International solidarity day with the Palestinian people

Cape Town. 090814. CAPE TOWN Tens of thousands of people were making their way through the streets of the Cape Town CBD in protest against the ongoing violent conflict in Gaza. Several high profile dignitaries including Archbishop Desmond Tutu were participating in the march. Thousands of people gathered in Keizergracht Street before embarking on a march to Parliament. The people were brandishing placards that read "save Gaza, free Palestine, stop the bombing and killing of our children". As the crowd descending on the CBD grows larger, several roads are being closed causing major traffic delays in and around the city. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). The resolution on the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People also encourages Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity.

The South African government stands in solidarity with the most vulnerable, exploited and alienated people in the world. A key feature in the construct of the National Democratic Society in South Africa is the subscription to international solidarity.  The original intent of the struggle against apartheid was to stand firm against injustice. The cause of the Palestine people is a principled standpoint against injustice perpetuated in an unrelenting fashion against the indigenous Arab population.

The South African government renews its commitment to further strengthen and coordinate efforts to promote the realization of justice and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination and independence.  This is a clarion call which was made at the recent Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, convened in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in October 2019.

We stress the importance and urgency of action in this regard, in light of the sensitive juncture of their plight and extreme challenges being faced after more than 52 years of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the passage of more than 71 years since the tragic Nakba of the Palestinian people in May 1948.

We called for the urgent provision of political, economic and humanitarian support to assist the Palestinian people and support their efforts to realize their inalienable rights. The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom is coupled with the demand that East Jerusalem be recognised as their capital on the basis of the pre-1967 borders. We are for just solution for Palestinian refugees, based on the UN General Assembly resolution 194 (III), which calls for the achievement of genuine peace, security and peaceful coexistence.

South Africa welcomes the State of Palestine’s Chairmanship of the G77 and China for the year 2019 and reaffirms its support for this important undertaking. Our message on this day, the International Day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine, is firmly premised on the rejection of unilateralism and affirmation of multilateralism, including the centrality of the UN as the primary and final arbiter on any and all matters of international justice.

The South African government reiterates the urgency of providing support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). We supported the Mandate of UNRWA and its renewal by the UN General Assembly a week ago, and a substantive mandate by 170 UN Member-States. We recognise that UNRWA’s assistance is crucial for the protection, well-being and social resilience of the refugees and for the stability of these communities and their host countries, which is equally essential for preserving the prospects for peace and fostering its realization.

South Africa supports the peace proposal presented by the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, to the Security Council on 20 February 2018. In particular, we supports his call for an international peace conference based on the longstanding parameters and terms of reference of the peace process, within a defined timeframe and in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), and the Arab Peace Initiative.

We further stress that a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine is central to the establishment of peace and stability in the Middle East and globally. As we commemorate the 6th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death, we must remain true to his convictions, which were instructive that “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

Alvin Botes is the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.