Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation of the Republic of South Africa Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim used the occasion of the 2010 Budget Vote in the National Assembly (22nd April 2010) to reiterate the South African position in relation to the current state of Israeli – Palestinian affairs.
He took the opportunity to salute Judge Richard Goldstone, a fellow South African countryman, and his team and praised them for having "exposed the calculated and well orchestrated violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza." In addition to emphasising South African support for the implementation of the Goldstone Report's recommendations, he also stated that the current South African administration would exert efforts to see a "just peace" for Palestinians which should include a total freeze on Israeli settlement building; the end of the blockade on Gaza; the right of return for Palestinian refugees; East Jerusalem as the capital for Palestinians; and the right for Palestinians to control their own natural resources.
"Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, In his speech to the Council of the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) in Tripoli in January of 1971, Oliver Tambo spoke strongly to the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I quote:"The intransigence of Israel in its continued occupation of Arab land and its denial of the just demands of the Palestinian people has turned the Middle East into an explosive battle ground seriously endangering world peace and security".
Guided by Oliver Tambo's reading of the situation in the Middle East a few decades ago, our present-day commitment to contribute to a better world will ring hollow if we deviate from a simple truth that the Israel-Palestine conflict is primarily about freedom to live in dignity.
In our continued engagement with this situation, the two events that had and will have a bearing on the Middle East Process were the Israeli invasion and assault on Gaza in 2009 and the election of a right wing government in Israel. Let me also take this opportunity, to once more salute Justice Richard Goldstone and the team of eminent Jurists that he led, whose painstaking work exposed the calculated and well orchestrated violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza.
This administration will continue to support international efforts aimed at bringing a lasting solution to this conflict. Specifically, we will also play our part as a member of the international community in ensuring that:
- The recommendations of the Goldstone Report are implemented;
- That the economic strangulation of Gaza is lifted;
- That the cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem and land targeted for further settlement construction comes to an end.
We will continue to call for a total settlement freeze, we will also insist on a "just peace" to be reflected in all new peace proposals, which should make provision for the right of return for Palestinian refugees, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and for Palestinians to have complete control over their natural resources, such as water. To achieve this, we will aim for a seamless co-ordination between our Head Office and our various multilateral and bilateral Missions on whose agenda of work the question of Palestine is discussed….."
Since 2002 Ebrahim has been actively involved in conflict resolution efforts between Israel and Palestine, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as in Burundi, Kosovo, Bolivia, and Nepal.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.