The Situation in the Palestinian Territories
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 65
IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 17 OF 12 JUNE 2006
Dr A N LUTHULI (ANC)
TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
(1) What is the situation in
the Palestinian territories and;
(2) What will be the consequences of the European
Union, United States and Israel not recognising the democratically-elected Hamas
(3) Withholding monies due to Palestinians from Israel?
The South African Government is very concerned about the continued
deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and especially
in the Gaza Strip, as a result of the escalation of violence and the unfolding
humanitarian crisis. The unprecedented military attacks on Palestinians by Israel
including its continued campaign of extra judicial assassinations, have resulted
in extensive human casualties and the destruction of much needed infrastructure.
The reaction of the of the international community to the stand taken by
the Palestinian Government, following the formation of a Hamas led Government,
and the demands placed on the Palestinians and their leadership on how to pursue
their goals, has placed a great deal of pressure on the Palestinian leadership.
This has dramatically increased rivalry and tensions between Hamas and Fatah.
Since the deployment of a new security entity by Hamas there has been an increase
in armed clashes on the streets of Gaza. These clashes have also been exacerbated
by the lack of payment of salaries of civil servants and security officers.
II and Part III
There are a number of developments since the outcome
of the democratic elections that took place in Palestine on 25 January 2006, that
have contributed to this dire situation. Key among these:
a. The outcome of
the elections has resulted in a cessation of aid from the key donor countries
from within the international community, upon which the Palestinian Government
and society is heavily reliant. This has led to a near collapse of the Palestinian
economy and infrastructure.
b. Secondly, the decision of the Quartet (i.e.
EU, Russia, the USA and the UN) not to provide financial assistance to the Palestinian
people through the new Hamas-led Government till the latter complies with the
Quartet's conditions has contributed substantially to the hardship of the Palestinian
The withholding of monies due to the Palestinians from Israel is exacerbating
an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian
Territories. This measure has the potential to seriously damage all economic and
social infrastructure that the Palestinian people have been able to maintain in
difficult circumstances over the past years. Such a collapse is not in the interest
of any party and could contribute to further violence resulting from a feeling
South Africa, as a proponent of democracy could not challenge
the consequences of a democratic process. The South African Government therefore
welcomed the democratic process that took place in Palestine on 25 January 2006,
as it was a clear expression of the will of the people of Palestine. The South
African Government is furthermore of the opinion that the elections in Palestine
and in Israel offer a new opportunity for the leadership of both sides to take
forward the Middle East peace process and we have and will continue to urge all
interested parties in turn to recognise the democratically elected government