Media Statement by President Jacob Zuma at media briefing following official talks with President Mahmoud Abbas of The State of Palestine on the occasion of the state visit to South Africa by President Abbas, 26 November 2014
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Today is a historic and important day for South Africa and I am very pleased that President Mahmoud Abbas accepted my invitation to undertake a State Visit to South Africa.
We have just completed a round of successful bilateral discussions with the President.
It was a meeting characterised by a frank and open exchange of views.
President Abbas has given me a full briefing of the situation and what his Government and people expect of us. We are determined not to fail them.
We agreed on ways and means to strengthen bilateral relations between the two states as well as the role that we can play in supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people.
At a bilateral level, we have made good progress today, demonstrated by the signing of three agreements, namely;
- The agreement for the establishment of a Joint Commission of Co-operation;
- The Memorandum of Understanding on Political consultations that will see our two governments meeting regularly to exchange views on political matters of common concern;
- The agreement on Co-operation in Higher Education and Training.
We have agreed that the two ministers of International Relations and Co-operation and Foreign Affairs will convene the inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission during 2015.
We had frank discussions about the situation in Palestine.
We agreed that the continuing building of settlements in occupied Palestinian lands is undermining prospects for a two-state solution as envisaged by the United Nations and the international community.
We reiterate our call for the total cessation of all settlement activities.
We have further re-committed ourselves to the two-state solution where the states of Israel and Palestine will co-exist side by side in peace, within secured borders on the basis of the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine.
The only way to everlasting peace lies in frank and genuine negotiations between Palestinians and the State of Israel with the two-state solution being the ultimate goal.
South Africa is ready to assist with this process.
In this regard, I have appointed two Special Envoys, former Minister Dr Zola Skweyiya and former Deputy Minister Dr Aziz Pahad to engage on this matter with the State of Palestine and other relevant stakeholders in the Middle East region and the world at large.
We have also naoted with concern the growing tensions sparked off by the demands over the usage of the Al Aqsa Mosque. We both agreed that the State of Israel, as the political authority, has a responsibility to return the situation to normalcy.
The people of South Africa and Palestine have a strong bond built in the trenches of struggle.
We want to build even stronger relations and cooperation based on that historical relationship.
We will later today have the honour to bestow on President Abbas the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo symbolising the unbreakable bonds of friendship between our peoples.
I am confident that today we have laid a solid foundation for further strengthening of bilateral relations between our peoples.
I once again thank President Abbas for accepting my invitation to undertake this important and very historic visit to South Africa.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency