The South African Government joins the international community in commemorating the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
The South African Government, in line with its longstanding unwavering commitment to Palestinian freedom, fully supports Palestine's bid for Observer State status at the United Nations, which will be voted on at the General Assembly today. This vote coincides with the 65th commemoration of the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 which paved the way for a two-state solution. The Government regards this vote as a necessary step in the advancement of the Palestinian cause and calls upon all countries to support Palestine in this endeavour.
The South African Government believes that the only way to bring about lasting peace in the Middle East, is to have a comprehensive and unconditional negotiated settlement to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories and Israel's continued blockade of Gaza. This will contribute towards peace and security throughout the Middle East. The ongoing delay in achieving such a settlement leads to an unending cycle of violence, as tragically witnessed during the last two weeks once again, with sustained short and medium range rocket fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza into Israel and Israeli missile and naval artillery counterstrikes into the overpopulated Palestinian coastal enclave, leading to the deaths of more than 150 persons and the wounding of hundreds more, the vast majority of whom were Palestinians, including many women and children.
South Africa also remains strongly critical of the ongoing defiance of the Government of Israel in refusing to halt the illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, thereby complicating any possible resumption of substantial negotiation. We therefore, on this day, once again call on Israel to stop its policy of settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem, and to realise that the only way to achieve peace is through creating an environment for a two-state solution, where Israel will be able to exist side-by-side in peace with a viable and fully independent Palestinian state within internationally recognised borders, based on those of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The South African Government is of the view that a vote by the General Assembly today to grant Palestine observer state status in the United Nations will assist in bringing about this long-delayed outcome, seen by most of the international community as essential to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. As former President Mandela once said, "we in South Africa can only really be free once our Palestinian brothers achieve their freedom".