(source: The Tripoli Post)
The South African government issued a statement condemning Israel for approving 900 new housing units in Gilo and evicting Palestinians from their East Jerusalem homes, comparing Israel’s actions to the ‘forced removals’ of the apartheid era.
"We condemn the fact that Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem is coupled with Israel’s campaign to evict and displace the original Palestinian residents from the City," the statement said. "South Africa is deeply concerned that these activities by Israel will only serve only to deepen the cycle of violence in the region," it added.
The statement said "South Africa is aware of the statements of the Palestinian leadership that this settlement expansion on the part of Israel will result in an increase in the Israeli settler population over the next two years that will exceed the previous two."
The government of South Africa took note of the statements by United States President Barack Obama who stated that: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security, it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbours. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous." It also took cognisance of the statements of the European Union presidency which said that: "If there is to be genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states." South Africa said it "maintains that these attempts by Israel to create facts on the ground imperil attempts to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict." The statement added that the government "emphasises that the issue of Jerusalem is one of the final status issues that needs to be part of a negotiated solution to the conflict in the Middle East." "The actions on the part of Israel are in opposition to the will of the international community as expressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1515 as well as the Arab Peace Initiative. "South Africa stresses that these actions on the part of Israel jeopardise the prospects of resuming peace talks aimed at arriving at a final settlement to the conflict. South Africa is deeply concerned that these activities by Israel will only serve only to deepen the cycle of violence in the region. As an occupying power, Israel has specific and clear obligations under international law. "We call upon the Israeli government to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals and resume negotiations immediately," the statement concluded. Meanwhile, Jerusalem Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan has appealed to leaders of churches in Europe to stand by Christians in the Middle East in their struggle for justice and peace by remembering how injustice was fought in South Africa. "I ask you as our brothers and sisters in Christ, do not leave us alone, do not leave us alone in the struggle," Younan told the once-every-six years assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) meeting here. "Do you know how the apartheid system collapsed? It is because the churches in the world accompanied the churches in South Africa," said Younan, who heads the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. "As long as you accompany us as churches in Europe, there is hope that peace and justice will come to the Middle East," Younan stressed.
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