South African president expresses solidarity with Palestine

Ramaphosa says situation in Palestine reminds him of what happened to millions during apartheid

Hassan Isilow  | 17.05.2021 - Update : 17.05.2021
South African president expresses solidarity with Palestine


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said Monday unless the root causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict are addressed, there will never be peace.

“As lovers of freedom and of justice, we stand with the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination, but also in their resistance against the deprivation of their human rights and the denial of their dignity,’’ Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly column.

He said the escalating situation in Israel and Palestine affirms once more what South Africans know too well that intractable conflicts can only be solved through peaceful negotiation.

“It also demonstrates that unless the root causes of a conflict are addressed, in this case the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian land and the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, there will never be peace,’’ he wrote.

Ramaphosa said Israel’s actions are a violation of international law.

“They show a total disregard for successive United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that call for an end to the occupation of Palestinian land and for the fulfillment of the rights of the Palestinian people,’’ the former anti-apartheid activist note.

Ramaphosa said the sight of seeing a group of Palestinian families evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlements reminded him of what happened to millions of South Africans including his own family during apartheid.

“It was a pain and humiliation faced by my own family, and by many South African families. My family was forcibly moved to different parts of the country on two occasions,’’ he said.

“Being forced from one’s home at gunpoint is a trauma not easily forgotten, and is carried across generations. As a country we are still living with the residual effects of the callous acts carried out in the name of apartheid spatial planning,’’ he wrote.

The South African leader whose Cabinet last week issued a statement calling on Israel to stop "barbaric" attacks on Palestinians called on both parties involved in the conflict to show restraint, to respect human life, and to cease current hostilities.

“Far too many lives have been lost to this intractable conflict. The continued occupation of Palestinian land and the suffering of the Palestinian people is a blight on the conscience of humanity,’’ he said.

Ramaphosa further said South Africa is committed to being part of international efforts aimed at reviving a political process that will lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state existing side-by-side in peace with Israel, and within internationally recognized borders.

“The two-state solution remains the most viable option for the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and must continue to be supported.’’

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