Bainimarama slams Fiji’s support for Israeli occupation of Palestine as ‘disturbing’

Fiji troops celebrating International Peacekeepers Day
Fiji troops celebrating International Peacekeepers Day . . . a proud reputation at stake. Image: Fiji One News

RNZ Pacific

Former Fiji prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the country’s intervention at the International Court of Justice over Israel’s occupation of Palestine betrays Fiji’s legacy as peacekeepers.

Paul Reichler, an attorney representing Palestine at the ICJ revealed this week that Fiji and the United States were the only nations to defend Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Fifty countries and three international organisations are calling for self-determination and an end to the Israeli military occupation which has lasted more than half a century.

Fiji political rivals Sitiveni Rabuka (left), a former prime minister, and Voreqe Bainimarama, the current Prime Minister
Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka (left) condemned by former prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama over Fiji’s stance on military occupation of Palestine . . . “with what credibility will we support the independence of territories like New Caledonia and French Polynesia?” Image: Vanguard/IDN

Bainimarama said Fiji’s stance “insults the intelligence of every Fijian”.

The former prime minister and military commander said that that position undid Fiji’s long-standing commitment to neutrality, peacekeeping, and the principles of self-determination and decolonisation.

“The coalition government’s claim that the occupation of foreign territory by Israel is legal — an argument not even advanced by Israel itself — reveals a disturbing truth that Fiji’s voice to the world is hostage to a demented few who are hellbent on destroying our national reputation,” he said in a statement today.

‘Contradicts our stance on independence’
“This action contradicts our firm stance on the rights to independence and statehood, rights we have championed for our Pacific brothers and for all colonial peoples.

He said Fiji has stood with Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and others in their pursuit of independence.

“We must ask ourselves: with what credibility will we support the independence of territories like New Caledonia and French Polynesia? We must not be selective in our support for statehood and independence.

“Our actions today will define our legacy and our ability to lead in the Pacific and beyond.

“The world should know that the vast majority of Fijians stand on the side of peace. That is our national character and that is the spirit in which we offer our service on the frontlines of conflict zones around the world.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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