SA berates Israel for stalled ME peace
By DIANE WOLFSON in PRETORIA
Photographs by: ILAN OSSENDRYVER
The impasse on a Middle East solution was laid squarely at the door of Israel by the chief director Middle East, in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Themba Rubushe.
Speaking as the South African government’s representative at the Israeli embassy function this week to celebrate Israel’s 66th birthday, Rubushe’s remarks did not fit in with the good wishes extended overall at the birthday party. But he did pay tribute to the Jewish Struggle stalwarts and remarked favourably on the bilateral relations between the two countries over many years.
Hundreds of friends of Israel attended the annual function to celebrate Israel’s birthday. There was a real party atmosphere and the hospitality was enjoyed by all.
Included in the impressive guest list were members of the diplomatic corps, media, Jewish leadership and Christian Friends of Israel. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Rev Kenneth Meshoe, as well as Gauteng DA caucus leader Jack Bloom, represented their political parties.
After a warm welcoming speech by Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk, who reiterated the successes of Israel and that country’s efforts to work with the South African communities in offering aid and assistance, he called on DIRCO’s Rubushe to say a few words.
RIGHT: A not too happy looking Arthur Lenk passes DIRCO’s Rubushe to take back the podium after the latter’s speech
Rubushe extended the South African Government’s best wishes, reflecting on the bilateral relations between the two countries over many years and that South Africa’s relations with the Jewish community dated back even longer, mentioning the number of Jews who had supported the liberation struggle.
Then he turned to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and said the South African Government believed that serious negotiations were the only way forward to peace as both sides had already suffered tremendous loss of life, hoping for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel.
Rubushe made it clear, however, that “the deadlock in the peace process clearly lay with Israel”. He said the stalled peace talks remained “a serious concern” to South Africa and suggested that Israel was faced with a unique opportunity to re-engage in negotiations.
Sadly the planned meeting of the Directors-General Forum which was to take place in Israel in December 2013, had to be cancelled due to the passing of former President Mandela, but South Africa was committed to undertake this meeting in the coming months to grant them an “opportunity to take stock of our relations”.
Rubushe spoke briefly on the many Israeli agricultural and humanitarian projects in South Africa which he said were “valued and much needed”. He concluded by wishing the State of Israel all the best for the future.