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SA to Palestine: your influence is waning




The guest of honour at the 2 May seminar was Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki and speakers included Marius Fransman (deputy minister of International Relations and ANC Western Cape chair); Hargreaves Tisetso Magama (chair of previous Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation); and Muhammed Desai (coordinator of BDS South Africa).

Although not invited as such, Cheryllyn Dudley of the ACDP attended the meeting.

Dudley told SAJR that speakers at the conference called on South Africans and the South African government to take a stronger stance and to fully back the BDS campaign to cripple Israel financially.

Al-Malki, on the other hand, said: “Arab countries do not support Palestine” and that “countries should not interfere in other countries’ affairs,” said Dudley. “What we want from SA is solidarity, without the complications of politics. It is difficult to understand Palestinian issues,” said Al-Malki, adding that “other African issues must keep people in Africa busy enough.”

Go back to history, said the Palestinian Foreign minister, Iran donates to Hamas, Hamas interferes in Syrian internal and Egyptian issues. It is not for us to interfere.

“The department was definitely trying to show efforts of solidarity by interacting with civil society in this way – especially since government will be under enormous pressure from them on these issues,” Dudley told SAJR afterwards.

Definitely an improved situation

DIRCO had been “very diplomatic in its response, assuring pro-Palestinian groups of their solidarity but also pointing out a few realities in terms of international relations and making no rash promises,” she said. This, she added, was “definitely an improved situation.”

The comments regarding the stronger relationships with Israel are good, says Dudley, because they are the truth. “But this is said to shame government and put pressure on them.”

All of this, she says, is merely “a diplomatic dance.” She says it is not easy for government “but they seem, in my opinion, to be less inclined to knee-jerk reactions and are determined to consider what is best for South Africa.”

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