24 May 2016
President Zuma hosts Palestine President on a Working Visit
President Jacob Zuma will tomorrow, 25 May 2016, host President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine on a Working Visit to South Africa. President Abbas will hold bilateral discussions with President Zuma where the two leaders are expected to discuss a broad range of issues including the current initiatives aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestine stand-off. Among these is the postponed Paris Middle East Conference that was initially scheduled for 30th May 2016. It is also expected that President Abbas will brief President Zuma on efforts at Intra-Palestine reconciliation.
President Abbas’s visit comes at a time of heightened tension between Palestinians and Israelis, increased construction of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, and escalating frustration among Palestinians due to lack of visible progress on the Middle East Peace Process. President Abbas has visited South Africa twice over the past two years – a State Visit in November 2014 and attendance of the AU Summit in June 2015.
South Africa and Palestine enjoy cordial relations that date back to the days of the Anti-Apartheid struggle. South Africa recognised the State of Palestine in 1995 and was among the more than 200 states that voted for the hoisting of the Palestinian National flag at the UN Headquarters. Last month City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau unveiled a huge statue of Nelson Mandela in the centre of Ramallah City.
The statue was donated by the City of Johannesburg as a sign of friendship between the two cities. Since 1995, South Africa and Palestine have signed a number of bilateral agreements anchored on the Joint Commission of Co-operation that was established in 1995. In 2014, at the height of the Gaza War, President Zuma appointed former Minister Zola Skweyiya and former Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad as Special Envoys on the Middle East Peace Process.
Enquiries: Dr Bongani Ngqulunga on 082 308 9373 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by the Presidency