Statement by Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, on the occasion of the Ministerial Committee of the NAM on Palestine, Caracas, Venezuela
Mr Riyadh al-Maliki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine,
Distinguished Members of the Committee,
We would like to thank Minister al-Maliki for his briefing on the latest developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
We meet at a critical time on the future of the Middle East Peace Process � for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues to hold the world’s attention. Despite decades of effort, no lasting solution has been agreed to. This does not only compromise peace and stability in the Palestinian territories and Israel, it also hampers peace, stability and progress in the wider region and globally.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a voice for peace, justice and equality and it should advance this cause with more zeal. We are deeply concerned over the deadlock of the peace process in the Middle East. It has been our principled position that Palestine and Israel should live side by side in peace and security with secure international borders.
It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly approved Resolution 181 (II) recognising the partitioning of Palestine and proposed establishing two independent States which were supposed to coexist in peace and harmony. Despite the length of time and efforts brought to bear, the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is yet to become reality.
Today, instead of implementing the numerous resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council that calls for the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories and from the other occupied Arab territories, the occupying force of Israel continues to impose new policies, which perpetuate the status quo, further discriminates against the Palestinians and continues to undermine the efforts made by the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination.
Despite the many endeavours of the international community in attempting to find a lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or perhaps exactly because of these endeavours, going forward it is crucial that we further discuss the course of actions that the members of the NAM should follow to contribute to the achievement of the goal of a long-lasting peace in the Middle East. The NAM needs to propose concrete measures or initiatives that may strengthen the Movement’s positions in support of the Palestinian cause. We cannot afford to put the peace process on the backburner.
However, based on our own historical experience in ending Apartheid through peaceful means , in the end, only the parties � Palestinians and Israeli’s can come to an agreement on all final status issues, including Jerusalem and refugees. Equally, South Africa condemns the unilateral steps by certain countries such as the US that is making a two-state solution more difficult. In this regard we are reminded that the United Nations has repeatedly declared that any unilateral decision that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem or that may alter these long-standing principles could seriously undermine current peace efforts and will have long term repercussions across the region.
International Solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world remains a fundamental principle of our foreign policy. Thus the State of Palestine remains a priority in South Africa’s current international diplomacy. We will continue to use all multi-lateral platforms, regional bodies and platforms as well as our bi lateral relations to continue to agitate for support for the basic human rights of the Palestinian peoples. In this regard my Government has repeatedly mentioned on previous occasions that we will continue to campaign for the independence of Palestine under the two-state solution, based on the international recognition and independence of the viable State of Palestine, based on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, existing peacefully as independent states. Thus we believe that the outstanding final status issues must be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties, with support from the international community.
Equally we call upon the Israeli government to immediately end the continuous violation of international human rights committed against the Palestinians which includes but is not limited to,
killing civilian protesters
injuring and unlawful detention and torture of Palestinian civilians and the women and children in particular
The illegal removal of Palestinians from their homes and land
the strangulation and discriminatory practises as it relates to basic services and water against the Palestinian people.
South Africa, through respective international platforms and engagements such as this forum, will continue to encourage both Israelis and Palestinians to resume the peace process, for a comprehensive, just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue. South Africa remains firmly convinced that continued dialogue support of a peaceful solution is the only viable option that can effectively address the issue.
Let me remind our friends and colleagues of NAM of what the father of our nation South Africa Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela whose birthday we celebrated just 3 Days Ago said in 1995 ”Our struggle is yet incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people”.
Thus, for our part as the NAM, we should do all in our influence to support the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to return to meaningful negotiations and to realize this vision of a lasting peace for both people.
In conclusion, it must be unequivocally stated, that any proposed peace plan should not allow Palestinian statehood to devolve into an entity devoid of sovereignty, territorial contiguity and economic viability. Doing so would severely undermine previous peace-making efforts, accelerate the demise of the two-state solution and seriously damaging the cause for a durable peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
I thank you.
Source: Department of International Relations and Cooperation