- SA Envoy to UN Accuses Israel of Ethnic Cleansing
by JORDAN MOSHE, https://www.sajr.co.za/home
South Africa’s envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) this week accused Israel of using Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned annexation of the West Bank as an excuse to ethnically cleanse the region.
Clinton Gary Swemmer claimed in his apparent warning to UNHRC on Monday that, “South Africa is concerned that the annexation of Palestinian territory is highly likely in the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley, selected because of their low population density with potential for ethnic cleansing.”
The envoy made these claims during a general debate at the UNHRC’s 42nd session in Geneva under the agenda item concerning the human-rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. While he made other negative comments about Israel, his remarks about Israel’s intention to perpetuate ethnic cleansing through annexation were exceptionally ugly.
He suggested that Israel was guilty of such actions in the past, saying, “What started in east Jerusalem is going to spread unannounced and without an outcry, but with devastating consequences for Palestinian communities that will be left utterly defenceless and without residents.”
His comments appear to be in response to Netanyahu’s announcement last Tuesday that he would annex large swathes of occupied Palestinian territory if re-elected, including large parts of the West Bank. His assurances drew condemnation from across the spectrum, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres reportedly saying that the plan, if realised, would constitute “a serious violation of international law”.