South African Deputy Minister Fransman visits Palestine
The South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Marius Fransman, led an official government delegation to Palestine on 19 and 20 November 2011. The visit follows the Palestinian symposium hosted by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa recently to engage with the Palestinian and Israeli governments, as well as local civil society organisations, think tanks and academics from both the Palestinian and Israeli Lobbies, in order to help cultivate a solution to the current conflict between Palestine and Israel.
The purpose of the visit to Palestine was two-fold:
Firstly, to represent South Africa in the opening of a multi-purpose sports complex for the oppressed youth of Ramallah, sponsored by the IBSA Fund (i.e. India, Brazil South Africa) in Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.
The Deputy Minister, in his address to the Palestinians, reiterated South Africa's commitment to support the people of Palestine in their quest for statehood. Deputy Minister Fransman reiterated that South Africa has recognised Palestine as an independent state as far back as 1997 when it granted it permission to open its Embassy in Pretoria, adding that South Africa fully supports the Palestinian campaign for full membership of the United Nations. South Africa therefore calls upon the entire international community to support this campaign, known as UN 194.
Deputy Minister Fransman furthermore called for the intensification of the international solidarity campaign and developmental assistance to support the campaign for Palestinian statehood in the same way and with the same vigour that the international community supported South Africa’s struggle for freedom.
The Deputy Minister noted that South Africa's position was a principled one based on the Freedom Charter, international human rights and human solidarity with oppressed nations and that the fight for freedom in South Africa will not be complete until all the oppressed nations, and in particular, Palestine enjoys full international recognition as an independent state. Deputy Minister Fransman further noted that the IBSA-sponsored sports complex was one example of how developing nations can assist Palestine, noting that this was a first of a number of service delivery and developmental support projects planned.
Secondly, the visit created a platform for the South African government to engage with the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hamas as well as the Israeli government in order to deepen understanding of the situation as well as upscale support for conflict resolution. In his meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Mamoud Abbas, as well as other senior leaders of Fatah, President Abbas expressed his highest gratitude for South Africa's principled and practical support to the Palistinian cause for statehood. The leadership of Hamas also expressed their gratitude and respect for the South African government’s support towards the cause of Palestine.
Issued by the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation