The opinion piece “Outrage grows over Israel comments” and the comment “The ANC stands side by side with the people of Palestine” (The Mercury June 30) refer.
South Africa’s foreign policy and diplomatic positions towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been remarkably steady since the end of the apartheid regime and the election of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) as president in 1994. The Tshwane governments’ positions have not been altered by the various changes of administrations and South Africa’s ascension to the status of “emerging power” on the international scene, and its actions have also been consistent.
South Africa has recognised the State of Palestine, endorsed the #Africa4Palestine (formerly BDS SA) movement and supported all Palestinian diplomatic initiatives.
South Africans are fully aware that Israel collaborated with the apartheid regime. Our officials draw a direct parallel between the former apartheid regime and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Our government considers Palestine as unfinished decolonisation, which has been a priority on the South African foreign policy agenda since Mandela’s election. This parallel is symbolised by his famous 1997 quote:
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
South Africa systematically denounces Israeli practices in multilateral forums. “Occupation” appears more than 200 times in South Africa’s UN speeches on the Palestinian question since 2000. “Settlements” have been denounced 189 times, while “human rights” appears 104 times.
Mediation as a non-violent and non-binding means of conflict resolution has been a foreign policy preference for South Africa since 1993 and a core element of the country’s strategic identity. South African officials have been critical of the US mediation, which they deem biased towards Israel and for voluntarily avoiding pushing Israel to comply with its legal duties as the occupying power or ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
South Africa displays systematic diplomatic support for Palestine at a multilateral level, acting as a catalyst and amplifier of Palestinian positions on the international scene. It has initiated and supported countless draft resolutions in favour of Palestine; has gone to every open UN Security Council meeting addressing the Palestinian question; held consistent voting behaviour since 1994; backed the Palestinian UN bid for statehood.
South Africa’s position is based on justice for the Palestinian people and the cessation of the violation of their human rights and, in this regard, stands tall among many nations wanting the same.
LETTER PUBLISHED: The Mercury – Monday, July 6 2020
Darul Ihsan Media Desk