A delegation from the South African embassy to the Occupied Palestinian Territories has held a meeting with elected deputies in Ramallah, including Mohammad Abu Tir, who was expelled from his home city of Jerusalem by the Israeli occupation authorities. The two delegations discussed the Palestinian situation, focusing specifically on the issue of the Jerusalem deputies facing deportation from the city.
The South African delegation consisted of First Secretary Mr Edgar and embassy advisor for the Palestinian territories, Mr Michael Van Niekerk, who confirmed that they had raised the issue of the Jerusalem deputies with their government for discussion in the South African parliament. The delegation also conveyed its government's solidarity with the plight of the parliamentarians under threat of deportation.
Exiled deputy Mohammad Abu Tir praised the position taken by the embassy representatives and their government saying that he and his colleagues "appreciate your position which expresses the value of freedom", before restating the difficulties surrounding the issue of the Jerusalem deputies. "Exile is the equivalent of death to Jerusalemites and their representatives," he added.
During the meeting Mr Abu Tir pointed out that the policy being pursued by Israel in occupied Jerusalem is the same as that affecting Jaffa and Acre inside Israel; the intention, he said, is to displace the Palestinian population.
The Palestinian group asked about the possibility of the South African government raising the issue with the UN Security Council, to which the South Africans responded by saying that they are collecting information to pass on to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are also looking at other ways to help through diplomatic channels.
MEMO Photographer: Ibtehal Mansour