Abbas updates Zuma at Tuynhuys talks

  • Abbas16 Turkey home
Ties between the South African government and Palestine have been strengthened following a meeting by President Jacob Zuma and his counterpart‚ Mahmoud Abbas. This, according to a statement issued by the Presidency after Zuma hosted Abbas at his official Cape Town residence, Tuynhuys, last week. Abbas is pictured, left, speaking at a UN-sponsored conference in Turkey the day prior to his arrival in SA.
by ANT KATZ | Jun 04, 2016

The Presidency says that Zuma and Abbas’ meeting led to the strengthening of sociopolitical ties as well as trade and economic relations between South Africa and the Palestinians.

The visit took place at a time of heightened tension between Palestinians and Israel, with Israel increasingly frustrated at the PA’s refusal to control the rampant violence against Israelis and their refusal to sit at the negotiating table.

Abbas16 - Zuma 14The Palestinians, for their part, bemoan increased construction of settlements. This was Abbas’ third visit to SA in two years.

RIGHT: Abbas and Zuma at their 2014 meeting

He undertook a state visit to South Africa in November 2014 and also attended the African Union Summit in June 2015 in Sandton.

Welcoming Abbas to SA, Zuma said: “It is my great pleasure to welcome you again to our shores and South Africa will continue to be a liberated zone and a friend of the Palestinian people. We also send our country’s good wishes ahead of the crucial meeting initially scheduled for 30th May, which has now been re-scheduled.”

SA and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), now consumed in the Palestinian Authority (PA) have enjoyed cordial relations dating back to the days of the Anti-Apartheid struggle.

2a-Ambassador Sisa NgombaneDetermined to improve relations and trade, and to try and share some of South Africa’s experiences at negotiated peace, Zuma appointed the most savvy and experienced diplomat he could to head up SA’s embassy in Israel in December 2012, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Sisa Ngombane – PICTURED AT LEFT. READ: Meet SA's new man in Israel.

This coincided with Israel upping their game at their Embassy in SA and the results have been a rampant growth in trade between the two countries.

Diplomatically, at the height of the last Gaza War in 2014, Zuma appointed former Minister Zola Skweyiya and former Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad as Special Envoys on the Middle East Peace Process. The two men have travelled widely in the Middle East seeking to establish common ground for a peace process.

The current, but stalled initiative aimed at resolving the Israel-Palestinian standoff, the Paris Middle East Conference (also known as the French Initiative) was discussed at length by the two men last week.

Zuma has also taken an interest in “Intra-Palestine reconciliation” and progress towards elections and the formation of a government of national unity. The ANC recently hosted Hamas, much to the consternation of many countries. “Abbas also briefed President Zuma on efforts” in this regard, the two leaders said in a joint statement after the meeting.

Zuma said afterwards that he had gained “a better understanding of the Israel-Palestinian situation and also to probe (and) get more details of the French Initiative as a mechanism to resolve the longstanding Middle East impasse”. President Zuma also wanted to clarify “whether there was any role that South Africa could play,” in the process. as proposed today by President Abbas,” said at the conclusion of the visit.

Abbas said that there was “some progress” towards Palestinian elections and a national unity government.


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1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 05 Jun
    How on earth can Zuma think that SA has a role to play.
    At the best of times the man is vacant and when he tries to think, he is anti Israel


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