Mbeki: Face to face with Hamas?

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As the much-vaunted "road map" lies in shreds, it becomes increasingly clear
that the American government does not possess the will to enforce United
Nations (UN) obligations on Israel.

American weakness is not only a paradox – given that it is regarded as the
world’s only unrivalled superpower – it is indeed responsible for the
catastrophe that millions of Palestinians are subjected to.

A glaring characteristic of this weakness is reflected in America’s role as
Israel’s chaperone – not it’s policeman. In the case of the rest of the
world, American wields the big stick, even if such aggression is in
violation of international laws and treaties. It is a consequence of such
unjust policies that America illegally invades and occupies Iraq, yet
neglects to recognise the permanent threat to global peace caused by Israeli
intransigence.

American chaperone-ship of the world’s only remaining apartheid
state -Israel – is reflected in the fact that in the past 30 years, America
vetoed 34 UN resolutions that sought to criticise Israel and to restrain its
barbaric behaviour. As Henry Porter correctly points out in The Observer,
these resolutions stifled by Washington were unnecessary because so many of
the issues raised are covered by a resolution which was supported by US in
November 1967 – the famous Resolution 242, which underlines that Israel must
return territory acquired in war.

Thirty-six years on, Resolution 242 is still active and the Zionist regime
remains in material breach. Palestinian lives are being sacrificed simply
because the Americans choose to allow Israel to ignore its obligations under
international law.

But does it behove the rest of the world, and South Africa in particular, to
also ignore this colossal injustice perpetrated against the Palestinians
simply because Israel enjoys the protection of America?

Though substantive and compelling arguments exist for a global boycott of
Israel, it remains unclear why democratic South Africa has not made any
advance to isolate the Sharon regime.

Time for sound counselling is long past. Neither Sharon nor any of his
right-wing coalition partners have displayed any sense of understanding the
imperatives of justice as a fundamental pre-condition for peace. And nor
will they!

South Africa’s pre-eminent role in peacemaking in the African continent must
be extended to the Middle East. And it goes without saying that as South
Africans, it would be impossible to accede to Israeli demands for so-called
‘security’ concerns that translate to perpetual enslavement of Palestinians.

As a country that places a high premium on human rights, South Africa cannot
countenance the hateful concept of a ‘bantustan’, which is what the
Americans envisage of any future Palestinian state.

Apart from the fact that it is impractical and unjustifiable to ghettoise
millions of the indigenous population, it is immoral to sanction such
policies that also permit migrants as settlers to occupy looted land.

For as long as South Africa retains diplomatic ties with Israel, it unfairly
sanctions such illegal behaviour and affords respectability to a rogue state
that does not deserve either.

That America is unwilling to impose force to evacuate Israel from all the
occupied territories, does not grant South Africa the right to ignore the
tragic plight of Palestine. Only by severing ties with the Zionist regime,
can President Mbeki demonstrate South Africa’s unique responsibility towards
the victims of Israeli crimes.

An important initiative in this regard would be for Mbeki to engage in
direct discussion with the leadership of Hamas – a dialogue necessitated by
Israel’s irrational efforts to outlaw them as "terrorists", a practice
reminiscent of apartheid South Africa vis-a-vis the ANC and other liberation
movements.

As Israel is poised for a new round of ethnic cleansing, it has become
urgent for South Africa to act now – not tomorrow!

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