The African Group has called on the United Nations (UN) to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians.
The African Group â sometimes known as the Group of African States â is a regional assembly within the UN comprised of 54 member states from the African continent. It represents 28 per cent of all UN members.
The group yesterdayÂ addressedÂ the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, one item of which discussed the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
The groupâs representative, Andre da Conceicao Domingos of Angola, called for the international community to act to end Israelâs now 52-year-oldÂ occupationÂ and theÂ blockadeÂ it has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, as well as to end Israelâs illegal settlement project, imprisonment of Palestinians and policy of collective punishment.
Some members of the African Group also submitted individual statements, with Nigeriaâs representative Muhammad Isa stressing the need to avoid double standards in the implementation of international law and human rights. He also demanded accountability from Israel in this regard.
South Africaâs representative Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko also addressed the session, telling the council that âIsraelâs occupation is virtually indistinguishable from annexationâ. Mxakato-Diseko also condemned Israelâs theft of Palestinian water resources and pointed out that while Israel markets desalination and water technology to the world, it is responsible for water scarcity in the oPt.
African states have long been outspoken supporters of the Palestinian cause. This weekend the grandson of iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, attended LondonâsÂ Palestine ExpoÂ â Europeâs biggest Palestine exhibition which shed light on the plight of Palestinian refugees and those living under Israelâs occupation.
Addressing the conference, MandelaÂ saidÂ that âwe have a moral duty to support BDS and to support the Palestinian struggle,â referring to the Boycott, Divestment and SanctionsÂ movement.
MandelaÂ congratulated the Palestine Expo for âcreating a unique experience which proudly celebrates Palestinian art, history and culture whilst fostering discussion and activism in the UKâ, but emphasised to audiences that the event âreminds us of the reality of a nation that has now withstood 71 years of the Nakba,â during which 750,000 Palestinians were forciblyÂ displacedÂ from their homes.
Mandela was also critical of an attempt by anti-Palestine group UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) to cancel the Palestine Expo. Last week itÂ emergedÂ that UKLFI had made several attempts to cancel the exhibition, claiming its organisers are âmajor promotersâ of BDS. The group also tried to convince the German owners of London Olympia â where the event took place â to cancel the exhibition in light of a non-binding motion recentlyÂ passedÂ in Germany claiming that BDS is âanti-Semiticâ.
The South African MPÂ slammedÂ these moves, claiming they âreflect the desperation that Apartheid Israel and its lackeys are resorting to in silencing peaceful popular protestâ. He stressed: âWe say to them and all who seek to deny our basic human rights such as freedom of expression â hands off BDS, hands off Palestine Expo.â
~Middle East Monitor/Days of Palestine
Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (firstname.lastname@example.org)