An obscure “principal culprits” criteria that President Ian Khama uses doesn’t categorise a pariah Middle East country that has annexed territory belonging to its neighbours and continues to gobble up land of a future Palestinian state to be a culprit.
“Despite our developing nation status, Botswana has remained steadfast in articulating her position with regard to the violation of human rights, poor governance and lack of democratic credibility as well as fanning conflicts based on ethnic, racial and religious bias and/or territorial claims,” said Khama in his last state-of-the-nation address. “The principal culprits have been named in the past and we will continue to do so in our press releases. The United Nations Security Council has on many occasion failed to provide the required leadership on such issues as some are part of the problem instead of the solution.”
Unless there is some other criteria that Khama didn’t reveal, Israel ÔÇô which has the full backing of the United States ÔÇô is a principal culprit. For as long as it has existed, Israel has violated the rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Founded as a Jewish state, Israel practises apartheid based on ethnicity, race and religion. African refugees are not even welcome there. Some commentators have gone as far as to accuse Israel of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The only state in the world to not have declared national borders, Israel has been continually grabbing land that should form the future Palestinian state that some say would now be impossible to create. Countries like South Africa don’t recognise Israel outside the 1967 borders ÔÇô it was after that year that it started appropriating land that doesn’t belong to it. All indications are that Botswana recognises it outside the 1967 borders. Asked to state where it stood on this issue in the past, the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation equivocated. The latter can only mean one thing ÔÇô that Botswana recognises Israel’s authority over land that it is grabbing from Palestinians. In terms of international law, Israel as an occupying power is required to protect civilians within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, it periodically bombs them and when that happens, Botswana never raises its voice.
Botswana’s silence on Israeli atrocities may have to do with the unethical relationship between the two countries. On numerous occasions, Sunday Standard has reported on how Israel’s intelligence agency is aiding Botswana’s Directorate of Intelligence Services to unlawfully spy on citizens.
The culprits that Khama referring to includes Zimbabwe, Sudan, Burundi, Libya under the late Muammar Gaddafi, North Korea, China and Syria whom Botswana has condemned through public statements. However, such public condemnation will likely stop on April 1 next year when Khama steps down. In the absence of a well-defined foreign policy formula, Botswana’s foreign policy stance is largely defined by the thinking of the sitting president. In what amounts to executive overreach, Khama has used such prerogative to selectively kick dirt in the face of other world leaders, which represents a complete departure from the norm.