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SA, Palestine express concern at Israel’s accreditation to the AU

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The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says it has taken the hard but necessary decision to shut down 10 diplomatic missions abroad. According to the department, this was in response to the country’s fiscal constraints, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the media ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Minister Naledi Pandor said Cabinet made the resolution after a series of consultations that culminated in a decision. According to the Minister, the missions, which include embassies, high commissions and consulates, are being closed systematically during the 2021/22 financial year. “This decision is deeply regretted and South Africa expresses its confidence that the excellent diplomatic relations with these countries and regions will continue through the non-resident missions, and the diplomatic missions represented in South Africa,” Pandor said on Thursday. Pandor announced that the list of missions earmarked for closure include: Minsk, Belarus; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; The Holy See, The Vatican; Helsinki, Finland; Milan, Italy (consulate); Muscat, Oman; Suva, Fiji; Bucharest, Romania; Lima, Peru and Chicago, United States (consulate). In addition, she assured South African citizens resident abroad, businesses and tourists that a smooth transfer of civic and immigration services to non-resident missions is underway. “All affected stakeholders are advised to check with the affected embassies and consulates-general on the exact dates of termination of services,” she said. Meanwhile, Pandor said further announcements of the transfer of civic and immigration services will be made on the websites of DIRCO, the Department of Home Affairs and the affected missions. Foreign policy priorities According to Pandor, even before the global community was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. She said this includes crosscutting and border-blind challenges, global warming, terrorism, pandemics, and cybersecurity. “The global governance architecture is at a crossroads, as it struggles to manage the multiple challenges afflicting people and the planet, while governing relations between States, as well as those between States and non-State actors.” Therefore, Pandor said South Africa has to execute its foreign policy “conscious” and “responsive” to dynamic national and international contexts. “It is in this environment that South Africa promotes and protects its national interest. South Africa’s national interest displays a people-centred, progressive and developmental outlook evidenced in its foreign policy.” She believes that this could be done by promoting pan-Africanism, South-South solidarity and cooperation, North-South cooperation, and multilateral cooperation

South Africa and Palestine have agreed to “exert” joint efforts aimed at reversing the decision to admit Israel, the occupying power, as an observer member to the African Union (AU).

This comes after Israel obtained observer status at the AU in July, which it has been demanding for years and seen as a diplomatic win for the Jewish State.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, is holding talks with her Palestine counterpart, Dr Riad Malki, during his official visit to South Africa.

“Security and stability in the Middle East are being undermined by the continued occupation of Palestinian territories and the aggressive actions of the Israeli regime,” the two parties said in a joint communiqué on Friday. 

South Africa and Palestine have since called on the international community to further strengthen their support for the return of all parties to the negotiation table without pre-conditions.


In addition, both nations are demanding a legal and legitimate establishment of an independent, fully sovereign, and viable Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital as per the borders in line with the internationally agreed parameters based on the relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions.

“In keeping with South Africa’s long-term and principled support for the Palestinian people, the government of South Africa remains committed to supporting initiatives aimed at refocusing the international agenda on Palestine and the Middle East Peace Process.”

Meanwhile, South Africa continues to support the two-State solution and international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders in line with all relevant UN resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters.

“The two countries agreed that they would continue to work to achieve peace for the Palestinian people, who continue to endure countless injustices and an ongoing cycle of destruction, displacement, and dispossession, as well as the progressive fragmentation of its territory under Israeli occupation and its colonial settlement policy.”

Both nations believe that these actions undermine the prospects for a two-State solution, which constitutes an imminent threat to regional and international peace and security.

“The occupation continues to deny the guaranteed, protected, and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

The two leaders also touched on the geopolitical and economic significance of the Middle East to the region in relation to peace and security and development within the global community and particularly the recent developments in Afghanistan.

“They concurred that in the absence of sustainable peace in the region there could be no global peace, stability and economic prosperity.”

Both parties stressed their strong belief in multilateralism and the centrality of the UN, including the Security Council, as essential in promoting effective and inclusive international cooperation in resolving the variety of the current global challenges including the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

“The two sides expressed their concern over the escalation of instances of racial discrimination and hatred globally and urged all countries to implement the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, which remains a clarion call for anti-racism advocacy and action worldwide.”

They also stressed that, despite the efforts made in this regard, millions of human beings continue to be victims of marginalisation, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in its various contemporary forms and manifestations.

The Minister also committed to working together to enhance close political, economic, and social cooperation for the mutual benefit of their countries and peoples. – SAnews

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