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South Africa says Israel should be labelled 'apartheid state'

Minister says Palestinians are suffering experiences reminiscent of South Africa’s own history of 'racial segregation and oppression'
Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister of international relations, cited "an overwhelming body of factual evidence" pointing to Israel's apartheid (AFP)

A South African minister has called for the classification of Israel as an apartheid state, to hold it responsible for its violations against Palestinians.

At a meeting with the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa Conference in Pretoria on Tuesday, the South African minister of international relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said the UN General Assembly should investigate whether Israeli occupation can be labelled as apartheid. 

Pandor cited Israel’s continued occupation of "significant portions of the West Bank” and the building of new illegal settlements as “glaring examples of violations of international law”.

She said: “The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression.

“As oppressed South Africans, we experienced first-hand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial, and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”

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South Africa has been an ally of Palestinians since the end of its apartheid system in 1994, and the two countries have formal diplomatic relations.

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In a UN report last month, a high-level team of investigators concluded that Israel's occupation and discrimination against Palestinians are the main causes of the endless cycles of violence in Israel and Israeli-occupied territory.

“These reports are significant in raising global awareness of the conditions that Palestinians are subjected to and they provide credence and support to an overwhelming body of factual evidence, all pointing to the fact that the State of Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians,” said Pandor, referring to the UN report.

Pandor has also denounced the murder of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead by an Israeli sniper on 11 May while she covered an Israeli raid in the West Bank.

Pandor also likened the attack on Abu Akleh’s funeral by Israeli soldiers to the practices of the South African apartheid regime. 

Earlier this year, Amnesty International released a report that labelled Israel as an apartheid state, thereby becoming the latest organisation to join a series of human rights groups that have used the term to describe Israel's discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.

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