Deputy Minister Ebrahim rounds off Five Nation Tour of Middle East, 23 April – 01 May 2010.

International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim rounded off his official five nations (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel) tour to the Middle East region by visiting Gaza Strip in Palestine, today Saturday, 01 May 2010.

Commenting on his experience following the Gaza Strip visit Deputy Minister said: “No amount of words can describe the suffering I saw during my short visit in Gaza. I have seen and interacted with communities in Gaza Strip who live in sub-human conditions as a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza and the subsequent blockade imposed by them. The international community should awaken to the gross human rights violations, being inflicted on the ordinary people of Gaza.”

South Africa therefore added its voice to the international community in calling for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza to allow essential humanitarian aid and building materials for the reconstruction of Gaza to enter. The Deputy Minister also stressed the importance of Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah.

During his tour of Middle East Deputy Minister Ebrahim also held discussions with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Mr. Avigdor Lieberman at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on 30 April 2010. In his discussions with the Israeli Foreign Minister Deputy Minister Ebrahim raised South Africa’s concern at the impasse in the Middle East Peace process. Deputy Minister used the opportunity to emphasize the need for both Israel and Palestine to find a solution to the stalemate between the countries and to return to the negotiating table to discuss the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

On Iran Deputy Minister Ebrahim indicated that South Africa maintains cordial relations with Iran and will continue to urge Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its nuclear activities.

The South Africa-Israeli meeting was a sequel to discussions between Deputy Minister Ebrahim and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mr Salam Fayyad as well as other senior PNA Officials on 29 April 2010, these interactions occurred within the context of the Middle East Peace Process.

In the discussions with Prime Minister Fayyad it emerged that the principal concern for the Palestinian people was well being and security and for all the Palestinian people. Prime Minister Fayyad expressed his determination to follow a non-violent struggle against the Israeli occupation.

The Palestinian Prime Minister made it clear that the continuation of settlement activities by Israel constituted a serious setback for the peace process in Middle East and could further delay the proximity talks being brokered by the United States Government. Prime Minister Fayyad further mentioned that the South African resistance against Apartheid policies was a model for the Palestinian struggle for independence and that South Africa should continue to be a beacon of hope for the Palestinian people.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim indicated that South Africa has been consistent in its support for Palestinian people and their cause and added that critical in struggle for an independent state was the unity among Palestinian people. Deputy Minister Ebrahim emphasized that the South African Government stands ready to assist in forging reconciliation among the Palestinian factions

Deputy Minister Ebrahim and his delegation return to South Africa on 02 May 2010.

For more information contact Mahlatsi Mminele on 082 8899 432.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X 152
Pretoria, 0001

01 May 2010


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