SA supports efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pretoria - The South African government supports the efforts to find a lasting solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says President Jacob Zuma.

"The ongoing conflict in the Middle East, specifically between Israelis and Palestinians, has long been a matter of concern to us.

"The South African government supports all international efforts to find lasting peace and security in the Middle East," President Zuma said.

The President was speaking at a South African Jewish Board of Deputies National Conference in Sandton on Saturday.

He said these efforts include the implementation of various UN Security Council Resolutions.

"We support the position of the United Nations and the Middle East Quartet that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that ends the occupation that began in 1967.

"It is a solution which fulfils the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two States for two peoples, Israel and an independent, adjoining, and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," said President Zuma.

He said US President Barack Obama's efforts to find a solution to the conflict should be supported.

"We believe that finding solution in the Middle East is more possible now than in any other time. We will continue to offer whatever assistance we can towards the resolution of this matter, including sharing our experience in ending apartheid through negotiation," the President said.

He further condemned all forms of violence in the Middle East. "We unequivocally condemn all forms of violence from whatever quarter, particularly where civilians are targeted," he said.

President Zuma also commended the South African Jewish community in its contribution to building the country in fields including business, labour, science, literature, culture, community work and politics.

He said many people within the community, like Rusty Bernstein, Helen Suzman, Solly Sachs and others, had participated in the struggle for democracy.

"Though part of the privileged white minority, many Jewish people dedicated their lives to the advancement of the rights of the oppressed majority."

He said the country was currently experiencing a skills shortage, exacerbated by the emigration of skilled people.

"The message we want to send to people who have left the country to live and work abroad is that South Africa will always remain their home.

"[South Africa] will always welcome whatever contribution they can make to building this nation," the President said.