip, why are there continued calls for an Israeli ceasefire and no approach toward Hamas for an unconditional surrender? The Israelis are not known for being bothered by outside commentary or influence. They will simply keep up their “limited responses.

  • Jucy Malema says:

    Lol, just more air

  • M. E. Everyone. says:

    GOD BLESS IRAEl.!

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