Roadmap to Solidarity – Johannesburg Declaration Vows to Dismantle Israel’s Settler-Colonialism

Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine. (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

The delegates vowed, “to ensure Israel and those complicit in its genocide are held accountable (and) to support the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people.”

Delegates at the Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine have declared that they “will be unrelenting” in their mobilization to pressure governments to sanction Israel which has subjected the Palestinian people to 76 years of ongoing genocide, colonialism and apartheid.

“The war prosecuted for decades by Israel and its genocidal enablers is not only against the Palestinian people, it is against humanity as a whole,” the Johannesburg Declaration on Israel’s Settler-Colonialism, Apartheid and Genocide, issued at the conclusion of the conference on Sunday in Johannesburg, stated. “But the Palestinians and the people of the world have not been silent.”

The Declaration said these voices have been amplified in multilateral institutions, in international courts, by those of our political leaders and governments with conscience.

It noted “The relentless efforts of the Government of South Africa at the International Court of Justice stand out in this regard. These efforts must include the prosecution of all Israeli war criminals. We will be unrelenting in our mobilization to pressure governments to sanction Israel.”

The delegates, from more than a dozen countries, engaged in robust discussions from May 10 to 12 at the Sandton Convention Centre to discuss critical issues such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions; interfaith activities and campaigns; actions in the legal spheres; and how to support Palestinian political prisoners.

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Apartheid in South Africa

“We, inspired by, and many of us having been part of, the global Anti-Apartheid Movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, now rise, as the continuation of that movement, to confront the settler-colonialism and apartheid of Israel and its backers,” the Declaration said.

The delegates vowed, “to ensure Israel and those complicit in its genocide are held accountable, to support the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people, for the restoration of their rights to freedom, dignity, self-determination, return, resistance, as guaranteed by international law.”

They said they “rise with a determination for an immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire to end Israel’s genocide, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, ending settler and military terrorism in the West Bank and lifting the siege on Gaza.”

The declaration pointed out that “the extent of the Gaza carnage is still being revealed as mass graves are discovered.”

Israel, it said, “is deliberately murdering children and women; women who create, sustain and defend life. We oppose Israel’s reproductive genocide. Israel is destroying Gaza’s environment and infrastructure to make it uninhabitable.”

The movement will “use all strategies and tactics to work towards our goal, including working for the total isolation of the Israeli apartheid state – as was done by the Anti-Apartheid Movement against the South African apartheid state – using boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaigns, and other strategies in our Plan of Action.”

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Release of Political Prisoners

The Declaration called “for the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners, detainees and hostages, and demand an end to arbitrary arrest, administrative detention, abductions, and torture of prisoners.”

It condemned governments “that have enabled or been complicit with the Zionist project, which – from Balfour to Biden – remain complicit even as Israel perpetrates a genocide and violates international law with impunity.”

With this first Anti-Apartheid Conference for Palestine,

“we have initiated a process to build on widespread mobilization across the world over decades, to escalate Palestinian solidarity and build the Anti-Apartheid Movement, including that at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001, and the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.”

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Consumer and Cultural Boycotts

The Declaration also called on all solidarity movements across the globe to join the effort, “which will stand with all oppressed and exploited people.”

“We are committed to isolate apartheid Israel by intensifying consumer, academic, sports, arts, and cultural boycotts and escalating the campaign for economic and financial sanctions.”

The movement will “prioritize blocking its shipping routes, campaigning for an arms embargo against Israel, targeting those supporting, funding, supplying weapons to and joining the Israeli Occupation Forces, and expelling Israel from international sporting, cultural and academic bodies.”

Just as the Global Anti-Apartheid movement “did not make concessions to the apartheid South African state until the complete dismantling of the apartheid system, we too refuse to concede until the total dismantling of Israel’s settler-colonial project.”

Delegates and speakers represented governments, civil society, religious organizations and solidarity movements from across the globe.

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Call to Progressive Forces

In the opening speech on Friday, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said “It has never been so urgent for progressive forces around the world to come together in a collective effort to exert maximum pressure to end the genocidal campaign underway in Gaza and to end the apartheid system of Israel in the occupied territories.”

She also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to expedite its investigation into the situation in occupied Palestine, saying the Court “must prioritize the case against Israel.”

Various other speakers addressed the conference including Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Reverend Frank Chikane, moderator of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs for the World Council of Churches; Declan Kearney, chairperson of Sinn Fein; and Ronnie Kasrils, former South African Minister of Intelligence.

Dr Bassem Naim, a politburo member of the Resistance Movement Hamas and the former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also attended the conference.

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Rising Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,034 Palestinians have been killed, and 78,755 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’. #palestineafrica2024

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(The Palestine Chronicle) 

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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