Gaza,(DRAH.ps)-- “Israel must stop all violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws and adhere to them.” This was the strong message from the African Union (AU) Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the United Nations (UN) on Tuesday, while observing International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Mahamat’s message was delivered by Fatima Mohammed, the AU representative to the UN, at a special meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), and emphasized Africa’s support for the Palestinian cause.
“The African Union’s support to the Palestinian cause is intrinsically linked with the Africa-Arab partnership. More fundamentally, it is premised on the values of freedom, justice and humanitarian principles that Africa defends in international fora alongside all those striving to ensure that Palestine regains its right to exist as a key State in a region considered the cradle of humanity, religions and prophets, a region that the world has the obligation to preserve.”
Israel’s continued theft of Palestinian land through the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem was identified as a major obstacle to peace. “The Israeli government continues to violate international norms and standards by increasing the pace of illegal settlements.”
These illegal settlements, Mahamat said, were “one of the core issues in the conflict…and contributes to forced displacement, severely limits Palestinian access to basic resources, including land and water, and perpetuates a system of segregation and structural inequality between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Mahamat also condemned Israel’s blockade and isolation of the Gaza Strip from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This, he argued, represented a real threat to international peace and security in the region. “The African Union Commission will work tirelessly with the international community to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the borders of June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Mahamat pledged.
Palestinian political movements welcomed the AU message of support.
“Africa’s solidarity is a major pillar in our struggle for liberation against Israeli apartheid and colonialism. African and Palestinian liberation movements have long stood in mutual solidarity for self-determination and freedom. We depend on our African allies to support our resistance against Israeli apartheid,” senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouq, told the Afro-Palestine Newswire Service.
“Solidarity is not just an abstract expression of empathy; rather, it is an active, positive and concrete engagement,” said Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member, Hanan Ashrawi. Global solidarity “should send a strong and important message to both the Palestinian people and to the global community that there is a price to be paid for Israel's persistent violations of international law and conventions. Simultaneously, it would be assuring the Palestinian people of the protection available to them in the international legal and political system.”
The AU’s rebuking of Israel comes just as Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been requesting key African states to lobby the continental union to give Israel an observer seat at the AU to counter Palestine’s influence at the continental body.
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was instituted by the UN in 1977, and is commemorated on 29 November – the day that the UN General Assembly adopted the ill-fated Resolution 181 (the UN Partition Plan for Palestine) despite objections from the Palestinians.
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was established by the UN General Assembly in 1975, largely through the efforts of African countries. Guinea, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tunisia serve on the committee. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, and the AU are observers. Senegal chairs the committee.