Former deputy minister of foreign affairs Aziz Pahad Photo: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma’s envoys to the Middle East have agreed to try to call an international conference to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine territories, according to the Palestine Authority.

Former minister and ambassador Zola Skweyiya and former deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad met Palestine Prime Minister Rami Alhamdalla, Foreign Minister Riad Malki and the ruling Fatah party’s international relations chief Nabeel Shaath in Ramallah, capital of the Palestine Authority on Sunday.

They also met Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tsachi Hanegbi in Tel Aviv, according to sources, on a mission to try to help bring about a cessation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas which has caused well over 1 000 deaths, mostly Palestinian civilians.

The sources said the South African envoys and Hanegbi had “agreed on significantly more than they had disagreed on” in a “successful meeting”.

Tamer Almassri, spokesman for the Palestine embassy in Pretoria, said Skweyiya and Pahad’s meeting with the Palestine leaders had also gone well and the Palestine leaders had expressed their great appreciation for South Africa’s support for their struggle for independence and freedom.

They had also discussed the proposed visit of Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas to South Africa. Malki told them Israel was “destroying the last chance of peace depending on a two-state solution with its aggression against Gaza”.

He also told them that by its silence the world was giving “something like immunity” to Israel’s actions.

Pahad had offered South Africa’s full political support to the Palestine people to achieve freedom and independent, Almassri said.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said they would hold a press conference on Thursday on Pahad and Skweyiya’s visit.

The ANC Youth League welcomed the mediation role which the South African government had offered but said this “does not negate from our clear demands that Israeli apartheid ambassador Arthur Lenk leave”.

It reiterated that the government should expel Lenk – Israel’s ambassador to South Africa – and should recall its own ambassador to Israel.

“The government must be fearless and must act immediately. We cannot find ourselves in a situation where conference resolutions are undermined – the ANC and its leagues… will never be neutral on the attacks on Gaza and the ongoing oppression of Palestine.”

Independent Foreign Service