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LOOK: 'It's important that we recognise the struggle of Palestinian people'

Published Nov 29, 2018


Johannesburg - Former South African ambassador to Israel Ismail Coovadia says it is imperative that South Africans recognise the struggle of Palestinians.

Coovadia joined the diplomatic corps on Thursday morning in at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

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The event hosted by the Embassy of the State of Palestine, the United Nation's SA information centre and the Department of Arts and Culture was also used to celebrate the legacies of the former South African president Nelson Mandela and former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. 

It has been 30 years since Arafat proclaimed the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. 

While Arafat met Mandela almost two weeks after he was from Robben Island, the two late leaders had continuously emphasised the need for solidarity between the two states.

"The legacies of Mandela and Arafat can never be underestimated. They were at the forefront of fighting for freedom for their people. Therefore it is important that we recognise the struggle of the Palestinian people and look at concrete ways in which we can assist them," he said.

Coovadia highlighted that at the moment there appeared to be a stalemate and an attempt to stop progress in Palestine adding more awareness is needed to bringing about peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

The ANC has already resolved to the Israeli embassy in support of Palestine, particularly after the US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem early this year.

Speaking at the commemoration event, chairman of the Yasser Arafat Foundation and former Palestinian foreign affairs minister Nasser Alkidwa said the world, including SA, had to fight the settler colonialism that gripped the region adding there needs to be stringent measures against settlers, companies and entities that establish their businesses and presence on illegally occupied Palestinian territory.

"We need to fight settler colonialism that is taking place in occupied spaces. We need action based on international law…. we need your support to confront the continuous attacks that have been taking place at UN and attacks against international legitimacy and the multilateral valued based international system,” he said. 

Speaking on behalf of chief Mandla Mandela who has actively advocated for the freedom of Palestinian people, Mohammed Dangor said they were very clear that Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestinian State and that solidarity for Palestine is in the DNA of SA.

"Everyday a child is born into war and bondage in Palestine. Therefore, we (as South Africans) must show our solidarity until a child is born free in Palestine," Vusumuzi Mkhize, director-general at the department of arts and culture said.

The event was also attended by Palestinian Mohammed Tamimi, his father Fadel and cousin Osama.

Tamimi was shot in the head by Israeli armed forces and has had surgery to remove a bullet which was lodged in his head. 

He is currently in South Africa with his family where after he underwent reconstructive surgery last in Johannesburg last month. Tamimi celebrated his 16th birthday on Wednesday.

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