A South African official called for Israel to be called an “apartheid state” on Tuesday for its treatment of Palestinians and its occupation of their lands in the West Bank, which is believed to be against international law.

Naledi Pandor, the South African minister of international relations and cooperation, made this statement at the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa, with Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki in attendance for the summit, according to al-Jazeera.

“The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression,” Pandor said. “As oppressed South Africans, we experienced firsthand the effects of racial inequality, discrimination and denial and we cannot stand by while another generation of Palestinians are left behind.”

South Africa has been an ally to the Palestinian government for a long time, going back to 1995 when the Palestinian embassy was first opened in the country. Pandor was the first government representative to denounce the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, allegedly by Israeli forces, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“Our position on Palestine has always been clear, consistent, and convergent with the international community,” she said, before elaborating: “Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, South Africa has always been an ally of Palestine and has constantly highlighted the struggles of the Palestinian people, supported them on international platforms, and offered material assistance within its capacity.”

Multiple investigations into Israel’s conduct against Palestinians in the country, including a recent probe by the United Nations, have surmised that Israel has committed severe human rights violations against Palestinians. Amnesty International traces back the human rights violations to its inception in 1948.

“These reports are significant in raising global awareness of the conditions that Palestinians are subjected to and they provide credence and support to an overwhelming body of factual evidence, all pointing to the fact that the State of Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians,” Pandor said.

Malki appeared at a program in the South African Broadcasting Corporation in order to give approval of Pandor’s statement.

“If there is any country or countries that can comprehend the suffering and the struggle for freedom and independence of Palestine, it is the African continent and the people of Africa,” Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki said.

A South African official called for Israel to be branded an "apartheid state" on Tuesday due to the many human rights violations over the decades that the country has done to the Palestinians who live there. This is a representational image. Ahmed Abu Hameeda/Unsplash.

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