New policy positions emerge after Conference on Justice in Palestine

Increased support for the fifty yearlong liberation struggle in Palestine was urged by leading politicians at a Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, this weekend.

Transport Minister Dullah Omar, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils, and Anglican Church Archbishop Ndungane were among the local guest speakers who encouraged the Palestinians in their fight against Israeli occupation.

International guest speakers included British Labor MP George Galloway, Canon Naeem Ateek from Jerusalem, and Dr Azzam Tamimi, an Islamic political thinker based in London.

Deputy Foreign Affairs minister Aziz Pahad, also a guest speaker, was at pains to explain the deep-seated anger and frustration by the Palestinians of the horrendous occupation and damaging effects of the curfews, which has led to what he refers to as ‘suicide bombings’.

Unlike many previous statements, Pahad refrained from condemning the human bombings carried out by Palestinians.

British MP George Galloway who had formerly supported the Oslo Accords now referred to it as a disaster. He has radically shifted his position towards being a proponent of a single state solution in Palestine.

Galloway also suggested the closure of Israel’s embassy in SA, noting that our government should reconsider whether it should have any diplomatic ties with a state that commits crimes against Palestinians.

Calling for more ‘Hammer and Anvil”, Galloway further noted that Palestine’s freedom involves “a long, protracted war against foreign occupation”, and that solidarity movements for Palestine should increase in momentum.

Galloway reiterated his call for a total boycott of Israeli goods, and also for American goods that contribute to the $25 million a day support for Israel.

Ronnie Kasrils, who spoke on “the Unequal Distribution of Resources in Palestine”, highlighted that the country’s resources are being depleted by Jewish settlers who have been colonizing and oppressing Palestinians illegally.

Referring to the present hostility of South African Jews toward him, Kasrils emphasized that ‘Zionism has attempted to brainwash Jews all over the world, including South Africa”.

Kasrils further advocated the notion of a one-state solution in Palestine, which is a significant departure from the existing SA government position that currently recognises Israel’s legitimacy.

All of the above statements were made in the presence of senior members of cabinet.

Dr Azzam Tamimi presented a slide show on past and present trends and political thought in Palestine, demonstrating the extent of injustice caused by 50 years of military colonial occupation, with reference to home demolitions, land seizures, forced removals, assassinations, and the plight of 4 million refugees longing to return home.

Canon Naeem Ateek spoke about Christians in Palestine and called on the Conference to pray for the minority Christian Palestinians who are also suffering great injustice under the Zionist military forces in Palestine.

An overall message from the Conference was that the armed struggle to liberate the whole of Palestine must continue unabated, and should be wholly supported by countries around the world.