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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘We expect warrants for Israeli leaders and Benjamin Netanyahu shortly’ – Ntshavheni

As Israel continues its nonstop offensive on Gaza in Palestine, South Africa reiterated its stance on the ongoing conflict, submitting a joint referral to the ICC.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has said government is expecting the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant of arrest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon.

Ntshavheni was briefing the media on Monday on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held last week.

As Israel continues its nonstop offensive on Gaza in Palestine, South Africa reiterated its stance on the ongoing conflict, submitting a joint referral to the ICC.

Vusi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador in the Hague, Netherlands, personally delivered the referral to the office of the prosecutor (OTP) at the ICC.

Arrest warrant

Ntshavheni said the document was submitted jointly with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Venezuela, Comoros and Djibouti.

“While the Palestinian Authority did ask the ICC to investigate crimes under the courts jurisdiction in 2018, South Africa believes that current atrocities, particularly in Gaza need renewed attention with the full backing of state powers.

“Given that much of the global community are witnessing the commission of these crimes in real time, including statements of genocidal intent by mainly Israeli leaders, we expect that warrants of arrest for these leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be issued shortly,” Ntshavheni said.

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ICC dragging feet

Ntshavheni said while the ICC has been able to investigate the situation in Palestine since 2021, when the issue of territorial jurisdiction was settled, Cabinet has noted that the office of the prosecutor continued to “drag its feet” despite the gravity of the situation.

She said the current atrocities may not have occurred if these investigations took place as soon as the Palestinian Authorities first made its referral.”

“We expect now that other state parties have also added their voices for an end to the impunity by Israel, and the significant levels of evidence available, that international warrants of arrest will be issued by the time the conference of parties meet in mid-December in New York.

“Failure to do so, will be indicative of a lack of will to act by the ICC and a strong signal to the total failure of the global system of good governance and the need to establish a new system,” Ntshavheni said.

Israeli embassy

Ntshavheni also provided an update on the South Africa’s Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, being recalled after Israel’s attack on Gaza.

“The diplomats have been recalled, [and] as we said his consultation will determine the period. We will tell you when they go back.”

“On closing the embassy of Israel, there is no decision to close down the embassy of Israel from Cabinet. We have gone to the ICC as part of state parties who have referred the matter there,” Ntshavheni said.

Government issued a démarche — a formal diplomatic protest note — to Israeli ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky over his remarks about the Israel-Palestine conflict earlier this month.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa urges citizens to guard against Gaza conflict turning South Africans against each other

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