SA supports efforts to establish viable Palestinian state

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Addressing media in Cape Town on Saturday, Fransman said South Africa's policy position on the situation in Palestine was undoubtedly informed by its own history of oppression and abuse of human rights.

"South Africa has recognised the State of Palestine since 1995. We support international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state," he said.

Fransman said South Africa also welcomed the unity agreements that were signed between Fatah and Hamas as well as smaller parties in Cairo in April 2011 and in Doha in February 2012.

"We stand firmly opposed to the blockade of Gaza, its inaccessibility with respect to humanitarian aid, and the general dire humanitarian situation that this causes. South Africa encourages a just solution with respect to the right of return," he said.

Fransman noted President Jacob Zuma's comments, in his address to the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, when he said: "South Africa continues to support international efforts to assist the people of Palestine and Israel to find lasting peace. The decades-old struggle by the Palestinian people for a sovereign state of their own has now reached a turning point. The Palestinian Authority, backed by the League of Arab States, has stated its intention to seek UN membership for the State of Palestine. South Africa fully supports this position. It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic cooperation and prosperity for the millions of people in the Middle East, and urge that it be viewed favorably".

In February this year, Palestinian Minister of Culture Siham Mohammad Abdel Salam Barghouty visited South Africa and signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of Arts and Culture with Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile.

In March 2012, the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs visited Palestine.

South Africa contributes financially toward the activities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) - the latest contribution for 2012 amounting to US$243 457 and has provided diplomatic training to Palestinian officials as part of its capacity building project for the nascent state.