‘ACDP does not support government’s ICJ lawsuit’

ACDP president Rev Kenneth Meshoe

The statement below was released by ACDP president Rev Kenneth Meshoe last week before the hearing of the South African government’s lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. We publish it now as Gateway News was on a seasonal publishing break when the statement was released.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) does not support the South African government’s court case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (the ICJ) in The Hague, to be heard later this week.

While the ACDP mourns the loss of innocent lives on both sides of the Israel-Gaza war, we believe that the South African government could have played a far more constructive role in influencing Hamas to release hostages after the deadly attack on October 7, and even to surrender, to avoid the loss of civilian lives, and to seek to bring about a lasting peace in the Middle East. Regrettably, by now taking sides by lodging this court case with the ICJ, it can no longer play a role as an honest peace-broker.

We also do not believe that the South African government will be able to prove that Israel has the necessary genocidal intent against the Palestinian people as required by the Genocide Convention. Israel faced a genocidal attack on 7 October last year by Hamas when unimaginable atrocities were committed against its citizens. Israel and even UN experts are demanding accountability for those atrocities saying there is mounting evidence of rapes and genital mutilation which points to gross violations of international law, war crimes and even crimes against humanity.

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The Hamas charter calls for the destruction and annihilation of the State of Israel, the only nation state of the Jewish people. Hamas has said that it will carry out similar attacks whenever it has the opportunity to do so. No country would allow itself to be subject to such attacks. Israel has every right to defend itself, and its citizens, and obtain the release of hostages still held captive by Hamas.

Israel’s war is against Hamas terrorists, not against the Palestinian people.

It is also hypocritical for the South African government to now approach the ICJ when it ignored the International Criminal Court’s (the ICC) arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2015 on charges of genocide and war crimes (despite a South African High Court ordering the South African government to comply with the ICC warrant), sought to withdraw from the ICC in 2016, and criticised the ICC for the arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The South African government’s court case will also alienate South Africa’s trade partners in the West, most notably the USA, UK and the EU. The US has said South Africa’s court case was “meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever”. This may jeopardise the all-important AGOA trade agreement with the US when it comes up for renewal in 2025. This, as well as fractured relations with other important trade partners, the country can ill-afford at a time when it is facing unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty and low economic growth.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has labelled the South African government’s court case as an “expensive legal frolic”. The ACDP agrees. The tens of millions of rands which will be spent on legal and other fees on this case could be better spent on the national prosecuting authority and other law enforcement agencies that are unable to fight crime and corruption effectively in the country due to severe budgetary constraints.

The ACDP does not believe that this court case is in South Africa’s best national interest.

We continue to pray and advocate for peace in the Middle East, but as far as the South African government’s court case at the ICJ is concerned, we say as South Africans, “not in our name!”

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