South Africa: Israeli Construction ‘Undermines’ Peace

November 26, 2014  

Israel building in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria is “undermining” prospects for a two state solution, South African President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday as he welcomed Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on a state visit.

“We reiterate our call for the total cessation of all settlement activities,” Zuma told a joint news conference with Abbas.

South Africa was ready to assist with negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and had appointed two special envoys for the task, Zuma added.

Abbas said the Palestinians sought to  benefit from South Africa’s “successful experiences” in building an independent state.

“We are the last nation in the world that is still living under occupation,” he said.

Zuma’s ruling African National Congress is a firm supporter of the PA, with politicians regularly comparing Israel to the former
racist apartheid state in South Africa.

Abbas was greeted with a 21-gun salute at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital.

He has visited South Africa before – last year he attended Mandela’s funeral – but officials said this is his first state visit.

“People of South Africa and Palestine have a strong bond built in the trenches of our two struggles, we want to build even stronger relations and cooperation based on that historical relationship,” said Zuma.

Anti-Israel sentiment has been high in South Africa, where leaders such as Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have long been outspoken against Israel.

South Africa’s Foreign Minister has in the past slammed Israel’s plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.

Most recently, Zuma’s party compared Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza to the actions of the Nazis during World War II, evoking outrage from Jewish groups in the country.

South Africa has also imposed rules requiring that goods imported from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem display special labels.

AFP contributed to this report.

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