South African Government continuance to do business and maintenance of diplomatic relations with Israel in spite of the daily human tragedy that has resulted in the death of more than 1 800 civilians in Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine territory

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 29 (NO1070E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 9-2014 OF 19 AUGUST 2014
Ms M Moonsamy (EFF) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

(1) Why does the Government continue to do business and maintain diplomatic relations with Israel in spite of the daily human tragedy that has resulted in the death of more than 1 800 civilians in Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine territory;

(2) whether the Government’s foreign policy takes Palestine’s support for South Africa’s liberation struggle against apartheid into  account; if not, why not; if so, why does the Government retain relations with Israel;

(3) has the Government’s foreign policy been focused on permanent interests and not on permanent allies? NO1070E

REPLY:

(1) The Government of South Africa maintains diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.  Relations with Israel allow South Africa to, among others, interact / engage with Israel on issues of mutual interest, including the Palestine – Israel conflict.  For example, President Jacob Zuma dispatched two Special Envoys, Dr Zola Skweyiya and Mr Aziz Pahad, to Israel on 28 July 2014 to convey South Africa’s grave concern with the security situation in Gaza, the displacement of over 485 000 Palestinian civilians and a dire humanitarian situation. Furthermore, our diplomatic relations with Israel enable us to maintain our presence in the occupied territories of Palestine.

(2) South Africa is in total solidarity with the people of Palestine in their fight for freedom and self-determination. South Africa has recognised the State of Palestine since 1995 and supports international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  South Africa also supports the International Year of Solidarity with Palestine (2014) as declared by the United Nations. South Africa’s commitment to the question of Palestine, together with this UN declaration formed part of South Africa’s consideration for hosting the Palestinian Head of Mission Conference in Cape Town, as well as the Palestinian Solidarity Conference held on 02 May 2014. Our leadership, led by President Zuma cannot end their meetings and speeches without calling for the immediate resolution of the Palestinian question.

(3) South Africa’s foreign policy is the extension of South Africa’s domestic policy, which is premised on our constitution. The Constitution contains the Bill of Rights, which protects the rights and freedoms of individuals – the same rights and freedoms that South Africa would like to see conferred upon the people of Palestine.

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