Government’s support for a free Palestine does not mean it is against the existence of the state of Israel and the safety of the Israeli nation, President Jacob Zuma said.
“On the contrary, we believe that the establishment of the state of Palestine will lay a solid foundation for lasting peace in the Middle East,” he told the Jewish Board of Deputies Biennial Conference at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg on Sunday evening.
“We urge our Jewish community to remain seized with these efforts and to also make their contribution in bringing about a peaceful Middle East.”
TWO STATE SOLUTION
Zuma said government believed that the key to peace in the Middle East was a sovereign Palestine state co-existing in peace with the state of Israel based on the borders of June 1967 with east Jerusalem as its capital.
This did not sit well with participants at the conference, with some saying “no” when the president expressed government’s view.
East Jerusalem forms part of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank. However, this is disputed territory.
Zuma said peace in the area could only be achieved through genuine and peaceful negotiations by all parties without any pre-conditions. There needed to be a give and take.
A solution was needed so that future generations of Palestinians and Israelis could live in peace.
He said South Africa had something to offer the promotion of peace and tolerance in the world.
“We have a responsibility to assure nations that are through conflict that peace is possible and achievable on all conditions.
“We were able to put the past hatred and anger behind us and to work together to build a new society with people we had been fighting with, with people we had hated, because we were convinced it was important to solve [the] problems.”
Problems, even the most difficult, including agreeing on the question of borders, could be solved, he added.
VISIT BY HAMAS LEADER
Zuma addressed the issue of the ANC and South African officials hosting Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal when he visited the country last month.
He said he noted that it had caused some concern within the Jewish community.
“What concerned the Jewish community was the manner in which Hamas was received and we have noted this, that it did concern you and he was given a treatment you felt did not necessarily help the situation.
“So we have noted that and unfortunately we had not interacted with the Jewish community before as we were moving on this matter,” he said.
However, Zuma said the country would continue to interact with both sides.
“We believe that as SA we can play a role and we are in processes of trying to make stronger interaction on both sides and I hope we will work together as we did before with many from the Jewish community.” News24