South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
South Africa remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Palestine caused by Israel’s continued aggression and occupation. The demolitions of Palestinians properties, continued illegal settlement and expansion by Israel of Palestine territories, forced evictions of Palestinians by the Israeli army from their territories, as well as collective punitive measures, will not bring about peace.
The tragic and shocking events in Jenin over the last few days where civilians have been killed and injured and civilian infrastructure damaged in contravention of international humanitarian law illustrates the extent that Israel is prepared to go to entrench its illegal occupation. What is worse is the impunity that Israel enjoys. This has clearly emboldened the Israeli government to do as it wishes in clear contravention of international law.
These events, including the alarming increase in illegal settlements, and the international response or lack thereof clearly shows that the so-called international rules-based system based on international law is selectively applied in some cases and ignored in others.
We wish to once more underscore that South Africa’s unwavering support for the freedom of the Palestinian people is informed by our own history and experience in the fight against colonialism and apartheid. We remain steadfast to play a constructive role in this regard and ensure that the people of Palestine achieve their right to peace, sovereignty, freedom, and justice. In this regard their struggle for freedom has always historically been connected to our own.
It is against this background that South Africa supports the initiative aimed at refocusing the international agenda on the Palestine and Middle East peace process with a view to achieve the two states solution and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side with Israel. This should be within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with all relevant UN resolutions, international law and international agreed parameters.
South Africa’s solidarity with the Palestinian people is not rooted in sentimentality, but a firm belief in the need for a just and lasting solution that would see the people of Palestine delivered from appalling and oppressive circumstances perpetuated by those who would rather stoke hatred and animosity than seek mutually beneficial peace. The situation of the Palestinian people remains a blight on the global collective conscience and as the NAM, we all have a responsibility to impress the urgency of the need for an expeditious resolution to the on-going occupation.
The NAM must do all we can, in accordance with international law, and principled humanitarian action. We cannot continue to witness generations of children and youth in the occupied territories and Israel growing up with hatred which only fuels distrust and perpetual conflict.
We must work together to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and previous agreements. In line with the Bandung Spirit of solidarity, friendship and cooperation, which demand independence for countries, we owe this to the people of Palestine to become an independent nation, practically, politically, and diplomatically.
South Africa remains determined to contribute to reconciliation and peaceful settlement of conflict in the Middle East. We reiterate our firm commitment to assisting the parties to this conflict in their genuine pursuit for peace and co-existence.
As I conclude, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to renew our Movement’s collective endeavour for peace and prosperity which is needed in our troubled world today. We recall with pride that our founding Bandung Principles remain a beacon of hope for those under oppression and continue to inspire us all to stand up against all forms of external unfavourable pressures.
I thank you.