Monday, February 6, 2012
South Africa pledges support for Palestinians
by Mel Frykberg | The New Age Newspaper
02 February 2012
The South African government might consider supporting sanctions against Israel as it explores a variety of peaceful methods to step up support for the Palestinians' fight for freedom and independence.
"We want to step up our support of the Palestinians and are investigating a number of peaceful ways to upgrade this support. We have no problem with supporting the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel," Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile told The New Age.
Mashatile was addressing a press conference in Pretoria yesterday at the Department of Arts and Culture, during the signing of a cultural agreement between South Africa and Palestine.
During the signing Palestinian Arts and Culture Minister Siham Barghouti and Palestinian Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Musa Abu Ghreibeh, exchanged gifts with their South African counterparts, Minister Mashatile and deputy minister Joe Pehle.
Later on in the year the Palestinians will host South Africa's Arts and Culture Week, where South African artists and cultural entrepreneurs will present cultural exhibitions from their country.
Mashatile's statement presents a considerable upping of the ante in South Africa's long-standing support for the Palestinians and the cementing of a relationship that goes back decades, to when the ANC was struggling against the former apartheid government.
"Your Excellency, we count the people of Palestine among those patriots who stood by us in our struggle for national liberation," Mashatile told the Palestinian delegation as he recalled former President Nelson Mandela's 1997 speech to honor the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
"Having achieved our freedom we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less human if we do so," said Mandela in 1997.
BDS supporters argue that Israel's continued illegal occupation of the Palestinians territories and expropriation of Palestinians land, water and other resources can only be stopped when sanctions against Israel begin to bite economically
"We are grateful for South Africa's support for our efforts to become members of the international community and look towards you for guidance in our continued struggle," said Barghouti.
The two delegations agreed that future cooperation would include language development, heritage preservation, literature exchanges and exhibitions.