South Africa’s Parliament refused to meet a delegation from the Israeli Knesset (parliament) in protest against Israel’s settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.
This followed a decision of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentary Caucus on Tuesday to reject a request from the Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk for the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations to meet a delegation from the Israeli Knesset on August 16-17, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The disquiet of our Parliament arises from among other concerns the Israeli Knesset having passed legislation which retrospectively legalizes settlements into Palestinian territories, thus undermining the Two-State Solution the South African government supports,” ANC parliamentary spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli said.
The UN Security Council has also bemoaned these actions through its Resolution (UNSCR) 2334 of December 2016, which states that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem have “no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under International Law”, Mhlauli said.
The continuous killings of Palestinians by the Israeli security forces, administrative detentions, deportations and many other human rights violations also form part of the reasons why the ANC cannot allow itself to be co-opted into this charm offensive by Israel through this parliamentary visit, said Mhlauli.
“We are unequivocal in our support of the Palestinian peoples’ fight for self-determination, and maintain the view that they are victims of the ongoing conflict against Israel. The ANC continues to support and advocate for the peaceful co-existence of the two nations,” he said.
South Africa, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, has been critical of Israel for its policy towards the Palestinians.