Ghanaian Member of Parliament Ras Mubarak was denied entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by Israel. Mubarak was invited to speak at the International Conference on Jerusalem in Ramallah which commenced on 11 April. Israeli authorities had issued a permit for Mubarak to enter the OPT but later refused him entry and cancelled his valid permit, Mubarak said. As the occupying power, Israel controls access to the OPT which comprises the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Other international politicians who were refused entry include South African MP Blaze Nzimande in April 2015 and the associate general secretary of the World Council of Churches Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri of Malawi in December 2016. Earlier this month, Israel announced it would deny entry to Irish mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha over his ties to Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) but spelt his name wrong and mistakenly admitted him through the border. The Daily Vox spoke to Mubarak while he was at the border.
The 9th International Jerusalem Conference organised by the Palestinian Authority is taking place and I have been invited as a delegate and a speaker at that conference. I’ve been an activist for quite a while and I guess I was invited because of my tireless advocacy for the rights of Palestinians. I was shocked when this invitation came because I didn’t know Israel would have to authorise my entry into Palestinian-controlled territories.
The Israelis have a history of harassing Palestinians and friends of Palestine. If we get in, we’re lucky and if we don’t, we’re not surprised. Even though I hold a diplomatic passport, clearly they have no respect for international protocols. They have consistently sought to intimidate, harass, and deny people entry just so they can have first-hand insight into and control over what is happening. It’s disappointing that the recent events in Gaza did not evoke international outrage and condemnation – and international sanctions. It seems there’s one rule for everybody else and another rule for everyone else.
Ghana believes that the Palestinians have the right to live peacefully in their country. The position of my country is that the two state solution is possible. Even with our voting in the United Nations, we have been very consistent. We have always voted in support of Palestine and recently over a month ago at the UN Human Rights Council, Ghana voted on all the four issues of rights in support of the Palestinians. As far as our support is concerned, it is unflinching and has transcended administrations. We have had governments that are left of centre and right of centre and consistently from the 50s when we obtained our independence, we have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians.
At the heart of this is the indifference by the world. I have to commend South Africa for the position it has taken consistently albeit it not being surprising considering South Africa’s history of apartheid. I led and organised a march in Accra for the Palestinians and I was the only sitting member of parliament who was bold enough to call Israel by what it is and express condemnation. We don’t seem to have people who are courageous in Africa – the Steve Bikos, the Mandelas, the Govan Mbekis. Africa would have to be resolute in its support of the cause of the Palestinian people. I get so disappointed when one or two African countries abstain from voting in the UN. But I’m also encouraged by the growing number of young African activists who are appalled and sickened by the treatment of the Palestinian people whether in Kenya or South Africa or wherever.
If there’s any group of people that should be concerned with the issues of the people of Palestine, there’s no better group of people than the African people. African people themselves have been through subjugation through slavery, neo-colonisation, and the rest of it. We better understand the pains and the perils of occupation if we allow it to continue without raising our voices. It’s exceedingly important for Africans that we continue to express our disquiet at the inhuman treatment of our brothers and sisters. Injustice in any part of the world is injustice against humanity. As citizens of the world we have a moral responsibility to raise these issues. It’s quite tragic that the world keeps looking on while these things go on. It’s a scar on the conscience of all the leaders in the world. The least I can do as an African is to raise my voice on the floor of parliament and outside the floor of parliament.
Mubarak addressed the conference via teleconference from Jordan.
You can read his full speech here.