Statement by President Kgalema Motlanthe on the Occasion of The Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at The University of Pretoria
On behalf of the people of South Africa, I extend warm greetings to all Palestinians and to the Palestinian leadership on this occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Correctly, this is the day on which world attention is focused on the Middle East Peace Process.
Accordingly, we believe that this day should not just make us pause and think about the Palestinian struggle, but that, after this reflection, it should enable all peace loving nations to move with speed towards the resolution of the Middle East conflict.
As we gather today to contemplate the question of Palestine, and whilst the international community is increasingly focusing on the growing threat of global terrorism, Palestinians have become less secure and less free in their own cities and villages.
On this day, South Africa joins the international community in reaffirming our commitment to the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation and self-determination.
The South African people have stood steadfast in their support for the rights of the Palestinian people to have a State of their own.
Our Government has consistently supported the resolution of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict in line with the will of the international community, as embodied in resolutions such as United Nations resolutions 242, 338, 465, 681, 1397 and 1515.
We reiterate the call for an end to the collective punishment of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza, and we join the international community in urging Israel to abandon all settlement activities and the construction of the separation wall as well as security check points in the West Bank.
Nothing can justify the suffering of innocent men, women and children, 70 per cent of whom today live below the poverty line.
It is our hope that a negotiated settlement could be forged in which Palestinians and Israelis each have their own state and live together in peace as neighbours.
The entire Palestinian leadership must work tirelessly for unity and rally the people behind a common programme for a peaceful and prosperous Palestine, living in peace with its neighbours inside internationally recognised borders.
It is abundantly clear that only a united leadership can at once bring the aspirations of the people of Palestine to fruition and engage Israel in a manner which addresses her security concerns.
The humanitarian crisis in Palestine weighs heavily on our conscience - peace is desperately urgent.
Peace and stability are a precondition for economic development.
In the words of the late President Yasser Arafat, Palestinians and Israelis “need the peace of the brave”.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
2 December 2008