‘Everyone is bleeding: Palestinians physically and Israelis morally’
A week before the July 1 annexation of a chunk of land in the occupied Palestinian territory, South Africans have made their voices heard.
The first statement came from the collective body of the National Church Leaders’ Forum of the SA Council of Churches (SACC) and the second from Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The import of their messages is worth noting because of the timing of their release.
They were sent barely a week before the July 1 annexation of a chunk of the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, which will virtually obliterate the feasibility of the internationally recognised peace solution for the two states of Israel and Palestine.
Unilateral annexation means that the Palestinians will be pushed off their land or remain, without citizen rights, in what will become Israeli territory.
This is the nub of the problem – and the point of difference between the SACC and Mogoeng’s unrelated pronouncements.
The variance is easily explainable, but more can and should be said in terms of the fundamental principles of justice and peace.
There are various options to address the Israel-Palestine problem.
- Two states alongside each other with internationally guaranteed peace and security for all. This option has been supported by all UN resolutions since 1948.
- A single democratic state in which all people have equal rights. Most Israeli politicians would not want this because the Palestinians would gain a democratic majority.
- The third option is the one being pursued by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, potentially claiming Israeli sovereignty over a number of modern-day countries and forcing out or subjugating any one who is not Jewish. The Israeli government appears to have been laying the legislative foundations for this radical option for a few years.
The anchor is the legislation passed by the Knesset (Parliament) on July 19 2018 titled: Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People. Racist and expansionist, it has the status of a constitutional statute: “This Basic Law shall not be amended, unless by another Basic Law passed by a majority of Knesset members.”
It uses the biblical term “the land of Israel”, which it says is “the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established”. Next it says: “The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people.”
And the last part says: “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” In other words, those who are not Jewish will have no rights to exercise self-determination. That will be the fate of Palestinians in the territories to be annexed next week.
The use of the biblical term “land of Israel” in that law points to racist and expansionist designs, not only to annex all the occupied Palestinian territories, but potentially also to seize territories of other neighbouring states that might have come under the ancient kings of Israel at one time or another, with total disregard for international boundaries and international law.
The Chief Justice’s use of the Old Testament as a basis for today’s resolution of international disputes — the Abrahamic promise in Genesis – inadvertently feeds directly into the design of abrogating modern-day recognised boundaries.
This unintentionally undermines the existing provisions of international law for the maintenance of world peace through the UN and the Security Council.
One of the Chief Justice’s chosen verses from Psalm 122 calls for a prayer for peace in Jerusalem.
The whole debate is indeed about the peace of Jerusalem and what it will achieve – a mutual settlement between Palestinians and Israelis or a dislocation and dispossession of Palestinians by Israel against all International law and basic human rights principles?
Pope Francis, who has described Jerusalem as a “common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions” – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – has said of the necessity of peace: “There is no reasonable alternative to peace, because every attempt at exploitation or supremacy demeans both its author and its target. It shows a myopic grasp of reality, since it can offer no future to either of the two.”
His position is supported by all the local leaders of Christian churches based in Jerusalem.
The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches say the annexation plan raises “serious and catastrophic questions about the feasibility of any peaceful agreement to end the decades-long conflict, one that continues to cost many innocent lives as part of a vicious cycle of human tragedy and injustice”.
It appears these fears will be fulfilled with the annexation.
The world must expect things to get worse as more sovereign states get gobbled up in the fantasy of the recovery of the Davidic or Solomonic territories of the presumed Abrahamic promise of the Land of Israel that pursues racial purity.
The logical conclusion might be the annexation of South Lebanon, and the possible elimination of Syria, whose Golan Heights have been claimed by Israel, with the Trump administration affirming these claims.
The Israeli Basic Law on the ancient Land of Israel can preserve rights only for people of Jewish classification – in grand-apartheid style.
The basic principles of this law leave no ambiguity about the fundamentally racist nature of the present State of Israel, where Jewishness, rather than being human, is the defining principle.
This effectively cancels the rights of Christians and Muslims in their holy sites in Jerusalem.
Arab Israeli citizens, whether Christian or Muslim, are, by this law, denied full citizenship and freedoms in a state where self-determination is “unique to the Jewish people”.
How more apartheid-like can this get?
Section 3 of the Basic Law says: “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
US President Donald Trump gave effect to this in December 2017.
It is part of the constitutive law: The status of Jerusalem for Israel includes Palestinian East Jerusalem, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.
It makes immutable what belongs to negotiations on the two-state solution.
Present-day Israel has assumed an unassailable position of uniqueness that has resulted in it functioning outside of not only international law and the basic tenets of justice and peace, but also going against its founding principles of justice based on the vision of the ancient Hebrew prophets.
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
In stark contrast to these developments is the basis on which Israel was admitted in 1948 as an acknowledged state by the UN. Israel’s Declaration of Independence says: “The State of Israel … will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and holy places of all religions, and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the UN.
We … call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the state, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions – provisional or permanent.”
This indicates how much at odds the new law is with the moral foundations of a just state that serves all who live in it on an equal basis.
South Africa and the world would support this original position of Israel and not the monstrous entity it has now become.
The world must prevent its brand of apartheid, the crime against humanity, which will make Hendrik Verwoerd’s designs look like a Sunday school play.
It is in the interests of international peace to stop Israel and rein it into the justice standards that apply to all states.
The call by the EU for sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with this injustice must be supported in the interests of justice and peace.
The Christian leader from Palestinian Ramallah sums it up: “Now everyone is bleeding: We Palestinians are bleeding physically. Israel is bleeding morally.”
Mpumlwana is the general secretary of the SA Council of Churches