South Africa is not doing enough to intervene in the crisis in the Middle East. So says Martin Jansen of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), commenting on the South African government’s decision to send former minister of foreign affairs Aziz Pahad as an envoy to the besieged region. Pahad is expected to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a bid to stop the Israeli’s military’s offensive in Gaza, which has killed over 600 people.
His mission comes amid increased calls for South Africa to expel the Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk and to sever all diplomatic and trade relations with the Zionist state. But thus far, national government has not conceded, despite enormous public pressure.
Jansen said pro-Palestinian activists were growing tired of the same old response from the South African government in support of and in sympathy for the people in Palestine.
“It is never translated into concrete action of any significance that impacts on the Israeli regime or persuades them to desist from these attacks on the Palestinians let alone to move towards a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Palestine,” said Jansen.
Jansen said statements by President Zuma are not much different to what has been coming from the United Nations. On Sunday, Zuma urged both Israel and Hamas to stop hostilities. He called on Israel to withdraw troops from the Gaza strip, while at the same time condemning Hamas’s firing of rockets into Israel.
Nazeem Adam from the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) believes there is certainly a big contrast between what the ANC’s public statements has been conveying and what solidarity organizations are expecting from the ruling party. By now, the ANC should have sent the ambassador back to Israel.
“But unfortunately the ANC government is playing a different card and is being quite diplomatic in trying to see if they can’t find a solution,” he said, emphasizing that there is definitely a disjoint between the government’s official statements and the ANC’s position.
Media Review Network (MRN) researcher, Nabeelah Ishmail said that she is hoping that the South African government is acting in good faith.
Ishmail believes national government has taken its direction from the ANC’s unconditional support for Palestine, which stems from the liberation movement’s relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) during apartheid.
“It is a stronger position that is truly calling for serious change regarding this crisis, something that is needing a political solution for both people but one that is on equal standing,” said Ishmail. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)