A Free Palestine “from the River to the Sea”

South Africans have,since the attacks on Gaza, come out in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The genocide underway in Gaza signals the end of Zionist Israel and a time for the “global south” to Unite for Peace and to make urgent restitution to the Palestinians by immediate recognition of a single, democratic and secular state, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. 

The ‘Groot Krokodil’s’ notorious Rubicon speech in 1985 signaled the collapse of South African apartheid in 1990.  So too, Bibi’s recent Amalek genocidal speech and rhetoric calling for extermination of Gaza’s 2.3-million population now marks the pending disintegration of Zionist apartheid in Israel. According to military strategists such as Scott Ritter, Israel has already “lost” its war against Hamas. 

Millions and millions of people all over the world are appalled by Israeli bombings of hospitals, schools and refugee camps, plus the deliberate starvation inflicted on Gazans. Their horror is further compounded by mealy-mouthed US proposals at the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere of “humanitarian pauses” whilst the US continues to supply weapons to Israel.

Just as apartheid South Africa eventually became “too much hassle” for the Americans, so too the global backlash to Israeli atrocities is belatedly prompting even President Joe Biden’s war-obsessed administration to re-assess its alliance with Bibi and Zionism.  The present war in Gaza will probably also mark the end of the past 500 years of European imperialist and racist domination of the planet Earth, and its replacement by the “global south” association of BRICS+ countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“We do not propose
to go through the form
of consulting the wishes
of the present inhabitants”

Lord Balfour

The US and European governments have been complicit for 75 years (and longer) with barbaric Zionist Israel’s intentions to eradicate Palestinians from their land. The British government’s Balfour Declaration in 1917 proposed to give away Palestine to Zionist Jews on the preposterous notion that Palestine was a “land without people for a people without a land”. In fact, Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians had lived together harmoniously for centuries and, in unity, rigorously opposed the declaration, but to which Lord Balfour arrogantly declared: “We do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants”.

As documentary films such as Roadmap to Apartheid have highlighted, the parallels between apartheid in South Africa and Israel-Palestine are glaring. The UN Security Council in 1977 unanimously agreed that South African apartheid constituted a threat to international peace and security. That decision was hailed at the time as “the most significant development in 20th century diplomacy”. 

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For the past 30 years since the Oslo Accords, the world (disgracefully including our South African government) has paid lip-service to the so-called “two-state solution”.  The US and EU have colluded with and funded the Israeli occupation by 750,000 illegal settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the consequences of which include the practical reality that a two-state solution is now unacceptable. Not only would a two-state solution perpetuate existing petty apartheid humiliations of Palestinian Israeli citizens, it would also enforce grand apartheid bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza.  In short, if apartheid in South Africa was unpalatable to the international community in 1977, why should it be inflicted on Palestinians in 2023? Zionist apartheid is a recipe for recurring wars instead of peace.

The alternative of a one-state solution – “from the river to the sea” – is, ironically, pursued by both the Israeli government and many Palestinians including Hamas. They of course have totally different agendas and intentions. At the recent UN General Assembly meeting, Netanyahu exhibited a map of Israel that extended from the river to the sea, annexing Gaza and the West Bank as well as Jerusalem – a one-state solution that assumes an apartheid country of Jewish domination in which Palestinians would be second-class and impoverished citizens. 

Protesters called for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as they marched through Cape Town on Saturday. Photo: Groundup/Ashraf Hendricks

The only solution

The reality is that Israel-Palestine is one country, and it has proved absurd to pretend otherwise. In contrast to the Zionist agenda, the Palestinian one-state solution promoted by Mustafa Barghouti and the Palestinian National Initiative is committed to “fight for freedom and to a struggle for creation of a just and democratic society in a single state where all citizens have equal rights”. Barghouti declares: “It is clear that the Oslo agreements are no longer viable, and that the Palestinian Authority, having been weakened and delegitimised by Israel, is isolated and severely unpopular amongst the Palestinian population. A growing number of Palestinians believe that the only solution left is a single democratic state on the whole of historic Palestine without occupation, apartheid or discrimination.”

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Barghouti continues: “For decades there have been Palestinian leaders who have called for the establishment of one democratic state in Palestine where Jews and Palestinians can live together with equal rights. Nothing can justify settler colonialism that is harmful to both the Palestinian and Jewish peoples. Confronted with a project aimed at the elimination of the Palestinians as a nation, we have remained resilient, determined not to give up our homeland.”

Under pressure from the US and British governments, the UN General Assembly in 1947 by a vote of 33 to 13 approved the partition of Palestine into two states, plus a separate Jerusalem and Bethlehem zone under international administration.  It is now glaringly evident in 2023 that the decision was a disastrous mistake.

Partitions of former British colonies including Ireland, India and South Africa also proved to be dismal failures. Instead of peace, these partitions and Palestine’s all resulted in recurring conflicts and wars.   Israel was granted membership of the UN in 1949 on condition that it complied with resolution 194 that confirmed the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties. The General Assembly in 1974 passed resolution 3236 further asserting the right of return as an inalienable right.

As defined by sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Israeli government conduct towards Palestinians meets the legal criteria of a) genocide, b) apartheid as a crime against humanity, and c) war crimes. The Zionist state of Israel is not only an apartheid state and thus illegitimate, but its deliberate and barbaric genocide of Palestinians represents a massive threat to international peace and security.

With the General Assembly now composed of 193 countries, it is time for the “global south” to Unite for Peace and to revoke resolution 181 as a tragic and ill-considered error and, in addition, to make urgent and massive restitution to the Palestinians by immediate recognition of a single, democratic and secular state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Terry Crawford-Browne is the country co-ordinator in South Africa for World Beyond War, a global movement to end all wars.

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