Pandor responds to UNSC's failure to agree on resolution calling for 'humanitarian pauses' in Israel-Palestine war

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, says South Africa is not pleased with the failure of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to agree on a unified resolution that signals a full commitment to ending the killing and suffering in the Israel-Palestine war. 

This comes after the UNSC failed to adopt a resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Palestine crisis, on account of a veto by the United States. 

“There can be no compromise when this Council is faced with a crisis of such proportion. We urge the Council to do its work,” she said on Tuesday. 

Pandor was speaking during the open debate of the UNSC on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. 

She told the Member States that the country agreed with many speakers who said the ultimate solution to the conflict is finalising the question of the two-State solution. 

“We must work hard through the UN to create two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security, and this must be in accord with the established UN resolutions on the two-State solution. The Palestinian State should be created along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.” 

She told the Member States that the conflict has again illustrated the “inadequacy” of the UN, especially the UNSC, which has the mandate of maintaining international peace and security. 

“We all recall that in 1994 a genocide occurred on the African continent with much of the whole world watching as innocent people were massacred.  

“History cannot keep repeating such cruelty; we should establish a system of global governance that is fair, equitable, and can respond to the needs of all persons in situations of threat and harm – a system that is not just a tool for the most powerful countries of the world but that provides protection for the most vulnerable.”

South Africa, she said, would join urgent calls for an immediate ceasefire and for humanitarian corridors to open for aid and other basic services. 

“Most importantly we call on all parties to exercise restraint and to desist from fuelling this patently unjust war and human suffering,” she pleaded. 

She also expressed her condolences to the Palestinians and Israelites for the lives lost during the past two weeks.

According to reports, at least 5 791 Palestinians, including 2 360 children, have been killed since the Israeli strikes on 7 October.  

Over 1 400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage.

“We are horrified at the blatant targeting of civilians, a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law, the Geneva Convention, and its protocols. Both Hamas and Israel have committed these violations,” Pandor said. 

Meanwhile, she said the killing of civilians and destruction in Gaza by Israeli forces goes against the tenets of international law, which forbid the targeting of non-combatants, especially women, the aged and children. 

“There is an added obligation on an occupying power over the people and territory it occupies in terms of the Geneva Conventions, including a prohibition against collective punishment. 

“This does not detract from South Africa’s concern at the actions of Hamas, which also targeted non-combatants.” 

Pandor said while South Africa is concerned about the current violence and deaths, the State cannot ignore the fact that one more day of continued occupation has bred hatred, suffering and pain. 

“Just as Israel deserves peace and security, so are Palestinians deserving of sovereignty, peace and security. For international law to be credible, it should be uniformly applied and not selective.” –