Open statement of South Africa to the International Court of Justice, on January 11, 2024:
Madam President, distinguished members of the Court:
It is an honor and privilege for me to appear before you today on behalf of the Republic of South Africa. I wish to express my gratitude to the Court for convening this hearing on the earliest possible date to entertain South Africa’s request for the indication of provisional measures in this matter.
In our application, South Africa has recognized the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people through Israel’s colonizations since 1948, which has systematically and forcibly dispossessed, displaced and fragmented the Palestinian people, deliberately denying them the internationally recognized and inalienable right to self-determination, and the internationally recognized right of return as refugees to their towns and villages in what is now the State of Israel.
Etc., etc., etc., …
South Africa faithfully repeats before the ICJ the position expressed on October 9, 2023 (barely two days after the massacre of the Jews in Israel), by Zaman Mehdi, the Pakistani Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, who – speaking on behalf of all the 56 states of the OIC, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – condemned the “more than seven decades of illegal foreign occupation, aggression”. Notice the quote: “more than seven decades”, placing thus the root cause of the conflict in the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
The case presented before the ICJ is not about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 war, nor about the settlements in the West Bank. It is about the existence of the State of Israel. Any “legal” argument about the present (like “genocide”) is ultimately tinted, rationalized, and justified by placing it “in context” of the events in 1948. By its own initial statement, South Africa revealed the root of the “legal rationalization” and the context of its case before the IJC: The intent to reverse the failure and defeat of the Arab States in their quest to eliminate the nascent State of Israel in the 1948 war.
The Muslim opposition to an independent Jewish State is rooted in the medieval religious teachings of Islam. Since the 7th century, as Arabs conquered by force vast lands in their expansion from Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, to the whole Middle East and the Mediterranean countries in Northern Africa, a doctrine was developed whose basic tenet was, and still is: “lands conquered by Muslims belong to the Umma (the Islamic Community) and cannot be surrendered. Never.” Non-Muslim residents in these lands could, at best, achieve the status of “dhimmi”, a submissive minority. For centuries, Jews under Islamic rule suffered discriminations, persecutions, and pogroms, exacerbated during the 19th and 20th centuries, that culminated in the ethnic cleansing of almost one million Jews from the Arab countries. These Jews – together with the Jews persecuted in Europe – found refuge in the State of Israel. Israel was born as a nation of refugees.
“Let us get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally that they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.” (President Joe Biden, May 2021)