Position of the Department of Foreign Affairs on Statements where South Africa's Policy on Palestine was contradicted by Minister Ronnie Kasrils

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 330

PUBLISHED IN QUESTION PAPER OF 23 OCTOBER 2006

MR DHM GIBSON (DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

Whether the Minister has agreed with statements made by the Honourable Minister Ronnie Kasrils which directly contradict South Africa's policy on Palestine and Israel; if so, what are the reasons for this agreement? N2014E

REPLY:

The question of the Honourable Member of Parliament , Mr Gibson, did not indicate which specific statements by the Honourable Minister Kasrils he was referring to. On inquiry from the Parliamentary Liaison Office of my Department, the Office of the Democratic Alliance in Parliament provided a copy of the publication "Mail & Guardianonline", reflecting an article by Minister Kasrils dated 2 September 2006, entitled - and I quote - Rage of the elephant: Israel in Lebanon unquote. At the bottom of the article it was expressly stated that Minister Kasrils was writing in his personal capacity. I am sure that the Honourable Mr Gibson would agree that in our democratic South Africa, all persons - even Cabinet Ministers - are entitled to express their own opinions. Such opinions do not necessarily reflect Government policy. Although Minister Kasrils is vehement in his criticism of the methods Israel uses, no-where does he deviate from government policy.

In the case of our Government's policy towards the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our position is very clear. We engage - and will continue to do so - with the Israelis and Palestinians alike, through established diplomatic channels and elsewhere, in support of international efforts aimed at bringing about a peaceful solution to the conflict. We firmly believe that such a solution entails the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, existing side by side with the State of Israel, within secure and internationally recognised borders.

At the same time, the South African Government will continue to publicly condemn all acts of violence and other unjustifiable actions by both sides. Such actions include Israel's policy of collective punishment, targeted assassinations, the disproportionate use of military force, indiscriminate bombing of civilian localities - as also occurred in Lebanon recently, humiliations at military checkpoints and the continued construction of Israeli settlements and a separation Wall on Palestinian territory. The actions similarly include suicide bombings and rocket attacks by Palestinian groups against Israeli civilians.


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