Statement on the Recent Developments in the Middle East

The South African Government is gravely concerned at the sporadic acts of violence that caused the death of six Israelis and seven Palestinians over the past few days. Government is of the view that such acts should not be allowed to restart the cycle of violence, as this would delay the resumption of the peace process in the Middle East.

In addition, the South African Government believes that the positive process that was set in motion following the election of the new Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, should not be derailed due to these incidents of violence. These actions are not in the interest of the majority of Palestinians and Israelis who need peace, stability, security and prosperity.

The South African Government welcomes the call by Mahmoud Abbas, for a halt to all violence and calls upon the Israeli Government to reciprocate this gesture by stopping all military incursions into the occupied Palestinian territories.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad said, "We encourage both sides to maintain their focus on the negotiated settlement as set out by the Roadmap and not to allow the process to be postponed. We urge both the Israelis and the Palestinians not to engage in activities that are not conducive to creating a climate where negotiations for a lasting peace can occur".

The South African Government continues to pledge its full support to the speedy implementation of the Road Map and calls upon the leadership of Israel and the Palestinians to take the necessary actions to revitalise the peace process.

To this end, "it is vital that both the Israelis and the Palestinians commit themselves to implementing the Road Map speedily and without preconditions," Deputy Minister Pahad said. He stressed that without commitment from both sides to comply with the obligations as outlined in the Road Map, the peace desired by all Israelis and Palestinians will remain evasive.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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17 January 2005

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa