Opening Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Cairo Summit for Peace, Cairo, Egypt, 21 October 2023
Your Excellency, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi,
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Representatives and Officials,
President Sisi thank you for convening this important summit that will hopefully raise the awareness of the world of what is happening in this part of the world and hopefully come up with a roadmap to a meaningful solution.
We gather here united by our deep concern at the unprecedented conflict that has engulfed Gaza and Israel and our distress at the depth and extent of human suffering.
As South Africa, we hold the firm view that the attack on civilians in Israel, the ongoing siege of Gaza and the decision to forcibly move the people of Gaza, together with the indiscriminate use of force through bombing, are violations of international law. More than that, these acts are an affront to our common humanity.
We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the release of hostages, the lifting of the siege of Gaza, opening of humanitarian corridors and the urgent provision of humanitarian aid on the required scale to the people of Gaza. We also call for a United Nations-led negotiation process towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The international community has a responsibility and a duty to support peace and to create favourable conditions for negotiation and dialogue.
As South Africans we can relate to what is happening to Palestinians. Our people waged a brave and courageous struggle to achieve their freedom and were subjected to untold suffering just like the Palestinians are going through. The nightmare of apartheid was only brought to an end by the relentless struggle of our people and the courage and foresight of leaders who put aside their differences and sought peace rather than revenge.
We believe that peace is the only option to bring about peace between Israel and Palestine. To achieve this, steps must be taken now. We therefore call on all parties to exercise restraint and on all state actors to desist from providing weapons to either of the sides to the conflict.
We are concerned that the response of the Israeli government to the attack on its citizens will further deepen a conflict that has engulfed the region for many decades and will make the attainment of a just and lasting peace even more difficult. We are also concerned that this conflict can spread to include other countries in the region. This must be avoided at all costs.
The only way to bring about peace is the fulfilment of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to human rights, dignity and statehood.
This is in line with the decisions that have been taken by the United Nations that guarantees statehood for both Israel and Palestine based on the 1967 borders.
Only through a negotiated settlement supported by the international community can the people of Israel achieve the security they seek and the people of Palestine realise the freedom they deserve.
As the international community, we must call for a ceasefire, find a sustainable solution to this conflict and stand on the side of peace, justice and human rights for all.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency